Geraldine Estavez’s Huffington Post article “I Don’t Want Children” has currently amassed 222 comments, most of which support the writing and her decision. I typically avoid the comments section of anything like the plague, but I dug through it in search of some vitriol that might entertain me. You know, some octamom type who would vehemently denounce anyone who didn’t want kids. Those are always fun. What struck me more was the imbalance between how much support stood in that comments section and how much support women who declare they want to remain childless by choice really receive.
I personally emailed Geraldine because the piece articulated many of the thoughts that propel through my mind on a regular basis. Just recently the topic of children surfaced while I was with two mothers. When I said, “I don’t think I could be with someone who is absolutely sure they want children because that’s not me,” I had to prep myself for the usual barrage of rebuttals. And, then they arrived.
“I didn’t want kids when I was your age either.”
“You’ll meet a guy who you’ll want to have kids with.”
Please. Everyone. Cut the bullshit.
There are many people who are absolutely sure being a parent is part of their life plan. I am not one of those people. I haven’t ever felt unwavering conviction that I should bear children. And, yes, maybe that will change. But, I think everyone has to chill the fuck out and give me the space to feel how I feel at this exact moment. There is a huge fraction of me that does not think my not wanting to bear children is a product of my age nor single status as much as it truly who I am and what I want out of life. When I’m met with those kinds of responses, I wonder if I’m really as short-sighted as people assume I am when it comes to my future. Am I really that much of an idiot? Am I going crazy? Twilight zone for sure. But, all you can do is operate with the compass you’ve been given. Right now, my compass isn’t pointing in the direction of rugrats.
I get it. Kids are a sensitive topic to say the least. There are people who want them and can’t have them. There are people who have them and don’t want them. There are people who have them and can’t fathom why anyone else wouldn’t follow that same path. So, I always feel like I’m tip-toeing if I mention that I don’t want them. It’s as though we need to add “children” right under “religion” on the list of things we can’t talk about in mixed company. Some people take my decision incredibly personally, as though I just told them that their child resembles a three-headed monster who sickens me. It’s not personal.
Except, it is personal. It is personal in the sense that the path I choose to forge in life is my path. How we each derive meaning and purpose from our lives is different. I do believe there is something inherently rewarding about being a parent. I’ve seen it from my own parents. I’ve seen it from my oldest sister who has three daughters. I’ve watched them beam as they witness all of their offspring’s milestones, from learning to talk to walking across the stage at graduation. However, parenthood isn’t the only avenue that leads a person their life’s mecca.
While the vision for my future is just as blurry as the next twenty something, I still don’t see children in that sketch. And, I don’t necessarily see that shifting even when I meet the earth-shattering love of my life. Having children is a very specific blueprint for one’s life, one that forces you to prioritize that little breathing body over many other things and people. You don’t (or, at least shouldn’t) do that without consideration and deliberation. You can’t do it by virtue of expectation. You can’t do it because your significant other wants it and you feel it’s the one thing you can give back to them. You can’t do it as a compromise. You do it because you want it, because there is something inside of you that recognizes you are meant to do it. There are forces inside of me that recognize I am meant to write. Forces inside of me that recognize I am meant to leave my trademark on the world with my words. Forces inside of me that recognize I am meant to love someone wildly and unabashedly. There are very convicted forces inside of me about how I am meant to navigate and thrive in this lifetime. Children just have not been a part of that conviction.