Oddly, I always knew I wanted to get married. For some reason it was ingrained into this Midwest girl. But I always thought that eventually kids would come along, it's just what Midwest girls do, right? I never had much in the way of fantasies about my ideal wedding day, let alone the number of kids I would have and what their names would be. If you had asked me a few years ago whether or not I wanted children, I would have told you hell no. Just certain factors weren't in play yet. It's not like I need to have certain milestones at a certain age, but I knew that if I were to ever have kids, I wanted a stable relationship, steady employment, a flexible employer, and a house. I have those now, but why am I so undecided?
For some reason I thought that when I became 30, that darn biological clock would go off and I would be baby crazy. I'm 32 now and I'm still ambivalent. My ovaries don't want to explode every time I see a baby. I'm just kind of 'meh' about the whole idea. I still have a few years left before my reproductive capabilities go away (without having major medical intervention). My desire to have children varies from day to day. Some days I'm 60% for kids, other days I'm 75% against having kids. I know everyone says that when the kid is your own, it's "different". I do believe that, but should I have a child if I'm this wishy-washy? If I'm going to make a baby (assuming I can), shouldn't I be in love with the idea first?
One of my major reservations against having kids is just the amount of work it takes, especially to do it right. Some nights after work, I barely have the energy to feed my cats. My dinner may consist of crackers, hummus, and a glass of red wine. I couldn't imagine coming home from work and have this needy thing to attend to or else I'll be put in jail. I shudder at the thought. At least with cats, they're fairly independent. And honestly, if I did have kids, my goal would be to make them independent ASAP. Not like I would kick them out at age 18, but once they become tall enough to reach the buttons on the washer / dryer, they're doing their own laundry. Same thing goes for food prep. I'm not about being a child's slave. If my kid ended up being a picky eater and wouldn't eat my healthy, home-cooked dinners (i.e. not crackers and hummus) which I do make from time to time, I'd make them at least try it. None of this make a separate meal crap for each kid. And if said kid didn't like my food they could go ahead and make themselves a bowl of cereal or PB & J sandwich and suck it. Yes, I would tell my kid to suck it. I was that picky bastard kid who hated veggies. But because my parents always made me try everything, whether I wanted to or not, I have become open to new foods. I actually eat weirder shit than my parents now - think organ meat, goat, weird veggies, and raw / pickled things.
Another reservation is I HATE modern parenting trends. My kid would be a "special snowflake" just like everyone else. But none of this "kids will be kids" horse shit. I will NOT be child's friend ever. I would be their parent and said child will have consequences and boundaries. I'd be a "mean mother" (http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2013/10/04/the_meanest_mother_in_the_world_.html) Also, screw having my kids involved in 584947582 activities at once in hopes of their dumb ass getting into Harvard. My kid would only do activities they wanted to do, and only one per month. I'm not going to be that parent that's constantly driving their kids around, living in a SUV / mini-van. If my kid truly wanted to be a school bus driver vs. a scientist, so be it. But of course I'd advise them on consequences of decisions. No helicopter parenting shit. In fact, because of this, I think I would be a great parent, the type of parent I wish there was more of. And I know, being a parent isn't easy. In fact, it's a thankless job. But I'd like to think I would be a no-nonsense type parent. My mom surely was, and I think I turned out the better for it. Even though, I didn't quite get the "nurturing" vibe from her. I hated her for it, especially during my teen years, but now I'm so thankful that I'm not such a clueless Millennial. This blog (http://kidobsessedamerica.com/) probably describes everything I find wrong with modern parenting. I get that babies and toddlers may not have the most control. But when I see 8 or 10 year olds, throwing fits at the grocery store, or can't sit still in a restaurant, that's when I start to question the skills of the parents. I try not to be judgmental about that shit, because parenting isn't easy, but I just loathe spoiled brats.
Another reservation is health consequences. If you don't know, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder called Graves' Disease when I was 14. This disease impacts your thyroid, which pretty much impacts every organ of your body. I had my thyroid destroyed with radioactive iodine when I was 15 and have been on supplement thyroid hormone ever since. According to my endocrinologist, I shouldn't have any pregnancy complications, let alone problems trying to become pregnant. But various Graves' Disease message boards tell a different story - everything from women who have suffered multiple miscarriages to almost deadly pregnancy complications - to it taking several years to become pregnant. It's scary. And honestly, I don't know if I'd be tough enough to persevere through miscarriages. It makes me worry that I may not have much time left to safely have kids.
I have read several books on this matter (Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness, Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids). I was hoping these books would help solidify a decision on whether or not I wanted kids. But all they really did was just put words to my reasons why I'm hesitant on having kids. The husband and I talk about this topic every few weeks. I think that we put more thought into such a decision compared to some parents. Maybe what it will take for me to have kids is to have an "accident" and find myself pregnant.
Honestly, I do think I would be OK with never having kids. There are plenty of homeless cats in this world that need love. I have quite a few older friends that are 'childless by choice' and honestly, I don't see their lives lacking in love or anything like. In fact, they seem to have rather fulfilling lives. They take amazing vacations, go to fantastic parties, restaurants, concerts, etc. They have successful careers and supplement family with friends. It doesn't seem like such a bad lifestyle. It's different and may not be the status quo, but I don't see anything wrong with never wanting to reproduce, especially since there is medical technology of all sorts to prevent pregnancy. And I don't think it's selfish either, because honestly I don't see them enjoying parenthood. Why subject a kid to someone who may loathe them?
What if I don't have that maternal instinct? I somewhat feel it for my cats, but not towards babies or kids. Because I don't long to touch or hold babies, doesn't that make me a defective female? That's how I often feel. I don't even have that pretty, bubbly girl handwriting. In fact, my handwriting (more like printing since my cursive is even worse), looks like a 5 year old boy's handwriting. I've always felt like a defective female since I've never had the longing for typically girly things. But oddly, I do enjoy being crafty and cooking, but I think that's more due to my creative side. I'd be a hard ass parent, and probably for the better. But I'm afraid, I'd totally be lacking in the nurturing area. And my worse fear, is that I would totally hate my child - none of that love at first sight shit. What if I never *loved* my child? I'd make sure their physical needs are met. But what about their emotional needs? I see myself totally sucking in that area.
But on the other hand, what if I end up regretting NOT having kids? What if when I turn 50 and decide I just totally fucked myself over by missing out on such a life changing experience? Could I live with that regret? Perhaps. I don't think it would be crippling, but I may need some therapy and lots of wine. I hate missing out on experiences. I like experiencing new things. It's why I want to travel the world, once I get my 3 weeks of vacation every year. I want to eat weird foods. Put myself in weird situations. I want to know what it's like to grow a human inside of me. What it's like to breast feed. But unlike a temporary trip to a foreign country, having a kid is lifelong commitment.
I ask myself everyday, how would today be different if I had kids? I think about it. Some days I'm more OK with it. And other days, I just want to take Plan B for the hell of it, since the idea of being a parent scared me so much. Who knows if I'll ever make up my mind, before it is too late. Or if I'll find myself pregnant or that biological clock will finally go off, and I'll be baby crazy. But I do know, that if I actively go into making a baby, I want it be something I'm completely OK with, in fact, in love with the idea, no regrets, consequences be damned. Will I ever get to that stage? I honestly don't know. And I don't think it makes me a selfish person, or whatever else people tell you when you say you don't want kids. And I don't hate kids. I'm not their biggest fan. But I do enjoying seeing my friend's Facebook posts about their kids.