I don’t want to have children…
When I am honest with myself and remove all of the distractions of parents, society, friends, and husband, I am left with the notion that I don’t want to have children. Saying this to myself has been very difficult let alone to anyone else. The expectation has always been part of the meta-narrative of time: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby carriage.” But, what if this isn’t my story? What if I disappoint everyone by being honest, and perhaps a little selfish, and decide that children are not for me?
This aching sense of going against the tide has plagued my young adult consciousnesses. As a teenager, I feared this truth and plunged into as many babysitting gigs as I could find. Caring for infants, toddlers, and kids, I hoped that one of these surrogates would unlock my maternal instinct and convince me that being a parent was fulfilling. Instead, I found myself bored, frustrated, but very good at diaper changing. Playing, strolling, and playing some more with each of the children just made the truth more apparent: I did not mind these short term visits but I was not interested in doing this long term.
David wants children and since marrying him my sentiments towards being a parent have become confused. When David holds me in his arms, I truly feel a yearning to create a life that is made of the two of us. It doesn’t feel like I am forcing it, but how can I know for certain I often ask him? Do we really want children or, now that we are married, are we just a little extra sappy? Last week I went out to California to visit my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and brand-new nephew. Kissing David good bye at the airport, I thought this will be the trip, this will be the moment in which I am finally convinced in one way or the other if parenting is in my future or if it is something that I feel obligated to do and need to come to terms with completely and just say no.
It was not fair to put all of this onto the shoulders of my unsuspecting family members. Yet, in the background of every interaction, I could not help but weigh my future options. Within 24 hours my answer was quite apparent. I desperately want children. Everyone always says, “It will be different when it is your child.” I scoffed at this thinking I know the kids I babysit inside and out as though they were my own and they never convinced me. Here I was now sitting across from my niece and I realized that this was very different. She was very different. She was a part of me in ways all those babysitting kids never could be. It was as if our common blood spoke to each other. Immediately, I knew that I loved her and would do anything to make her happy. Help her down the slide one hundred times in 20 minutes, play the same games over and over again…SURE! My niece looks like a mix of my brother and sister-in-law physically and her personality is so dynamic and engaging at 19 months that I was completely changed. This little person was so them and so me and so what I want. When it was finally time to say good bye, and she hugged me at the airport, my heart actually broke and I could not stop crying. How could I say goodbye to this sweet life that was a part of mine completely for 5 days? Even today, four days after the visit, my eyes well with tears as I think about her and how she tapped into what I perceived as a “cold” heart.
Not having children is a perfectly fine choice that many of my friends and co-workers have made and, knowing how I have previously felt about creating a family, it is a choice I also feel like I understand to some degree. However, this visit has shifted me in a big way and I am looking forward to not only the next time I can cuddle my niece, swing her around the house to songs from the Little Mermaid, do crafts with her with crayons and paste, but now also to introduce her to my own little someone someday.