The Reluctant Possible Parent

This subject has been floating around in my brain for awhile now, so I thought why not blog about it? There are thousands of blogs dedicated to the wonders and challenges of child rearing, which is fine and I enjoy reading some of them, but I rarely see any blogs that deal with questioning the decision to reproduce.  Where are all the people like me, who are in no rush to get into that kind of mammoth responsibility and who will admit they are unsure about having a child?  I’m not saying I’ll never have one, but the whole idea makes me nervous. Here are my reasons for my ambivalence:

1-Human overpopulation-There are 6.7 billion or actually no, wait there are 6.8 billion people on the planet and thousands of babies born every minute. With each human born, there are less resources, more pollution, fewer wildlife and plants and unfortunately more crime. Urban sprawl is another real problem and I don’t know about you, but the thought of neverending suburban houses and Walmarts, makes me want to get my tubes tied.

2-Patience or lack thereof-I’m not a patient person. (Neither is my husband, shh!) If babysitting and teaching arts and crafts to 6-year-olds taught me anything, its that children require oodles und oodles of patience.  Plus, when you consider how exhausted most mothers are, it quickly reduces any possible patience, which brings me to my next point..

3-Lack of Sleep and Sex– Think about the life stages of a child-Babies scream in the middle of the night, kids get night terrors and wet the bed and teenagers stay out far too late, which makes you stay up all night wondering if they’ve been kidnapped by Jack the ripper or are out getting high. I’m already not a great sleeper, so anything that compounds the problem just might just drive me (even more) nuts!

Sex. I saw a woman on a reality show once about young couples who are having ‘relationship problems’ and she said: “Before kids, there’s lots of sex. After kids, there’s no sex”.  Wow, that sounds pretty shitty actually. But surely that’s only in the first few years of your child’s life and things improve from there right? Right?!

4-Money-According to this article, the cost of raising a girl is $166, 549, while raising a boy will cost you $166, 972! (And this does not include post-secondary education, which is expected to rise to $96, 000 by the year 2021! Jesus!!) With these kind of figures, to say having a child is expensive is like saying it gets a “little nippy” in Ottawa in January! Call me selfish, but its hard not to think of all the other things I could be spending that money on-like vacations, charities, spa appointments, clothing, books and my furbabies.

5-This is still considered taboo for a woman to admit, but kids by and large just ain’t my thing. People “ooh” and “ahhh” all over babies and toddlers, but for me their cuteness ends when they start screaming. Plus-How the heck do parents eat their own food, when their chubby ‘pride and joy’ has snot and mushy peas all over its face? How does one get used to constantly changing diapers and living with the smell? Also -Some kids are just plain intolerable bastards. Yes, I said it! (Though this might have more to do with their parents not disciplining them properly)

6-Neverending Cooking and Cleaning-I already clean up after three animals and a man(he contributes in a different way around the house), where would I get the energy to clean up after a younger version of me/hubby? How do women do it? Plus-Any attempts at requesting your child actually clean up after themselves, will be met with grunts, eye rolls and “yeah yeah”.  Is there some cleaning superdrug out there on the market that mothers are taking? Even if you manage to make the house spotless, there is still the matter of feeding all the beasts in your house. I’m not big on Kraft Dinner or frozen food, so that leaves, cooking the old fashioned way (Except without the meat) which is great but saps even more of your precious time and energy and your effort is usually not appreciated.

7-Free time-If you want to do a decent job of child rearing , I think its safe to say you have to devote 110% of your time to your bairne.  They are needy and depend on you for all their basic needs. That’s a lot of pressure! After working a long day, all I want to do is put my feet up and watch reruns of ‘Dexter’ and draw.  So the idea of starting my ‘second job’ as a momma right after working for 8 hours, is less than appealing. I love and cherish my free time-I can shop, read, paint, watch porn, whatever!-Its all up to me! Further-There are still so many activities I want to try and goals I want to accomplish in my life and I’m not really interested in compromising them.

