I Don’t Want Kids
And no, I will not change my mind—so please don’t tell me that I will.
Last New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend and I got engaged after six years of being together. A very exciting event, of course. What I find less exciting and more annoying is being asked every few weeks or so whether there are any new wedding plans in the works, which there are not.
I should clarify that I don’t always find this inquiry to be bothersome, and if it were one of my friends or coworkers instead of me, I would periodically be asking the same thing. If it’s news to you, as it will be to the lady who cuts my hair, who has known me since I was 15 and with whom I have an appointment next month, I don’t mind talking to you about it and answering your questions. If you’re a close family member or friend, then I will indulge you. However, it really does seem that the majority of people are only interested in talking about it for the sake of having something to talk about, and for me, that can take away from the thoughtfulness.
But I just had a thought, and this one is worse: right now, it’s inquiries about marriage. Once the marriage has tied us together-forever-’til-death-do-us-part, it’ll be inquiries about settling down to have offspring.
Please. Spare me.
Note that I used the somewhat callous term of offspring. That alone should tell you what I want you to know: I don’t want to have children. I don’t even want one child. I don’t have baby fever. My biological clock is not ticking—though my writer’s clock is. I’ll smile politely at babies but I don’t coo or fawn over them, and I have little interest in holding yours until they’re at least old enough to support their own head so I don’t feel like I’m gonna break them.
“But if you really love Dylan,” my mother protested, “doesn’t that make you want to have his child?” (She really wants a grandchild.) No, Mom, not really. Sorry. Luckily, my fiancé doesn’t want to have my children, either.
Now, what I find just as annoying as the above inquiries is people saying, “You’ll change your mind” or some variation thereof. Unless you’re my mother or my fiancé, you’re not allowed to tell me that I will change my mind about something like this. (I’d give my dad a pass, too, but he’s much more inclined to say “You’ll change your mind” about which political party I support—which I find just as unlikely.) You can ask me whether I might change my mind, but you can’t tell me that I will. The trouble is, I’ve heard it before.
Actually, I think it was a variation: an assumption made by my well-intentioned boss that, whenever I have a child, my feelings will change about my dog being enough of a child to fill whatever void isn’t even there.
Our society does not yet embrace or even completely accept the idea of women choosing not to have kids. It’s expected that I’ll get married and have a child because it’s always been done, and surely that’s what I must want. How selfish of me not to want a child; apparently I should be grateful for and take advantage of the fact that I’m able to get pregnant, never mind that if I brought a child into this world, I would have to give up so much of myself, and would end up resenting the both of us. Wouldn’t it actually be less selfish of me to not bring that child into existence in the first place?
Think of all those couples who want children and are unable to have them! — as if my having a baby of my own would somehow benefit the women who wish they could, too. (And no, I have an equal amount of desire—i.e., none—to become a surrogate.)
Life is less fulfilling if you don’t have any children—actually, I feel pretty fulfilled already, thankyouverymuch. I’d much rather invest my time and energy into cultivating the relationships I already have with people that matter, like my fiancé, family, best friends, and yes, my dog. And I’d like to invest the rest of my time and energy into my writing, because that will always come first in my heart.
I already know that I will not change my mind. The fact is, if I were to wake up one morning and discover that I was actually pregnant, well… I would look at my options. All of my options.
I don’t want kids, and I stand by that. If you want them or already have them, and you’re happy with that, then I think that’s great. I’m supportive of you and your choices. My high school best friend is actually pregnant right now, and she’s moving back home before the end of the year. I’m sure I’ll be seeing her, before or after she has the baby, and I’ll be happy to see her and to meet her son or daughter.
But at the end of the visit, I’ll be just as happy and fulfilled to go home to my fiancé, my dog, and my writing.