“When are you going to have a baby?”
It seems like more and more young people are deciding not to have children these days.
I’ll be really honest and say that in the past (when I was young and oh-so-brilliant about everything) I didn’t trust people who didn’t want children. I thought there was something very self-centered about their decision, as in: “I want to live a completely self-motivated life and I can’t be bothered with the care and nurturing of another human being.”
Before you send me hate mail, please know that in my old age, when I am oh-so-brilliant about everything (some things never change) I have changed my tune.
I have found that often the reasons for remaining childless aren’t what they seem to be on the surface. In fact, they usually come from the deepest, most truthful part of a woman.
Some of my young friends grew up with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents. As children, they cleaned up barf, did laundry, made meals, paid bills, and felt responsible for the safety of the very person who was supposed to provide that for them. By the time they reached adulthood, they were exhausted, way too tired to have to continue doing those things for the rest of their lives. They had been “parents” in their youth, and in adulthood it was time to give themselves the childhood they never had. And, that makes perfect sense to me.
I also had a friend with such severe OCD that she once told me that if she had had children she would have felt compelled to buy everything matching and have it all lined up in a row. She would have followed her kids around the house constantly cleaning up after them (she had enough trouble doing that whenever I came over!). She made the decision to remain childless and she felt it was the right choice for her.
Likewise, when asked about having kids, a young man in my life cockily says, “I just don’t see the point.” Knowing him like I do, I realize that what he’s really saying is: “My childhood was so difficult that I just couldn’t watch my kids struggle through those same issues.” He’s worked hard to get over his own pain and he doesn’t feel like he has the strength to support anyone else through the childhood years.
My introverted friends are also in no hurry to have kids. School functions? PTA meetings? Play groups? The very thought of those things turns the blood in their veins into ice water. They question whether they’ll turn their children into the social outcasts they imagine themselves to be.
I have other friends who have chosen careers that involve nurturing others (teachers, nurses, counselors, etc.). So, they opt to spend their off hours in other pursuits.
But, here’s the thing about all these people:
They love other people’s children!
They make the best Aunts, Uncles, Godparents, etc. They show up for birthday parties and holidays. They take their friend’s kids on outings and shower them with love. They are always ready to meet a tired mommy for a “date”. They are truly an indispensable part of family life.
So, isn’t it time we stopped asking them when they’re going to have kids? Isn’t it time we realized that parenting isn’t for everyone? Can’t we appreciate their input into the lives of our children and value that instead?
Motherhood isn’t the be-all, end-all for every woman, and that’s okay. There are other ways to show love in this world, and I thank the women who have taught me that.
Disclaimer Time: Many of you reading this have overcome these same issues and have gone on to be fantastic parents. And, in my mind, all of the people represented in this blog would have made amazing parents too. But, whatever is holding them back, it is ultimately their decision and I am just very happy to have them in my life and the lives of my family.
Please also note: This blog does not address infertility (which is an issue for another day).