8-Bodily changes-Naturally, you get bigger and you get stretch marks and things tend to be fairly loose “everywhere”. I could handle gaining a bit of weight, but the idea of having a sock puppet between my legs kinda freaks me out. Plus, I’ve heard your feet get bigger. Mine are an 8 1/2 and I already have a hell of a time finding shoes that come in sizes bigger than munchkin. I really don’t want to have canoes holding me upright.

9-Grade and High School (*shudders*)-Public education in this country is a bit of a joke-Most public schools are vastly underfunded, teachers are overworked and there is the whole possiblity of bullying and getting shot/stabbed nowadays. Junior and High School can be particularly hellish and it makes me feel bad having to put someone through them. But it could be a chance for them to grow a thicker skin-Didn’t work for me, but maybe it will for them.

10-What if I change my mind afterwards or screw them up? I’ve read stories of women who after having children, deeply regretted their decision. And not just on bad days, but constantly wish they had stayed on the pill or remained celibate. Also-What if I’m no good at parenting? I’m bad at math, moody and have no interest in tupperware or PTA meetings. What if we screw them up so bad they end up on top of a building one day shooting at people with a gun? Sounds a little irrational but you never know how someone will turn out. (I hear Jeffrey Dahmer had very nice parents)

So with all these reasons, it sounds like we definitely fit into the “childfree” column, but once in awhile, I see little babies and feel a slight tug. Occasionally my body has slight pangs to make a mini-me. Plus I am curious. What’s it like to carry one those things inside of you? It must feel kinda cool in a way to have a living being growing inside of your body.

Anyways, what do you guys think? Is having a child important to you or does the idea of the pitter patter of little feet make you want to run for the hills?

Picture-http://www.huonvalley.tas.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=260

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29 thoughts on “The Reluctant Possible Parent

  1. Robin

    I write about my on-the-fence childfree status all the time. I know how I feel now but I wonder how I’ll feel in a few years. You are very strong thinking about this and being honest, not many can do this.

    ps. i’m gonna add this post as a link to my catsnotkids.tumblr.com

  2. quackattack

    “sock puppet between my legs ” … ohmigosh, thanks for that horrible imagery!

    I’m a waffler on this one … being single I don’t think about it too much, but I imagine sooner or later some guy will want to know, so I should try to form a stable opinion on the topic.

  3. hannah78 Post author

    Robin-I thought about you when I wrote this post. I think you and I are in the minority when it comes to this subject. There are so many ‘mommy blogs’, but nowhere near as many ‘childfree blogs’, which is a shame, because its nice to hear from both perspectives.
    Thanks so much for adding my post to your tumblr site. 🙂
    Quackattack-LOL. Well its better than some of the other analogies I’ve heard describing the vag area post-pregnancy! Well I wouldn’t hurry into making a concrete decision, there are a few men who are ambivalent on child rearing as well.

  4. k

    It’s true – not many people blog about not having kids or not wanting to have kids. I honestly always assumed I would grow up, get married and have kids. All of your reasons have crossed my mind though. I’m sure from reading my blog you know that I have a baby but before him I knew nothing about kids. Sure I worry about the worlds population and what life will be like when he’s grown up. Sure my life has changed, my body too (though not badly – no sock puppet for me. And actually sex is WAY better now…) Sure sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing. But somehow it’s all worth it when my kid looks up at me and smiles.
    We all make our own decisions and a lot of people are choosing to not have children. There’s nothing wrong with that. Good for you for being able to look at the decision rationally.

  5. XUP

    I am VERY disturbed by the fact that you have to clean up after your husband like a child. If he’s not doing his share of the household work, he won’t be doing his share of the parenting either and that’s going to make being a parent more intolerable for you than all the other reasons you mention. And if he claims to be too busy now while he’s in school, that’s going to pale in comparison to how busy he’s going to be once he goes into articling/practice. All the things you say are true (except the sock puppet part…I don’t even know what that means). But, somehow it’s all totally worth it. I don’t know why. And for the few people who would disagree with that, there are twice as many who didn’t have children and regret it later in life. That’s not to say you should just go ahead and do it. If YOU truly feel parenting is not something you want to do and it’s not just something you have been subtly pursuaded to feel, then by all means don’t do it. But don’t do anything irrecoverable one way or the other until you’re a bit older and absolutely sure.

