Baby piles, irrational fears, and responsibilities: why I don’t want to have a kid

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This is me, awkwardly holding a my cousin's baby. But, hey, check out the shoes that I bought for her!

Here’s the deal — I don’t want kids, I never have, and I don’t think I ever will. For years now I’ve had TONS of folks tell me “you’ll seeeee… that’ll change… wait until you hit 25… 27… 30…” I turned 30 last year, and it still hasn’t changed.

The only thing that has changed is that I’ve started to feel my biological clock ticking. And I’m wondering if maybe that’s what people mean by, “one day you’ll want kids.” Have all those people confused the feeling of their bodies becoming ready to get pregnant with the feeling of actually wanting a kid? Or am I so broken and scared shitless of children that it’s acting like a numbing agent to that “gimme a kid NAOW” feeling? I don’t know. But, I have a feeling that’s part of it.

Even with my body telling me that it’s baby-makin’ time, my logical mind is telling me NO FREAKING WAY! I’m not responsible enough, I’m not patient enough, I’m not tolerant enough, I’m not maternal enough, I’m not stable enough, and, until recently, that guy I married and I haven’t been employed enough to have a kid. Plus I have a whole host of irrational fears concerning the human body (belly buttons, blood, scar tissue, veins, I’ll stop now before I look even crazier), so all those weird pregnancy changes would just freak me out WAY too much.

But besides all the obvious reasons why we shouldn’t have kids — lack of responsibility, time, money, shits being given — there’s also another big reason why I never want to produce offspring. And though what I’m about to tell you may sound funny, I assure you, I am in no way kidding…

One time, I saw a pile of babies.

I was at a family event when it happened. Almost all of my female cousins had recently given birth within the year. (Sometimes I think my family members are trying to attempt world domination by sheer number.) My grandmother had the idea to take a group photo of all the newest additions. So all the gals placed their babies on a blanket one by one. And there it was — about five or six half-naked, sticky, drooling babies, squirming around and crawling over one another.

I was witness to a pile of small humans.

And that, my friends, is now one of the top reasons that I don’t want kids. I really don’t want to contribute to the growing pile of babies that my family is creating.

Like this, only creepier. (pile on © by bschmove, used under Creative Commons license.)

Baby piles, irrational fears, and responsibility issues aside… even though I’m pretty sure that I don’t ever want to be a parent, I know better than to speak in absolutes. Both Aaron and I are open to the fact that we may change our minds at some point, what with the whole biological clock thing, we’re just crossing our fingers that we don’t change.

But, I’ll tell you something that I’ve just recently admitted to myself — I sometimes wish that I wanted to have kids. Things would actually be easier on us, in some ways, to just know what we wanted. We could plan our future accordingly — make plans, save up money, get some of that ol’ health insurance stuff, etc.

It would also make our families super happy. They really haven’t been NOT pushy and open about how much they want us to have kids. And, to be honest, I’d love to see what a combination of both Aaron and me would look like. I’d also enjoy seeing my dad do fun grandpa stuff with the kid. And I bet being pregnant feels freaking amazing, you know, once you’re past all that barfing — I’m sure it’s all very romantic. Ooh, and think of all the sex you could be having without worrying about getting pregnant!

But as it stands Aaron and I are just not ready for that. Nor, if I’m being logical, do I think that we’ll ever be.

So that’s that. Babies are still a no-go even though I can definitely feel that pesky biological clock. I just keep hitting the snooze button in hopes that the damn clock will just run out of batteries and shut itself off soon.

Comments on Baby piles, irrational fears, and responsibilities: why I don’t want to have a kid

  1. I read ‘piles’ in the title and thought it meant like ‘piles’ on your bum rather than a pile of babies…

    Really interesting thoughts. I would never ever in a million years judge someone for not wanting to have children. I was convinced for years I didn’t want children and I used to get very very hurt when people treated me like I was psychologically unstable when I told them this. Yes, I’ve met someone who I would like to have children with now, but that doesn’t change the fact that people really do judge you for what is a CHOICE not to have children. Wasn’t that the point of feminism, to provide ouselves with CHOICES? Sometimes I wonder…

  2. I am one of those people child-free folks HATE to hear about, who never, ever, ever wanted kids until I got pregnant and fell in love with my children and parenthood. HOWEVER! I am also not one of those parents who really can’t imagine life without her kids… I wouldn’t change the path I went down, but I can totally see myself having stayed child-free, traveling more, working more, etc, etc, etc. I can’t guarantee that is what I would be doing, but I don’t look at my imaginary child-free life and think it is lacking, either.

