This is a reprint of a series representing the views of individual women on the decision of whether or not to have kids. You might also be interested in Julia’s perspective on being undecided about kids, and Lisa’s take on how she decided she was ready to be a mom.
Now that I’m in my thirties, most of my friends are either first-time parents or having their second or third child. Although I get the baby question less than I used to, it still happens.
At first, my husband and I would give generic answers, like “Maybe when we’re older” or “once we’ve had time to travel” and sometimes we just avoided answering the question entirely.
It seemed to work for a little while, but the questions never stopped. Some people went so far as reminding us (me in particular) that we weren’t getting any younger and that we should start our family soon. At one point I even dreaded going to baby showers because I knew I wouldn’t be able to escape the baby question.
The truth was: We didn’t want children.
Growing up in a single parent home, I saw my mother struggle to provide for me and my sister. She often worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. Although I respect my mother for all of the tough choices and sacrifices that she made, I knew that I wanted something different.
As I got older many of my childhood friends and classmates became mothers at an early age. My mom wanted a different life for us, and she constantly reminded us to focus on bettering our lives through education.
In order to discourage me from becoming like some of my classmates, I spent most of my middle school and high school years babysitting for family and friends. My mother wanted me to realize that being a parent was tough and required a lot of responsibilities as well as sacrifices.
It wasn’t until I went to college that I began to realize that I didn’t want children. At first, I couldn’t put it into words, but I knew that I was different from my girlfriends. Whenever we talked about our future plans their responses always included children. I saw myself falling in love, traveling the world and being successful professionally. However, none of my plans ever included being a mother. I found myself agreeing with my girlfriends, but deep down, I knew motherhood was something that didn’t interest me.
For a long time, I felt ashamed and guilty because I didn’t want to be a mom. I thought something was wrong with me because all of the women in my life were excited to become mothers. I loved working with children as a teacher, but I felt a relief when the children went home with their parents.
How could I be a woman and not want to be a mother?
This was a question that I asked myself a lot throughout college and I didn’t have an answer.
I was lucky enough to find a spouse that shares my views on children. In the end, the hardest part of my decision has been judgment from friends, family, and even strangers. Many have been able to accept our decision, but more often than not, people feel the urge to offer their opinions.
Although traditionally women have been seen as wives and mothers, it doesn’t mean that these roles are meant for every woman. I long for the day when women can make decisions without being expected to live by society’s values and traditions.