  6. J.

    I have to say that I feel the same way with you. There are so many pros and cons about children. I shouldn’t say they’re cons, but reasons why maybe I wouldn’t want to have them. I agree with pretty much everything you mention here and feel the same way about it.

    I am in no rush to have children. Maybe I’ll change my mind in a few years, for now. Nuh huh.

  7. hannah78 Post author

    XUP-Ouch! That’s pretty harsh! Just because someone doesn’t clean as much as they could doesn’t automatically mean they will be a horrible parent! On the contrary, hubby is great with the animals and I’m sure he would be just as good with a child! He also helps around the house in other ways-ie. Picking up groceries, walking the dog, etc. 🙂 I don’t think he’s that different from most men, who in general, don’t tend to be as bothered by things like clothes on the floor, dust, dirty dishes, etc as women. But when I suggest we do some cleaning, he’s probably more accommodating then most men. The sock puppet thing refers to the changes that happen to the vagina after you push a baby through it. Freaks me out! (The words “stretching” and “tearing” have been mentioned to me by women after they gave birth)

    That’s my plan-I’m going to wait and see, rather than rush into a decision one way or the other. I just would like to voice my concerns, because as mentioned, you don’t hear these concerns very often in our “baby obsessed world”.

    J.-Great! It looks like I am definitely not alone in this respect. 🙂

  8. Kate

    You know what, Hannah? Sometimes I feel like you just walked inside my brain and then wrote down exactly what I was thinking. This being one of those times.

    Seriously.

  9. Marie

    All those points you stated are running around in my mind most of the time. But a part of me still wants to have a kid at some point (ONLY ONE THANK YOU).

    Yes there are kids that are brattier than others (sometimes I want to ask their parents if there’s a return policy), but I have friends who have great kids. They are really well behaved. It varies a lot (some of it has to do with the kid’s personality).

    But yeah, it’s hard work. Glad you posted this. Many people usually don’t. Great post.

  10. hannah78 Post author

    Kate-LOL. Glad to hear I’ve connected with ya! 🙂
    Marie-Yeah, if I had a baby, it would also only be one. (I really hate people who just lazily pop them out like its going out of style!)
    Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  11. LiLu

    Ahahaha! This is TOO funny. And I love how yours is all well-written and fancy, whereas mine is one, giant, sarcastic mess.

    I’m okay with that.

    😉

  12. Lynn

    When I was in my 20s, I thought I would never want to have children either. I had a list very similar to yours and it really gave me pause. I was never a “kid person” and even less of a “baby person” and I just didn’t feel like it was for me.

    When I eventually decided to change my mind, my sister said something so sweet to me — she said she knew I’d make a good mom because I was so hesitant before. She said that she knew that I was fully aware of all the responsibility involved and all the things I was giving up to become a parent, and since I had chosen to do it anyway, I was ready to be all that my kids needed me to be.

    That said, I would never judge anyone who chose to remain childless — having been there myself I can understand all too well the reasons not to. I think that having kids brings all kinds of horrors and issues and problems…but also a lot of joy too, to balance it all out. It’s certainly a huge change and a huge, never-ending committment, though, so it’s not a decision to be made lightly.

    I think there are so many more mommy blogs out there because moms are often home for a year’s maternity leave, looking to connect with other adults and have a social outlet that does not involve Dora The Explorer. I bet a lot of blogs get started while the mom begins composing posts in the middle of naptimes and nursing sessions!

  13. Wandering Coyote

    Tough call. Well, actually, maybe not so much after reading this post! I never saw myself as a mom or a baby person either, but now I’m pushing 40 I’m starting to wonder……

  14. Mireille

    Wow. Great post!

    Having left my 20s behind, I finally decided I want to have a child and I was never a “kid person”. I also would like to have just one — well, to start off with anyway. How can I know if I want two when I haven’t had one yet? Who knows how I’ll handle motherhood. I think you get just as much criticism from people when you say you want just one. People seem to think that’s just terrible. I’m an only child and had a FABULOUS life. Also, I have childless family members and their lives are equally fabulous.

