I don’t hate kids or anything but I never felt called to be a mom. Then I got pregnant while on the Pill and everything changed. I have two little ones now, and while I wouldn’t change my life with them for anything, I still remember all those reasons I had for wanting to stay childfree.
Kids are so damn needy. Kids need their parents not just when they’re babies, but forever. And forever is a long time. One day they need their diaper changed, the next they need help learning to tie their shoes, then it’s science fair, learning to drive, picking a college… it never ends. I’m an independent woman and the idea of being needed forever made me tired just thinking about it. Admittedly, I’ve started to love it—not all the time, but when they need a hug after a rough day or “need” me to help them with their bath even though they can totally wash themselves, it kind of warms my heart.
Children are walking mess machines. I’m not a clean freak but I do try and keep things tidy and not too chaotic. Unfortunately, kids don’t have that same innate desire. They play with something, toss it aside, move on to something else. Fruit snack wrappers get strewn across the floor and mac and cheese from their dinner is left to go moldy on the table. Their little minds are just going so fast with all the new and different things in their life that they don’t have time to pick up after themselves. It’s exhausting but there’s an upside: as they get older, you can introduce things like chores and allowances to save your sanity.
I didn’t want my life to end. When you have a kid, your life as you knew it is over. You’re no longer an autonomous individual who can do what you want whenever you want. Now you’re responsible for a whole other life and it’s overwhelming at times. I was selfish before I became a mother, but when they laid my baby girl on my chest in the hospital room, I knew that giving up my life to give her life was totally worth it.
I worried about my career. I was 29 when my daughter was born and 30 when I had my son. I was just beginning to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do job-wise, but having children throws a whole new dimension into choosing a career. Would I work or stay home? What if I had to relocate for a job? Before having children, I hated the idea of having one more thing to think about when it came to work, but in my case, having kids actually gave me the clarity I lacked before. Now I get to make money as a writer and stay home with my kids and I love it.
Having kids would mean less time with my husband. Since my husband and I got married with the intention of staying childfree, we didn’t rush to “have a life” before settling down to have a family. When I got pregnant, all of a sudden our time as just husband and wife was over. We don’t get to have lazy Saturdays followed by brunch. We can’t go on a random weekend vacation without first packing up all the toys and clothes for our children. We still get time alone but now we do things more as a family and it’s way more fun than I ever knew it could be.
I’d have to say goodbye to my friendships. Maintaining friends after having children is hard and I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I liked my friends and I liked seeing them often. I also liked having the time for long, uninterrupted phone conversations. Once I had kids, it all changed. It happened slowly at first, but over time my friendships have become shadows of what they once were because as my life changed, so did those relationships. While I lost a lot of friends, I also strengthened many of those relationships with those who were also parents and could understand where I was coming from. It’s been a blessing to know who I can really count on in life.
I worried I wouldn’t be a good mom. I know myself pretty well; I knew my downfalls and demons and I didn’t know how I’d do as a parent. Would I be a mean mom, a selfish mom? Instead of asking if I would mess up my kids by bringing my own baggage into our relationship, I always asked how would I mess them up. I didn’t think I’d do a good job, but every night my son and daughter say they love me so I’m going to guess I’m a good mom after all. It feels pretty great.
Kids cost a lot of money. My husband and I both have our share of student loan debt and we want to buy a house and go on vacations and live our best life, but kids need things—like, a lot of things. From new clothes every season because they grow like weeds and doctor and dentist appointments to school supplies, birthday and Christmas presents, college and wedding funds, I’m basically going to be broke forever. However, I can honestly say I’d give up all of my wants to provide for all of theirs.
The world is a scary place. This was the number one reason I didn’t want to have kids. I was so concerned that they would fall victim to crime or become the criminals themselves. Looking at them now, as 4- and 5-year-olds, I know how to move past this fear: by raising good kids who love themselves and others well, who are kind and gentle, and who want good things for their fellow humans. I’m still scared a lot, especially with the rise of school shootings, but I’m also proud of both me and my kids. I’m proud that I’m raising them to change the world and proud of them for taking the charge seriously.