I don’t want to want to have a baby

This is so incredibly awkward.

I just typed a sentence and backspaced it. Typed it again. Backspaced. Now you know I’m on a PC. What is with the Mac not having a backspace key? Does anyone know why they decided not to? I think it’s a design flaw. I don’t find the design “intuitive.” Someone told me it was more intuitive. Is that code for “women are supposed to like it”?

OK, OK. I’m stalling. I’ll just do this:

I want to have a baby.

Is there a way to make that sound less…like I want to have a baby?

I am thinking about wanting to have a baby.

There. Better.

I have written about this before. But I feel it is my duty to report that the condition is worsening.

(source)

I had a terrible scare recently. I thought for a second that maybe, somehow, I was pregnant. I had managed to mess up my birth control and simultaneously gain like ten pounds. I took a pregnancy test. And for a horrible, shocking moment, I wished that it would be positive.

 

It turns out I am just gaining weight from all the cake I’ve been eating.

I want to have a baby, but I don’t want to want to have a baby. Instead, I want to not want to have a baby while I want to have a fabulous career. And then, after I have this fabulous career that I am hoping to have and am possibly beginning to have, I can want to have a baby. That would be better.

It’s confusing. I don’t know where this wanting came from. It might be from Mother Nature, or something. She’s like, Hey! I see you, girl! Yeah, you! In between the Brooklyn and the Manhattan bridges. With that crappy Dell laptop. Are you seriously still on that thing, with the broken touchpad and the sticky “a” key? Still no Mac? OK, whatever. But seriously, things are gonna get real around here. I gave you a uterus and ovaries and stuff. You don’t know anything about them, but don’t think that means you’re not a fertile, life-bearing goddess of creation. Cuz you are. A LIFE-BEARING GODDESS, do you hear me? So take that Nuva ring out RIGHT THIS SECOND and get yourself pregnant. I’m not kidding. Do it. Do I LOOK like I’m messing with you?

She is tough, that Mother Nature.

(source)

I can’t have a baby. And not just because of the Nuva ring, though that is definitely the first obstacle.

I can’t have a baby because I’m way too scared.

I’m way too unfinished. I am just starting out.

God, there are so many great reasons why I can’t have a baby.  There’s this one about glass coffee tables. What if I get one, sometime soon? That would be elegant and grown up. And also fragile and potentially sharp. I can’t have a baby and a glass coffee table, and I haven’t even been a grownup long enough to get a glass coffee table. So clearly, I’m not ready for a baby.

I did everything the way I thought I was supposed to. I got so many damn A’s in college. I got a bunch more in grad school. I networked.  I befriended mentor-types. I got a lot of internships that were absurdly competitive and involved three call-backs before I got to not get paid. But I also always had a job, from the time I was 15. And then I decided to follow my incredibly unoriginal, but obnoxiously persistent goal of being a writer. So I started doing that, every day.

I put so much of myself into my writing that sometimes I felt like I was worthless when I didn’t make progress. Sometimes I felt like I was going to be a huge success, and I was trembling in anticipation. Sometimes I thought I might fall apart. Sometimes I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. Sometimes I felt like I was touching people’s lives.

All the time, I felt like my writing was the most important thing.

(source)

I don’t know why, but I don’t have a nuanced understanding of motherhood. In my mind, it’s this bridge that you walk across, and on the other side is a strange, unexplored land that no one can ever prepare you for or accurately describe to you. You walk across, clutching a stack of books with titles like “Attachment Style Parenting for the Uptight” and “Learning From Your Baby: Love, Life, and Laughter (and Babies)” and “Are French Babies Actually Better in Every Way? The answer to that question and lots of info on how you can act more French” and maybe a bunch of tiny outfits and some diapers. And you never come back.

You can’t cross the bridge in the other direction. It breaks apart, like in LOTR, when they’re in the mines of Moria and the Balrog is about to make a cameo, and the whole infrastructure is falling apart. Except in a good way.

I think.

Because on the other side is something miraculous. And poopy. But miraculous. And everything changes forever.

The thing is, this dream is all I really know. And I am terrified of letting myself down.

And, in this disgustingly meta way, I am also terrified of not caring anymore about letting myself down.  What if, on the other side, I don’t want to come back here? What if somehow I forget what I’m supposed to do? What if I forget all of those A’s and all of that work and all of the times I pushed and pushed myself to stand out? What if it’s better?

(source)

Sometimes I wish brains couldn’t do meta.

Really, I don’t know anything about motherhood. And possibly life, as well. I don’t know why I think that having a baby means giving up on my career. I’m not sure why they are these two totally separate paths in my mind.

But I do know that here, in this city, at this age, having a baby is not the thing to do. It is probably the last thing to do.

When I got married, so young, I was already being weird. I wasn’t planning on doing that for a long time. And then I met Bear and suddenly changed my mind. On our fourth date, on a plane to Utah, we talked about kids, joking around. He said I had “child-bearing hips,” as a joke. But I was sort of flattered.

I should have known then that there would be a problem. There’s a problem. It’s that flagrantly clichéd clash between body and college degree. That overplayed disagreement between ambition and dirty, sexy biology.

(source)

It is a problem because my generation is bursting with young women who are taking over cities, out-earning their male counterparts, flinging themselves at their highest goals.

It is a problem because I never imagined being a mom. That was never one of my fantasies. So my daydreams are confused.

It is a problem because somehow motherhood and success are these distinct things, in a society that is always trying to pretend it values everything equally and at the same time has to keep publishing op-eds about whether or not the sexual revolution was a good idea.

It is a problem because I am the modern woman, but I am afraid of letting her down.

And I’m not even pregnant. I’ve just been eating a bunch of cake.

I’m just thinking about wanting to want to have a baby. That’s all.

It’s Mother Nature’s fault. She ambushed me. I was just sitting here, typing on this perfectly functional laptop, writing a book about a powerful girl who will change the world.

(she doesn’t look like Mother Nature, but I like her.)

(the pics are from my Google search “mother earth”)

*   *    *

I may have asked you this before, and I may ask you it again, but what do you think about babies? Anyone conflicted? Anyone totally sure? Anyone want to write that book about French babies? I think it’ll sell.

Unroast: Today I love the way I look when my hair resembles a mane. Which makes me a lion, I guess, not a lioness. But whatever! Bend that gender! Or something.

Other stuff I’m doing now, other than thinking about babies: An article in Psychology Today, about eating disorders and political correctness. A feature piece about what I learned about beauty in my 20′s, for HuffPost.

 

125 Comments »

Kate on April 2nd 2012 in being different, body, fear, life, new york

125 Responses to “I don’t want to want to have a baby”

  1. Diana responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Even after having 2 babies, and knowing I’m way too old for another one, I still want another one. And before I was pregnant, I didn’t want any babies. Ever.

    But my body remembers everything about being pregnant and wants to return to that same warm, friendly, vibrant, loving, comforting place where I nurtured another body inside my own.

    And nursing is out-of-this-world fantastic. Nothing like it and I wanted it to last forever. Babies will change you, but in a very good way, if you let them.

  2. lik_11 responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I don’t want kids. Children are loud, poopy, stinky things that remove all sense of freedom you’ve ever felt. I’ve always felt like this- even as a child/teen I told my Mom not to expect grandkids from me. She always smiled and told me one day I would meet a man who would change my mind. Now, I’m blissfully married to a wonderful man, and I still don’t want children. At 31, most of my friends are having them/planning on them/trying… The ones that have kids constantly tell me how i HAVE to try it! Basically, my friends make me feel like a pariah when I say I don’t want children. Which does not bode well for telling my in-laws…. ew….

  3. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    @Diana
    Interesting! The idea of having a human being growing inside me is so insane, and always fascinating. I’m scared by the thought, and totally intrigued. Life is so weird.

    My mom is a La Leche League leader, so I hear a lot about nursing, and it definitely sounds great :-)

  4. Melanie responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I think some women are born to have babies, and some women aren’t. I knew from a very young age I did not want to have kids. Unfortunately I think most women like me give in to societal pressure and have kids anyways, and then they regret it and are terrible parents because they didn’t want to be a mommy in the first place.

    Maybe you were born to be a mommy. And no time will ever feel like the “right” time. I always say if you want to be a mommy, be a mommy, and everything will fall in to place. Even if you DON’T have a baby, there is no guarantee that you will get that glass coffee table, or that your career will take off.

    If there’s one thing recovery has taught me that is essential, it’s that you can’t change the past or predict the future, all you can do is make choices right now in the moment, that suit you. Do what you want to do. Don’t create any possible future regrets.

    I’m not saying take out the nuva ring and get to work now, although that might be fun. I’m just saying don’t NOT have a baby because you “have so much to accomplish first.” I think a lot of women make that mistake, then regret it later. Live a life with no regrets.

    Can a childless lady write the French baby book? Also, can it be a comic book? :)

  5. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    @Melanie
    Make it a comic book. Please!!!
    How do I know what I will regret? It’s impossible. I think I just have to be braver in, um, every way.

  6. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    @lik_11
    Your friends shouldn’t tell you you have to do anything, in my opinion! I’m sure they’re just trying to share their happiness, but people want/need different things. And I know SO many women who don’t want kids, and who are completely confident about their decision.

    I actually went to a thing with a bunch of women in their 30s who were all talking about how awful it must be to have kids. I felt completely out of place, even though obviously I don’t have any.