    All that to say, no matter what decision you make, your life will be perfect… for you! And that’s what matters. It’s 2009… Can we let go of the stigma and stereotypes, people!?

  15. XUP

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to be harsh. You just made it sound like all the cleaning up after and feeding of every person and critter in your household is/would be solely your responsiblity. And that WOULD be tough

  16. hannah78 Post author

    Lynn-Your sister sounds like a smart woman.:)
    It’s good that you are more open minded than some people towards individuals who may remain childfree. It really is a personal decision and as you mentioned not one to be taken lightly.
    Wandering Coyote-Well there’s still time one way or the other. I’m happy that this post is creating some debate and personal contemplation among my readers.:)
    Mireille-Thank you. That’s crazy that some numbnuts criticize the choice to have one child. Lots of people are only children and they turned out fine. Its all about whats right for the individual family and yes its 2009-almost 2010-lets indeed get rid of the crushing stereotypes!

  17. hannah78 Post author

    XUP-Its o.k. You just have to be careful jumping to conclusions, because they could hurt others feelings. But I probably could have also phrased things a bit differently in my initial post. 🙂

  18. meanie

    1 – people are always dying, so there is always room for one more.
    2 – patience. i used to be impatient. now i am more patient. i think it is a good trait to have acquired. (i still yell sometimes though!)
    3 – lack of sleep is the hardest part i find, and what is likely preventing me from considering a third. sex? it still happens. not as often, but not sure if that is kid related or not.
    4 – money, yup, we do spend a lot on kids, less on other stuff, but you sort of get used of it. i don’t really resent it.
    5 – i’m not a super-huge fan of kids (other than my own) either. some are really great though. crying sucks, but getting one to stop crying is awesome.
    6 – i like cooking, so no biggie there. i think i actually clean less now because my standards have gone wayyy down since having kids, lol! (oh, and i hired a cleaning lady and the kids now have chores to help keep things orderly – see, you can put them to work!)
    7 – the early years were a little tricky, but i enjoy a pretty amazing social life now! (well, in my opinion it’s amazing, other, more exciting people might find it lame)
    8 – bodily changes. uhh, yeah. no amount of treadmilling will get my body back to the way it was, but, it doesn’t bug me toooo much anymore.
    9 – public eductaion – can only speak of experiences thus far, and so far it’s been pretty good. we’ll see though, you’re right, middle school and high school were hell.
    10 – i screw up on a daily, basis, but i also try and make amends on a daily basis. i figure if i do the best i can, somehow it will all work out.

    this was fun!

  19. hannah78 Post author

    Meanie-Glad to hear your reponses to my concerns, because honestly parenting is a bit of a mystery to me and its good to get an inside perspective. (Though I disagree with your answer to #1. Thanks to medical technology, there aren’t enough people dying to make room for new people and this is causing some of the problems I mentioned in my post)

  20. Capital Mom

    I would have had a I-never-want-to-have-kids blog ten years ago. Because I didn’t. I told anyone that would listen that I didn’t. But really, I was scared. I was so scared of screwing them up that I wouldn’t admit I actually wanted to be a parent. It took me awhile to accept that I am totally going to screw them up. I am just aiming for less so than my parents screwed me up. 🙂

    I think that it is great to think long and hard about having kids. Too many people jump into it not knowing what to expect. Not ready for the changes. If someone doesn’t really want it then don’t do it.

    I agree with Lynn about the number of mommy blogs. It can be a bit lonley when you are at home with kid(s) and no adults to talk to. Blogs can fill that void and make you feel less isolated.

