you want babies; i want a pony

A word to the wise: this is one hell of a long-winded update, even for me. You might want to get a cup of coffee and a snack. Maybe I should start a spoiler page; a site that offers “get to the point” 10 word recaps of my posts. Anyway, it’s a long one. Sorry.

“She’s only a little older than I am,” said Laura, and Lena said “I’m a year older than she was”
They looked at each other again, an almost scared look. Then Lena tossed her curly black head. “She’s a silly! Now she can’t ever have any more good times.”
Laura said soberly, “No, she can’t play any more now.”

All my friends are having babies.

Okay, I know that’s not true. I can name plenty of people who are, at this particular moment, not in any way shape or form having any sort of baby. Truthfully, the number of people I know who are having babies is disproportionately small for my age group because of my hermit-like tendencies and not having existed before 1992. So really, not everyone I know is having babies. Five people I know are having babies.

I’ve spent much of the last year with my head in a fog with regards to this subject, and as I discover more and more of my peers struck by baby fever, the thoughts in my head have become more muddled and soggy. This is my (typically long-winded) attempt to sort those thoughts out and find some peace within myself.

I’m confused by a great many things when it comes to having children. I do know how babies are made – in fact, I can probably tell you 275 different ways in which you can get your baby-making parts inserted into someone else’s, or vice versa – but the *other* logistics behind baby-making are completely beyond even my considerable knowledge of what happens when people get naked.

Why do people want babies?

I, obviously, do not want babies. My reasons are many, but the bottom line is that when I think about having children, my entire body freezes up in terror and disgust. Babies? Are you insane? Why on earth would I want to take care of one or possibly more squalling, helpless infants?

I have a lot of trouble trying to wrap my head around why people do not feel the way I do when it comes to children. It’s very clear that I’m in a small minority here; otherwise the race would die out or at the very least not be quite so over-populated as we are now. Why do people want to have children? Why aren’t they content with things the way they are?

Clearly, this line of thinking is utterly insane. It’s human nature to want to procreate. If people didn’t procreate, we’re back to the race dying out and even I don’t want that, not even on the days where I hate people and think I’d be better off living in a grass hut that has no internet. So, if people actually wanting to give up everything for the sake of being responsible for others is not the illogical line of thinking, then .. it must be me.

I do not understand why I feel so strongly about this, and why I am – yet again – so different from what’s considered “normal” for a woman my age and in my situation.

I worry about a lot of things. I worry that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and be caught up with baby fever and suddenly understand what all the fuss is about. I worry that it won’t happen tomorrow but in 15 years, and it will be too late for me to change my mind. Most of all though, I worry that I am going to feel somehow deficient for the rest of my life because I do not want children.

When I was little, I knew I was not destined to have kids. I didn’t have the greatest childhood, and while that lent a lot to my current resolve, it’s not that simple. So I made a “promise” to myself when I was 12 – so what; I also promised that I would be a dancing fireman princess veterinarian and that I would get an Autobot tattoo. Obviously we can’t keep ALL the promises we make to ourselves when we’re small – it just doesn’t make sense. Some we can. My tattoo is awesome.

I’m conflicted by these thoughts to the point of almost using the word tormented instead. My abnormalities have never bothered me before, and there’s a lot there that really could bother me – so why is it bugging me so much now? It’s normal to want to have children and start a family. I have never been normal. I do not want to have children or start a family. It seems pretty cut and dry – it’s “normal”; so I don’t do it. Simple enough, right? Except .. I just can’t help feeling like I’m broken or bad or crossing-the-line different because I don’t want babies.

I’m admittedly curious about the whole process. I was only half-kidding when I offered my womb out for rent; to bring a baby to term for someone who can’t do it for themselves. After all, I’ll do anything once as long as I get to write about it afterward. It’s a cop-out, though – sure, I’ll go through the process, but only if I don’t have to take care of the kid afterwards. There’ll be no bonding for me, no instantaneous mother-child love that eclipses anything I’ve ever felt before. I’ll bake you a cupcake, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to eat it.

I’m sure I’ve incurred the wrath of my expecting friends for referring to their pregnancy as an infection – ha ha, they’re infected with baby! Sucks to be them! I don’t truly mean that of course; these children-to-be are wanted and loved and I am thrilled for the parents because they are so happy about it all. Even though I’m happy for them, I can’t stop thinking about babies in the same terms you use to describe radiation poisoning or the nasty flu that Ed has – it’s a foreign, outside cluster of cells that shouldn’t be there. A round of anti-biotics oughta clear that right up, then you can get on with your life.