    I don’t think anyone has to be antagonistic about this issue, and I’m honestly not sure why people are. Sigh.

    Has your mom accepted your decision?

  7. Stephina responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m going to say it here, and only because I haven’t been able to tell anyone else besides my dear husband and my mother, but two days ago I found out that we are having a baby! 26 and pregnant, finally. After trying for almost a year. We got married young too, I at 21 him at 23, but it was right for us. We waited till we thought it was the right time for kids, but we realized that for us anyway, that there would never be a right time. I’m always striving for something new in my career (massage therapy/doula thinking about being a childbirth educator….) and there will never be enough money with our occupations. So I’m 5 weeks, no health insurance (which I’m totally okay with) and as much as I want this baby, and as much as I know about babies and birth, I feel totally overwhelmed. But I know that we will make it work, because that is what people do. Balance, it’s my new mantra.

  8. Layla responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I don’t want any. Ever. I’ve known this since I was about 12. I want to live my life for me, and to enjoy it, and not spend it looking after someone else. Also the idea of being pregnant repulses me. I know it’s natural, but to me it’s completely the opposite.
    I’m also really glad I know, that I’m not undecided. I think that would be hard.

  9. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    @Stephina
    Congratulations!!!! Wow. Two days ago.
    I love your attitude.
    I just saw “The Business of Being Born” with a friend the other day. Her friend is a doula (I didn’t even know what that was), and they’d watched it together. She was like, “You HAVE to see this.” It blew my mind. So now I know, and I hope you do become a childbirth educator/doula. Because that would be awesome.

  10. Raven responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    For me, having a child catalyzed my desire to go out and the change the world. Before, I’d been living a rather shallow existence, gaming, working, and laying about wondering why I should care. Having my daughter made me care again, not just about her, or me, but the world, the politics affecting our country, the food we eat and the water we drink. It made me care about my writing, too, and feel I might be able to make it. If I (and my daughter) can surviving parenting, then writing a book’s no big deal.

    Of course, I’ve wanted a second (and third) child for years now, but haven’t had them. I miscarried in 2007, and I’m worried about not having anymore. Then again, I’m just starting to really figure out this writing thing. I feel as though I’m on a precipice. I’m almost to getting my agent, I’m networking with sci-fi publishers. If in the next few months or the next year I get a contract to publish my first book, how do I go on a book signing tour with an infant? A twelve year old isn’t as hard to imagine along the ride. She’s more self-sufficient. She can find a corner and draw for six hours straight while I sign books, and not bat an eyelash (so long as she has a snack and knows the location of the nearest bathroom).

    So now, instead of reconciling mixed feelings about having a first child, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get to have a second. I’ve waited so long, and now that I’m in my early thirties, more aware of myself, and more connected with my goals, can I have a second child? Can I still continue on my path as a writer if I had one now?

  11. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Raven
    I didn’t know you wrote sci-fi! Sweet.
    And I love this comment, because I love that having a kid made you more involved in the world, rather than less. That makes sense, and at the same time, it goes against my nervous idea that having a baby stops you in your tracks. Maybe the tracks just go in a different direction. Maybe they go straight to the heart of things.

  12. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    P.S. Maybe it’s the same as with the first? There’s never a perfect time, but that’s OK?

  13. Gaby responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Kate! I know I never comment, but it’s because I have to much to say. I want to respond but I also feel like we need hours of conversation to catch up. What happened to my clients in NY?? They need to get on top of things. Let’s have a phone chat soon.
    With that said, babies….I’m still several steps behind, definitely no babies on the horizon for me. I feel like I’m not patient enough, not ready to give up my life, not ready to not finish everything I want to do still. But being settled? Now that is totally OVERWHELMING me right now. I want to nest. I want to feel stable with a husband and a house and a job and a real grown up life. I love the feeling of waking up next to someone now and I love watching him cook in the morning. He put up shelves yesterday and it was just so sexy somehow, so homey, so handy. Guys are good to have around. And I know this is not something I had wanted up until recently. I don’t like having obligations to other people, more responsibilities than the ones I already make myself but somehow, and I think this is similar to the baby thing, it allows me to slow down. Being ambitious is a great thing but it can be too much. If I were left to my own devices I’d probably “self improve” and build my career and work myself into the ground. But if I can reach that settled down stable family place it seems like that might be enough. I’d be fulfilled without having to be the best of the best at everything in the world.
    So I think that’s what having a baby would do. You’ve established a life with Bear, and now it’s like that innate next step. It might fulfill you in ways you have never imagined and in ways that a career never will. Not saying you should run off and start making a baby (though you can and should keep the nuva ring in until you decide and just pretend like you’re working on the baby with Bear ;) )
    ok I just looked back and realized how much I’ve typed, that’s why I can’t leave comments. I could keep going and going and that’s why we need to just get together and talk forever. :D

  14. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    @Gaby
    LOL! I love it when you leave comments.
    I know how independent you are, so this really is a big shift for you. Living with someone else is totally different, and I’m both glad I had some time on my own, and glad that I share a home with Bear now. I love having someone to spend the evenings with, even though we’re doing our own thing all day long. I think you’ll find, if you do end up living with your guy, that you are still much more independent than you thought you’d be. Unless you both end up teaching yoga and running the business together or something :-)
    I can’t wait to catch up in person, whenever that FINALLY happens!

  15. katilda responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    i want a baby even though i dislike children. ha, ironic. i hate babysitting, i want to push other people’s kids out of my lap when they get in my face, and i don’t know how to talk to children. HOWEVER…a couple years ago i got bit by the baby bug. i want one of those. or several. i always really appreciate the very honest mothers who tell me things like “i still don’t like other people’s kids. but i like my own.” see? that is honesty. and it’s encouraging. and i have 6 baby names picked out. i’m sure you’d be a great mother if/when it happens…i bet it feels like a lot of responsibility, but maybe not as terrifying as it seems? i think once you have one of your own then there’s some intuitive stuff that kicks in. (which you can supplement with french parenting mantras ;)

  16. lik_11 responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Kate-
    Thank you for being lovely, as usual. I know my friends are SO thrilled and in love with their children that they think everyone should experience it. My lifelong best friend (who has no children) flat out told me I’m “so weird” because I don’t want any.
    None of my friends who have children were actually trying- but it’s all worked out for them… and most have continued on with their careers.
    As for my Mom- she’s awesome! She never tells me what to do- or guilts me into anything. Both of my parents are fantastic about sitting back and watching me live my life- not trying to run it. I’m very lucky!

  17. Amanda responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I don’t think it’s a problem to want to want a baby.

    I don’t want a baby. Sometimes I think that’s a problem. I’ve never once wanted a baby. I’m 25. Sometimes I really try to figure out why I don’t want one. Absolutely nothing sounds appealing about the experience. Sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me, like there’s something broken, like women are supposed to want this, from the beginning, throughout (though glad to see some comments above suggesting that at least some women go through life confident in childlessness). I don’t have any reasons not to want a baby–I had a great childhood and all those things a psychoanalyst would ask about. I just don’t want one.

    Easy enough solution–I’m not going to have one. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend to not have children with, too. But sometimes it’s hard being totally sure about this topic, at least as hard as being unsure, whichever way you’re leaning.

  18. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    @lik_11
    Oh, I’m really glad about your parents!! And also, it’s good that you can understand where your friends are coming from, even as they’re being oblivious about your position! At least you know their intent is caring. I think people generally think that if something works for them, it’ll probably work for everyone else, too. I know, because I want everyone to eat as much pizza as I do :-)

  19. Another Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Kate, I also had a pregnancy scare recently — turned out it was just messed-up birth control combining with a few digestive issues that made me feel like I’d gained a fetus-worth of weight. Blech.

    It was weird for me, too, because my boyfriend and I have recently become so serious that we’ve been talking about kids. That is, we’re talking about NOT having kids. As in, ever. He’s ten years older than me, and he doesn’t want to be 60 when our kids graduate from college.

    I didn’t realize how badly I didn’t want to make the decision about kids until we talked about not having them. I spent a whole night inwardly crying and saying things to myself like “I shouldn’t have to make this decision yet, it’s not fair, I’m too young.” And I’m still ridiculously conflicted, but I think that’s okay.

    You don’t have to make this decision yet, either. It’s okay to take some time and really think about it — you have so much time ahead of you.

    Everyone above me is right; no time is going to feel like the right time to have a baby, but it’s the same with any major life decision. Your life will be different, but you will still be YOU. You’re not going to stop writing, you’re not going to stop achieving. I have this quote from you pinned up on my bulletin board about how you will be you at whatever weight, whatever shape, whatever age — and I think you will still be you with a child in your life.

    In short: make sure you REALLY want a kid before you have one, know that it’s okay not to know yet, and know that you are still going to be you if you decide to also be a mom.

    Hope that helps :D

    (P.S. I think it’s a little like getting married, too — you’re committing to another person forever. You might end up regretting it, but sometimes it’s worth that risk.)

  20. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    @Amanda
    It seems like this topic is just hard, no matter where you fall. Motherhood and womanhood are all tangled up together and they’re hard to sort out sometimes.

    Up until recently, I’d felt no desire to have kids, either. This thing really just hit me. Unlike some people, though, I always assumed I’d have kids one day. I just didn’t particularly want to.