    I was scared shitless of all the things you mentioned, too… and I got over a lot of them, but tend to be a pretty neurotic parent who is always trying to calm my irrational fears, too. Life is a mixed bag no matter which road you take, I believe.

  3. Thank you! This is a wonderful post, and I love that it has gotten so many supportive and interesting comments!
    I am also non-baby-inclined. My husband and I hear the “you’ll see” all the freaking time! As if we’ll reach a certain age and suddenly become different people. But the truth is, neither of us has ever wanted to have kids. I do have those moments, too, of thinking that some element of having kids would be nice, like, “Wouldn’t it be fun to dress them up as pumpkins for Halloween”, but that is not enough to make me want to be a parent for the rest of my life.
    I think it is important in life to be honest with oneself. And when I am honest with myself (and with all of you), I can admit that I am selfish, and inflexible, and fussy. I am a good wife, and a good friend, and a good aunt (I love my nephews more than words can express!), but I would not be a good mother, and I am okay with that.

  4. Great post!
    I recently decided I don’t want to have children, and I absolutely love babies and kids.
    I struggle with the decision as so many people close to me are having children and as their lives change, our relationships change as well so I am working to balance that by having relationships with more people who have decided to be child free.

  5. I’m unencumbered by children and my DH and I plan to stay that way. At almost 40 I’ve had about 20 years of “oh, you’ll change your mind when… (you turn xx years old, you meet the right person, whatever).” I’m quite certain I won’t.

    What I find amazing is that people actually call me selfish for not wanting kids. Having kids just because of societal pressure would be ludicrous.

    My feeling is to have kids one must actively want them. I’ve never actively wanted them (the closest I’ve come to feeling the “biological clock” was seeing the cats in the window at a local adoption center). I love my nieces. I’ve held a friend’s baby at 9 hours old. Still no desire to have my own. Therefore I don’t. It isn’t financial, or lifestyle, or anything. I just simply don’t have a desire for kids. I also don’t have a desire to paint my house orange, so I don’t.

  6. I have JUST reached the point where those around me are having babies. A month ago the first little bundle of newborn joy was passed to me and I braced myself for the possible, “OMG, I want one!” feeling. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    Last weekend I held her for a few hours while her parents played Traveller in the next room. She’s cute and I didn’t mind watching her, but I was glad to give her back to her parents. I’m thankful that I have this opportunity to play with others’ kids as it just seems to reaffirm that I don’t want one of my own. I’m totally with you, Megan; I don’t feel responsible, patient, mature enough to birth and raise a child. And at 30 I doubt that will magically change any time soon.

    Strangely, though, one thing does excite me: adoption. The idea of giving a home to a child who is going to exist regardless of my choices, but may or may not have a family depending on my choices. I still don’t feel responsible, patient, and mature enough to raise a child so don’t know if it’ll happen, but I’m much more open to the idea of adopting than having a biological child. I have no idea how I can hold these two opposing perspectives in my mind, but somehow I do!

  7. You know, this article is really interesting and timely to me. I’ve ALWAYS thought I wanted kids – I absolutely adore children and lavish attention on the ones in my family. But over the holidays, while playing with my cousin’s kids, it suddenly occurred to me that I would actually be totally fine without having kids of my own. I have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed before (some other comments have mentioned it) and I wholeheartedly agreed with her defense of “aunties.” I am a verry proud auntie and though this is just a thought that’s come to me recently, I think that could be enough for me. I had already been thinking that I didn’t really want to ever be pregnant (my sister had a terribly difficult pregnancy and there are certain medical issues that could make it even harder)- but I had been thinking of adopting instead.
    We’ll see. I love reading the childfree posts up here in addition to everything else – I read Offbeat Mom because I love reading about families, cute kids and lifestyles totally different from my own. It’s nice to find some familiar ground in here too.

  8. My partner and I have never been baby people. We appreciate children but we don’t like the baby obsession – parents who focus every aspect of their life and conversations about babies and kids. So we decided we would like and be happy to have and raise a child of our own. Now 5 months pregnant I’m very happy to be expecting, however one thing we can’t stand is the fact that now we’re expecting, some people we know thinks all we want to do is talk about babies babies babies! Having a baby is just one aspect of our lives. If we changed jobs or houses would people spend all their time talking to us about that one topic??

