I’m feeling introspective. Wondering why it is that I’m different from most others. I’ve had a great life, better than most, I’d venture to say. I’ve known what it is to love and to be loved, to be valued, every single day of my 30 years. I’ve known very little pain, minimal heartache. Why, then, do I not want what nearly everyone else I know wants, what my siblings, those people who grew up in the same house, raised by the same people, want? You grow up, you get an education, establish a career, find a partner, get married, have babies, give your children the life you want them to have, right? Isn’t that the dream?
It’s the dream of the vast majority of people I know and probably the vast majority of all the people I don’t know. But it is not my dream. I have a career, a job in medical science that I genuinely love (not the people or the politics, but the WORK), a husband I love, with whom I am truly happy, a nice house, a beautiful dog – aren’t kids the next logical step? But everything in me tells me no. And not because I don’t love children; I do. Really. I have 2 nephews and 3 nieces whom I adore, with whom I love spending time. And I admit I am a little curious about what a product of my husband and me would look like, would act and think and be like. But I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t want to spend the next 18, 20, 25 years raising a family. What does that say about me? Am I a bad person, a selfish person? An abnormal woman? Perhaps. One thing I most certainly am is different.
Here’s what else I know about me: I’m restless. If I were to be completely honest (and hell, why not?), I’d admit that I equate having babies with the end of me as I know me. The end of my life as it is, as I’ve shaped it. I know I want more. Not more family, not more people in my house, but more for me. I hear parents say that without their kids their lives would be empty. They’d be bored, dissatisfied. I often feel bored and dissatisfied but I don’t think kids are the answer for me. I don’t want something to fill my time. I want to keep exploring who I am, what I’m capable of, what I have to offer. And I think being a mother would greatly interfere with that. Would it enrich my life? I’m sure. Would I love my children beyond what I’m even aware I’m capable of? Absolutely. But does that mean I should go ahead and bring people into this world when I feel in my very core that the life of a full-time working mom is not for me? No.
What I did not expect is the great divide. The wall that’s erected as soon as you say it out loud: “I don’t want to have kids. Not now. Maybe not ever.” A line is drawn in the sand and I’m on one side and damn near everyone else on earth is on the other. People look at me differently. And not strangers, not mere acquaintances (well, them too, but who the hell cares what they think?), but people who’ve known me my whole life. Family, friends, those with whom I have the oldest and closest relationships. Don’t they know me? I’m still the same person who’s played with their kids and enjoyed every minute of it. I’m the same girl who’s babysat and cared for their children. I’m not, suddenly, some child-eating monster lacking in maternal instincts. I still love their kids and I love spending time with them. Why does the fact that I don’t share their desire to have babies change who I am in their eyes? I don’t feel like I’ve changed. I feel pushed out, excluded, ostracized and I don’t understand why. I didn’t go to the same college as them, didn’t choose the same career, I don’t live in the same city. Yet those different choices caused no change in our relationships, no divide among us. Why is the choice not to procreate different?
Thanks for listening.