    And this is not at all to say that you should or are going to change your mind, but this whole conversation is reminding me: my parents didn’t want to have kids at all, until they were 30. Right up until then, they were very proud to be childless.

    I think it’s interesting how random it all feels– wanting kids or not wanting kids, having them or not. It’s this huge, huge thing, and yet our bodies are constantly surprising us with their own decisions.

  21. Amanda responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Yes! It is remarkable to allow bodies to make some decisions. Both in the sense of the large decisions (will I want some babies in the future? Who knows!) but also very small ones. I live next to the grocery store, but it’s tiny and the aisles are narrow (big city) and even though it’s on the way home from the bus stop sometimes I just can’t wait to see whether I’m going to go in and buy food or order delivery. What will my body do? And sometimes I walked by the store, regardless of whatever I had planned in my brains, and sometimes I go in. Who knows. Also, babies work like this, but on a much grander scale, I think. Unless you sterilize yourself–which is what I had decided to do (I believe I made the argument: “I’m of sound mind now, and so I should make this reasonable decision on behalf of my future self who will be drunk with hormones and ready to make some terrible decisions.”). It was too expensive and also pretty frightening; so much for that.

    Also, I read (and reviewed! on my book review blog!) Fifty Shades because of your blog post. So, thanks. Also, no thanks.

  22. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    @Amanda
    I love how you took this issue and translated it into food. I approve of translating any and everything into food.
    Can you paste a link to your review in the comments here or under that post? I’d love to read it, and maybe other people would, too!
    Also, your decision to get sterilized– I want to read that story. Have you written it?

  23. Courtney responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    I go through this too. As I barrel through my late 20s, I’m actually starting to feel like evolution is calling on me to breed. I’m not that into kids, I never really have been, but I know if I ever have my own I’ll be crazy about them. And now when I see babies, and women with babies, I’m sort of in awe of them. And I think “yeah, I want that.” Which is crazy, since I don’t even like holding infants.

    Which is all to say that I don’t know what to think about the subject. Except, sometimes, mentally I think “if it’s going to happen it’ll be within the next ten years” and that freaks me out a bit. On the other hand, I’m not currently in a real relationship (or have someone to make a baby with), so the whole thing’s sort of moot. Still…it is there. In the back of my mind.

  24. my honest answer responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh you’re definitely not alone! One of the most popular searches that brings people to my blog is ‘does anyone regret having kids’ (because of an article I wrote on that subject). In fact, I’ve started getting some visitors using the search term ‘I regret having kids’ so… that proves that it happens.

    Good luck sorting it all out. It’s a big decision, take your time over it!

  25. Amanda responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Sure! I don’t like spamming other blogs, but I will when invited.

    First Fifty Shades book: http://leavesoftrees.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/book31/
    Second:
    http://leavesoftrees.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/book32/
    Still reading the third.

    Also, I wrote a little about these decisions we make or let our bodies make, I may as well link:
    http://amandapropst.com/2012/01/17/adisputationfreewill/

    And, tonight, fyi, the decision was to order sushi on the internet. But I made that one pretty consciously. And by “sushi,” I mean sushi, kiwi juice, and carrot cake. Because, duh.

  26. EmJay responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    This is my first comment, I think. You are right motherhood does make you cross a bridge of no return. I have 3 kids. The oldest is 8, the youngest is 18 months. I am 43 years old. My husband turned 50 a few weeks ago. Yep, we are old, old parents. I obviously waited. I didn’t get married until I was 35. In my 20s I was fairly certain I did not want kids. In my 30s I was certain I did. I actually ended a long-term relationship over the issue. I would not change a thing. I was mentally ready to be a mom. My issues are mostly resolved, I can be available for them. I think you can have the right mindset regardless of your career issues. It is okay to wait and it is okay to go crashing in whenever it happens. My husband and I both love being parents. We joke that life was good to us because if we had met any earlier we would have 12 kids because we love them so much. We make the most beautiful babies. I would love to have more, but that is not going to happen we just ran out of time. BTW, I hated being pregnant with a passion, but the end result is well worth it. Pregnancy and the birth process while a big deal is just a small, small part of a much larger journey.

  27. Hannah responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    “It is a problem because I am the modern woman, but I am afraid of letting her down.”
    This is me in a teeny tiny nutshell.

    I have no idea what sort of career I’m called to do, and I’m sure I’ll change my mind about a million more times over the course of a lifetime, but I have never ever doubted that I want to have kids and raise a family. (Preferably, a large family. In Israel. With a fruit tree in the garden for my large family to play under and eat snacks from.) Not that I don’t panic about being a bad mother and everything that goes with that (already! I’m 21 and single and I’m already panicking that I’ll be a bad mom) but I can’t even imagine my life without children.

    And because I used to feel like this was totally unacceptable for me to want, I used to be kind of apologetic for that (I’m sorry, early feminists! Truly! I’m all in favor of women having the opportunities and the pay scales that men have etc. but I just… don’t really want to be a CEO or whatever. I want to be a mother! Doesn’t mean you can’t be a CEO though!) but I think I’m done apologizing. Mostly…..

  28. Emily G responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    I’ve always said (since I was old enough to remember) that I would never ever have kids; that I would get sterilized as soon as I could. But whenever I do something with my mom (like when we went to Chicago) it seems really ordinary to me but it makes her SO happy. I feel as if having a kid makes one more easy to please. She doesn’t seem to obsess over her future or her body (as I do) and I wonder if that’s simply because time with her child is reason enough to be happy. That is possibly the most selfish reason to want to have a baby…

    But also I feel like not having kids is a liberal person thing to do, and having lots of kids is more of a conservative person thing to do. I feel like maybe I should put some out there to balance things out.

    These are just my main thoughts about having children. I wonder if it made me sound crazy.

  29. Celynne responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    I personally don’t want children, and maybe someday that will change, but I doubt it. I’ve never dreamed of having a baby, or raising children. I don’t even find them the slightest bit cute. They’re just noisy, expensive poop machines. People tell me I’ll change my mind, but that’s like telling someone who doesn’t like liver and onions that someday, they will like liver and onions. I say nay!

  30. Celynne responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    And I just read those two articles, loved the one about what you know of beauty in your 20′s :)

  31. Also Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I thought the “biological clock” was a cute metaphor for some kind of mental/emotional preoccupation with babies… until I turned 21 (yes, seriously: 21!) and suddenly my ovaries were telling me, on no uncertain terms, that they wanted to reproduce, preferably soon.

    I’m 24 now, and no babies, but I also struggle with a) wanting very badly to be a mother someday and b) wanting to be able to do certain things (a Spanish pilgrimage, hiking Kilimanjaro, publishing some writing) before I have children, because you can’t just take off for 6 weeks to walk across Spain when you’re a parent. And while there are a lot of things you can do with your children (I hope to do plenty of camping and rock climbing with my hopefully someday-existent kids), I suspect walking meditatively across Spain is not one of those.

    It helps (I think?) that my partner and I are too poor to have babies at the moment, and also completely unable to accidentally conceive, so when we do go about getting pregnant or adopting, we’ll do so very deliberately, when we feel the time is right (and yeah, I’m not sure there will ever be a perfect time). She’s going to make an amazing parent. If she were a dude, I think my ovaries would have conspired to get us pregnant already. :)

    Anyway, my point is, I think this kind of angst over timing and desire and mothering and other people’s opinions of women’s choices re: career and mothering is totally normal. You’re definitely not alone.

  32. Rachel responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Hi,

    Me and my husband are 26 and we got married last September, we are now trying for a baby. When I was younger I NEVER thought I would have kids and I NEVER thought I would get married. Neither did my Mom. For a start off I was pretty sure I was a lesbian and had been in a relationship with a woman for four years,(not that this means you can t have kids) I had always told everyone, friends and family that there was no chance of kids etc. NO WAY. And now 4 years later and I’m married to a wonderful man trying to get pregnant! The desire to get pregnant just hit me one day about two years ago and I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head since. Although I think many people would think I should focus on my career and wer’e too young to have kids we have to follow our hearts. If you really want kids just look inside and you’ll know if its the right thing to do.

  33. Jennifer responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    This will be in context of a short book I just read: The Dip by Seth Godin.

    He writes that if you want something, there will inevitably be The Dip–the hard part where you doubt yourself and why you ever did this thing.

    The saavy person comes to see every undertaking as potentially having this Dip, and she knows which ones she’s willing to weather and which ones she won’t.

    Unlike things like oil painting or programming computers, The Dip with children can’t be quit, however. You must muddle through or risk social services intervening.

    For me, The Dip was birth through about five years old. I was conflicted a lot. I loved them but missed having showers daily and being able to sit and write on a compute without interruption.

    It may take years to emerge from giving over your life for someone else. It may be a couple bad months.

    If you can see weathering that, become a mom. If that turns your stomach and makes you panic, it’s not time.

    Go after the thing in which The Dip doesn’t make you want to run the other way–go after the thing that makes you want to lean in *even more* to get through.

  34. Melissa responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    If I were any kind of writer, I would have written exactly this about how the whole baby issue makes me feel, except that I have been surrounded by friends having babies since high school, which adds its own special kind of pressures. When I was younger and all my friends were getting pregnant before they were even kind of ready, it made me feel very strongly that I just could not let that happen to me. My sister and my mother and my grandmother and so on all had kids at eighteen and nineteen, and at that point in my life I was still horrified by the idea.