Throughout all my over-thinking, I’ve done what I always do when I’m conflicted – I research the living hell out of it. I’ve clocked more time on parenting websites than I can count, looked up books, read other people’s tales. In fact, after work today I went out and picked up this book to see if it’ll clear up any of the things inside my head. It’s a subject people are passionate about, so there’s no shortage of opinions or stories or clinical studies for me to read. I’ve read about the biological clock and how the ticking cannot be ignored; how the first instant you see your child you’re transformed into a fierce mother hawk who’d do anything for that tiny person; the sudden awareness of a shocking depth of love for the child that wasn’t there five minutes ago. I’ve waited for these things to come to me, counting down to the unknown day when I wake up and suddenly feel that hollow ache of longing for the child I haven’t yet created; the day when everything just clicks and I realize that THIS is what all the fuss is about – I’m normal, I want a baby too, it’ll be totally awesome and I will be so COMPLETE – but so far, nothing. Nothing except the urge to pee and my ongoing confusion about why my friends are so willing to drop everything and turn their attention towards something you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) even sell on eBay when you get tired of it.

That’s another thing that I think a lot about, too. I don’t understand giving up your freedom to take care of squalling infants. I’ve never understood the American Dream of 2.5 kids, an SUV in every garage and the white picket fence surrounding your house in the ‘burbs. I’ve tried to stop thinking about babies as the End of All Things, Ever – but I can’t. In giving birth to a new life, I sense the death of everything from before. No more fun. No more freedom. No more good times – how can you, when you have to take care of this thing that came out of you? Trade in your toys and party clothes and sense of adventure; your future is dirty diapers and minivans and soccer practices. While you’re attending PTA meetings and dealing with vomit from screaming babies, I’ll be playing video games and traveling and having ritzy soirees with swingers and playboys who lavish me with attention and diamonds and also many sexually satisfying adventures that do not in any way cause problems in the real world.

I know I really need to stop thinking that babies = the end of the world. It’s hard, though. I wonder about my friends – is it at all possible for them to be the same people after the baby is born? Will they be able to have good times anymore? Will there be a place for us in their new lives, or will we be (have we already been) replaced by other friends who have children of their own and understand all those things that I just don’t get?

Part of me thinks stop being stupid; your friends will still be your friends after they have kids – there’ll just be one more person for you to consider a friend, is all. Most of me, though, thinks quite loudly that this is it – I should say my tender goodbyes now before the door will be shut on me because I am not One of Them, Soon To Be One of Them, or family.

There are a lot of reasons I am a captain of Team No Babies. Some of these reasons are sensible – I don’t have the space to put a child, or the disposable income to make sure it gets fed; others are true but a little hard to swallow – I’m very selfish in many aspects including emotionally, physically, and financially and I’m not ready to give myself wholly to another person and maybe never will be; and others are just really damn sentimental – I don’t have a safety net of adoring family and close friends to get me through the whole process.

I’m not close with my family. I don’t have a loving family hovering over me asking when I’m going to make them grandparents, no close friends to coo at baby things with me and go shopping for adorable things like car seats and diapers. Hell, I didn’t have a mom to do the whole wedding dress thing or people nearby for a bridal shower – it wouldn’t be any different if I was expecting a child. Sure, people have made it work with less, but sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on a lot by not having that network behind me – would I want to subject someone else to that? I’m not THAT cruel.

I’m lucky in many ways. For one, there’s no one pressuring me to have kids. I’m also fortunate to have the ability to choose whether I want children or not, and to choose what happens next if I woke up pregnant tomorrow. The choice would be agonizing, I know that much, but I still get to make it – and I’m grateful for that.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what bothers me about babies and the desire for babies and the need to procreate. I’ve tried to picture myself in the same situation, to feel that need and to think “okay so THIS is what it feels like to want babies”, but I can’t. I’ve never yearned for anything more life changing than an additional cat, and look where that got me.

I’m okay with not wanting babies; I really am. What I need to figure out is that it’s OKAY for me to not want babies, that I’m not a monster or broken or wrong for how I feel. I need to figure out how to stop worrying about what the future will bring, be it babies or cats or the pug I desperately want. I need to realize that people have children every day and go on to lead exciting, wonderful, fun-filled lives that include friends who do and do not having children of their own. I need to stop thinking so much and overanalyzing my every feeling; questioning why I am so ambivalent about babies and so getting so worked up that I’m uncomfortable in my own head. I need to get outside and have some fun. I need to go to the bathroom.

This is all normal, right?

