As a 30 year old woman the topic of whether or not I want kids, when I plan on having kids, and why I don’t want kids has been quite popular in the conversational rounds. Actually, me being 30 years old has nothing to do with the topic, because it’s been asked over and over again since I was a teen. My duty to have kids was placed into my life goals from an early age, without my consent or realization. I, like many other young girls, was expected to play house and coddle baby dolls in an effort to make the progression into motherhood a no brainer. Much like children given toy cars, so when they are of legal driving age they can’t wait to get behind the wheel, because that’s what grown ups do. And you know what? It worked. Sort of.
I grew up thinking I wanted kids. 3 to be exact. Not too few, not too many. I was sold on the idea of the picturesque nuclear family, not knowing it wasn’t my idea. However, what I was not told to think about was what it really entails to have kids. What you give up, what you gain, and what you need to have in order to be a parent. A good parent. Now this is in no way one of those blogs that tries to knock down or belittle parents. I know many people who write from the viewpoint of not wanting children can be very condescending and reduce the parenting experience to what they think it is. That is not where I am coming from. I am only speaking to why I have made the decision that I have.
Although I don’t have children, I’ve spent enough time around them and their parents to know that I don’t have what it takes or the desire to try and accumulate what it takes to be a parent. I know I don’t have the energy, the patience, the emotional or mental stability, and most of all I don’t have the money. Taking care of myself is hard enough. Eating at least 3 meals a day is a struggle, but at least I have the option to skip them, but not if I had a kid. Just because I’m too tired to cook and eat certainly doesn’t mean my child is. After having a child, you are no longer your sole priority. You have another person completely dependent on you. I personally don’t want that responsibility. To hear others reduce this line of thought to selfishness angers me, because not only is it stupid but it is what pushes some people into unwanted parenthood. What exactly is selfish about not bringing a life into this world that you aren’t prepared to take care of? If anything is selfish, it is trying to guilt people into conforming to your view of what their life should be like to make you feel better.
It actually took me a relatively long time to realize motherhood wasn’t for me. I didn’t come to this conclusion until perhaps about a year or two ago. I was teetering on the fence about it for most of my 20’s, but the reality of my life finally hit me. Since I was 12, I’ve been standing on the cliff of a psychiatric breakdown just waiting for one small gust of wind to push me over. This gust of wind has come no less than 2 dozen times, and after I fall, flail in the water for a few days/ weeks/ months, then eventually pull myself back to shore, I end up right back on that cliff waiting for the next breeze to push me over again. This is not a cycle I would wish to expose my child to.
What is even more frightening, and what solidified my decision to not be a mother, is that mental illness can be hereditary. In fact, to look at my family tree, on both sides, some sort of mental illness has scarcely skipped a generation. Whether it be depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or ADD, there is an example in either my immediate family or aunts, uncles, and cousins. I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for 18 years of my life and I would never want to subject anyone I love to possibly having to live the same life. I wouldn’t want my child to feel so depressed and hopeless that death seems like the only answer. I wouldn’t want them to become so out of touch with reality that they behave in ways that can negatively effect the rest of their lives. I wouldn’t want them to feel the fear, the shame, the overwhelming anxiety. To miss out on experiences that their peers get to cherish and remember. To subject someone to that life, just because I wanted to conform to what society deems as the natural progression of adulthood is selfish and cruel.
Maybe I would think differently if my condition was able to be easily managed, if I wasn’t always one fall or winter season away from being hospitalized, if stressful situations didn’t bring out an overwhelming despair and sense of hopelessness. Maybe if I was one of the people with a case of bipolar disorder that had very few episodes of mania or depression that needed hospitalization, having kids would still be on the table for me. I don’t know, but it’s no use dwelling on it, because that is not my reality.
Unlike many people who have made the decision not to have kids, I do often feel sad about this decision because I don’t feel like it is one I’ve made for myself. It was made by a set of circumstances that I have no control over. It does upset me that I won’t know the joy that many mothers say they feel after giving birth or the type of love between a parent and a child, but I know I’ve made the best decision for myself.
My main objective for writing this blog post is to show the people who always tell adults who choose not to have children that: they are making a mistake, that they are selfish, that they will change their mind when they find the right person, etc…, that parenthood is not an easy decision. There are reasons outside of what you deem as “selfish” that contribute to the decision not to have kids and it’s really not your place or your business to tell people what is best for them. We won’t all follow the same path and that is good. Following our own heart is what makes life worth living and what makes the world go round.