    As I get into my late twenties there’s a second wave of friends all having babies while I’m trying to finish school (so late!), and it makes me panic: oh god, by the time I’m ready for babies they won’t have anyone to play with! And I worry about stupid things, like that my friends will be bored with babies by the time I have them, and no one will want to come to my baby shower or visit me when I’m trapped in the house with a newborn. I’ll have all these expectations about the joys of pregnancy and motherhood, dashed by no one giving a crap. I worry about less stupid things, like my grandparents not being around to see my kids, and pregnancy likely getting harder and harder on my body the longer I wait.

    I think the biggest problem with deciding when to have kids is that there is no such thing as a safe space to think about it–there’s always some kind of outside pressure.

  35. RF responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I get you. I was married pretty young and all my friends back home have kids while none of my friends where I live are even considering it yet. When I think I want kids, I realize I want to sleep in and travel the world and be completely selfish too and I don’t think those lifestyles go well together. It helps me feel better about not having kids that nearly everyone I know with them complains about it a ton or has turned into an annoying, gushing, mom-zombie of their former self.

  36. Ellen responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Kate,
    I’ll just say one thing: If you do start thinking about it seriously, do some research on some of the things you want to have taken care of before trying to get pregnant, such as getting all the proper shots. That way, when you finally decide that you’re ready and excitedly go off birth control, you won’t have a huge letdown when you realize that you’ve never had chickenpox and you have to get a series of 2 shots before you can even start trying, resulting in an agonizing delay.

  37. Aezy responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I am way too selfish to have children. I’ve never liked the idea of having to abandon my plans and dreams to take care of a poo and vomit machine! Yes, this may change one day but even when I was with my ex (who I was pretty certain I wanted to marry) I was still fairly unenthusiastic about kids – he was the one who couldn’t wait for me to pop them out.

    However, my parents were older parents, they had me and my sister at 35, having changed their minds about kids once they were older. So it may happen for me, but right now, at 22 I can’t think of anything worse!

  38. Anne responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I know how you feel, Kate. Last night I was rewatching the Scrubs episode where Turk and Carla find out they’re having a baby (if you don’t watch, it’s ok- just imagine any sitcom episode where someone finds out she’s having a baby after trying for a while and everybody hugs and cries and they play happy music) and I started crying. I normally don’t cry about baby stuff ever! My boyfriend asked why I was crying and if I wanted a baby and I said, “Well, I don’t want a baby, but my body does!” I usually think of myself as pretty in sync with my body, so it’s weird for my mind and my body to want different things… I do want to have kids someday, maybe in about 5 years when I have some sort of career and am more stable financially… Not now! That’s part of the reason I got an IUD- basically put my uterus on hold for the extent of my 20′s.

  39. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I always wanted to have a baby, but never then, always later, and in that, I don’t think I could ever imagine it happening, it was always an abstract thought.

    Then, suddenly and surprisingly, I had a baby, under less-than-ideal circumstances, (I’m a single Mum and the BabyDaddy is very very angry) and despite everything on paper which says this situation should be shit, it is the best thing which has ever happened to me.

    At a party a few weeks ago (Yes! I still get to go to parties!) a few career-driven friends asked me in abject horror how I was doing being a parent. I try not to gush or talk about my baby all the time because it’s only really interesting to me, but I briefly stated how much I love being a Mum, and how much I would love to have more. However, I would also say that having a baby is the best thing when 1) you want to have a baby, and 2) you are ready to have a baby. If you don’t want one or aren’t ready, I can easily see how one would feel like they were in Hell.

  40. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    @Amanda
    Thanks for the links!!
    And I loved the “review of a city.”

  41. teegan responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Hubby and I are 15 weeks pregnant. At 25 years old, I know that I’m younger than most people I see who are pregnant, just as I know that not only are most of my friends and old classmates not mothers – many of them have no intention of becoming them. I long ago realized that I’m in the minority amongst women I know when it comes to wanting to be a mother.
    And yes, it scares me. I’ve bought a house, but a house can always be sold. I’m married, but a marriage can be broken. You can’t unbecome a mother. It is a bridge, a bridge that burns itself behind you.
    I’m not sure what I want to do for my “career.” I have no plans for an adult glass coffee table or an adult job title or an adult anything. But I do know that I want to be a mother. And part of me is convinced that the reason one path is unclear and the other is obvious is that this is the time I’m supposed to be becoming a mother. I’m meant to be a 25 year-old mom. I’m meant to start this journey now, and see what it leads to in five or ten or twenty years. I don’t see it as a jail sentence, but an opening into a whole new community, into new job opportunities, into new ways of perceiving the world, into a brand new person who can share in my travels and passions.
    And yes, I’m pretty damn excited about all of the awesomeness that is just plan being a mom.
    I’m friends with a woman younger than me who already has a 1 year old and a 3 year old. She has been an incredible inspiration in how much having children expands your heart, your creativity, your ingenuity as a person and as a woman. Her art and her dreams have shifted completely, but they’ve evolved into something concrete.
    I don’t imagine that I’ll miraculously begin to write the best novels ever about life as a mother, but I do think my capacity for writing fiction will expand. I don’t think I’ll come up with revolutionary ideas for management of a company, but I do think I’ll learn to stop procrastinating, to get necessary and things creative done in a shorter, more unexpected time.
    I’m thrilled at this prospect. And I know that it’ll be the most difficult thing ever and it’ll be physically painful at times and I’ll cry & wail like the dickens at times – but I can’t wait.

  42. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    @Kate
    This is so interesting. I’m sorry about the father. I wish he wasn’t angry. I am happy for you, with your baby, though!
    And I want you to know that people, including me, also feel like this: http://www.xojane.com/family-drama/i-care-exceedingly-about-your-baby

  43. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    @Ellen
    What? I didn’t know this was even a thing! Why? Tell me more!

  44. poet responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I’ve been feeling exactly this way for, oh, at least the past year and a half! It’s worst when I go one meta level up and start analyzing why I want what I want, and why I want to want what I want to want…

  45. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    @poet
    LOL!!!!!!!!!

  46. Stacey responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I’m conflicted. I’ve always wanted a big family, but I really don’t like babies and children, and pregnancy doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather have my kids pop out of the womb and magically be five years old :) But I have an awesome husband who is already excited about being a stay-at-home dad someday, and that makes me much more open to the idea of having kids if I know that I won’t have to stay home every day.

  47. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    @Stacey
    What about adoption?
    And in my opinion, there are very few things cooler than a guy who is really excited about being a stay-at-home dad. And not just because it’s a fantasy of Bear’s… :-)

  48. Karli responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I mentioned on twitter this very topic CONSUMES my mind these days, so to elaborate.. (This post lends itself to lengthy comments!)

    I got married at the ripe age of 21, husband was 23 at the time. Our third anniversary is coming up in May. Especially in the last year or two when it seems like so many around me are having babies, this same topic has truly begun to consume my thoughts. (I’m in Texas, people do things younger here!) And seriously, it’s just some kind of biological yearning. I can’t explain it to my husband but it seems like a few others know what I mean. (And I’m fascinated by the women who don’t feel it. Not in a judge-y way, just in a totally curious way.)

    I’ve always known I wanted children, and honestly I figured I would get pregnant by “mistake” and never have to make the decision of WHEN. HOW DOES ANYONE MAKE THAT DECISION?! I know there’s never a “best” or “right” time, but when you’re on birth control (Nuva Ring!) as I’ve been for who knows how many years – you do still have to consciously make the decision to quit the not-trying! It’s tough.

    I am just wrapping up certification as a birth doula and am planning to become a certified childbirth educator as well. Right now I’m deciding how to transfer from my full time office job to being self employed.. My end goal is to become a midwife (CPM vs CNM?) and I’m just constantly wracking my brain trying to decide the “best order” in which to tackle my life goals. AND where children fit in! (I’m sure doing all of this work with mamas and babies isn’t helping matters!)

    Sometimes I just wish I’d have a birth control goof and life would make that tough decision for me. It’s not an easy one! I do, however, want my children to have a comfortable life. I don’t want them hearing mom and dad stress over finances or having to go without … The longer hubs and I wait, the more I can see we’re heading toward making that a reality.

    Everyone with children says you just figure out how to make it work. I know several couples with children and none of them are putting their personal priorities on the back burner. Maybe delaying them a year or two, sure, but never forgetting them completely.

    IF whenever you do decide to take the bridge over into motherhood, just do your homework and research on all of your and baby’s options. YOU are your best advocate. Sometimes I feel like we’re more prone to research what type of car seat to buy more so than which care provider to use and what type of birth we want/need!

    OK – end ramblings. Best wishes to you. We’ll figure it out someday!

    P.S. Love love BOBB – watching MORE BOBB if you ever get the chance! And hooray for excited future SAHDads. It’s just adorable.

  49. Anon responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Wow geez, I could have written this exact post. Though much less eloquently and with much more “it’s like… i dunno… y’know?” in it. :)

    The thing about “not caring about letting yourself down,” the thing about the daydreams being confused. All of it.

    I was trained to get good grades, win awards, make art, save the world. It was like those were the most noble things anyone could do. No one, no one even mentioned anything about having kids in those inspirational speeches. So for some reason I’ve internalized this idea that being a mother isn’t something *people like me* would want.