32 thoughts on “you want babies; i want a pony

  1. I think it is normal for people to not want children. Obviously it won’t become a wide spread normality, but I think there are many types of people and some just don’t want to have kids. It happens in many species of animals. So don’t fret about normalcy. I do have to say though, that you don’t have to give up anything for a child. What you give up is your choice and not because you have a child. There are all types of parents out there, and no one has to change to fit a child in, many find they generally just fit right in as long as you LET them. In some cases change is good though, and in others people go over board. Obviously I am on the parent side of the tracks, but I think your side of tracks is just as normal for you. Everyone is different and that is what makes us such an interesting species.

  2. I’ve never wanted children either – and my being OK with that is sometimes just an angry reaction to people questioning me. Sort of an “if you dumbasses think there’s something wrong with me for not wanting kids, that’s YOUR problem” and then there’s no room for doubts.

    I kid, mostly.

    It _is_ OK. You’re not broken or a monster or wrong. (And I do think you give things up to have kids – you probably just care to varying degrees, so it doesn’t necessarily feel as much like giving things up. But that’s me.)

  3. We’ve had this conversation before….

    Reilly adamantly does not want kids, and I’ve always been a kid person and thought I would have them of my own, until I stopped to consider that it actually IS a choice. I never thought of it as one for some reason – but when given the chioce, I’m thinking no kids. I have lots of insensitive-parent-insensitive things to say on the subject and I don’t want to get beat up, so I’ll leave those out. I just think that you give up an awful, awful lot to have them. And I’m having too much fun!

    It’s touch because of the family piece… I have that whole big family, but my brother ran away and got married in the fall to a wonderful girl who likes to breed and who already has a daughter, so I instantly have a gorgeous neice to play with, my parents get to be grandparents, and we get to be off the hook.

    To mimic Julia, you’re not broken or a monster or wrong. There are tooooo many babies born because they happened rather than they were planned for and/or wanted, and that is no good to anyone. I think the fact that you’re agonizing over it and considering reasons etc. so strongly is commendable. Many people don’t stop to ask the question and realize after it’s too late that it’s not what they want.

    Besides, we’re amassing our army of those-who-will-never-breed, and you’re in it. I don’t want to be old and have no one come visit me (you know, one of the few real downfalls to not having kids), so I figure we’re making family out of an army of childless-friends so we have people to gallavant around the world with and give socks to on christmas.

    We should have a name. A name for our army! Armies are cool.

  4. ok, seriously i want to enlist in the team no babies army! i’ll design the logo!
    miss kimli you sound exactly like me.

    this is an issue i have been dealing with like forever! after being married for 10 years and all of our friends disappearing after having babies, getting the pressure from the parents, and last grandparent, they still don’t get it that i do not want any kids. ever. i’ve always known i didn’t want them.

    and it’s not being selfish, it’s being realistic and making the choice that’s right for you and they way you want to life your life. why have a baby just to please everybody else? that would be more selfish than not having them at all i think.
    my SIL is pregnant and that’s great for her and my bro. i think my mom is expecting me to catch baby fever from her.
    everyone i know who has kids complains about them. even the most loving caring parents i know still take the chance to tell you all their woes whenever they get a chance. i’ve even said to one, “that’s your choice, you chose to have babies, so you have to deal with it”. but they still whine.

    at my wedding shower, i got given a kitchen scale of all things. my aunt said “oh you can use it to weigh your babies!”. i said i didn’t plan to have any, then she came up to me later and said she secretly wished she hadn’t had her 2 kids and would have enjoyed her life more without them. wtf! nice attitude. explains why her kids are now hugely screwed up.

    anyways, i think everyone has the choice and shouldn’t be made to feel horrible if they don’t choose to have babies.

    go team no babies!

  5. I don’t think you need to worry about not wanting babies. Just because you’re a woman won’t make you automatically love (and want) babies. The thought of having babies terrifies me personally.

    I think you are normal!

  6. The “want babies” camp certainly gets its fair share of “what’s wrong with you?” questioning as well. When you think about it, the reasons for not having babies (financial responsibility, overpopulation, the world is going to hell, etc.) are a whole lot more altruistic sounding than the reasons for wanting babies (positive contributions to the gene pool, maybe they’ll grow up and cure cancer, because I wanna – so there!).

    I think the most important thing is to make a decision that is well-thought-out and that you’re comfortable with. That you think of both your life, and your potential (or not, as the case may be) offspring’s life, and how that relates to the world at large.

    I’m glad you’re doing that – I think it’s more than most people do on both sides of the equation.

  7. My mother’s friends are almost exclusively childless. She had two kids. After some of her other friends’ kids got old enough to play with my sister and me, they were so ill-behaved that she fell out of touch with their parents. But the friends with no kids are still her friends.

