I don’t want kids. I’m fine and completely okay with my choices—and so is my partner. But there’s one person who absolutely isn’t: my mother.
“I don’t just want grand cats, Zoe,” she told me at a party a few nights ago.
“I want grandbabies.”
For seemingly the thousandth time, I said no.
“If you want babies, you can have another one.”
I’m pretty sure what she said next was a joke, but I can’t be sure:
“Why don’t you just have a baby, and I’ll look after it!”
What a fantastic idea—that is clearly the solution to my “problem” of not wanting kids when mum wants grandkids. I get to continue my bloodline and “the family name”, without the hassle of changing dirty nappies. Except for the part where my child finds out their mum didn’t want them. FYI, mum, your grand cats cried when I told them they weren’t enough.
I am twenty-one-years-old. I’m a writer, in my third year at university. And I wish – I oh, so desperately wish – people would stop telling me I will want kids. Because I’m “supposed” to. Because it’s what everyone else does and what’s expected. Because I won’t be a real woman, and my life isn’t complete, unless I give birth. Please, stop telling me what I should do. It’s condescending, and it completely ignores what I actually want.
We teach our children that “no” means “no”; but when it comes to a refusal to have children, all sorts of arguments arise that are supposed to convince and entice me to squeeze a watermelon-sized human through my lady parts – and to look after said human for life. You’re only young, you don’t know what you’re saying, you’ll change your mind. Having kids is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I didn’t start living until I gave birth. They’re my greatest achievement. Won’t you be lonely?
Yes, I am young. And maybe I will change my mind, and maybe I won’t; but that’s my prerogative. Right now, and for as long as I remember, I haven’t wanted kids. Whether I change my mind down the track is beside the point: it’s this expectation that’s incredibly harmful, to women who don’t want children, and women who can’t. Can people please stop questioning my actions? It’s like my actual opinion doesn’t matter, only my ovaries. Stop being rude.
To me, having kids sounds like a terrible idea. There’s the pregnancy part where you’re sick, you become a planet, hormonal and you can’t even drink wine. You get to go through pain that’s reportedly worse than breaking multiple bones. And then you get the joy of looking after a tiny human, in all its screaming, crying, vomiting, back-chatting, pooing and peeing glory. I hear my friends with babies tell me about how hard it is, how they never get any sleep, how their entire lives are about their children, how they’re lonely, stressed, worried about their child’s future while putting their own on hold. One friend even told me her baby ate his own poop after she left him alone for about thirty seconds. And let’s not forget those fun teenage years! I don’t want to lose myself to create someone else.
I would rather focus on myself. I need to focus on myself. I am an incredibly anxious person who is prone to depression. Some days, I can barely get out of bed. Some days, I can barely feed myself. Some days, I don’t want to. To survive, I have to put myself first–and I couldn’t do that with a baby. I’d either become an absolute wreck, or be a half-arsed parent wracked with constant guilt of not being better.
Having kids is a beautiful, magical, worthwhile experience: but it’s not for me, and it’s not what I envision what my life will be like. I want to love and heal myself. I want to write. I want to work hard, and have a career. I want to travel. I want to help people, and make the world a better place. While some superhero mums can do both, I just can’t.
This is not selfish. It would be more selfish to have a child for the wrong reasons. It would be more selfish to create life if I didn’t 100000% want it. You can’t exactly hit up your uterus for a refund.
I watched my mum fight to provide me with the best life she could as a single mother. I watched my dad start a new family. I’ve seen my family tear apart. I’ve seen my mother cry when she found out I have depression. I care about what’s right--and I feel like we’re in a world that doesn’t. If I had a child, they would be too bright of a light, too beautiful for this dark place.
Stop telling me something I don’t even want will be the best thing I’ll ever do. I don’t need a baby to complete me. There are so many things I want to be--and I don’t need to be a mother to be validated as a woman. Having kids is not my measure of success. I will dedicate my life to helping others--not creating them.
I am content. I have the beginnings of a career I love. I have a great partner. I have two beautiful foster fur babies whose lives I saved. And really, cats are enough trouble as it is!
I know my mum doesn’t mean to make me go through this. I know she wouldn’t want me to do something I really didn’t want to do. But this pressure society puts women through is nuts. It’s 2016. Can I please have use of my uterus without judgement?