    Except now, I want it. Deeply. Go figure.

  50. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    @Karli
    I was waiting for this comment! Glad to see it!
    And oh my god, yes, about the whole accident thing. Here’s the piece I wrote about exactly that: http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-03-23/girl-talk-the-pregnancy-test/
    I am so impressed with the whole midwife route. After I saw BOBB, I wanted to be a midwife or a doula. But I am squeamish and also I’m a writer. I’m so excited to hear from people who are going that route! I want to learn more about your journey, and the decision to go CNM or CPM. Anything else I need to watch?

  51. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    @Anon
    Thanks for understanding.
    And I felt like this post was not my most eloquent at all! It’s such a complicated subject for me. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. So thank you!!

  52. Laura responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I just took an amazing trip on the weekend to the organic farm I’ll be interning on starting this summer. I was impressed by the farm, but what really convinced that I’d chosen the right farm was the warmth with which I was welcomed by the farmers. I felt right at home with the farmer and his family (wife, five-year-old, and three-month-old). I can’t wait to start!

    It’s just… there I was at this beautiful farm that was growing all kinds of food despite it being just March — any farmer’s dream — and I wanted to be the one breastfeeding the baby. I’ve wanted to be a farmer for over five years, and have just been waiting to finish my formal education so I can start pursuing farming. However, over that time, the urge to become a mother has grown stronger and stronger.

    I know that having a career and children aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but all the things I want to do for my future children — babywearing, extended breastfeeding, little to no daycare, unschooling — are harder when you’re working. Almost all the organic farmers I know are pretty progressive people, but I’ve yet to meet a farm family where the wife plays any significant role in the actual farming after the children are born. The farmer I’ll be interning with has only owned his farm for a year, but he’s already built housing for the interns, six greenhouses, and a root cellar, as well as greatly improving the drainage and irrigation systems and his farm and, of course, actually growing lots of food! I certainly don’t want to wait until my thirties before I have children, so if I’m going to be a farmer, I’m going to have a baby at the same time I’m getting my farm off the ground. It doesn’t sound very doable.

    I could simply be a mother, but I want more. I’ve always wanted more. I want to take advantage of the options the generations of feminists who’ve come before me have given me. I don’t want to be my fifty-something mother, who devoted eighteen years to raising her child and now has no purpose in life. But how I am going to balance my personal and professional aspirations?

    None of this needs to be urgently figured out, as becoming a mother now simply isn’t fiscally possible for me. I am a dreamer and a planner, so combined with a prematurely ringing biological clock, it’s hard not to think about questions about motherhood anyways.

  53. Caitie responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    I hear you Kate. I just turned 25 and have been married for a few months now, but I have been wanting a baby for two years now. We can’t though because finances are too tight. It pisses me off. My body totally did this to me. I never even thought about kids apart from assuming I’d have them some day. Suddenly it began. I think it was the settling down with my husband, a natural step. But I feel like I don’t deserve to have one yet, that I haven’t achieved enough. I know what you mean about it seeming a separate path from career accomplishments. But I try to see that the two can co-exist.

  54. janetha responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    uh-mazing post. thank you for this, kate! i don’t want a baby.. at all.. but i want grown kids when i am old. weird.

  55. Kate responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    @janetha
    Ha! I think I just want a baby! I’m not sure what to do about that.

  56. teegan responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    @Laura,
    I just started working off a csa share at an organic farm near my home, and though they’ve been bigger and smaller over the years, they’re taking it easier this year. It’s a couple with a 14 year old and a 7 year old, and I’ve only gone three times so far, but every time I’ve worked with the wife in the greenhouses, doing the planting and the watering. She’s told me stories about being eight months pregnant with her younger child and still mowing the lawn in July! I don’t know how involved she was/wasn’t back then, but I think between paperwork, what you can get done while babywearing, and generally working out a system with your partner, it’s totally possible to be a farmer mama.

  57. teegan responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    Oh! And they bought that farm when she was pregnant with the now-7 year old, so they WERE getting it off the ground during pregnancy/babyhood.

  58. Laura responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    @teegan — Thank you so much for sharing about your farmer. Most of the time I’m confident that I’ll be able to be a farmer and the kind of mother I’d like to be. However, it can be so hard when you feel like nobody is doing what you want to do, because perhaps people aren’t doing it simply because it can’t be done. Even though it’s been half a century since the beginning of second wave feminism, it seems like too many young women are struggling to find role models amongst older for the kinds of mothers and professionals these younger women wish to become.

  59. Anna responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    What an interesting post! I personally would love to have a child someday but not any time soon. I feel like there is too much going on in my life right now and I still have issues to iron out. If I suddenly get pregnant in the middle of this personal struggle and discovery, I feel like I’m going to be one of those moms who don’t get to give their child the attention and affection they deserve. It makes me feel terrified that if I end up having an unplanned child, then that baby would pay for my mistake.

    Too many worries and concerns going on in my head. Obviously. :)

  60. Erika responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    Just another experience to add to the many…

    I was ambivalent about having children, but always assumed I would one day in the future. Got married at 30 and didn’t have them right away, was still in grad school. Decided to try before I was 35 because, although I wasn’t completely sure I was ready for children, I wasn’t ready to decide NOT to have them either.

    Now, with two girls 6 and 8, I can honestly say I’m still ambivalent! Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes it’s very hard. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I never had children. But I never, ever have regretted it, and imagine I would have regretted it if I wouldn’t have tried to have children.

    PS – you bring up good points about what kind of parent to be with all those crazy advice books out there. I have soooo many parenting books. It’s too easy to try and do everything “right!”

  61. Kelly responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    OK, here’s my story: married young, but we had the DREAM. you know, we were going to be successful, at the top of our careers, living the high life in the big city (chicago, in our case) traveling, partying… basically living the life you see on TV and are supposed to want. I never wanted kids. I never wanted to live the life my parents did- living in the ‘burbs sacrificing everything to put food on the table for a couple kids. Two years in (on our 2nd anniversary actually) I found out I was pregnant. Terrified did not describe how we felt. Angry, scared, disappointed, scared, crushed, scared. But secretly kind of excited. I had my little girl a few days after my 26th birthday, and she changed my life. I quit working when she was a year old, we bought a house, and decided that the ‘burbs weren’t so bad after all. Four years and two additional kids later, we’re planning to homeschool and I realize that I was meant to be a mother. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, even when I was living my dream, working my dream job, traveling and everything else. I’ve found that being a mom and wife is so much more fulfilling and so much more worthwhile than any other job. It’s not P.C. to say so, but I like being home, being the nurturer and keeping up the house while my hubby brings home the bacon. It’s so much more, I don’t know, simple? It just feels right. I feel privileged to be home with my kids. They’re so much fun! Who else will stomp in mud puddles, have dance parties at 2PM, or share a cupcake with me?

    I don’t have any answers for you, but if you’re feeling the pull toward kids, maybe you should really consider it. Your career and your kids don’t have to be mutually exclusive. (I work from home doing online marketing and web design, which is awesome.) And personally, I think having kids when you’re 40 just isn’t right (I’m not judging those who do, just saying I couldn’t do it). I’m 31 and exhausted at the end of the day! I can’t imagine the sleepless nights and crazy days when I’m 10 years older!

  62. Jason responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 12:57 am #

    This’ll be a more male PoV, but of my wife and I, I was the ambivalent one before we met. She had two kids already, which changed things when we married 4 and a half years ago.

    Kicking forward to now, we’ve got 5. While every descriptor I read in comments is quite accurate, kids also have this intangible quality to them that I can’t quite describe. It’s the bit when I drive home from work and walk through the door to a chorus of ‘Daddy’s Home!’ or when my 3 year old gives me a hug and a kiss out of nowhere. Those things? They’re just pure awesomeness, and I can’t really explain why.

    As for wanting to want to have kids? I can’t say there’s anything wrong with it. Of the three my wife and I had together, we really only tried for one; the other two just kind of happened. But I can say a few things definitively:

    1. It never gets easier.
    2. There is no right time.
    3. Raising children is the ultimate act of sacrifice.

    If that works for you, go for it. If not, don’t. To me, having kids is one of the greatest frustrations of my life, and I can’t for the life of me identify with people who purposefully elect to slam the door on it, but hey, it’s their choice, and I can’t say there’s anything inherently wrong with deciding either way.

  63. melissa responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Well, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have children. And it’s difficult too, not just keeping babies at bay, but dealing with the idea that I’m “broken” because of it. I just don’t have a reason to breed, and with the usual societal problems, it would have to be a good one. But so far the only reasons people have given me are just the usual “because I waaaannntt one”. Or the even less realistic “because I need someone to take care of me when I’m older…”

    ha! yeah I’m so sure.

    I can’t wait to get off the birth control because I hate what it’s done to me, and I am concerned that when (if?) I get my body back then I might also be attacked by mother earth. I just wouldn’t be a good mother. End of story. No glass tables, or party life or career… my cats don’t understand when I hurl insults at them or totally lose my sh*t, but kids do. Kids retain everything. I wouldn’t wish childhood on anyone.

    But don’t worry about home safety, or diapers or other stuff. If you want to be a mum, you’re probably never going to suddenly be ready for it. You could always switch to condoms and play a little baby roulette LOL!

