I love kids ... I just don't want to have any.
A very popular conversation of late is the "kids or no kids" debate. There's no shortage of coverage in the media, from both sides, and because this is a topic that's near and dear to many women's hearts, things tend to get a little heated.
In the interest of having a relaxed dialogue in which we all acknowledge each other's choices and our own personal agency for making them, here's a list of things this woman who chose to not have kids would like all mothers to know:
1. We're not any more selfish, self-involved, self-absorbed, self-centered, or self-indulgent than the next person.
We get called "selfish" often. Like really often. I don't exactly understand the logic behind this insult, but regardless: I've made my choice.
Yeah, my choice was based on my life, my experiences, my goals, and my priorities. But so was yours.
I'm not here to call parents selfish (in fact, I think there's plenty of evidence to show that quite the opposite is true); I'm just trying to point out that I'm allowed make a huge, life-changing decision based on how I want my life to be, same as you are.
You wanted to be a mom and live that experience. I didn't.
2. This isn't a temporary, instant gratification decision.
How did you decide it was time to have a child? Did you wake up one Tuesday and say, "Yep. I'm feeling a little lonely today. I just saw an adorable child do an adorable thing. Better have a kid now." Of course you didn't. The same is true for me.
I didn't wake up at noon to no alarm clock and think, "Damn, what a night! The shots and the cute dude I brought home from the bar... And now I've got to pack my bag for my upcoming backpacking trip through Bolivia. But first, I'm going to eat cereal for lunch and not worry about the sharp corners of my coffee table. Wow, it's great to not have kids!"
No, I took a look at my life — at what I had, what I wanted, and how I planned on getting there — and realized that a child was simply not going to fit.
More importantly, after realizing that I couldn't maintain the life I've made for myself and have a kid, I wasn't immediately inclined to make any drastic changes. Rather, I was more inclined to push harder, do more, and let other people become parents.
3. We don't hate kids.
Kids are fun and cute; they're cuddly, they're hilarious, and they have the most delightful little clothing that has occasionally made me squeal out loud in public (especially the shoes. They're so small!). I love kids.
I was a teacher for three years and my friends are very aware that I'm ready for auntie duty as soon as they're ready for parenthood. Kids are also a lot of work and they're expensive, and they bring with them a life that I'm not interested in leading. Not at all.
My decision is about 97 percent because parenthood simply isn't my jam and the remaining 3 percent covers a short list of cons — they're messy, they don't bore of repetitive games nearly as quickly as I do, they eventually become teenagers, and so on and so forth.
4. We recognize that it would be cool to have a kid around ... sometimes.
There are a lot of pros to kids. You get to name them something awesome that carries an excellent legacy (my nonexistent children all have names based on my favorite badass characters from literature).
You get to teach them how to have better taste in music than their teeny-bopper friends. You get all that unconditional love and the pride of knowing you did something really awesome in bringing a new human into the world, and then watching that human become someone (hopefully) rad as hell.
That, to be totally sincere, sounds amazing and I absolutely understand the joy that a child can bring into your life. But I've found lots of other joys — in travel, in my friends, in the general freedom I have — and they're all joys I prefer to that of motherhood.
5. Our lives are not without love.
Another inexplicable thing that strangers like to imply is that we're living barren, loveless lives. The number of people who've told me I'm going to die alone is roughly ... a million. People, I have a family. I have the greatest friends.
I'm overflowing with love for them, and I know that they feel the same about me. I realize that these loves are different than the kind of love you have for your child, but that doesn't make my love lesser or irrelevant.
6. We don't judge you for wanting to be a mom.
Please allow me to repeat that one more time: We don't judge you for wanting to be a mom. Live your best life. You do you. Make the choices that will make you happiest.
All I'm asking is that you grant us the same courtesy. Let us all remember what our beloved Amy Poehler, Patroness of Feminism, says: "Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto that women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me."