There have been a plethora of blog posts around Mother’s Day about childlessness. It’s enough to make one want to burn one’s eyes out with a flaming tiger claw (Tiger, Tiger, burning bright…). So here’s one more. Hah!
When I was a kid, my bestie and I played with Cabbage Patch kids and pretended they were our children. We dreamed of the life we’d have marrying a doctor or lawyer and having anywhere from one to eleventy-three kids. We made “mansions” out of comfy chair cushions. My friend definitely wanted millions of kids and couldn’t wait to be a mom. I played along because, hey, play is fun, but I was more interested in designing and decorating my home, making art for the walls, and sewing the matching outfits for me and my kids, than in actually raising a mini-me. I didn’t babysit much as I got older, but I volunteered with chronically ill children at Camp Holiday Trails. Truthfully, I wasn’t entirely sure how to deal with babies and really little kids until yesterday a few years ago. The urge to procreate was just never really there. Maybe because my parents did it so well, I didn’t feel compelled to do it, too, because I really couldn’t improve upon how they’d done it. After all, I am awesomesauce, and they raised me. Plus, what are the odds I’d get as fantastically amazing a child as I was? (Perhaps they shouldn’t have raised my self-esteem quite so high…)
In college, I had a boyfriend who I loved, but we agreed early on that we wouldn’t be able to stay together after college because he wanted kids and I didn’t. Everyone, of course, told me my feelings would change once my biological clock kicked in and started ticking in my ear and keeping me awake all damn night (much like the cries of an infant would, by the way). And, eventually, they were kind of right. A few years ago my husband and I tossed around the idea of having children. But tossing around the idea probably isn’t a sign that you really want or should have them.
The thing is, sometimes I do want kids. I love my friends’ kids. I could eat my godchildren for dessert (with a little whipped cream and chocolate syrup, of course – wait, you’re probably not supposed to eat children). I have baby fever and am always begging my pregnant customers to bring in their babies after they pop out. But then two things happen: 1) we’ll have a kids’ birthday party at the studio and they’ll be particularly bratty, or 2) I’ll have another chronic illness flare up or bout of depression. I can get over the bratty kids, because, like everyone else undoubtedly thinks, I’m sure my kids wouldn’t be minions of the devil. But the health thing is a big deal. First, if I’m going to be a mom, I don’t want to half-ass it. At the end of a long day, when I go home I have no reserves for caring about anyone else’s problems. I’ve spent the day fighting pain and debilitating thoughts and I just want to collapse and die. I wouldn’t want to be a parent that couldn’t be everything her kids needed her to be. And, more importantly, I don’t want to pass my genes on. Let’s be honest, right? My body started crapping out when I was still a kid. Ditto for my brain. And given the strong family history of depression, I’m almost guaranteeing that my child would have depression, and I don’t want to bring someone into the world who’s not going to love being in it.
I’m looking forward to the day when I look old enough that people will stop asking when I’m going to breed. I look forward to not having to laugh it off and say that two businesses and a husband keep me busy enough – as though I need to justify it to a stranger. Because it’d be real conversation killer to say the real reason is that I don’t want to pass on all my shitty physical and mental issues. Most days, I don’t want kids. I like not having to take care of anyone else beyond my husband and cats and dad. I like that I’m not bound by school schedules and soccer practices and piano lessons. But there are times that I get sad that I won’t be able to pass on my family’s lullabies and inside jokes. There are times I feel bad for not giving my parents a grandchild. There are times that I wonder who will take care of me when I’m old. There are times when I look at my friends’ kids snuggling up for a bed time story and my heart kind of aches and my uterus skips a beat.
So I live with my choice, and most days that’s fine. And on the days that it’s not, I snuggle up for a bed time story with my cats and try to let that be enough.