  8. I hear you. I feel like the biggest freak in freakville a lot of the time because I’m on Team No Babies. I don’t get why anyone swoons over infants (I am not a kid hater, but kids being old enough to take themselves to the toilet and feed themselves and talk articulately is a big plus with me), I especially don’t get why just because I got unlucky enough to be born with a vagina, I’m supposed to swoon over them and want nothing more than my very, very own. It is frustrating as hell to be in the small minority on this one, and to get treated like I said I worship Satan when I say I don’t want any, etc. (Though it does help to be totally man-free, so nobody can really bingo me while I’m single very well. Beats being asked by relatives if my boyfriend has knocked me up yet.) I also love the people who don’t believe you, because all girls want babies. Argh. Maybe if I were a guy and knew I wasn’t going to be the one stuck doing all the work, but I’m a chick and I know better on that one.

    Btw, I am currently at my best friend with two kids’s house right now, and she could tell you quite a lot about how childfreedom should be supported. Sometimes she offers to haul me out to the hospital to get a tubal already :)

  9. Ah, Kimli, you’re so cool and I only wish I was as sure as you are. At the moment I’m firmly entrenched in the whole “but when will I want babies? shouldn’t I want babies? All my friends want babies!” thing myself. I go back and forth on it, frequently. Sometimes I think “but what else will I do?” I’m not terribly ambitious or career-oriented, and I feel like maybe my life would be a waste if I didn’t contribute something back to the world, blah blah blah. Then I think about my friends who do have kids, and how the one couple can’t come to our house for dinner anymore because their daughter can’t sleep anywhere but home (oh my GOD what is up with that?). I feel like a freak when surrounded by mommies.

    And yet…I absolutely adore our other friends’ daughter, who is four (despite the fact that she gave me the evil cold I’m currently fighting). I love spending time with her, she adores me, they bring her over here and stay until all hours and she just crashes in our room and it’s great. If I was to become a parent, I’d want to be like them.

    The truth? Having kids, being pregnant, giving up my priorities of travel and a nice clean cool home and great restaurants? Scares the crap out of me. And I hate that it makes me feel like a freak. So thanks for posting your feelings about this. It’s nice to not be alone.

  10. Wow…it’s so great to hear all of these comments from people who feel exactly as I do. I too have never really felt the urge/need/want for children. Now that I’m 39 and single, I’ve probably aged myself out of the option anyway and as a result I don’t have to do as much explaining to others as to why I don’t want any.

    Like the comments before me suggest – my closest friends remain my single friends and couples with no children – the others have all slowly disappeared or don’t contact me unless I contact them.

    I simply focus on the positives of my situation – the sponteneity and freedom afforded to me without the responsibilities of children. Heck, cats are much easier to leave alone for a weekend when I want to take off on a spur of the moment adventure.

    I concur – *go team no babies*

  11. Go Team No Babies!
    I have always had screwed up hormones from puberty and I was consoled by my doctors at that time that I probably could get pregnant with hormone therapy when the time came. They put me on the pill at 17, I wasn’t even sexually active yet, and that was that. My parents assumed that since I was on the pill I must be screwing everybody and treated me accordingly. That sucked but I’m over it. My mom had a baby when I was 10 yearsold and then became very ill over a prolonged period of time. I took over as baby wrangler and LOVED it. I love babies and kids. So much so that I worked as a nanny for many years with many families. I learned something from it though. I didn’t want any of my own. I’ve been with the same guy for 17 years and believe me I have heard it all. Everybody thought that I wold have kids except me. Not being fertile, I never had to deal with an accidental pregnancy so I never had to ask the really tough question. I have had several girlfriends who have äccidentally become pregnant.
    Recently a good friend became pregnant and I have to admit I was dissapointed. Selfishly I knew that our friendship would never be the same and it made me sad. She picked up on this and confronted me saying that I must be feeling that way because I wasn’t able to have children of my own. I was shocked. In my experience friends having babies is the end of the friendship and a new relationship developes that I eventually lose interest in. Except this last time, my friend had her baby and her attitude is awesome. Her baby isn’t just who she is. She had lots of family support and I found they where a lot more fun because they wanted to make the most of their babysitters and have lots of fun without the baby too. We recently spent the weekend with them and the baby and had a blast. It’s the first time I have had a friend have a baby and still be able to be a good friend. I am so glad they did it and they want us to have auntie and uncle privledges, they are always telling us that they love having us in their childs life. I never knew it could be like this. No, it doesn’t make me want babies of my own. Yes, it does change everything. I get it. My mother told me that she thinks I made the right decision too. I turned 40 this year and people don’t ask anymore so at least you know that when you get too old the questions stop. Having babies is good for some and not for others. Lots of people have kids who shouldn’t only you know if you should or not.
    Go Team No Babies!

  12. As the card carrying member of Team Babies (remember when we were going to make a whole site for it?), I figured I’d chime in.

