Our college years are full of dramatic “I’m not a grown up!” moments- mostly unexpected, and typically unwanted. Anonymous Valley writers discuss it all: from avoiding basic responsibilities to dealing with the big, bad future. Let’s talk about it.
I see it everywhere. Childhood friends, high school acquaintances, old teachers and babysitters – all people who saw me through my awkward grade school years. They’re all getting married, having kids, or both. It feels like every time I check Facebook, someone new is engaged or expecting. Some time between graduating high school and signing my first apartment lease, I missed the memo that, technically, I’m old enough to start a family. And that scares me. Wasn’t it just two years ago we were getting ready for prom, and now you’re supporting a family? Last week, it took me 45 minutes to decide what lipstick I wanted to wear out. Clearly I’m not ready to care for another life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging the people that decided to have a child at 18 or get married to their love of one year – that’s a personal decision and it’s none of my business. However, when getting together with old friends, the subject always comes up. It starts with, “Oh my gosh, did you see so-and-so is pregnant?” Then follows with, “Her baby is so cute. I want one!” Then finally (the dreaded question), “How many kids are YOU having?” And I’m caught off-guard like a deer in the headlights. I then have to hesitantly answer, “Oh. Actually, I’m not really planning on having kids…ever.”
It tends to be a little awkward. Usually I get a surprised look, then an awkward backtrack, and a nervous apology. “Oh. Okay. Sorry…I just assumed you wanted kids. You’d be such a good mother!” I’m always confused by the last part. Is that a compliment? Should I relish in the fact that I have the disposition of a natural-born caregiver, as if that defines what I’m worth? Yes, I’m generally a nurturing, caring person – but should that dictate whether or not I should reproduce, let alone if I’d be good at it? No. Does this make me a raging feminist that wants to exercise my right to decide my own familial future? No. And no one seems to get that.
This isn’t a feminist thing. This isn’t an independence thing. This isn’t a rebel phase sparked by a troubled parental upbringing. It’s a personal thing. And a lot of people don’t take the time to understand. They assume when I say I don’t want kids, I’m also saying “Kids are the spawn of Satan, and anyone who brings more life into this world is doing nothing but threatening our planet’s sustainability even further.” It’s quite the opposite actually. I respect mothers more than anyone – it’s a tough job. I think kids, though mischievous, are cute. I’m a nice person – I swear.
My decision is not selfish. Honestly, I feel like I would probably do a disservice to my children should I choose to have them. Some people aren’t built to be parents, and I feel I am one of them. Everyone deserves their best shot in life, and right now, I’m scared I wouldn’t be able to provide my kids that opportunity. It doesn’t make me a child-hater. It doesn’t make me any less of a woman. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams in the next five years and change my mind. But until then, my plea to you is to keep an open mind. Before making assumptions about those who don’t choose motherhood, listen to the reasoning. There may be more to the story than you think.