Baby ON Board?

Like it or not, a woman in her fertile years is expected to have a desire to have children. When a woman doesn’t children, sometimes that is accepted as a valid decision. Perhaps the woman can’t physically produce progeny(but then, why not do what Angelina Jolie did and adopt? There are a ton of needy kids out there!). . Perhaps the woman has an extremely important career saving the world and thus has already met her care giving lifetime quota (Oprah’s off the hook). Perhaps the woman hasn’t found a partner and deliberately raising a kid solo is not the ideal situation for developing pristine emotional well-being. Perhaps the woman is psychologically or morally flawed beyond repair (there isn’t baby college in prison systems). These are all good reasons we’ve decided as a culture for a woman NOT having a child…but to not have a DESIRE to have a child, well, that’s “just not natural.” This under-riding philosophy confuses me. This past week, Kelly Clarkson got a lot of hype about saying she might not want kids. But then she has to qualify it by saying that the decision was an act of realistically appraising her lifestyle…not about a lack of desire. It begs the question What does a desire to have children actually feel like? Is it demonstrated through the urge to play dolls as a girl? (I never really enjoyed acting out Barbie and Ken’s forays into carpooling and dream house maintenance) Does it reveal itself if you were whipping up brownies for your roommates in college? (I’ve been bequeathed “The Potluck Princess” in the past). Does the inclination unfurl itself if you find yourself comforting other people in distress (I own 5 first aid kits). Is the craving present if you don’t particularly enjoy cartoons or video games or clutter or chaos of any kind (I subsist on “everything has a home”). I don’t know if these bones have the mettle for motherhood…the job of it…the immense sacrifice….the responsibility…..the faith and patience it requires…but to dig a bit deeper, I don’t know if I have the desire to have children. I don’t know if I desire to give up so much of me to shape another. The more I delay in this act, the more trepidation I experience. If I am a stranger to myself now, just as easily as when I was 7, pungently curious, or 17, doubtfully cocky, or 24, optimistically wandering, I don’t know if I will ever recognize myself long enough to create a life. And I don’t know if I want to. I know I want to belong somewhere, and that I don’t want to be alone….but that does not equal wanting to have children. Before you say “Just wait until you—(fill in the blank: are older, are more settled, find someone, all your friends have babies)…stick with me here. Is my anxiety perhaps due to the fact that I don’t have kids yet at 30, or is it because I don’t want to?


12 thoughts on “Baby ON Board?

  1. I wonder the same things. I am very very OK with saying: “I don’t want kids right now and I may never want kids.” I know that I have no interest what-so-ever in having a child come out of my uterus. Could I change my mind, yes. Its possible. But I am not worried about my clock ticking or quitting. There are many ways to nurture in the world and they can be done at anytime even long after menopause.

    I think its one of those things that if you do want it, you know. Its super clear. I don’t have that clarity but I don’t have enough clarity about NOT wanting kids to go get my tubes lasered either.

  2. Great Blog! I am just now visiting for the first time.

    I think I can speak to this because I USED to want to have kids and now I don’t. From childhood through college I just *expected* to have kids someday. Just because of the way society treats it, like when you argue with your parents and they say “just wait until you have kids!” I never really gave it much thought because it seemed so far away. After college I wasn’t dating, and I was panicking- how will I ever meet a guy? I’ll never have kids!!! The funny thing about this is that by this time in my life I knew I HATED the idea of pregnancy. I still do- I just think it’s disgusting, sue me. But yet I still just assumed that I wanted to have kids (I figured I’d deal with pregnancy when it came time or adopt or whatever). But I wanted kids because I didn’t want to be different. It was because at 24, I hadn’t figured out yet that not all adults were the same. Until that point, almost every adult I had ever met had been married with children! It wasn’t a feeling, it was a fear! Now that I’m 31, I don’t dismiss the idea of having kids completely- I might change my mind, who the hell knows? But right now I can say “I don’t want them.” And no it’s not acceptable to most people.
    …What’s even less acceptable is my aversion to pregnancy. I just think it looks like the worst thing that could happen to a healthy person. Yet whenever I say that I never want to pregnant, whomever I’m talking to feels the need to try to convince me that it’s “beautiful.”

