Do You Even Want Babies?

How to avoid living a life you didn’t choose.

Sherry Mayle
Oct 16, 2019 · 5 min read
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by rogistok/Shutterstock.com

“You have no maternal instinct,” Mom told me.

I was eight, trying to play with dolls, and I agreed. I was born twenty years later than my siblings. When I got there, they were already making families of their own. I watched them raise my nieces — crying, pooping, vomiting creatures who gave love like cats: on their schedule.

I didn’t see the appeal.

I never felt guilty for not wanting kids. I knew deep down that while the kids were all right, they were also overrated. Mom backed me up.

Other women aren’t so lucky.

Women who don’t have children, by choice or chance, are without support. The younger ones are told they’ll change their minds. Busybodies assume the older ones live in regret.

Some of us give in and have children when we aren’t sure. What if that urban myth about our biological alarm clock comes true? What if we go baby crazy, only to find out it’s too late?

Sounds like fearmongering bullshit to me.

Not having children has been the best decision for my life (and countless others). Here’s how to tell if it’s the right decision for yours.

How to Tell You Aren’t a Psychopath

When I look at an infant, I feel nothing. That’s not true; I feel mildly nauseous at the way their heads wobble on their shoulders.

I’d worry about my missing soul, but I love kittens and puppies, raccoons and giraffes; I’d throw myself in front of a garbage truck to save a opossum. That’s how I know I’m not a psychopath.

I’ve just been brainwashed.

Society says if a woman isn’t swept away by the ethereal beauty of an infant, there must be something wrong with her. I think not.

Maybe we just figured out ahead of time what babies really are: something to do. They’re poop machines that look like you.

What do you feel when you look at an infant?

Do you get all ooey-gooey-mushy-wushy-pinch-their-wittle-cheeky-weekies? If so, you might want a baby someday, and you didn’t need me to tell you shit.

But if you feel closer to nothing? Skip the psych appointment and get a housecat.

How to Tell Busybodies You Aren’t Their Factory

Maybe you’ve decided kids aren’t for you, but you haven’t figured out how to tell everyone else. Maybe you’d rather not take a stand in a small town with a long tradition of breeding. What’s a nice girl to do?

Tell nosy folks to fuck off. You can do it without using the F-word (if you must).

Let’s practice.

You’re at the grocery store.

The grocer says, “Good day, ma’am! My, you’re looking older every day. When are you gonna pop out some children and confirm all the stereotypes I have about women?”

And then you’ll say, “No babies for me, sir. Did you know that the carbon emissions from one child are equivalent to a Mack truck?”

Make stuff up.

When they ask, “What do you mean?” Lecture. Hold court. Tell them breeding is the number one cause of the earth’s overpopulation problem.

Move the target, and don’t answer their questions until they ask one worth answering. I speak from experience: you owe them nothing and they’ll learn to stop asking.

How to Tell Your Partner You Don’t Want to Raise Their Spawn

If your partner dreams of a poop machine lookalike, your not sharing that dream can end your relationship.

I have a fiance. Neither of us wants children, but I want a dog (a furry poop machine). My partner doesn’t. For a long time, I hid it from him. If I wanted something he didn’t, my damaged psyche was afraid he’d see we weren’t perfect for each other and leave me.

When I finally told him I needed a dog, there was crying and yelling and rending of garments. That’s because I’d let it build up in me for too long. Despite the dramatics, we found a compromise.

Just tell them.

It doesn’t really matter how you tell your partner you don’t want children. You can do it the way I did: Hide for so long the word vomit comes rushing out in tiny screams. Still counts!

Or you can plan the conversation ahead of time. Write it out. Meditate. Get really clear on why you want what you want. Be prepared to compromise, sometimes in unforeseen ways.

Maybe you’ll leave and find someone else who also believes in a future without diapers or school dropoffs. Maybe you’ll stay while your partner raises a child with someone else. Maybe you’ll both compromise and start a llama farm.

There are a lot of options when we get honest enough to ask the right questions.

If you cower, you’ll end up with a life you didn’t choose.

Last Words: How to Listen to Yourself

I flew home to visit Mom a few years ago. She watched me. Mothers do this to their children as they get older — they watch us just like you’d watch a canvas you painted if it breathed and walked around and had dreams.

Studying me, she said, “You sure did love your animals. I couldn’t never see how you wouldn’t want babies when you loved them animals so much.”

But she didn’t ask if I’d changed my mind.

She has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren already. Maybe she doesn’t care if I have kids, but her lack of questions meant something more to me: Mom sees me and it’s okay.

Life is a hot mess, and everyone’s got their own steaming pile.

Rarely does anyone have time to say, “Hey, you’re doing great. You’re making all the right decisions.” You have to learn to do that for yourself — constantly. When people shout opinions at you like the crowd at Price is Right, you have to be able to hear yourself.

One person whispering, “Go with your gut,” is all you need. Mom did it for me. I’m doing it for you.

If you weren’t already, ask yourself the questions. All the questions.

Children? Do you want them?

Marriage — is that for you or just tradition?

What would you choose for yourself next?

Listen to the answers. Don’t assume anything about yourself.

In the meantime, breathe. You’re doing great.

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