  64. Val responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:45 am #

    Okay, you know what?

    Whatever you decide is perfectly fine. Lives take all sorts of forms and are wonderful.

    But the thing is, you’re not really having a baby as much as creating your future family.

    You have a baby for a brief, intense, incredible year.

    Then what you have is a toddler. They’re nuts also.

    And soon you have a tiny child, and then a kid, and that kid grows up to become an adult.

    We spend more of our lives relating to our parents as other adults than we do raising them, often times.

    We see the baby as an end in itself, but it’s actually only the beginning of a lifetime of love and entanglement, and most often great happiness.

    Think of the JOY you have brought your parents.

    YOU, little old imperfect, deep, scrappy YOU.

    I don’t know about how your life ought to take shape–that’s different for all of us.

    But take a moment, and close your eyes and ponder.

    You and Bear 20 or 30 years from now?

    What do you see?

    If this picture does not include kids, that’s okay. Or if kids enter the picture later? Also, fine.

    Just don’t get stuck on the baby part.

    My first baby called tonight–his wife is very due with their third child. I answered the phone in a rush, and all he wanted was the recipe for cheesy potatoes.

    He was a real cute baby, and a great kid. Now he’s much bigger than me.

    Pbbbflt.

    I told him to call his father for the recipe.

    Babies definitely take us places we don’t expect to go.

    Do whatever feels right to you, but don’t let fear be the boss of it all.

    much love, Val

  65. Alpana Trivedi responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Hello, Kate. Here’s the thing. Everyone is different. Some people are adamant one way, some adamant another way and some change their minds one way or another. Personally, I don’t want kids. Ever. I’m going to be 32 in four days and I STILL don’t want any. I LIKE them, but I don’t want to be a mom. I like my free time and I don’t exactly act my age. I don’t feel my age. And I feel like I’d make a great aunt, who can have their company for a short time and then give them back to their parents.

    Have I mentioned I LOVE your blogs?

  66. Katie responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 4:30 am #

    Kate, so glad you wrote about this. What a complex topic. I’m thankful to live a life in which this decision is all mine…but at the same time i feel frequently anxious about having to deal with that freedom. I have so many thoughts about this, as a newly 26 year old (wasn’t I supposed to be pregnant by now? Isn’t that all I want in life sometimes? Oh but I was pregnant half a year ago and decided not to have that baby…how confusing). But my main point is this: about what we will or won’t regret. You mentioned how we never know what we’ll regret. I think that we can guess fairly accurately though. We know at this age (wise 25 and 26 year olds!) how we deal with the world, with certain types of change and transition. I have this suspicion that happy relaxed people are happy and relaxed with kids. Anxious personalities are anxious with kids, etc. Maybe it moves a bit on a spectrum, but it’s not like we become new person, foreign to ourselves.

  67. Jiminy responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Whahaha – it took three times as long to go through the comments – When do you manage to get any writing done :) ))?

    But on topic – I realise that it’s really annoying when people point out just how lucky you are, but bear with me for a second:

    1. You could want children really badly because your body starts yelling at you. From what I understand in your post, there’s just some muttering going on :) . There’s time to think, to get settled into what you really want, to feel sure about your choices.
    2. You are not facing a veto from the other side. Vetoes (or, for that matter, `i am not ready`’s make you prone to not thinking anymore about what you want yourself, about whether or not you are ready yourself, but only about your organic wish being frustrated from the outside. When in doubt, i should say don’t ask the partner, because two doubts don’t make a bigger doubt, but actually cancel each other somehow.
    3. You are not having this discussion with yourself at a moment in time when it’s the one or the other because next year there might not be any physical possibility – there is a sea of time ahead to decide this.
    4. Why should writing be a career incompatible with children, apart from, perhaps, financial insecurity? But a career without office hours while you have young kids… My God, that sounds awesome right now :) !

    That said, I always thought the only thing I wanted to be was a mom – and yet I waited until everything was in place for it to go a smoothly as possible. I work 38 hours a week, I have two young kids, I keep a blog as minimal creative release – and it’s feasible. And I have more faith than ever before that I can do anything i put my mind to, so on this side of the bridge it’s, as far as I can tell, not a complacent pool of happiness without ambition :) .

  68. P Flooers responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 8:06 am #

  69. Donna responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Ugh. Just get knocked up, move to some posh suburb w. liberal bona fides and an active homeschool community and spend your husband’s money. Done and done. This is clearly what you are meant to do; stop resisting. If I had this option, I would be outta where I am so fast…

  70. Jen K responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I didn’t want a baby. I married my husband at 28 worried that I’d never want to give him the family I knew he wanted. He wasn’t worried.
    A year later, I got fired from my job (yay), and started to retrain as a teacher. I’m now 30, about to finish my training and start looking for work.
    It’s a terrible time to get pregnant, but I want a baby more than anything. I suspect that may only be because I “shouldn’t”. Contrary, much?

    Also, the book about French kids has been done -
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/French-Children-Dont-Throw-Food/dp/0385617615/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333461844&sr=8-1

  71. Diana responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    LOVE your piece on Psychology Today. xo

  72. Kristina responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    This headline just made my morning (I am a westcoaster) so much better. I am 25 , just about to be 26, and don’t want to have a baby. To complicate my situation, I just got married last June and my husband has 2 kids from his previous marriage so I have been a step-mom for 7 years now. By the way, I completely loath the word “step-mom”. Isn’t there something better I can be called? Anyhoo, being a newlywed and a step-mom seems to make everyone, including my husband, think that I would just gladly jump into a pregancy and not think twice about it. But I dont want to. Every time someone asks me when are we going to add a “new addition” to our family, I feel like a deer in headlights and have no clue how to respond. I usually say something like, “I am not ready yet” or “maybe next year”, I feel like such a phony. I think as I get older my wants and views will change and that will be all great but for now, just the thought of myself being pregnant makes me anxious. Babies are beautiful, but so is sleeping in ;)

  73. Jenn responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Since I was a child myself I knew I didn’t want to have kids. It is very hard to imagine that changing. It would take quite a miraculous change of heart. I am really just too selfish – I want this life for me. Plus I like sleep and kids are just so obnoxious and loud. I think they should come equipped with a volume control button! I keep expecting my body to sound some sort of alarm (which I am confident I can ignore) but even that has not happened. And I’m 32.

    That said, it is very rare to find someone that believes me when I say I don’t want kids. Everyone thinks I will change my mind. I could understand that when I was 20, but now that I’m older I think I should be taken a little more seriously.

    So, actually you are totally normal. It is those that don’t want to have kids that are often considered freakish.

  74. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    @Jen K
    WHAT?! I thought I made it up!! This is incredible.

  75. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    @Donna
    Sigh… you’re back.

  76. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    @Katie
    I have that thought a lot– anxious personalities, etc. Which makes me anxious that I won’t be calm with kids.
    Oy. But maybe everyone is just always themselves, no matter what. And we always just have to deal with ourselves, for that reason. Maybe the other side of the bridge is us, on the other side of a bridge. @Jiminy seems to be saying so.
    I don’t think this is really a response to you– sorry! It’s just what your comment made me think.

  77. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    @Val
    AAAAHHHH!!!! So great. As always. Can you be my muse?
    I can’t think past a baby. I can barely imagine a baby.
    But I also can’t imagine us in 10 years without having had kids. Kids are a part of my life plan. I guess they just always have been.
    Your son is going to have three kids? That’s amazing. No wonder you know so much more about life than me.

  78. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    @Jason
    Thanks for being brave enough to comment! (Other guys who are reading this blog: you can comment to! It’s not against the rules)

    I liked reading your perspective. Five kids. Wow.

    But the part about being ready made me wonder. A few other people have made similar comments here– if you want that, go for it, if not, don’t. But how can I know what I want, when I haven’t experienced ANYTHING like having kids? That’s my question.

  79. Cate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I would actually love to have kids. I’m only 21 now (I had a birthday since my last post!) but I really look forward to having kids one day. Or a kid. But I am really sure that I would love to have a baby one day and watch and help that baby grow into a person, and love that person with all my heart.

    Biologically, I feel like I would like that baby right now. My ovaries are definitely telling me to have a baby! But… butbutbut. I think there I some things I have to do before I have this baby. Things that will, ultimately, make me a better mother. I don’t think I need to be PERFECT to have a baby, but I do think I need to be a ‘whole person’. I need to be able to say that I am having a baby because I want to be a mother, and ONLY because I want to be a mother. Not because I’m expecting the baby to fill any other gap in my life, to make me feel fulfilled or happy, because that’s not what babies are for.

    I think if I were to have a baby before I did some of these things, I would place unnecessary pressure on my child to make up for my own shortcomings. Does that make sense? I know some people whose mothers have spent their entire lives dedicated to raising their kid, and ONLY raising their kid. As a result, these particular mothers place unbearable pressures on their child to be something other than that child… to be, I don’t know, the fulfillment of all their hopes and dreams?

    I know if I had a baby now, I would not be the mother that I could be in the future. Still not (anywhere near) perfect: but a mother whose happiness and existence is enriched (immeasurably) by, but not utterly dependent on, their child.

    Maybe that makes sense?

