Sunday, November 4, 2007

No Kidding

I am 35 years old, in a stable relationship, with no children and with no plans for children. People often ask me: why?

To the best of my knowledge, I could conceive if I wanted to. And there is a part of me that desperately would love to raise a family. The miracle of new life, the joys of first smiles and first steps - who can resist the warmth of those glowing moments? Kids can be super-awesome: spontaneous, loving, and bursting with sunshiney energy.

The thing is, you need an awful lot of resources to raise a kid. Physical, financial, and emotional resources. And, after years of agonizing indecision, I finally concluded that I do not personally have the resources to raise a child in a way that would be truly beneficial to the child, to myself, and to the world at large. A lot of people don't enjoy their children much, and I didn't want to become one of them.

I had the kind of childhood to which withdrawal was a natural response. I didn't get the love and emotional support that kids need. I had to keep a sharp eye on the grownups and try to please them or disappear much of the time. Then I got married and took those same patterns into my first marriage. I finally moved out on my own when I was 28. Then I had a few years of desperate and almost deadly depressions as I tried to sort myself out.

I'm finally happy with myself and my life. I'm still learning to support myself emotionally: to not be scared all the time and not to make myself disappear. There are little challenges each day, and I feel proud when I can handle them all. Things that would be small to an average person can exhaust me. Raising a child is a monumental task even for someone who is relatively emotionally healthy; I don't believe that I could enjoy the challenge or cope with it well enough. I suspect we'd all be miserable.

My husband Ken, let's just say that he has his own story, and his bottom line is the same.

I read a lot of blogs written by women my age who are raising children, because I want to understand what their lives are like. I am fascinated by their stories. After ten years of longings and indecision, I finally feel at peace with my choice. I have a lot of respect for the parents out there who are putting their hearts and souls into loving their kids. And for the responsible non-parents. Courage and love to all of us on our chosen paths!


Janece said...

Courage and love indeed.

Paul & I thought we were going to be like you... we were married 11 years before we got pregnant with Amira. The funny thing was we had said, just a month before I got pregnant, we'll give it one more year to think about whether we want kids before we do the ol' snip-snip. A month later, one night of unprotected sex (and thinking we were "safe"), and I was pregnant. My pregnancy wasn't planned at all.

We tease that Amira was waiting for that one indiscretion to make her appearance. ;)

I was grateful for the 10 month pregnancy window before Amira arrived. I had a journey to go through myself.

Amira is the most wonderful thing in my life. Paul & I are happily and giddily in love with her. And that said, we still can understand the choice to not have kids. It very easily could have been our choice.

Some people seem born with a parenting/mothering gene... I wasn't. I love being Amira's mother... but I don't necessarily feel like the motherly type (if that makes any sense).

Anyway, all that to say, parenting isn't a right of passage or a requirement for living a full, happy, valuable and fulfilled life. There are pros and cons to both... and again, like you said - "Courage and love to all of us on our chosen paths!"

Sparkling Red said...

Thanks for your supportive understanding, Janece! It's so lovely to hear from a parent who can speak from experience of both lifestyles.

Stewie said...

A major problem with people is they can't mind their own damn business.

Two types of couples irritate me more than any other. The first is the couple that assumes since they are dating/married/whatever, that you should be to because you can't POSSIBLY be happy if you are single. Not only am I happy, jackasses, I'm happier than most people I know that are in a relationship.

The second type are parents who cannot possibly comprehend that there are some people out there who just don't want kids. My favorite line from these joker's is, "You want them, you just don't know you want them."

Huh, what?

You have to love people who think what's right for them is right for everyone.

Me? I like having freedom, thus I'm patient on having kids.

amy said...

What a brave woman you are! So many times people credit mothers with bravery, but to me, a 32 year old mother of five, it takes just as much courage to say to our society that you don't want children. more power to you!