What are the right reasons?
The first time my mom and sister were pregnant at the same time was confusing for me. I was 12 years old, and it appeared anyone could wake up one day with a baby in their belly.
I started sliding my hand up my shirt to check my pudgy bulge to make sure it wasn’t turning smooth, hard, and round like my mom and sister.
That was the first time I decided I didn’t want kids. I didn’t want that to happen to my body. It had been through enough already.
Two years later, it happened again; my mom and sister both growing bulges. This time I knew more about what caused it, and I was utterly grossed out. I knew I was never doing that, yuck. And therefore I would never have a baby. Problem solved, mystery avoided.
Four years after that, it was me holding my tummy and imagining the tiny life inside. I hadn’t wanted to give birth, but now that part seemed worth giving life to a child. As much love as I felt growing, I wasn’t ready to be a parent at 18. I researched adoption. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to see what it was like to get huge and give birth. I never found out if I would have been able to hand my child over to adoptive parents. I had a miscarriage and decided; I’m a horrible mother.
As I moved through my 20’s, my story was, I don’t want kids. Maybe I can’t have kids. I was depressed and blamed myself for my child’s death.
I always smile at kids in the grocery store. Lots of strangers told me, it will happen when it’s meant to be. Like they could see the longing.
“With my girlfriend?” I would sometimes ask, and more often just think. That would be a miracle for sure.
Healing the Wound
I’ve done a lot of work come to peace with what happened when I was younger. After more than 10 years it was still affecting me. The date is cemented in my mind, but I no longer feel the trauma. I let go with help from a hypnotherapist just weeks ago.
Now I’m 30 years old, and my partner is a man. Often when we are out with friends, they openly ask us about when we will have kids. Nothing I say out loud resembles what is going on inside.
On the interior, the story changes weekly.
I can’t have kids.
I could get pregnant but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
I don’t want kids.
It’s enough to be an aunt.
I’m not patient enough.
But he would be a wonderful dad.
I don’t want to have children, and that’s okay.
But if it happened, I’d be happy.
And I’m happy if it doesn’t.
Maybe it will be an accident. But is that the best way?
Maybe I’m just not ready yet.
Is it okay to feel so ambivalent?
What is true?
The problem is, I don’t know what part of this dialogue is me and what stems from the beliefs I’ve picked up throughout my lifetime. Deep down do I believe I should have kids? Do I think that I’ll have another miscarriage and spiral into depression again? Do I think it’s impossible to be a ‘good’ parent and not screw up my kids? Does anyone even know what good parenting looks like anymore?
Once it was trendy to be a strong independent childless woman, but now it’s so common, it’s boring. I’ve heard that in their 40s, many feel regret; like they should have jumped on the baby train while it was in town. But fear of future regret isn’t the purpose I’m looking for.
I’m feeling the effects of that biological clock ticking down the years I have left. I know biology plays a part in the war going on in my mind. I try to separate that from my desires. I can picture a beautiful future with children, and I can picture one without.
So what is a good reason to have kids? What purpose would being a parent serve in my greater life vision? Will they bring me fulfilment? Will they make my life meaningful, or is that my job?