Like most little girls, I always imagined growing up, getting married, and starting a family. At a young age I became infatuated with wedding dresses, I picked out first and middle names for my hypothetical kids, and I decided on the ages when I would get married and then pregnant. It is ingrained from the very beginning that those are the biggest, most important milestones in life.
As I grew older, my career, my sanity, and my happiness began to be more important than finding someone to marry and have kids with. But the frustrating thing is, the rest of the world has expectations for me already. I am officially at the age where those milestones should be in my near future. I am asked about my plans for marriage and kids regularly as if I have no choice but to have those things occur in my life. But why? Why are these things pushed upon us, especially as women?
I was once at dinner with a group of people who were twice my age and they asked me about kids. They made a comment about how I’m getting close to the age when I should get pregnant (as if there’s a specific age). I told them I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids, that it wasn’t a priority to me, that I would be perfectly content without them. “Trust me,” someone said, “you’ll change your mind.” I stared, perplexed.
Every time I voice how I feel, I get the same reaction. People have a hard time grasping why someone might choose to not have children. Why they might choose to focus on their marriage and career and travel instead of raising a human being.
I’m always told I’ll change my mind. As if it’s a horrible thing to waste my ovaries as a female.
Aren’t there enough expectations put on women? Every single day as a female, I feel the pressures of society to look and act a certain way. I am in an endless internal battle with myself to feel at peace with who I am and what I look like compared to what I see around me. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, even though I don’t compare to women flooding television and movie screens, social media, everywhere. So why, on top of those standards that I have to ignore for my own sanity, am I told that I must get married and have children? In addition, I am told I should do this sooner than later. I am told my job won’t be as important as my husband’s, that if anyone stays at home with the kids, it will be me because I’m the “mom.” I am told that if I don’t become a mother, my life will be incomplete.
Some of my reluctance comes from the fact that I don’t think I’m strong enough to handle my child’s pain on top of my own. The moment I see them hurt, or beaten down by life, I will regret bringing them into this world. I would feel responsible for every time they cried, every time they felt pain, every time their heart got broken or feelings got hurt because I was the one who subjected them to it. When I never really wanted to.
My sister is about to get married and have the wedding of her dreams with the man she is in love with. They are planning to have kids soon after. Their names are picked out, their looks already being fawned over. I will be an aunt, and I know I will love every minute of it. I absolutely adore children, but I am more excited to fill the role of an aunt than mom. I promised to babysit and be there as much as possible, to help them learn and grow in this world that deterred all of my own hope. And that is enough for me. It is enough to have children related to me by blood, kids who I know I will love completely and unconditionally, who I will watch grow up yet never be wholly responsible for.
I am content focusing on my writing until I am a best-selling author, focusing on my career until I get my dream job, focusing on climbing the ladder until at last, I am financially comfortable and able to see the world at my leisure. Those are my goals now, and they are much more important to me than bringing a child into this world that I don’t even know I want.
Maybe one day I’ll have a change of heart about having children and suddenly desire them. But I’m not going to risk my happiness just because my parents and in-laws want grandchildren. I’m not going to do something that makes me sad and uncomfortable and scared because my family and friends and society expect me to because I “should.” I will only have kids it if it will make me happy, and no one else.