What I Say When People Ask Me If I Want Kids
I’m in my thirties. Thirty-one to be precise. It’s an interesting age. It’s the age when you really start feeling comfortable being in your skin. It’s the age when you’ve fucked up enough to know a lot about life (if you’ve been paying attention). It’s the decade Jay Z has deemed the new youth. It’s two years before they say Jesus died. It’s the year they say women are at their sexual peak (!!). It’s one year after my former spiritual teacher says you need to start taking your life seriously. It’s the decade when things can get really fun, when you’re making enough money to stock your fridge with organic produce, when you’ve had your heart broken a few times, and when you’ve learned what you’re passionate about — and you actually do that.
When you’re 31 something else happens, and if you decide to take a scroll down my Facebook wall you’ll get a sense of what it is: cute baby in the tub, cute baby in the stroller, cute baby in a funny bib, cute baby with a messy face, cute baby crying, cute baby with big eyes, cute baby sleeping, cute baby with a cute doggy (by the way, these are all the same cute baby — you know how parents are), another cute baby on her 10 month Birthday, cute baby in a swing, cute baby standing up, a baby someone thinks is cute…just playin’. We’re all beautiful.
So yeah. Everyone is having babies, and that’s cool for them. But being 31 also means that people are very interested in whether or not I want to have babies. Because I’m 31. And I should probably want them or at least know if I want them.
But I don’t. And I’m happy that way.
When people ask me if I want to have kids I tell them something like this: I want to be happy. I want to have an amazing life that is full of joy and love and passion and exploration. And if one day having a child is a part of that than cool. But I don’t know, and I’m ok not knowing. And I don’t feel I need to make a choice just because I’m being asked…a lot.
Personally, right now having a partner in life is a prerequisite for me to seriously consider children. And in general, I just want to experience having an incredible long-term relationship. I don’t know if that means he’ll be my partner for one year, five years, twenty years, or one of our lifetimes. But I want a partner. A real partner, not someone I think will fulfill me or make me happy. Not someone who will help me build the life I think I need to have, but someone who is amazing and supportive and doing what brings him joy. And that’s what I want first.
But above all that, I want to be free of expectation for my life. I want to live for the desires deep within me and not cultural ideals being shoved down my throat. And this isn’t to say that I haven’t spent a significant amount of time contemplating whether or not I want to have a child and in what way. Raising a child is not something that feels important to me at this point in my own life. I recognize that might change, and it also might not.
I’m also someone who’s never felt the desire to be pregnant. I have friends who have longed for that feeling for most of their lives. That’s foreign to me, and it doesn’t mean I won’t have kids. But, I was the girl who grew up in a big family telling my parents they had enough kids to make up for me not having any. I wanted to adopt, and I still do. I might foster. I might get pregnant. I might create a mentor program and mother a whole slew of kids. I might do them all.
Partnership feels like a prerequisite for me in choosing to bear babies, but everyone has their own path and their own desires. This life is about discovering what’s in your soul and listening. I’m so inspired by some of the incredible people around me who are choosing partnerless parenting. A single, male friend of mine had his son via surrogacy. After another friend’s last breakup she realized that she didn’t feel like she needed to wait for the right person to come along before she became a mother and is getting ready for her first IUI. And there are so many people who choose to adopt, foster, and consciously choose to become parents. All of these are, to me, honorable, admirable, and inspiring.
It can be so difficult to navigate the jungles of cultural shoulds and shouldn’ts, biological programming, and our own desires. Our culture bombards us with predefined concepts of life at various stages. From around fourteen, women’s bodies scream at us that IT’S TIME!!! Parents and peers might question us and put pressure on us. Culture certainly does. And how do you know what it is you truly want in the midst of all this?
I’m no longer phased by other people’s expectations for my life, but I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know myself. I’ve created a practice to keep myself in check. Because this is my life, and I want to make decisions that support it. And this is your life. No one else's. Make the choices that serve you, not just the world around you.
Also, get some really supportive friends. That’s essential.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories, and experiences around childbearing and mothering. Email me or comment below.