Almost as soon as Husband and I got married, people started asking whether we had any plans for children. I’m aware that, traditionally speaking, people used to get married so that they could start a family, but I was surprised that the expectations of starting a family were still so heavy in the 21st century. And even once we’d had Sausage, the questions didn’t stop; people almost immediately wanted to know when we planned to have more children, as though we’d opened the floodgates with one child and would breed with unbridled abandon until my sagging uterus could take no more.
Just recently, one of my close friends admitted that, at the age of 34, she’d come to the conclusion that she simply wasn’t feeling all that maternal at this stage in her life. She loved her nieces and nephews, as well as her friends’ children, but she was happy with the way her life is at the moment and a baby simply didn’t fit into that plan.
When she told me, I was a bit sad that she and her Husband might not have kids, and I’ve since come to the conclusion is a completely irrational reaction from me. Why should I be sad that they don’t want kids?! My reaction soon turned to one of admiration, with my brain saying “Wow, what a brave thing to admit!”, but having had more time to think about it, I feel a bit cross on their behalves.
Why should anyone have to explain whether they choose to have kids or not? Even the fact that I used the word ‘admitted’ when describing our conversation shows a certain expectation of people within an age group, and that somehow anyone who chooses to deviate from the ‘marriage+kids’ path needs to explain themselves.
What I’ve realised now, is that I wish more people had the guts to admit that they don’t see kids factoring into their lives. There are so many people in the world who seem to take absolutely no joy from being a parent and I often think “Why did that person procreate in the first place?”. Having kids should be something that you know you want, with both body and mind, not a societal obligation that we should fulfill just because our biological clocks or peer groups tell us that “NOW IS THE TIME”.
Perhaps if people weren’t so base, and thought a little bit more about what having kids really meant, there would be less kids in care, foster care, or waiting for adoption? I’m not going to go all Jeremy Kyle and start parading the High Street, screaming “PUT SOMETHING ON THE END OF IT!” at people, but at the same time, I do wish people would at least consider what it takes to have a child and the sacrifices that need to be made. That’s the admirable part, saying “You know what? I’m happy as I am and I’m not willing to change that”.
What I’ve learned from all of this is that I have a whole new level of respect for people who say “I love kids, but they aren’t for me”. Other people (generally those who have or want kids, I’d imagine) may find it hard to reconcile that someone would choose not to have children, but I actually think it’s one of the most selfless conclusions that a person can come to, rather than the potential of having kids and none of you being happy, just for the sake of not missing that window of fertility opportunity.
What do you think? Have you always known that you wanted kids? Have you decided that kids aren’t for you? Leave me a comment below.