Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To Have Children, or Not to Have Children

I've been putting off this post because I want to be articulate, and for that to happen ideas need to percolate for days or even weeks. I first thought about blogging on this topic three weeks ago, so perhaps I'm finally ready.

My entire life I have known that I don't want children. It may seem illogical that a teacher has no desire for her own children, but it's true. I have had not one maternal feeling in my 25 (& a half) years. Do I enjoy children? Absolutely. My family produces some beautiful and brilliant chilren, all of whom are terrific. I wouldn't trade any of my cousins, nieces and nephews for any amount of money. That being said, I don't feel the need or urge to add to my family's already substantial numbers.

So if I like kids enough to work with them every day, why not want some of my own? Well, that's kind of hard to explain. If you know me at all, you know that I adore being the center of attention. I don't have stage fright, I have no problems speaking up, and I can't get enough of "all eyes on me." That is one of the reasons I'm a teacher. Having a child means one can't be selfish like that any more. Suddenly it's not all about you, and won't be ever again. That sucks. I believe that I would grow to resent the person responsible for shifting all of that attention away from me - my child. Eek! That wouldn't be pretty.

Further, I love my life just the way it is. Granted, I'm too busy (who isn't?), but I can travel when I want, stay out late if I'd like to, even drive a pickup truck or sports car if I want to. I can walk around my house in only my underwear, leave sharp knitting needles on the coffee table, even have cold pizza and Pepsi for breakfast. Is there anything else in life greater than that? Maybe, but I doubt it. The point is, I love the freedom I have. I grew up in a pretty strict household so it took me years to give myself permission to live my life the way I want to. A child would change all that.

Deciding not to have children is not a decision I make lightly. Both Bear and I are the last members of our family; our lines will die out with us. He and I have discussed my no-children policy. He says he is fine with it and I believe him, but I also know that problems may arise down the road. The urge to procreate is one of the oldest imperatives of human nature, after all. So what will we do then? I don't know to be honest, but I can tell you the answer isn't 'have children.'
What bugs me about my decision even more than potentially causing conflict in my relationship is that other people are SO convinced that things will change. I can't tell you the number of times I've told someone of my choice only to be told, "You wait. Once you're older and your clock starts ticking, you'll change your mind." ARGH! STOP PRETENDING YOU KNOW ME BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF!!! I realize I'm still young. I realize that I'm not married yet. I also realize that I am a confident, college educated woman who knows her mind and isn't at the mercy of some out-dated evolutionary impulse. Why won't people just accept my decision? My parents bug me every time I see them, "When are you going to give us some grandbabies?" "Pregnant yet?" "You know, if you hurry, you could have a baby before you're married and still get back into your dress!" "We are only asking for one. You have to give us one, then you can be done." SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! They mentioned me having babies in front of Bear the FIRST time I brought him home! Can you imagine how mortified I was?

I guess in the end, I'm asking for a little understanding. I'm not wrong, I'm not unAmerican or inHuman just because I don't want a baby. I'm just like everyone else. I don't question your desire to have children, so what gives you the right to question my desire not to?


PS My students are working on a relationship unit, and when I mentioned to them that I didn't want kids, they all said it was "sad" and "weird." They actually pitied me because I choose to remain childless! WHY is this such a difficult concept for people to understand?

1 comment:

Sue Flaska said...

If only there were more people out there like you. I admire the fact that you know yourself well enough to know that having the "spotlight" not on you would not go over very well. Many people don't figure that out until after they have kids and they wonder what went wrong and why they are so unhappy. And yes, something might change as you get older, but something might not. I hate to say it, but you will always be questioned on why you don't have kids, and probably not in a polite way. You know as well as I that it is out of the "norm" to not want to have kids, but don't put up with people's crap. Don't let them make you feel bad or strange. It's your life damn it, and they just need to leave it alone.