Why I Don't Need a Reason to Not Want Kids

A few months ago I went out with a girlfriend who is consistently one of the most positive and visibly happy people I have ever met. She never seems to have a bad day. I pointed this out to her as a compliment and said I admired her for it. The conversation went deeper and she revealed to me that she’s not always happy, and that her greatest source if sadness comes from not having had kids yet at 30 years old. She explained that she is constantly asked about it and it pains her. She struggles with depression in part because she’s wanted a baby for years but isn’t in a situation conducive to making it happen.

 

I know another woman who has been married for seven years and trying to get pregnant for six of them. She was told she likely can’t conceive so she has been to infertility treatment clinics for years and had no luck. It crushes her. She never knows what to say when she’s asked about children but confided that the question almost always makes her want to cry.

 

If someone says they don’t want kids, there is a good chance that there is a reason why that you are not entitled to or need to know. Because that reason is likely not something the woman enjoys discussing.

 

My husband and I have had the talk and agree that having kids is not a priority for us. Not now, not in six months, and if we so choose, not ever. My plans to give birth to another human life line up perfectly with my plans to work as a back-up dancer for Justin Beiber’s intergalactic tour through outer-space. So as it stands, that equates to never. And you know what? I do not need a reason as to why. Yet all too often I find myself stuttering to justify or explain to other people how I could possibly not want to do the thing you are supposed to do after you get married, that is, make babies, which I understand is a decision that doesn’t fit the favored life script that so many ascribe to and expect of others. Furthermore, when I do try to explain why I don’t want children it often snowballs into an even more demeaning, presumptuous and ignorant conversation on behalf of the other person when they say things like “oh, you’ll change your mind someday,” or “sure, you say that now…just you wait a year or two!” to which I am tempted to respond: I’m so glad you are the final authority on my ovary-related matters but I think I will be the one who decides when and if I change my mind. Because unlike the type of car you drive or whether you wear glasses or contacts or sleep with one partner or five, having kids is not necessarily a choice that you can change your mind about on a whim. Particularly if like my two girlfriends, it is not a choice you can control.

I would think this would be a no-brainer. But sadly, it’s become a part of the package that is Westernized marriage. If you’re a wife, you’re expected to also be a mother. And if you’re not…well than what are you doing with a husband and a house and a fresh-out-of-college career if not preparing for your flock of future baby ducklings?

I can think of nothing as inappropriately invasive and ignorant as comments or questions posed to a woman about her baby-making abilities or parts or plans. Nothing outside of asking a girl why she isn’t married or why she is overweight, or underweight, or how her menstrual cycle is coming along. I wonder whether people like Anne and the woman from my church would ever deem it acceptable to ask a woman those intimate and deeply sensitive questions in public. My guess is no.

 

The reality that such people seem to have failed to recognize or consider is that the process of getting pregnant can be the greatest and most painful source of agony and grief that a woman ever experiences. That’s because she may miscarry — multiple times. And money, an unstable marriage or family, mental/ physical illness, lack of support or career decisions could also be factors — the list of reasons goes on.

 

But the list doesn’t matter. Because the reasons are nobody’s business.

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