I feel like I may have lied a little bit in my last post, and I’d like to clear things up.
I postulated that there are people who would be genuinely happy in their lives both as parents as well as non-parents. I still believe this to be true, and I also believe that I am one of these people.
However, I presented this concept in fairly black and white terms in order to make a point, as if everyone in this position is exactly 50/50 about the decision, and that the relative percentages never change.
Perhaps I’m just being a perfectionist, but I want to describe my real feelings regarding this concept because I think it’s important to understanding our differences as humans and the choices we make. I also want to shed light on my own experience, which does not fall neatly into this black and white ideology I wrote about.
I don’t believe such people are always 50/50. I also don’t believe that the relative percentages of for/against never change.
This is the first piece I wanted to bring up. Our preferences and feelings can change and morph depending on everything from our life circumstances to our awareness of our self to our hormone levels to how much we had to eat that day. No one is black and white. No one is 50/50. No one is the same their entire life. Perhaps that was obvious before I stated it explicitly, but I wanted to be extra clear.
Here’s the second piece – the piece about my own story.
Like I said previously, there are days when I think to myself, having a child would be nice, wouldn’t it? Raising a human being would be quite joyful and meaningful, and a huge growth experience. These are the days when I do want children.
There are other days when I think, my values, my preferences, my personality do not at all align with motherhood. This is not for me. I feel calmer, clearer, and freer when my life plan does not include having children of my own. These are the days when I don’t want children.
This is all well and good, this back and forth I have, and, like I said, I believe these changing viewpoints are pretty common for many of the ambivalent out there.
But, if I’m being really honest with myself, as well as brave in putting this out there, the days when I don’t want children greatly outnumber the days when I do.
I think this is OK.
When I wrote that last article, I tried so hard to write it perfectly, preventing anyone from picking out a single piece of information to use against me.
I didn’t want to say that I’m leaning away from having kids overall because I didn’t want people to say I was some kind of unnatural monster, as so often happens to the childless by choice, especially on the anonymous internet.
I also didn’t want to say that there are some days I actually long for a child, because what if someone used that against me and tried to convince me I was making a mistake? (Hell, what if my partner reads this and it makes him anxious? I don’t want that.)
Yes, if my partner wanted children, I think I’d still be happy. I’d rise to the challenge. I’d figure it out, and I think I’d be a pretty good parent given my natural tendencies toward caring and emotional availability.
But most days, no, I don’t want kids. The grief that I mentioned in the previous post…that’s still true. But it’s not as simple as I laid it out.
Children are the most joyful beings on this planet (aside from puppies and baby goats, of course), but if I find myself spending more than a few hours with them continuously, I get exhausted, depleted, and irritated.
Children can bring a very specific kind of meaning into your life that is hard to come by without them, yet I would genuinely prefer to find other forms of meaning through my art, my voice, and my love for those closest to me during my lifetime.
I get extremely anxious when I am over-scheduled. I get emotional when I don’t have enough creative alone time. My energy depletes quickly with any amount of stress, especially when it’s ongoing. I am a sensitive soul, which means having a sensitive body, mind, and spirit all at once. These traits are not conducive to the ideal experience of motherhood I sometimes conjure up in my mind.
I’m falling utterly in love with my best friend’s new baby, but I know in my gut that the full experience of motherhood just doesn’t feel quite right for me. As one of my favorite childfree role models, Elizabeth Gilbert, says: “even as I’m loving on that beautiful infant, I know in my heart: This is not my destiny. ”
So, let me be brave, and by being brave, let me be clear: I don’t think I’m meant to be a mother.
I’m pretty sure I’m OK with that, and I hope that’s OK with you too.
Never forget – your authentic, most honest self is the one you need to honor. Your needs, your choices, and your preferences are all valid because they are yours and no one else’s. Don’t be ashamed of what you know is true for you.