This is a picture of me and my niece. Cute, right? Every time I see her, my heart swells. I can’t remember ever falling in love with someone so instantaneously and so unconditionally (except for my other niece). Her laugh makes me laugh, her smile makes me smile, and every time she says ‘Lala!’ when I show up at the door, I can’t imagine a better feeling. With all of these emotions, you would assume I’d want a kid of my own, right?
Uh….. not at all.
Truthfully, having a child is never something I pictured for myself. I babysat growing up. I was in a long-term relationship with my high-school sweetheart for nine years. I’m now three years into a loving relationship with ‘the one’ …. and through it all, have never felt the need to bear children. I can look at my two nieces and be completely overjoyed, but without ever feeling the pangs for motherhood. Instead, my long-term goals in life have always revolved around personal growth in my career, my community and my creative spirit. It’s not even something I question, really, nor does my family. They never prod Damien and I to give them grandchildren or hint at the idea of us procreating – they leave my life choices up to me. Damien doesn’t have a problem with it either – in fact, this is a decison we’re both very much on the same page about.
All is kosher when it comes to those closest to me… so why is it that the reactions of complete strangers make me feel like my choices about children are unnatural?
Turns out, when you get to your thirties, the topic of children always arises in social situations – most recently for me at an event last week. People start talking about their kids, telling anecdotes of the funny things they said that week, showing pictures of how cute they are, as everyone ooooh’s and aaaaah’s. By the time it gets round to me, my go-to response is, “No kids for me. I’ll be happy with a little fur baby in my life. We’re looking at adopting a rescue in the new year.” While the majority of people laugh uncomfortably and assure me that ‘Hey, that’s okay!’ before moving on, there are a few that instinctively react in the following ways:
- “Well how long have you been with your partner? I’m sure you’ll change your mind once you’ve been together for a few more years.” (um no bish, I won’t)
- “Is it a career thing? Or do you not want to gain weight?” (neither… I literally just DO NOT WANT KIDS)
- “I just don’t understand how you can’t have that maternal urge. All women do!” (well pal, turns out, not all women are identical)
- “Don’t worry, you’ll get there eventually.” (probs not)
- “So…. what are you going to do with your life if you don’t have kids?”
You know what I’m gonna do with my life? Travel the world with Damien. Go out for dinner whenever I want. Sleep in on Sundays. Run my own business. Splurge on good wine and good food. Visit with my nieces every week. Binge on Netflix all damn day if I feel like it. Spend time with my parents. Get a dog to cuddle with. Give back to the community. Host dinner parties for friends. HAVE A GREAT FUCKING TIME.
And I guess that’s the thing that annoys me the most – not the interest in why I don’t want children, but the assumption that my decision not to will equate to a less fulfilling life. Simply because I am a woman. Simply because I am supposed to want them (Damien never gets these reactions, btw). But here’s a little secret I want to let you in on: having kids is not the only route to happiness. I can (and will) lead a perfectly happy life without taking on the role of raising children. I can enjoy all of the above things just as much as someone with kids can. I can still be giving, loving and generous to others. I can still enjoy having friends with children without feeling jealous or resentful. And I can have endless respect for mothers without ever wanting to be one. To me, that freedom to choose is the beauty of being a woman.
Will I look back on my life at 60 and wish I had kids around to call my own? Maybe. Probably not. Who knows. But even if I do, I will still be able to look back knowing that I lived an incredible life filled with adventure, love, laughter, friendship and independence. That I had an impact on the lives of my nieces, teaching them that intelligence and graciousness are more important than beauty and popularity, and that as females, they are free to make decisions about their lives without feeling pressured by anyone else.
So yeah – who knows what the future holds for me and my uterus. But for now, I’m perfectly content with the idea of coming home to my own family every day – Damien, me and our future fur ball. And I won’t let anyone make me feel as though that’s not good enough.