    First, I think you are as normal as you should ever wish to be. Some people want to procreate. Some don’t. It’s not a sign of disfunction to not feel compelled to have children. In fact, everyone should spend as much time considering it before jumping into something as big as having children. Too many people pop out babies without even thinking about why they are doing it.

    Second, I can’t imagine you’re going to find yourself regretting not having kids. It’s not because I think you’d be a bad parent, but because I think you’ve put so much thought into the whys and the wondering. Your decision not to have children is an informed one as well as an emotional one.

    Do I find it offensive when you tell me my baby has rabies? Or that babies are a disease? Yes and no. I mean, let’s be real here. A baby in the belly = a parasite. Bottom line. There is no way around that fact. Do I like the fact that a close friend of mine calls my baby diseased because we don’t have the same opinions on where children fit into our lives? Sometimes, especially when I’m feeling hormonal. But at the same time you are who you are and you often communicate in extremes. Otherwise you wouldn’t catch the Ebola every time you are sick. It’s you relating to the world around you and it’s part of your charm to be honest.

    The truth is that parenthood will change Doug and me. I cannot imagine how it wouldn’t. We have no idea what we’re getting into here. But let’s be fair. Everything in life changes you – marriage, moving, new jobs, kids, death and so on. Friendships adjust to the changes in circumstances. You find new people to hang out with who don’t have to make it over the border to hang out. But it doesn’t make the over-the-border friends any less fun. I’m counting on you to come down and rescue me from mommyhood from time to time. Maybe you can join the hunt for the best facial. We could even add Vancouver to the list and make the boys watch baby.

    Things will have to adjust to accomodate changes, but don’t they always? What fun would we be if we were the same people year after year.

    So I’m off on a tangent, but the most important thing here is that you are not flawed for not wanting kids. You are informed and intelligent and you’ve made the best decision for you. That’s admirable. I also think it’s great that you’re sharing your reasoning with the world at large. Just like I feel lucky to have happy parents around me who can encourage me regarding my decision to have children, you need people who are not having kids who can show you that you aren’t alone or even all that unusual.

    Embrace your decision. Own it. Work it. And then go buy a new bag and be glad you didn’t have to wonder how many diapers you could fit in it.

  13. NO BABIES!

    I don’t want kids. I never have. One time, I mentioned that I might want to get my tubes tied because I just knew I didn’t want to procreate. My parents freaked out; my father accused me of trying to “kill his dream” by not having kids. Which is so creepy on so many, many levels.

    I know a lot of parents, older parents, who have confessed that they didn’t really want kids but had them because they thought that they “should.” We 21st century gals are very luck to have the ability to choose not to procreate — before the pill, it was sort of just something that happened. It’s only been in the last ten or so years that it has become even moderately socially acceptable to even be a yuppie with disposable income and no children — our society just isn’t used to not HAVING to have children, yet. We’ll get there.

    (And I just don’t buy the “replace yourself” or “contribute something” arguments. We have too many people already. As for contributing something, well, there are lots of non-children ways to do that. Like running for office! No, seriously though, how about feeding the hungry — instead of creating more of them?)

  14. Warning: JMHO here.
    There is too many gross disgusting fluids involved with the vermin of children. If someone wants to kiss there life good-bye and immerse themselves in conversations with other unfortunate infected souls about the consistency of their pests drippy mucus, all the power to them! Just don’t expect me to hold it!
    I am going to now arbitrary leave my house now for a coffee! For no other reason then I can do so with out prearranging a baby sitter, planning emergency numbers, or leaving the party early to deal with some icky fluid emergency, that and I am in desperate need of coffee.

    Oh i wanna be in the army too…

  15. I’ll join your army! Am I the only one who gets a little freaked out not just that my friends are having children… but that my friends — and therefore me as well — are old enough to be *choosing* to have children? As opposed to, “holy shit, we’re pregnant!” now we’ve got people purposely going off the pill to have children, and me not even thinking “You idiot, you’re too young to have kids!” when they do it? How did THAT happen?

    I think my biggest pet peeve when I tell people that no, I’m not planning on reproducing is, “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

    You know what? Fuck you. Maybe I will, maybe not. And you know what’s NOT going to change my mind? Someone saying, “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” For every “you’ll change your mind”, an extra year of “NO FUCKING WAY” is added into the “I don’t want children” stance.

    Now I don’t want to reproduce simply because I’m stubborn. ;)

    I kid. There’s definitely a lot more to it than that. I’m actually surprisingly good with kids — I have much-younger siblings (to the key of 15 & 22 years younger) and am probably one of the most child-friendly non-breeders I know. I like spending time with my sister, even when she’s got a case of the shrieking meemees. Which, at 5, happens a lot. But I still don’t want my own.

