I know when you ask me a form of the following question, “So are you guys going to try to have kids right away?” you don’t mean to offend me. However, a more appropriate question would be “So, are you guys going to have kids?”
There is a huge difference to these two statements: The first is an assumption. The second is a genuine question.
I understand that our society has instilled in you that when a couple gets married the next step in their life together is to try to procreate. I understand that my fiancé and I are in the minority when we declare, completely honestly and without any trace of shame, that we do not want children. But you need to understand that “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage” is not a universal statement.
I have not wanted children since I was a child myself. I do not like children. I do not like being in their company. I do not find them cute, or precious, or sweet, or any of the other adjectives that are generally associated with them. Instead, I find them tiresome and annoying. I do not know how to speak with them or play with them. I do not know how to come down to their level and it makes me uncomfortable to try.
Pregnancy and giving birth terrify me. I cannot help but think of a fetus as a parasite leaching off my body for survival. I have an extremely low tolerance for pain and would never willingly put myself through the agony of childbirth. I have a hard enough time making a dentist appointment.
I like my independence too much to be saddled with a child. I do not want the responsibility of taking care of another human being. I do not want to get up in the middle night to attend to a crying baby. I don’t want to have to pack lunches and cook dinners for a child. And I certainly don’t want to have to deal with an angst ridden teenager. I want to be able to perform in community theater whenever I am chosen for a role and not have to worry about my rehearsal schedule meshing with a child care schedule. I know myself well enough to know that I would become supremely resentful of a child if I had to give up hobbies I love in order to raise one.
I have medical issues that would make it difficult for me to be a good parent. I have chronic migraine headaches that render me barely capable of walking to the bathroom. There is no way I would be capable of caring for a child in that condition. I have Interstitial Cystitis and am on a low acid diet plus take a daily medication to control it. Enough havoc is wreaked on my bladder in its normal condition without adding a fetus sitting on it into the mix.
My fiance’s reasons for not having children are not mine to delve into. Suffice it to say that while he likes children he does not feel the need to bring any of his own into a world and culture that are, in his view, in a downward spiral. On top of that the financial implications of seeing a child through from birth to college are just mind-boggling and quite frankly not something we can afford.
Your comments of “Oh, you’ll change your mind” or “You haven’t experienced love until you’re a parent” or “Well, then why are you getting married?” are as ignorant as they are hurtful. No, I won’t change my mind. It has been made up since I was about sixteen years old. Who are you to tell me if I have or have not experienced love? Why is the love between a parent and child any better than the love I feel for my fiance, or my parents, or my friends? Why does that fact that we’re not having children make our marriage meaningless? We’re getting married because we love each other and do not want to be without each other unless death or zombies intervene. We want to hang out with each other for the rest of our lives. We want to watch movies, and play with our cat, and go to shows, and do whatever the hell else we want.
Your other comment of “But, you won’t have anybody when you’re older” is also hurtful. Yes, I will most likely outlive my nine years older than me husband. No, I don’t have nieces or nephews. But I have friends who are like-minded and don’t want children. This comment also makes me wonder if that is actually a factor in some people’s decision to have children. Are you really that selfish that you’ll bring a new life into this world so that you have caretakers in your old age?
Again, I understand that we live in a world where marriage and children go hand in hand more often than not. I understand that we’re in the minority. I also understand that you may not, and probably cannot, understand our choice. But please believe me. Do not fix me with a pitying gaze. Do not try to convince me otherwise. And do not tell me I will regret it. Do me the simple courtesy of treating me like an adult who has made a choice and is perfectly content.