  3. My brother calls this scenario “The Burden of Choice”. Now that we have more socially acceptable options regarding our fertility, we have to act on those options…and sometimes, having more choice is a burden, at least psychologically.

    It’s like me in the peanut butter aisle. REALLY, how many options for peanut butter can there be? I just thought I’d run in and get a jar…now I have to choose between 12 different brands and styles. GRRRR. An analytical personality like ours feels the need to weigh pros and cons of each choice, and finally, the question at the root of it all, “Did I really even want peanut butter in the first place?”

    So, whether your peanut butter is different than mine, or if you chose not to buy any TODAY, or if you’ve got a severe nut allergy, you know I won’t judge you. It’s your choice; patience to you as you stand in the aisle making it. 🙂

    As for me, I’m two aisles over waffling over the kind of bread($) I want…dough made by me, my hubby, or both. Pray for me as we’re trying to decide if I should take next year off or not.

  4. I knew in my teens, my early and late twenties, early thirties and still, at nearly 39 that I never wanted to bear children. I’ve always been open to adoption or step-parenting though.
    Last fall a woman doctor refused to talk about tubal ligation until I was 40, because I still might meet the perfect guy.
    I still haven’t met him, but I am still pissed that as a grown woman I was treated like a weak-minded female needing parental or spousal consent.

  5. I heard again said to me “all women want children, and if they say they don’t something is wrong with them, like they were abused or something….

  6. Does anyone know anything about that birth control they advertise on TV that works for five years? At the end of the ad it says it’s only for “women in stable relationships that have already had kids.” Why would a medication care if you’re in a stable relationship? I can see how they could make up some medical excuse for the “already had kids” part, but it seems like an attempt to keep people from using more permanent forms of birth control and not reproducing.

  7. autonomous- I wanted braces when I was 24 and the orthodontist said he wouldn’t do until after I was “30 and married” because it would be hard for me to meet a guy with braces on!

  8. Because you might change your mind after you are in a stable relationship. Being with a person whom you love may inspire you to want to bring more love into this world…

  9. Right, Anonymous — but can’t the “special someone” wait 5 years?! And… that particular birth control can be removed at any time, according to the ads. I, too, think this is a weird “fine print” thing.

    I am *stunned* to hear about the poor medical practices/responses to women who know they don’t want to have kids. This bothers me a great deal. I have an old friend who now has a child and always wanted a child, but back when she was in her early 30s and wasn’t in a relationship, her gynecologist would ask her EVERY TIME whether she was in a relationship yet (none of your damn business!), and every year as she got older, her gynecologist would quote the statistics for the likelihood of having a healthy baby at age 30 and compare that to the likelihood of having a healthy baby at ages 35 or 36 (when everything becomes much more risky). I thought this practice was TERRIBLE, but my friend wasn’t bothered too much.

    Anyway, I have never wanted children. And I am going to be 30 in a couple weeks. I will be relieved when I am post-menopause and there is no longer any risk of becoming pregnant. That is my biggest fear!!!

    – Lisa

  10. The thing I hear so often from women is not that I Should want kids, but that I WILL want them when I meet HIM, and once I have them. When I protest that this is soo not my future, never has been, these women scoff and tell me that “one never knows, there is still plenty of time, you just never know who you’ll meet” Whatever. There’s NO WAY I’d have kids in my 40’s even if I wanted them! Furthermore, like I told that Gyno-lady, the “right guy” for me won’t want kids, or will value adoption if they’re that important.
    If I wanted kids I would have married in my twenties- my disinterest was a deal-breaker.

  11. I have met people in their 50s who regret not having kids, but never a person in their 50s who have kids that regret it.

  12. Interesting point Anon, but I do hear plenty of women in their 30’s complain and gripe about the chaos, fatigue, social hindrances, expense and childcare challenges, etc etc. because they have children.

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