    I think for me… I’m not willing to give up my independence for anyone. This is also why I’m probably destined to be single for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that. :)

  16. First, as a disclaimer, I have two kids, who I bore at 23 and 28, respectively. Some days I wouldn’t trade them for anything; many days, I would trade them for nothing.

    Second, I tried the American Dream. One night, my husband and I faced one another in the kitchen and had this conversation:

    “Wow, we finally made it. We’ve reached ‘the American Dream’.”
    (long silence)
    “Well, that sucked.”
    “Yeah. Let’s go live on a sailboat or something.”

    He and I wanted to have kids because of our reasons (many stupid reasons among them, though not “I want a baaaaaaaby”), and we did and we stopped at two. I am a housewife who can’t clean, can bake, and writes novels when I’m not laundering my sons’ Gameboy games or wondering why my kids think Ramen is the greatest food known to humankind yet will scream like their eyeballs are melting if you dare ask them to suffer through a decent puttanesca.

    I have no privacy; I can barely keep them from beating down the bathroom door to get to me to whine about this or that. If left to themselves long enough to, say, allow me to shower? They get into brawls that leave me at my wits’ end. I’ve decided the smiling Mommies have to be on some seriously good drugs or something. With kids, it’s like having boarders you can’t kick out and who complain and demand and never pay rent and make a mess and . . . ugh You just have to wait until the lease is up. But it’s not over then! You get the added bonus of staying up late nights worried that they’ll do something stupid and end up dead. No, it doesn’t stop at eighteen. If a person thinks it does, I challenge that person to call his/her mother right now and ask if she worries about them being okay, or dying, or whatever. Chances are, she’ll say yes. If she doesn’t, she’s probably clinically insane anyway.

    Parenthood is not for most people — even the ones who choose it. That people choose to when they are ill-prepared for it is painful and a lifelong thing to endure. The last time you will ever be truly able to keep your baby safe and close to you is right before you’re pushing him or her out. After that, it’s a terrifying crapshoot for decades.

    I admire your childfree choice. We have starving mouths enough in the world. You would add a new person to hold the worries of the world on his/her shoulders, to slog away and hope not to be downsized, to pray that s/he will make it just like you do and did. Childfree may not be the norm, but is the honorable choice for our overpopulated planet. Thank you for being braver than the rest of us and not giving into your base primate brain. Now go do something fun that a child-bound couple can’t — like just get up and go to a movie right now or shop for bras (try that with a toddler and a young boy, that’s self-inflicted Torquemada-style pain right there).

  17. I don’t really understand why people get so upset about other people not wanting to have kids. Not everybody wants to be a parent, and not everybody *should* be a parent. And not everybody likes kids, anyway. It’s really okay. What does bother me, though (and I know this is not all of them, but rather the extreme cases) is the smug attitude of people who think making that conscious choice somehow earns them a prize. I don’t have kids, but I’d like to at some point. Whether that actually happens is less and less likely, but that’s a whole other show. But I feel like I have to say, to the people who don’t want kids, on behalf of the people who don’t care, you know, we get it. We really, really do. You’re weird and reactionary about it, and we just want to not hear about it so loudly anymore. How hard is it to be fricking polite, at the very least?

  18. “You’re weird and reactionary about it…”

    Unfortunately, this is a side effect of being constantly reminded that you’re not a “whole” person without children, that there’s something wrong with you, that you’re just “too immature” and will “change your mind.” It’s also a side effect of losing entire sets of friends to playdates and little league, and of being constantly questioned and second-guessed by friends and family, to the point of outright hostility in many cases. Of being called “selfish” for not wanting to give up financial or emotional well-being.

    Nothing at all to get weird and reactionary about, though. Oh, wait… YES IT IS.

    But you’re right, that’s no reason to be rude.

  19. You know where I stand on this, sweetpea. I’ve never regretted my tubal, and it’s been 13 years. Knowing who you are and what you want is nothing to apologize for, no matter how many people might not “get it.” FWIW, I find your reasons perfectly sensible. Also, I think you’re charming and adorable and funny and smart. Really. :)

  20. I think the thing to keep in mind is that the decision to have children is a very personal one – whether you’ve planned ahead to have kids or had it be a surprise or have chosen never to let the sperm and the egg get in the same general area. People feel passionately for having kids. They feel passionately against it. And some just don’t know what will happen in the future that will guide them in their decision for or against.

    It’s sad that people can get so rude no matter what side of the fence they are on. Claims that you’ll change your mind or you’ll regret it are unfounded just like claims that you are giving up your life and your financial well-being. Every single thing you do in life has consequences. People seem to be making a lot of assumptions based on what would happen to them if they had children or didn’t have children rather than just accepting that we all have different things that make us who we are.

