On a rainy summer night in Utah, I saw my best friend for the first time in 10 years.
Time seemed to melt away as soon as that long, overdue hug was finished. We talked for hours. The comfort and ease of conversing with someone who knows me so well, undoubtedly makes her the truest of friends. It’s proof that, no matter what, that bond we built so long ago has not and will not change.
As is the case with most of us in our 30s, the topic of children inevitably came up.
There are numerous reasons why no tiny humans are running around our apartment, pulling our dog’s tail and dictating our daily schedules. However, the reason my best friend gave me that night is the most honest one of all.
I told her we were back and forth, but leaning toward the “no kids” side of the fence.
Without hesitation, she chimed in saying, “But you’ve never wanted kids.”
I smiled. How right she was.
My husband and I are not ashamed to say that we’d have some damn cute kids, but she’s right. I never really wanted them. Human nature and tradition pushed us to believe it was something we were bound to do, but it isn’t something we need to do.
I’ve never had that urge, that drive, that want or need to be a mother.
I was never that girl who daydreamed about a future where I would have little ones running around the house.
I love my nieces and nephews dearly. I adore my friends’ kids. I really, truly enjoy playing with them, laughing with them, seeing them learn and grow. I am amazed as I watch the children in my life transform from infants into toddlers and actually become miniature people.
I would be lying if I said we weren’t curious about what our kids would look like.
But, curiosity is not a reason to have a child, and it kills the cat. I don’t want to kill any cats! I love animals!
In any case, I have a pretty good idea what our offspring would look like. My four-year-old niece is a “mini-me.” Seriously. It’s uncanny.
What if I told you that when I hear a child on an airplane cry, the first thing I do is cringe? I don’t smile and think “how cute” or “poor thing, her ears need to pop.” I flinch and physically tense up. I actually draw my eyebrows into a frown as the muscles in my shoulders tighten. I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping and waiting for it to stop. That’s not the reaction of someone who should be a parent.
I am actually terrified of being pregnant. All those hormones kicking around, weight gain and stretch marks. I constantly struggle with my weight. I really don’t need the added pressure of losing baby weight on top of the other pounds I can’t keep off naturally!
Oh, and the mood swings. Holy Hell the mood swings! I have enough of those as it is without any added estrogen!
Next, there’s the agonizing labor, the petrifying thought of a natural birth.
The idea of breastfeeding genuinely freaks me out. I have enormous respect for women who breastfeed; almost all of the mothers I know have. I wholeheartedly support my friends who need to feed their youngsters in front of me. However, I am not comfortable seeing a complete stranger whip out her boob in public.
Before my mother lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer, I asked her if she was upset that we didn’t have kids. She told me, “Absolutely not.” It was our decision and she supported us. If we decided not to have them, it was okay. Subconsciously, that might have been the day I started to feel better about our years of teeter tottering and started to admit to myself that I wasn’t required to be a mother.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I would not hold a candle to my mom. Her patience, her constant pride in and encouragement for my brothers and me was outstanding. I could never attempt to be as strong or as caring or as supportive a parent as she was, nor do I want to.
When she passed away, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to bring a child into the world that won’t know their grandma.”
It could have been a reaction formed from grief, but I still feel that way today.
Call me selfish if you will. I’m the first to admit you’re right.
I won’t apologize for saying, “I’m not finished being me.” I still have a lot of growing up to do. There are things I want to accomplish, trips I want to take, and activities I want to be a part of that simply do not permit a third member of our family.
My husband feels the same on almost every count. Procreating just isn’t for us.
Our dog, Dexter, is our son. We’re okay with that and we’re happy. It’s been a joy watching him grow from a tiny fluff-ball into a handsome little man. He can be a handful at times. He has personality traits that make me proud to be his mom. We take Dex with us on trips or outings as often as we can. I scold him and put him in a timeout when he misbehaves and there are times he makes me want to rip my hair out.
“But you’ve never wanted kids,” she said. Though time and distance had separated us, I was astounded that my best friend since sophomore year of high school still knew me better than nearly everyone I’ve befriended since.
After years of loved ones drilling us with questions of “when” or “how long until”, I had actually forgotten the most important fact of all. It took hearing that simple, straightforward statement to realize I’d made this decision years ago. Thanks to her I feel less guilty and more confident in my choice not to have children.
Dear Parents, I respect you and I thank you. I admire the tenacity and tolerance, hours and dedication you put in to do what is proven to be the hardest job in the world.
I can unequivocally say, “I cannot do what you do.”