I’ve never been someone who had a burning desire to be a mom. I never liked babysitting. The one and only time I did it at age 13 I remember thinking, “I don’t ever need to do that again.” And, I never did. I am the person who still, to this day, does not understand the overwhelming desire to hold babies. I have always been always the person awkwardly standing aside as everyone “oohs and aahs” over babies thinking to myself, “I hope they don’t give it to me.”
You may judge me for this. I spent years judging myself for it. I thought something was wrong with me. I am female for heaven’s sake. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I want to have kids? Why don’t I want to hold that baby?
I spent my twenties and the early part of my thirties wondering when my biological clock would begin ticking. I thought I’d wake up and suddenly feel the “I have to have a kid” feeling. It never came. I wondered if I had a biological clock. I stopped waiting for it when I hit my late thirties and finally accepted the fact that I didn’t want to have children. But don’t kid yourself (no pun intended), this wasn’t an easy decision. We live in a kid-filled world. Everything revolves around children and their lives and when you’re not part of that world, you’re a bit of an outsider. You’re not part of the conversation and don’t quite fit-in. This can make you wonder: Am I missing out on something? Am I going to wake up at age 50 and think, “Crap – there’s my biological clock, about 20 years late”, or am I going to wake up at the end of my life and realize I’m all alone with no one to take care of me? But the bigger question is: are these reasons to have a child? I think not and thankfully, I decided they weren’t.
If I chose to have a child based on the fear that I’d regret it one day or that I’d end up alone on my deathbed then I’d be making the decision from a place of fear, and, as I know too well (and as I’ve written about previously), this is not the way to live or make decisions. It would have been easy though; to choose to have a child for any of those reasons because that’s what many people do so that’s a “norm”. Very few question the choice to have a child. People question your choice to not have one. Interesting, isn’t it? In my experience, people assume I could not have children before they assume I did not want them.
The best choices in life are those that come from our heart and a true desire to create something in our lives; be it a new career, home, relationship, body, or child. When we choose with that heartfelt desire we choose what’s right for us. When we choose from fear of being the outsider, being alone, not fitting in, being rejected, or misunderstood by others, we choose what’s not right for us.
I’m grateful I did not allow those fears to drive my decision about having children. Like many of you, I grew up assuming I would have kids. That’s what you do, right? You go to college, get a job, get married, and have kids (maybe not in that order.) There weren’t a lot of people around me who didn’t have children. And, if they existed it was usually because they could not have them. They tried but it didn’t happen. I didn’t know anyone who was child-free by choice. And that’s another reason many people make the decision to have children. They think it’s what they’re “supposed to” do. So that’s what they do. Again, in my opinion, having a child because you think you “should” isn’t a great reason to do it. I don’t recommend doing anything that’s attached to a “should”.
Today I still don’t know very many child-free by choice people but I am proud to be one of them. I made the decision that was best for me and did not let societal norms, pressure, or fear drive me to make such an important choice. As I’ve observed from the millions of you who have children, it is no small feat and is not a decision to take lightly. I have mad respect for you but please don’t ask me if I want to hold your baby. I don’t.
This article was originally published on The Huffington Post on August 23, 2016.