    I also think that loss of friendships is a two way street. As I said before, people will change and that’s part of the beauty of our friendships. Sometimes single friends can’t relate to their married counterparts because they want their friends to be the same person they were before marriage. Or perhaps some folks who have kids don’t get why their friends who are foregoing the whole spawning notion haven’t adjusted to their new schedule. It’s compromise, people. Not everyone will do it… not everyone wants to… but good friends will at least try to find a way.

  21. Okay, let a man have a turn!

    Have babies – they are great, in every way. Your pug, your video games, your internets, your scooter don’t have to go away. In fact, for all you childish adults out there, when’s the last time you went to a park and *really played*, or made a cool cake for a birthday party, or took part in karate class with four year olds, or taught someone how to swim, whistle, or build a sand castle? I have never felt so young (and silly) as I have since having my daughter.

    I think you, you all, have so much more to give and share, and there is no one better to do this with than your own child. The pros outweigh the cons, for me, hand down. Fifty to one, even! It’s like magic – you can’t explain it, but once you get it, you really get it.

    If you aren’t sure you want kids, do the responsible thing and double up. Double up! If you are on the fence, take a chance on life for once and leave yourself a small insurance policy. After all, when you are old, who’s going to change your diapers and push you around in a stroller. Some HEU member making $22/hr? No thanks.

    For the record, I have stopped at two. My wife may continue having babies, but as someone who’s, uh, tubes are also tied, I cannot.

    If you are not having babies and leaving the world something in your wake, are you at least doing something positive? There is a generation coming up after us, and after them, and it is your place to make things better for them.

    Oh, and the no strings attached, unconditional love is kinda good, too.


  22. Matt, I guess I see things differently re: “an insurance policy”. I worked for several years at a long-term eldercare facility. Most of those poor, crippled old folks did have kids — kids who didn’t visit, kids who had stuffed them in a home and forgotten about them. Some of them weren’t even all that crippled or forgetful, were still mobile and chipper, but they had committed the ultimate sin: being a burden to their children. They got nothing at the end of it. Except a legacy — if thoughtless selfish adult kids are a legacy. I cared more about them then their children did. Those poor old folks had done a fine job of populating the future.

    The problem is that everybody thinks that they’ll be an amazing parent, but very few people actually are amazing parents. Most people are, at best, barely adequate parents. Their children go on to lead adequate jobs doing adequate things, and I’m just not convinced that I want that life even for myself — let alone my unkids.

    You’re right that it’s our job to make things better for our kids, but our parents failed us there — our incomes, for the first time in history, are lower than our parents, and my generation will never catch up. Society is sliding backwards. Most people in the middle class, myself included, haven’t really noticed, but it’s happening and it’s going to get worse. Much worse. That’s just not a world I want my children to inherit, and I don’t want my energies — energies that should be going towards making the world better — to be consumed by anything other than trying to fix what’s broken. Having kids will not help fix what’s broken.

    Boy, that’s gloomy!

  23. No offense to Matt, but that’s exactly the sort of thing that pisses me off about a lot of people with kids. They assume that since THEY love it, then everyone else HAS to love it. It don’t work that way, and please stop preaching at me.

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  25. Preaching? To the unchoir? me? Nah, suck it. My only point, perhaps it was too late in the day to get that across, is that you don’t know what you are missing.

    Here’s hoping I am an amazing parent, and I won’t be a burden to anyone else but my kids.

    I guess I have to concede – amazing parents are the norm around me, maybe it’s amazing adult children that aren’t. People who don’t want kids, do the rest of us a favour and don’t have any.

  26. Oh please don’t fight :( I totally appreciate everyone who commented, regardless of what “side” they’re on – it’s been awesome reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions and stories that led them to their own decision or non-decision.

    Even though I’m on Team No Babies, that doesn’t mean I don’t envy the people on Team Yes Babies. Sometimes I wish I was strong enough to know that I had a lot to offer a child and that I’d be a great parent! I admire those who are so sure of what they want and will do whatever it takes to get to that point. I can totally picture Matt playing with his kids, and that’s an adorable mental picture – I just can’t picture myself in the same place. I fully intend to try to bond with my friend’s children and try to stay in their lives as much as all our schedules allow – it takes work on both parts, and I’m up for the challenge.

    Regardless of what Team you’re on – No Babies, Yes Babies or Maybe Babies – there’s no need to fight or be angry about it. I know it’s a passionate subject, but I don’t think anyone is really saying “You are WRONG for what you feel”. (I hope) everyone made their own personal decision based on what is right for their situation, and if that situation changes for any reason then all the power to you.