    There’s a lot of things about parenthood I am excited about, but I’m also bracing myself for all the hard work and exhaustion from the actual child – and sadly I feel I’m going to have to brace myself for barrages of unwanted child advice and conversations that will come from baby obsessed adults.

    • This!!! OMG I am only 7 weeks pregnant and I have the feeling that I am just an incubator now!!! Every time I try to bring another topic, people go back to my belly! It doesn’t help either that in France, you have to do everything very early (organizing daycare, where to give birth etc even before the conception for example. I think I’ll deal with the inscription at the College next week ;-S) whereas you’re not yet in the safe zone…
      Megan your post is great, and the comments are great too. It is very important to know what you want and stand to your ground… And the baby piles? I almost peed myself on (and awoke the cat in the process)!

  9. Some old family friends of mine were married about 40 years and never had children. As a kid I had assumed that they weren’t able to have kids, but a couple of years after her husband had died, the wife told me that it was their choice. When they married, he told her that he didn’t want kids – he had already raised his younger siblings after his fathers death. Being an only child she had never been around babies and didn’t know what to do with them, so that was fine with her. She said she always assumed that at some point one or both of them would change their minds, but they never did. They were happy together and very busy with plans that kids just didn’t fit into.

    Later in life, she and her husband did take in an adult woman who needed help. She lived with them for about 15 years and they called her their foster daughter. She said that if she had been busy with children, she would have missed that opportunity!

  10. Its refreshing to read a story like this.

    I was in this boat 2 years ago. My husband and I had been married/together for over a decade and had always said that we did not want children. We decided to wait until we were 30 to make a solid decision and then one of us was getting “fixed”. When we turned 28, my husband’s clock started ticking and he was the one who started with the baby talk. I had the same fears and views as the author and didnt know if I was ready to commit to having a child. My “clock” had also started to tick as the author described- I would think about babies and being pregnant and have to tell myself to “stop all of that crazy talk! You dont want kids dummy!”. Its weird. At some point you do it without even realizing it.

    Anyway, over the next year, he started to sound more and more resentful when someone would ask why we didnt have children- “jess doensn’t want babies”, he would say. I knew that I had to make a decision. I was still happy with the idea of never having kids, but I could tell it was something that would fester in him and become a problem in our marriage later if I didnt give in.

    I made the decision to get pregnant because I knew that in the long run I would enjoy motherhood and his feelings about being a parent were much stronger than my feelings about being childless.Having a child was never really important to me but it had become important to him, and I loved him more than anything in the world and wanted to give him everything he wanted.

    So….at 29 I got pregnant and delivered our sweet baby boy, Jasper, 10 days before my 30th birthday. He is almost a year old now and i am really happy that I decided to go through wit my decision. I love being a mom. Jasper is like “baby crack”- he is all I think about all day and I cant wait to get home to get my “fix” every day. My husband and I are happier than we have ever been and Jasper really gives us something to look forward to everyday in these awful times of financial crisis and career stagnation.

    So….long story short, sometimes its not all about what your hormones and your biological clock are telling you- its about how you feel in your heart and how you are willing to let your plans change.

    • Thank you for this, this is the only comment I’ve been able to relate to so far.

      For quite some time, I’ve really not liked kids. And really not wanted kids. And I’ve expressed this to my fiance on several occassions, afraid that I will shatter his dreams. He is really relaxed and understanding about it all and takes the “we’ll overcome that hurdle when it happens” approach – because I have been saying “I may want kids, but right now, no.”

      After seeing my cousin and her 3 year old and her baby yesterday, I just didn’t know how to interact with them – not only that, I didn’t WANT to. I was probably being quite rude tbh, but I feel why should I fake it? Nothing against her kids – just kids in general.

      So it was after that I said to G – I don’t think I want kids – ever. And that he needs to have a serious think on how that effects him.

      He told me he’s already thought on it before, and although he would like to have kids, that having me is more important. He wouldn’t want to have kids with someone else. I assured him that I still don’t know if I’ll change my mind … but as it stands, it’s a no.

      I feel relived, but yet so, so horrible. And, like you, I think that I would have a baby with him if it was tearing us apart because I love him so much.