    Cate

  80. Penny Ellen responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    I haven’t wanted to be a mom since I was about 12. I’m 24. And not just because 12 was when I learned about genetics and heredity and all that lovely crap that would mean I have a high probability of losing all my physical beauty and dealing with Postpartum depression; no. I realized at 12 that I was sort of a Mom already.

    My sister is 6 years younger than I am, and around my age twelve, our family had some deaths in the family that my mom had to fly out of state to take care of. Dad was military and not around much, so all motherly responsibility fell to me. I realized in that period of time (months), just how much motherly responsibility I had taken on beforehand; band-aids and hugs when she fell down, helping her learn to read, supervising her in the yard/neighborhood/park to make sure she was ok, cleaning up after her, cooking for her…

    That’s a lot for one pre-teen to do for themselves, let alone for a sibling. And I noticed something else; I have very little patience. That has never changed. I doubt it ever will. I have no mental or emotional urge to go through childbirth. I understand your struggle with mother nature, because she likes to try convincing me every so often to have children. Society tries it every damn day. Every time that solitary line comes up on the pregnancy test, I am filled with a mixture of relief and regret. I am a childless freak.

    I want to want children…. but I just don’t; not really. I have a grown, talented, beautiful little sister to be proud of in part of the way a parent is. I have myself to worry about supporting, and I don’t want to set my future on a very finite path of parenthood. I think it’s time for me to focus on myself. I don’t think the time will ever come when I will be ready to prioritize my entire life around a child, and unless that moment comes, I know I am not fit or ready to be a mother.

  81. Ellen responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Kate,
    In reply to your comment, here are some resources:

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/pregnancy_gateway/before.html

    http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/womenpreconception.htm

    Obviously women get pregnant all the time without going through all these preliminaries and go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies, so don’t get freaked out by it all. The folate and the vaccinations were the two things that I wish I’d known sooner about.

  82. bethany actually responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mom, and I’ve always loved kids and found them endlessly fun and entertaining. But when I got married I was in no hurry to have my own kids. I knew it would be a BIG change. We were married for seven years when we got pregnant, and it was simultaneously a time of joy and a time of OH CRAP NOW WE’RE GONNA HAVE A BABY.

    I don’t particularly like babies, and never have. I worried that this would make my kids’ infancies very, very trying. And you know, my fears were 99.9% unfounded. Of course having a tiny baby is very trying no matter what, and our kids were both quite demanding about wanting to be held 24/7, but even so I looooooved my babies. I never minded holding them, I never minded being the one person that they wanted at all times, I didn’t even mind never having a moment to myself (and I’m one of those people who needs copious amounts of time to herself). For some reason the rules that apply to all other people just didn’t seem to apply to my kids as babies.

    Now that they’re older, of course I do enjoy time away from them and get annoyed with them sometimes and all that stuff. But mostly, they’re incredibly fun and parenting (and homeschooling!) is the most challenging, rewarding, amazing thing I’ve ever done. The only thing I regret (honestly) is not having kids several years sooner.

  83. Birdy responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Just a thought… have you ever noticed if the “baby fever” gets worse at a certain point in your cycle?

    I get it worse at about the 3rd week. Most of the time I’m happy with dogs for kids, and then for a few days, everybody else has babies and I think I need one too. Or two or three.

    One of these days I know we’ll decide we’re ready – my man and I finally feel like we could afford it, its just that we’re kinda still kids ourselves and we want to do our own thing. :)

  84. Megan responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    I just had a pregnancy scare. Actually went to the doctor today to get a test—negative by the way. I’m engaged to a man whose family would NOT be down with loin-fruit prior to our wedding. I’ve also always told everyone I never want kids. Ever. But there was this minute, rebellious, scary cell in my brain somewhere hoping the test would’ve been positive.

    I don’t know what to do with this information.

    Also, just discovered your blog. I’m sticking with it. So there’s that too.

  85. Kate responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    @Megan
    This is not going to be the most mature response, but:
    LOIN-FRUIT! LOL!!
    And hi! I’m glad your test was negative, for the sake of family dynamics and stuff. But, as you know, I hear you.

  86. Gayle responded on 03 Apr 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    I understand the seduction of throwing oneself completely into work. I enjoy creating exceptional work, being impeccably reliable and building bonds of trust and rapport with colleagues, designers, students and parents. (Most of my work has been in theatrical lighting design and as a freelance math and drama teacher in homeschooling circles.)

    But . . . and here’s the but: I have found that the main source of my contentment, fulfillment and growth has been my relationship with my husband and, now, with my baby son.

    There is a simplicity to defining myself by my work: if I create exceptional work then I am an exceptional person. But I believe that a greater and more rewarding test is to balance my desire to learn, work and create with my desire to love and nurture my family.

    It seems as if it would be much easier if there were rules that we could just follow to excess (like “eat all the damn cake!” or even “eat none of the damn cake ever!”), but it seems as if everything is a balancing act. And that is very hard.

    I have only been a mom for eight months, so I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending but instead as a pep talk (primarily for me!), but I think that the challenge of balancing a career and motherhood is one of the challenges most worth taking on.

  87. Susan responded on 04 Apr 2012 at 1:35 am #

    I’m a student midwife (CPM, life is good) and have seen a bunch of people at a bunch of different stages of life come in getting ready to have a baby.

    And what has seeing all this taught me? No one has an effing clue what they’re doing.

    Even the moms who planned their baby out to the last detail, who dotted all their i’s and crossed all their t’s have to wing it when the rubber hits the road. I *highly* recommend talking to older parents (parents whose kids are grown up and won’t feel like they have to put on “good parent face”) whether or not they had their shit together pre-kids. Most will just laugh and laugh. Life is so funny with its twists and turns and family is just the same. I figure cosmically we mostly end up with things put in front of us that we need to learn while we just try and roll with the punches. So how do you know if you want a baby? Probably in the same way you knew you wanted to go to a good school, or become a writer, or how you chose what shoes to wear today. Anyway you can. :)

  88. Charise responded on 04 Apr 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    We do not know if a kid is in our future. I change my mind every now and then. Right now, I am in a no-babies phase. It is hard. I can see the good and the not-so-good in each path. But if you choose to have a kid, then that decision is made. If you choose NOT to have a kid, you have many years before it’s too late to change your mind, so it’s like the decision isn’t really, truly made and there’s all this agonizing.

    For me, it’s not even a career thing, but a lifestyle thing. I love babies and enjoy being entertained by children, but we are just not sure if being parents is the lifestyle WE want to lead. I know there are lots of different types of parents out there, and we can still do cool stuff with kids, but things still change regardless. Responsibilities, priorities, finances, the ability to sleep, free time, etc., etc.

    So sometimes I think it would be nice to accidentally get pregnant and have the choice made for me. And then I think WTF, self? Gah. No easy way out, is there?

  89. Raia responded on 04 Apr 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    I really liked your metaphore about motherhood as a bridge that falls apart after you cross it. It makes sense to me. I am a “new” mom of a 17-month old and trying to have a full-time, important engineering career at the same time. And it’s tough. Before my daughter was born I wanted to be career-focused, and I was. And I told myself that having a baby wouldn’t change that and that I could do both. Or maybe it was society that told me I could… and I liked what Oprah said about having it all, just not all at once. I thought I would be OK with having a career, then a baby (with a career on the side) and then a career again (when she “grows up” or goes to school, maybe?).

    And I didn’t want special treatment, I was going to show up to work everyday and rock my career and keep up with all the non-kids people.

    But I can’t. It’s been so frustrating. Now I want/ need special consessions so that I can drop her off at daycare and be late to work, leave early to go to her doctor appointments or tour daycare options, stay home with her when she is sick (daycare won’t take her then) and take care of myself – I have been more sick in the past year than in the previous 7.

    But I don’t want to go back across the bridge, I love being her mom. I love my daughter more than I thought I could. I always wanted to be a mom. But I also wanted to be a engineer. And even though I was told it would be hard, I didn’t think it would be this hard.

    My husband and I got married at 24 (me) & 25 (him) and waited 5 years to have kids. The five years were great, we had fun and loved each other so much. And having a baby has been really hard on our marriage. I thought we were strong enough to handle it. And maybe we still are, we’re muddling through, getting help from a therapist and it’s working. But it’s tough.

  90. tirzahrene responded on 04 Apr 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    I always figured I’d be a mom.

    Married a guy who had five kids already assuming that we’d have kids together down the road. He decided he didn’t want more kids and most of our ten years together was spent convincing myself that I didn’t want kids or was okay without having kids or really was too selfish to be a good mom anyway.

    When I left him the world opened for me. And one thing I came out of that marriage with is the deep and sure knowledge in my soul that I want to have kids. I know it’s hard, I know I’m going to hate some days, I’m terrified of sleep deprivation more than anything else I can think of. But when I think of what matters most to me, it’s family, and I want mine to include children of my own.

    Parenting isn’t for everyone, and I deeply respect that. I fully support people doing what suits them.

    Now I just have to make my biological clock chill the fuck out, because I’m 30 and still have three years of school left and, you know, babydaddy to marry? ;-)

  91. Kate responded on 04 Apr 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    @Susan
    I love your advice.

  92. zoe responded on 05 Apr 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    i am only twenty-two so babies are not on my agenda at all right now but i am fairly certain i don’t want babies. i don’t want to be responsible for another human being. it’s hard enough taking care of myself. i don’t want anyone depending on me like that. yet, at the same time, i am an incredibly nurturing person. i feel very motherly, very grounded. a lot of friends have called me something like an “earth mama”. so. i think i’ll be a good aunt and god-mother hah.

    but really, have kids whenever you’re ready. my mom had my brother and i late (like, late thirties and early forties) and i think she really enjoyed that. she got to establish a career and played out her life a little bit before settling down some.