    Participation in this conversation at all tells me that all of you have put a lot of thought into your decision one way or another, and that gives me hope for this small slice of humanity :)

    Thank you, everyone.

  27. Very interesting views and comments.

    I see that I’m late to the debate. All of the above comments were given within a couple of days, a week or so ago, but it’s not like this is a current event topic, so let me chime in anyway…

    I’m personally of the no-babies persuasion, and the only people who’ve ever said to me “oh, you’ll change your mind” have been people who didn’t know me, so who cares what they say? A couple of people who know me have told me “Oh, your wife will change your mind”, and that’s a completely different story. :-)

    I think it’s interesting that the discussion is so adversarial. One or two remarks of that nature above, and lots of mentions of other times when people have been in arguments about the topic. This whole “us against them” issue bugs me. There’s “Team Babies” and “Team No Babies”, can’t we all just get along, as a famous drunk driver once said? :-)

    There’s no use trying to convince each other, because this is a personal and emotional decision we each have to make. And I love that it’s a decision that people really _can_ make for themselves now.

  28. I have always believed babies weren’t for me. I am however now looking at a 8 year relationship with my partner, who I love, and she really wants a baby… NOW.

    For the past year I have been turning my head upside down and inside out on this problem. I believe I am even driving myself to a nervous breakdown. I can’t seem however to be able to commit to the idea of becoming a parent, and it saddens me to see, no matter how much we try not to, that we are slowly growing farther apart as a couple.

    I feel trapped and without options. Having a kid could mean unhappiness and the forever haunting feeling of having missed out on the so many things life has to offer when you are “baby-free”. Not having one could mean losing the most important person of my life.

    I feel like crying sometimes.

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  30. I totally understand what you’re feeling and thinking. I feel the same way, and as the years go by I find myself standing firmly on my choice of being childfree. I used to want kids when I was younger, but when I hit 23, I suddenly realized that it IS a choice, and I don’t have to follow the Life Script if I don’t want to. It helps that my husband also doesn’t want kids — there is no conflict of interest there.

    I find that many of the reasons people give for having kids start with “I want …” — or they’re unable to say why they had a child, save for it being the thing to do. It’s what’s expected. If you’re a woman and have no maternal instinct or don’t want a baby, it’s like you’re unnatural.

    It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore. I know how my choices affect me, and I know that my husband and I are much happier having four-legged, furry “kids” than procreating ourselves.

    Here’s a link to a childfree forum I frequent from time to time: Link. I don’t post; I just lurk and such. It gives me a safe haven from all the baby-rabid people and all the societal pressure and “bingos” that people give you, about “It’s different when it’s your own!” or “Parenting makes you a better person!” or “You’re just selfish!” or “You’ll change your mind!” or “Wait till your hormones kick into gear!” Ooh, I guess you can tell that I get bitter sometimes. :P

    Oh, and also one thing to note: some of the people on the site may shock you a little, as there are some quite militantly-childfree people there. (Of course, I’d rather have them than the awfully entitlement-minded parents who shouldn’t even be called parents, because they don’t parent their children at all.) There’s a few acronyms you’ll come across (TMIJITW — The Most Important Job in the World, PNB — Parent Not Breeder aka a good parent, BNP — Breeder Not Parent or aka a bad parent with a monster as a child, etc.) and some “inside jokes.” For example, you’ll find people throwing the words “child hatter” around. No, it’s not that they don’t know how to spell. A few years ago, at the previous incarnations of the board, there was a time where there were lots and lots of trolls, and one of them wrote something like, “All you child hatters should just go die, since you lead selfish lives anyway.” The phrase (spelling and all) stuck.

    Just wanted to give you the link because it really, really helps sometimes to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way or in making this choice. :)

  31. I know this is an old post, but I stumbled across it and wanted to put in my two cents.
    I’m Team No Babies – I don’t think that I’m going to have any children.
    Not because I’m disgusted by squalling infants or any of the other reasons – I actually really, really like kids, and wouldn’t mind one of my own.

    However, I tend to liken the idea of having a baby to buying a Hummer – or five. Think about the state of our planet right now. It’s not necessarily what anyone would call in “great shape”, thanks to us. We consume disgusting amounts of our planet’s resources every day. Now add one more person, or two or three to consume even more resources, to want and use even more things. If you procreate, you’re basically creating even more people to be trained to want and consume – iPods, cars, laptops, new clothes, air conditioning…

    No one should be pressured to create even MORE people for our overflowing, overheating, dying planet.There’s more to the baby-or-no-baby debate than how it directly affects your own life. There’s a bigger picture to look at that’s getting overlooked.

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