I was a very opinionated child growing up, and by my mother’s recounting, it was around the age of twelve that I looked her straight in the eye and told her I didn’t want children. My Dad was worried that I was influenced by this book he got as a gag gift ”50 Reasons Why Not To Have Kids” but I also read the Bible and I’m an atheist so.. sorry Dr.Pete. Besides that, thanks Mum and Dad for not reading that book before making little opinionated me.
Now, that is a big life decision for a young girl to make, but I was already proving to come up with head strong life decisions, such as becoming vegetarian at the age of 11 amidst a meat loving family. I understand that comparing dietary restrictions to forgoing a step of the ”circle of life,” is kind of like comparing apple and oranges, or fetuses to tofu. However as I’m growing older and when the topic comes up, I’ve received some strange, almost condescending responses from both women and men. Or well, very condescending.
Just a couple of weeks ago the topic came up, and when I said I never wanted to have kids, a person replied ”oh that’s a phase, you’ll grow out of it.” Now this hasn’t been the first time someone has said that, but I snapped a bit. I asked how old he was and if they wanted to have kids, response was ”24 and of course.” When I repeated what he told me, he looked baffled and then the light bulb went off and he saw the error of his ways. Doesn’t feel so good when a stranger seems to know what’s best for you eh buddy?
Cue the good ol’ saying ”You don’t know me, you don’t know my life.”
I think why people may be uncomfortable, baffled, or want to believe I will change because it is ”other.” The theme of other has been applied to a lot of things, like how LGBTQ people may be told that they are ”in a phase” or maybe a male wants to become a hair dresser, and a female a construction worker. ”It’s a phase.” Anything that strays from the norm becomes some obscure outlier and should conform, to make the majority more ”comfortable.” But the root of these responses is something I want to explore, maybe it’s because by most standards, I’m young (22) and don’t know what I want, perhaps it’s because I have that life giving fruit, (flowery terms for ovaries.) So it is seen as something that I can’t help but want. Body over mind? That’s how the saying goes right?
Men face stigma if they do not want to have children. People may wonder if it is because he simply can’t, a question of his functioning manhood is put into question. They are a factor in this whole baby making process, either by some sperm given in a plastic cup in a small clinic’s room, surrounded by ageing porno magazines, or by natural procreation through the process of going to funky town. Making the sex. Penis in vagina, sperm in egg,…. you know how babies are made (I hope.)
If you can disprove me that there is more pressure on men to have children, please do so. Although with women, it is through my experience and general observation that there is a more social, cultural, familial, pressure to have children. Never mind an individuals’ wants or desires, is she not following what is expected of her? How dare she.
Since I, woman, I, walking womb.
The one response that bothers me most is being labeled selfish, selfish because other women so badly want to have children and they can’t because of varied physical conditions. And that is unfair, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, man or woman. But would you scold someone who doesn’t want to eat cheese or ice cream because someone is lactose intolerant is served injustice , because of your choices and actions?
Okay…a bit of a stretched analogy, but a few other examples of my ”selfishness” are as followed. Being told by one of my sisters that I am selfish that I don’t want children, because she wants her’s to play with mine. A streak of the pot calling the kettle black with that one. Being told that I am selfish because my parents must want grand children and I am not giving them what they want. They do want grandchildren, but I think that will be covered by my two sisters.
Being told that I am selfish because what if my future husband wants children and I withhold that from him. Because we all know, when someone is pressured into doing something they really don’t want to, it makes for a great marriage/partnership. While a baby can rarely save a marriage, I think it could break it. My present partner doesn’t ever want kids. There is hope you’re going to find someone who wants, or doesn’t want in this case, the same things you do.
Another thing I’ve been told is that I’m vain and overly worried about my looks and losing my figure after I have kids. I can be vain, but I wasn’t raised with seeing that as an outcome thanks to my working mother, who has a 6 pack after three kids. You go glen coco.
Recently before writing this, I was curious if responses I’ve heard are familiar with other’s experiences. Many responses to when I’ve said I never want children were mirrored by theirs. A full list of such responses can be found here and here.
I know a lot of women put off having children because of their career or different life goals. Maybe it’s not in their 5 year plan, or their 10 year plan. However I can’t recall a time that it was ever in my plan. And I realise that women do have to worry about a certain ”biological clock” but when does it every seem appropriate to tell a person ”tick tock, tick tock” women are not a bomb, we will not go off if there is no ”bun in that oven.”
Then there is the fearful responses ”but who will take care of you when you are old?” If I ever wanted children, it is because I wanted to, not because I want some blood related caretaker obliged to wipe my ass and feed me soft foods when I’ve gone off my rocker.
It baffles me that living in a modern society, a woman has way more options than being a housewife and mother, it’s seen as wrong to not become that. And I’m not saying that to be a strong independent career woman you have to ditch kids, many women do both. I just want many other things in life, while I can understand that having some little being with 50% of your DNA can be a very life fulfilling thing, it’s just not for me. So next time you hear a woman, man,or even a child, say they never want kids, think twice about how you respond to it. Okay? Okay.