  11. I really appreciate your story. It is great to know that not everyone else is 100% confident in their choices about whether to parent or not. I am also struggling with whether or not my path is to be child-free, but I came from the opposite direction. I was a 20 year old who yearned and dreamed about being a mother. I was a Baby Story watching, baby crack sniffing crazy, and was lucky I didn’t scare away my now husband with my baby obsession.

    Now that I am married and 25, I am “meh” about motherhood and leaning towards being child free, but like you am feeling unsure about my choice. Like you I wish I could just figure it out one way or the other so I can figure out how the rest of my life is going to look. It makes it more difficult that most of the childfree people who I know or know of have always felt strongly that they wanted to be childfree. I don’t know anyone else who wanted to be a mother so badly and then just…didn’t.

    For now I am just trying to sort out my feelings and just be open to either direction. Right now I feel like our family is complete with just the two of us, but I am waiting to see if that something’s missing feeling ever comes. Thanks for sharing your story and making it feel less like being child free is something everyone feels super confident about.

  12. It’s always so interesting hearing everyone’s different perspectives and stories! I’ve always wanted kids… but from the time I was 16 up until maybe four years ago (I’m 28), I “100% KNEW” that I did NOT want to be pregnant and/or birth a child. I wanted to adopt kids, and I felt totally confident that that was how I was going to create my family.

    Now I’m 28, on the verge of getting engaged, and over the last couple of years my brain has done a 180. I’m pretty sure the main thing that’s to blame are the crazy baby hormones, because starting a year or so ago my biological clock kicked in HARDCORE. I’m still interested in adopting… and if we can’t get pregnant on our own we’ve both already agreed that we’d rather do the adoption route than the IVF route, but it’s interesting how much my views have changed over the years.

    But my brother and sister-in-law have no plans to have kids, and I totally support that. In fact, I think it’s probably the best decision they could have made. They’re both totally awesome, but they have never really struck me as kid people. They totally fall into the “Awesome Aunt/Uncle” category, though. 😀

  13. I found this post really interesting. Kind of a “the grass is always greener on the other side” deal.

    Because, well, I DO want kids. Badly. I’m married, I’m 24 years old, and my body is telling me that I’m ready to make babies RIGHT NOW. Not to mention everyone around me is requesting that I, PLEASE, get pregnant.

    Thing is, I don’t feel too young to be a Mama, but I want to live child-free a little while longer. I love our current lifestyle, and while I realize you don’t have to give up your social life when you become a parent, I also realize that everything would change. My husband and I also aren’t in the best place financially, and we’d rather wait at least a couple more years until we feel more comfortable, before having a baby.

    And now to my point… Struggling with the VERY strong desire to have a baby vs. logically knowing it’s not the best move for us right now… it always makes me feel like it would be WAY easier if we just did NOT want kids. Like that would solve everything.

    I’ve never even considered that NOT wanting kids could be a struggle as well. Now I see that planning a family is complicated no matter what you want.

    For the record, I have many friends who plan to stay child-free. I say that because I know at times it can seem like EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD EVER has kids, or is having kids, or can’t wait to have kids. I know my child-free-by-choice friends feel overwhelmed by that. So you are not alone!

  14. Great article! I am Preschool teacher. I see piles of babies EVERY DAY! Every so often I’ll have a parent ask me if I have kids, or “don’t you just want one?”. I usually just offer them the obligatory ” Someday.” response, but what I’m really thinking is that I have thirteen kids, five days a week all under the age of four. I’m really content with not coming home to another drippy, gooey, screaming lunatic. I do enough of that on my own!

    Having said all that, I am 100% UNDECIDED about whether or not to have a child. I love kids and I know I would make a great mamma. However, right now it’s not really something my man friend and I can take on, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a smidge disappointed each time I got my period.

  15. I’m in the don’t-want-them-now-but-interested-eventually category, and my family can be very annoying about it. My maternal instincts started kicking in hardcore after I turned 21, and I hated it. I read mom blogs all the time and drove myself crazy because I knew I was not ready emotionally or financially, but BABIES BABIES BABIES.

    I got a dog when I was 22. It’s been great! My maternal side is satisfied, and I can leave her alone for eight hours to go party with my friends. When my family pressures me about kids now, I rave about my dog and send them pictures. Now they think I’m a crazy pet person and don’t bother me as much.

  16. Hey Megan. I just had my first baby at 42. He is now 3 months old. I really didn’t feel my biological clock tick until I was 39.
    You still have plenty of time to decide to become a mom. So don’t stress over it. Enjoy your life as it now.

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