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Three years ago I was fortunate enough to marry one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Almost immediately after we returned from our honeymoon, we started getting the question…”So, when are you having kids?”
Each time I had this bomb dropped on me I wanted to SCREAM! Why not just ask me how often my husband and I are having sex while you’re at it?
While I believe that children are a blessing and I don’t knock anyone for wanting to experience the joy of motherhood, the honest truth is: I do not want children.
I made that decision many years ago and spoke thoroughly about it with my husband when we started dating.
I grew up in a household were it was clear my parents weren’t ready to be parents. When I was born my mother and father were 31 and 25 respectively and married for over a year. Not exactly teenagers, but or as long as I can remember, there were weekly parties, drinking, and lots more I won’t get into.
My parent’s relationship fell apart when I was around nine-years-old. As their marriage deteriorated, their parenting became half-hearted. After much soul searching, I realized, it was never about me. They lived their lives just as they had before I was born.
I, however, realized I’m not ready to make the life altering changes required to raise children before having any. Some feel my decision is selfish, but I find it selfish to bring children into the world without truly wanting them and the changes they bring.
Committed to my career with no desire for childrenI work 10-12 hours a day followed by at 60-90 minute commute. I have a demanding job working with children everyday. I’ve put bandages on their cuts, hugged them through fears, jumped in their joy, been to their games, helped them find their voice, seen them go to college, and shown patience in their anger. I’m not missing anything; I experience the joys (and headaches) of motherhood everyday.
Yet, each time I (resentfully) share my decision not to have children, I am made to feel as if I have just committed a crime against humanity. It is as if I have personally slapped the person asking the question right in the face. The more this happened the angrier I got about it.
It takes all of my willpower to stop myself from shooting back:
I’m sorry, are you going to raise my children while I work 12 hours a day? Will you make sure that they are taken care of when they are sick? Are you going to pay for the childcare you boldly suggested as a rebuttal? Oh, no? Then please by all means stay out of my bedroom, my money and my life, because you invade all those areas when you summon the audacity to ask me when I’m having children!
There are many other reasons why other woman may struggle with this question…
- I can’t have children and it’s breaking my heart
- My husband/partner and I can’t afford to have children
- My husband/partner and I are barely keeping our relationship together
- I’ve been trying for years and nothing seems to work
- I have zero family support
- My partner doesn’t want any
- I have a medical condition
- I just don’t want any
Society has created such pressure for us to find a suitable mate and settle down, and we’ve internalized it.
I am a 29-year-old Assistant Principal. I have a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees. Everyday, I manage hundreds of students, dozens of faculty and staff members, parents, vendors, partnerships, community organizations, amongst other things. Is that not enough?
Mami’s mixed messagesI’m confused. Everyday I see parents telling their daughters they need to apply themselves in school. They push and push to drive home the message. That education is their salvation. Yet, once the degrees are completed, the pressure to find a mate starts. Once you have, the baby question gets dropped by just about everyone you encounter. Suddenly, all the degrees and the career don’t matter, because your life can never be complete without reproducing.
I’m aware that some people are just excited to share in the milestones of their loved ones lives, others are looking for a comrade in the struggle of raising children, but it’s never okay to ask such a personal question. The decision to have children is a sacred one. It isn’t something you need to explain or justify to anyone.
There need to be boundaries between family members, friends and even the strangers. People need to show they have some home training and think twice before they pose a question like that. So the next time you think of asking this question yourself, please consider that you could be causing someone else pain. And, ladies, the next time you’re asked this, don’t feel guilty for telling someone they’re out of line…they NEED to know!