  21. raino

    what a brave soul u r to actually have the courage to say u may not want children, seriously.

    i wish more parents would before it’s too late; b4 they have destroyed at least 2 peoples lives..theirs and the child.

    no doubt, children are a huge stress, worry, financial strain, pain in the butt but thankfully there are good things (obviously) as well.

    b4 i had the girls, i worried that i would screw them up and honestly, i still do worry about it everyday. maybe it’s just me, but i never got over that concern. i think that when you become a parent you just have to try ur best and hope for the best.

    no doubt tho, there are many parents out there whom should have never had children EVER.

    feelings change…when i was younger and even when i was dating my husband, the plan was to have 4-5 kids, be a stay at home mom (like my mom), bake cookies every day, never ever have ‘prepared / convenience’ foods.

    then i had the girls and everything changed. i pretty much knew then and there that i wouldn’t have another. i should say here that i had a very serious case of post pardum depression that lasted, well, lets just say a LONG LONG time.

    yeah, there were some days when i got that ‘ache’ when seeing a little baby – still do sometimes.

    but i needed to work to be a better mom. i would have went insane had i stayed home with my children. there are some people that honestly think that if you aren’t able to stay at home and take care of your kids u should not have kids. i disagree.

    they are entitled to their opinion but it’s not mine and my families way. i and my children are much better because of the fact that i work outside the home. i do not identify myself as a mother or by my job but by both. and i think my kids will be just fine.

    my mom was a stay at home mom for 6 of us and from what i saw not a very happy one. that is what i remember – not home baked cookies.

    i should say that if it were not for the husband that i have i would not be able to succeed at my job the way that i do.

    as for patience, i also used to have the patience of a saint – now i have none!! seriously.

    the sleep thing…well i NEED my sleep and was VERY fortunate for my husband because he took over OFTEN and still does.

    as for sex, well, i’m not even gonna go there.

    cooking and cleaning – well somehow we survived the cooking thing so far but then again i am not alone doing it and i also LUUUVE to cook. but the lack of time to cook is a HUGE challenge for sure, especially on soccer nights. when we have to be on the field at 6:30 and i usually don’t get home till 6:30. scrambled eggs!

    cleaning is a MESS! (‘scuuuze the pun) always has been and always will be. HATE it. i would have to say this is one of my biggest challenges. nuts eh?

    my body changed big time and i won’t say anything more about this except that i wish i had 12K for a tummy tuck.

    BUT the feeling of growing another human being inside of you is the most amazing feeling ever.

  22. hannah78 Post author

    Capital Mom-“It took me awhile to accept that I am totally going to screw them up. I am just aiming for less so than my parents screwed me up” LOL-I think thats what most people are aiming (or should be) for. What really scares me, though are the people who are very messed up, despite having great parents who worked tirelessly to make them health and happy.
    As for the mommy blogs-I understand why they exist and certainly don’t begrudge them. I bet my mom wishes that blogs were around back in the 80s, when my brother and I were little. 🙂

  23. hannah78 Post author

    Raino-Thank you for your very candid summary of what parenting has been like for you. As mentioned earlier, I welcome input from all the “moms” out there. 🙂

  24. Natashya

    I think that whatever people decide – they will always cast an eye to the road not taken. That seems pretty normal to me.
    I don’t think everyone needs to have children, we certainly have enough people in the world. I do have kids, and they are grown now.
    In my second marriage we committed to having a family of furry babies instead of making more human ones. They have been very important and satisfying in our lives.
    Single or attached, babies or no babies – there will always be days that we ache for the path we didn’t choose – but both choices are personal and valid. I say go with your strongest instincts, and be aware of any changes they may make over the years too.

  25. fame_throwa

    This post sounded like I wrote it!

    Being of the same mindset, I don’t have much sage advice. Just wanted to know that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts. So many people don’t think enough about these things and have kids for the wrong reason. I’ve always said that having kids is the one decision you can’t go back on. Best to be thorough in your analysis.

    That said, I think there are folks like us who do have kids in the end and never feel 100% sure they’ve done the right thing. I’m like that with a lot of things: always able to see both sides, which makes it darn hard to make a decision and stick with it.

    But with anything in life, just because you’re not sure you’ve done the right thing doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job.

    I don’t expect I’d be a very good mother at all, but I wouldn’t be the worst mother either. Whether or not I’ll have kids will likely be heavily influenced by what my partner thinks since I’m so indecisive. Of course, he’s almost as indecisive as me! I guess that means we’ll probably not have kids then!

  26. hannah78 Post author

    Fame throwa-Glad to hear from more ‘indecisives’. Its really hard to make a decision on something like this because as you said its permanent. Well here’s hoping we’ll both find some clarity in the future. 🙂

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