“Oh, you’ll eventually change your mind,” is the response my husband and I usually get when we tell strangers we’re not interested in having children. I always softly chuckle and say to myself, “I doubt it.”
The best is when people tell us to stop thinking about it so much and just do it as if some thinking and planning shouldn’t go into making the life-altering decision to become a parent. There are so many unknowns.
People have also told us we should have kids because they would be cute mixed kids (my husband is white, and I am black), but that’s a whole other blog post. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that we don’t like kids. We love them, but they’re just not for us, and its high time society is okay with that and let people like us be. I will say that we did not come to this decision lightly. There have been many, many discussions about it, even before we married. We’ve discussed it in therapy, and we even made a list of the pros and cons of having children.
When we moved from Los Angeles to New York, we made sure to ask every parent we befriended or ran into, “How do you like parenting?” We wanted to get different perspectives from different couples. The response always started with “I love being a parent, and I love my kids, but……”. The word “but” would linger with me after the conversation. Had they wished they waited to have kids? Had one spouse wanted kids more than the other? Or even worse, do they regret having children? I’d heard of couples where one spouse wanted kids more than the other. Sometimes the partner who didn’t really want kids finally caved in to the pressure to make their partner happy, later feeling resentful. I didn’t want us to be one of those couples, so I feel even to this day that it’s essential for us to continually discuss it and make sure we are still on the same page.
Let me give you more context into my reasoning. I’m the eldest of eight kids and grew up taking care of my younger brothers and sisters at an early age. In other words, I had to grow up fast. I love my siblings dearly, but by the time college came around, I knew deep down, I did not want children. I’d been there and done that, so to speak. It’s been a joy to see my friends become parents throughout the years; to see the happiness it brings them. They are so good at parenting. Friends have told me I’d be good at parenting, but I’m a firm believer that just because you’d be good at something, doesn’t mean you should always do it. You see, the thing is, I’ve never envied my friends who are parents or felt like I was missing out on something. I’ve always felt content simply being” Auntie Shay.”
Fast forward many years, and I meet my husband, an only child, and I’m a little surprised to find out he’s on the fence about kids. Maybe it’s different for men? Some of his reasons include not feeling strongly that it’s something he must do; that it would not necessarily “complete” him as a person or be necessary for happiness. He also mentioned the financial cost and adding to the world’s overpopulation problem, further straining the world’s environmental resources. As we got to know each other, we discovered that we were both in agreement that neither of us has powerful, intuitive feelings to be a parent.
To this day, the kid discussion continues to come up whenever we meet new people. For some reason, a woman that doesn’t want kids is still shocking in 2020. Why is it always taboo for a woman not to want children? I don’t think my husband is judged as harshly for his decision. Why is what I do with my womb anyone else’s business? Why can’t we as a society support women that have chosen a non-parental lifestyle the same way we support new moms? People should simply respect each other’s life choices. I love my husband. He is enough; I do not feel incomplete.
Could our decision years from now change? Maybe. But that is the nature of life: it is always changing. No two couples are the same, and no marriage is the same. There is beauty in the fact that family can be whatever you want it to be.