I don’t think I’ve made it any sort of secret that I do not like children and I do not want them... anywhere in my vicinity. They are not part of my life plan. They do not fit into my E! True Hollywood Story. This is a big point of contention in my house because my sister says she doesn’t want children either, but my mother desperately wants grandchildren.
What my mother doesn’t seem to understand is that neither of us were made to be parents. I’m not comfortable with the idea of having children just so that she can have grandchildren. If she wishes to raise them, then I will immediately begin depositing sperm samples into a cup and searching for a viable and willing egg. Until such a time as she agrees to this, there’s just no way. I am not sacrificing my life to raise another person. I’m genuinely shocked that anybody does.
I’ve seen what happens to people when they have children, and I would never wish it on myself or my worst enemy. I was watching my mother at a party recently, speaking to a woman who had a baby five months ago. Let’s call her Exhibit A. Or Bethany. No, we’ll go with Exhibit A. I didn’t know anybody at the party so I was stuck there listening to their conversation about baby Benjamin, and I have never been so bored in my life.
We had met Exhibit A several times while she was pregnant. She was a big career woman; she wanted to get to the top and she had her eyes on the prize. She was less than thrilled at being pregnant and even less thrilled at the prospect of being a mother. She didn’t particularly care for the whole thing, but felt obligated to go through with the pregnancy for her husband. While we were speaking to her this time, however, she had this brainwashed smile plastered to her face and she spoke about nothing but that goddamn child for an entire hour.
Within ten minutes, I had learned more facts about her offspring than I would ever have cared to. I learned that he was being breastfed and that this gave Exhibit A a feeling of most overwhelming maternal joy. I learned that while most babies weigh less upon leaving the hospital than they do when they’re born, Benjamin was the shining exception to this rule and weighed more! I also learned that he is an incredibly affectionate boy (“And I hope he doesn’t change!”).
Oh and guess what guys? Guess what! You’re never going to believe this –it’s absolutely groundbreaking. Apparently, the previous day, little Benjamin had tried kiwi fruit for the first time! And you’ll never believe it: he loved it. He absolutely LOVED it.
The point I’m trying to make here is that at some point between the last time I had met Exhibit A and this encounter, one day of barbarically pushing a baby out of her stomach turned her from a fascinating, intelligent, insightful conversationalist with so much to offer into an insufferable bore. Her personality was still there - just as bright as ever - but there was a cold, dead quality behind her eyes and in the way she carried herself. Something had shifted and diminished within her, and while the bubbly enthusiastic shell was still there, there was just nothing left of what made her who she used to be. This is a cliché, but she was a shadow of her former self. I then looked down at the child she was holding and all I could think was “this is what you did to her.”
Now, I know it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t ask to be born, he didn’t choose this, and I know that babies are necessary to continue the human race. Even still, I can’t help but feel that every single one of us has destroyed our parents. We, through no fault of our own, just by coming into existence tear apart everything that they were, everything that made them people, and replace it with what makes them parents.
The sad part is that this woman wasn’t even the first person I’ve seen this happen to. My mother was. What I’ve learned from my mother, not being able to remember what she was like around others when I was little Benjamin’s age, is that this behaviour never goes away. While it could be argued that Exhibit A was a new mother and therefore a certain level of infatuation with her newborn is to be expected, my mother is not a new mother. I am her youngest and I am 21 years old. Even still, I hear her speaking to other people and even now, 21 years after her most recent birthing experience, my sister and I take up far too large a percentage of what she talks about.
Every now and then, I look at my mother and really take her in. She seems happy enough, but she sacrificed everything she was to be my mother. I am eternally grateful for that, because it made my childhood amazing. But whenever I do this, I get to thinking about what she might have been like before she was a mother; when she was a person. Whoever she was back then, I feel so guilty for taking that away from her.
This is something I could just never let happen to myself. I could never let my mind be dismantled that way and biologically reconstituted into a one-track baby-defence mechanism. To put it simply, I need to live my life for me, and the maternal/paternal instinct scares the hell out of me for this very reason. Luckily, it also seems to have skipped me. I could never live my life in the mind-wiped servitude of somebody else.
My aunt and uncle, the two happiest people I have ever met, are childless. My two celebrity idols, Kathy Griffin and Chelsea Handler, are happily and proudly childless. While people with kids are often filled with ‘sympathy’ (see: thinly-veiled condescension) for those without them, I think the people who are happiest in life are the ones who are free at all times to live as they please.
This is also why it annoys me when I tell my mother – or any adult with kids, for that matter - that I don’t want children, full-well knowing the exact reasons for this decision (the above are not the only reasons either, by the way) only to have them condescendingly reply “that’ll change. You’ll want kids one day.” No, I won’t. Not everybody has kids. Not everybody wants them. Not everybody is made to be a parent.
But regardless of this, I am now going to take this little opportunity to be a parent to all of you boys out there: ALWAYS WEAR A CONDOM. Even if your female partner is on the pill, wear a condom anyway. You can never be too safe. The pill is not 100% effective. You don’t understand what you’re risking if you don’t.
tl;dr: No, I don't want kids. Yes, I'm sure.