Though women have advanced monumentally in American society within the last century, there are still certain expectations we haven’t been able to overcome, particularly the notion of motherhood as our life’s ultimate fulfillment.
Like many other girls who grew up in twenty-first century America, I was encouraged to follow my passions, go to college, earn a degree, and pursue a successful and fulfilling career. The subtext that was never quite explicitly stated until I became a teenager was that my mother still wanted grandchildren to spoil too.
I’m only 21 years old and I can’t even count the number of times that family, friends, and strangers have assumed I’m having children.
Frequent questions include: “How many children do you want?” and “When do you plan on having kids?” A personal favorite? “You’ll understand once you have your own children.”
I’ve known since I was a teenager that motherhood is not right for me and it never will be. I know this is hard to understand for many people, but it doesn’t warrant patronizing or shaming comments.
The fact that it’s 2017 and I still have to explain myself when I say that I don’t want children is ridiculous, but here I am.
First of all, I do not like children. I have friends that can’t walk through Target without pointing out and ogling at every chubby-cheeked, pig-tailed, onesie-wearing, smiling baby. While I can admire an exceptionally cute baby or toddler from afar, I prefer they stay that way – far away.
It’s not that children repulse me, though I cringe at the sound of crying babies and screaming toddlers, it’s more a matter of just not connecting with them on any level.
Put me in front of a child and I will stand there anxiously waiting for the ignorant soul who left me with them to return.
I believe this discomfort around children is due in part to my lack of a motherly instinct. Whereas good mothers are supposed to be nurturing, affectionate, and protective of children, all I feel is awkward anxiety.
It also requires a great amount of patience to raise a child, of which I have little. This isn’t to say that if someone left their children with me to babysit that they would be unsafe; I am capable of taking care of children and they would survive a night with me. However, I know myself, and I can say that I don’t think I would be a good mother, so why on earth would I purposely put a child in a parental situation that’s not ideal?
Additionally, I know the kind of lifestyle I want in the future and it is far from conducive to children. I want to dedicate myself to a career that I am passionate about. I also want the financial freedom and time to further my education. I want to travel domestically and internationally as often as possible. Of course, I’d like to have the freedom to spend my nights and weekends with friends, or alone for that matter.
Practically speaking, kids are a huge financial and time investment, and that’s not an investment I wish to make and I know I’m not the only one.
Some might think many of these reasons are selfish, and maybe they are, but why would anyone bring children into this world knowing they probably won’t get the devotion and patience they deserve?
Even having explained all of this, many people still try to convince me otherwise: “You’ll change your mind once you meet the right guy!” and “Won’t you feel unfulfilled?”
Again, I need to remind people that we are in the twenty-first century where the man does not make the woman, so a man is not going to change my personality or ‘mellow me out’ in any way.
And no I won’t be unfulfilled. I will find fulfillment in my career, traveling, learning, friends, loved ones, and a million and one other things. A woman does not need to be a mother to have a fulfilling and happy life.
Like many other women, I know who I am. I also know I don’t want kids. Period. Let’s work on making an explanation unnecessary.