  93. Gemma responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 1:15 am #

    I’ve always known that I never want to have kids, and I can’t understand what drives so many people to go to such great lengths to produce shrieking messes of stinky bodily functions that consume all your time, strength, and money for 20 or so years. I know that’s a terribly unpopular view, but it just seems illogical to me.

    I’ve always seen babies as kind of parasitic aliens feasting on your innards, that then go on to bust their way out of you. Without modern medicine, there’s a fair chance they’d kill you in the process. After they’re out of you, they’re still parasitic, demanding to suck on your boobs several times a day for a couple years, or however long you let them. They make your boobs saggy, your weight redistribute itself, your hips wider.

    Not to mention the fact that this world is not any place I’d want to subject a kid to. It’s one long battle from the moment you’re born. And what happens if it’s a kid with mental or physical problems? Do you know what it’s like to have to cater to a mentally-ill kid? I do, because I was/am one.

    I do NOT understand people’s desire to procreate. It sounds really selfish to ask, but what’s in it for you? What’s in it for the kid? I think if someone needs a baby to feel fulfilled, there’s something missing in themselves, and having a baby isn’t going to fix that.

  94. Jen Anderson responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 10:47 am #

    You can tell if it’s your body having these thoughts, or if it’s you by asking yourself one thing: do you want a baby, or do you want a kid? Because babies grow up and turn into people. Baby lust is normal, but nothing to base life decisions on. If you find yourself looking wistfully at every child you see, regardless of age, then it’s not just Momma Nature messing with you.

  95. Maya responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I’ve always presumed that I wanted to have kids. My husband and I for sure want kids. My friends are having babies (I’m 27), and there’s a lot of “ooh, yes, that”, along with a lot of “oh my G-d, how can I possibly be ready?” all at once. But we haven’t even been married a year yet- so right now, we’re waiting. Still, after that, it’ll be a question of when and how many, not if, provided that the biology works. So- part of me can’t wait, and the rest of me is pretty scared of the idea, for all that I want it. I don’t know that anyone is really totally set in feeling one way about reproducing…

  96. Lex responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    I hope I’ll want kids one day. I find the notion of pregnancy and nursing creepy and gross. Also I totally understand about people looking at you as though your’re weird or possibly dangerous when you say you don’t want kids.

    As a general rule I don’t like kids. Correction, I don’t like kids just because they’re kids. I love my four-year-old niece and I worked at a summer camp for years and loved all the kids (ages 6-16) and still serve as a surrogate sibling for many of them.

    I hope I’ll want my own kids one day and I hope it doesn’t ruin my potential marriage if I wait and wait only to find that I’m never going to want them.

  97. Lex responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    @Jen Anderson, I just read your reply and I’ve never heard anyone explain it that way. Hmm. I wonder if one can have the opposite problem? Wanting a kid but being repulsed by the idea of a baby.

  98. Marie responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Thank you all so much. I’m 24, my husband is 26, we have been married for 2 years and together for 6years. We want a baby so much. So so much, the way you want water in the desert. We want the poop and the sleepless nights and the vomit. I had a lot of younger siblings and have a good idea of what to expect. I am in grad school and there is a lot of subtle pressure for women in my field (physics) not to have kids. Marriage is rare too. I intend to be the first female student to have a baby in the history of our graduate department. We are waiting til I get my masters. I don’t care if it takes longer to get my PhD, this baby is happening. Thank you so much for this piece, and all the comments. Other educated women want kids in their 20s? Revolutionary! I’m not alone!!

  99. Melinda responded on 07 Apr 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    I will be 29 this year. My husband is 42. He doesn’t have children and he doesn’t seem to want them.

    But I do want to have children, at least one. I have always wanted children.

    My reasons for wanting children run very deep and I’m not really comfortable with sharing because I don’t want to be judged, but I definitely want to be a mother.

    I look at pretty little girls with ribbons in their hair and feel a sense of sadness because I lost my own daughter when I was 21, in a previous relationship. She died at four months old. I want a child to love and cherish. I know that some people can’t relate, but it is a very strong desire for some of us.

    I would adopt if I could but we’re not wealthy and my husband wouldn’t consider it.

  100. Kate responded on 08 Apr 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    @Melinda
    First of all, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.
    And second of all, I really, really hope you have another child. If you want to be a mother, you should have that chance.
    I’ve actually read a little about adoption, and many resources say that it’s only expensive when you adopt internationally. I wish I could remember where I saw this– but I watched a video of various adoptive parents, talking about practical aspects of adoption, including expenses, and explaining how the idea that adoption is always very expensive is a myth. So I hope that you aren’t dissuaded by that, if you do really want to adopt. Of course, I’m not very educated about this, so I don’t want to be misleading. But it’d be worth looking into! I mean, if your husband would think about it, too, obviously. I hope that you two can work this out!

  101. Diana responded on 09 Apr 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I, too, married young (right after college at 24). I did everything right so I could have the life I imagined for myself and it didn’t involve kids. I did great in school, college, and grad school. I got a great job at large corporate office just outside Chicago. And a week after my one year wedding anniversary I found out I was pregnant even though I was on birth control. I sat in my bathroom and cried. At about 5 months pregnant, I decided that I could never leave this baby that was growing inside me in a daycare while I worked. I also realized that I was not going to continue to be the dedicated employee that I had been. So my husband and I talked about it and I quit. It sounds crazy for someone that had always been very rational and done everything the right way. I have since had 2 more kids. I’m 31 and my youngest is just about 2 years old. In a few more years, I’ll be able to start over in maybe a completely different career. Or maybe I won’t. My point is that there’s no right time to have a baby, things always seem to work out, sometimes there’s more than one right path in life, and there are pros and cons to having babies young, at the “right” time, or when you’re a bit older. Also, it’s crazy how things turn out sometimes!

  102. Collette responded on 11 Apr 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you so much for writing this. It’s the kind of post I trawl the HuffPost “Women”, “Parents”, “Weddings” sections for. I’m 24 and baby dreams seem to have conquered my ambition. I mean literally, at night, instead of laying in bed plotting my world domination, I fall asleep at 10 o’clock and dream about holding babies, snuggling them, changing them, walking with a stroller… all kinds of things that were for other girls to do.

    I blame hormones, mother nature has a plan for me. But it doesn’t fit into my desire to run a construction company – a path I’m currently on largely because no woman locally has done so yet. It’s a step down from being the first woman on Mars that I intended at 12. We grew up in this time where women can be educated, work, and make the decision about working and kids. My mom encouraged female independence and my father made me the son he never had. We grew up being told we could do everything. But there aren’t 100 hours in a day.

    My friends looked at me like I had confessed to murder when I said “honestly, right now I just want to be an educated housewife.” It’s not because I have a problem with work, I love my job. I’ve got a kick-ass career that I worked for.
    What I’m finding difficult is the purpose. I can understand the desire to work for your family and support them – it keeps you going. My partner is successful in his world and will never be the stay at home dad. I’m young, yes, but I’ve done the things I really want to do, the traveling, volunteering, working. I don’t look at it like I’m giving up opportunities, I’m just pursuing different ones. I used to scorn the old-fashioned woman who were all about the household and kids.

    I met one of my childhood idols, the first female Canadian astronaut. She is brilliant and amazing, but feels a bit flat when you talk to her. When I meet most people I talk to them about their families and their work. We were all business and it left me feeling empty.

    Modern feminism leaves us in a tricky spot. Though women have the opportunity to have a career, they’re often left with household work also. I’m not talking about the exceptional stay at home dad cases. I’m talking average people I know. We have more on our shoulders and it hasn’t managed a pathway where we can equally balance children and a career. I think you’re like me in this because you don’t want to half-ass anything, be it kids or your writing. It really does seem like a choice – unfortunately we can’t work 60 hour weeks and be there for the little ones.

    I’m having a really hard time but I think the best is to follow your heart. My colleagues aren’t going to care about me like my kids will. It’s just part of growing up – your priorities change. And after all, biologically speaking it’s what we’re supposed to do (or so my hormones tell me).

    I don’t feel like such a freak now. Haha. Thank you.

  103. jensketch responded on 12 Apr 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I wonder if you feel more unsure after reading all the variety of comments or if you feel like you know yourself a little better now. It’s certainly a tricky, delicate balance.

    Colette ^^ up there, makes a really good point. You don’t want to half-ass anything. Writing or being a Mom. It is a choice.

    It all seems so unfair, doesn’t it? We are faced with the possibilities of a man, and yet, when things boil down – we have to make these choices. For some people it is not hard (either way) but for some others it can be the most difficult thing they have ever had to decide for themselves.

    How does one reconcile?

    As it stands right now – there is no answer. There isn’t. People make things work, however they want to work it. That’s the only answer there is and it is a meager offering at best.

    I had this talk with my 18 year old son in the car just the other day. He was talking about his career path and he wants to be able to provide so his wife can stay home. That’s his ideal. I asked him very pointedly; “What if she doesn’t want that life? What if she is focused on her career and wants or needs to send the kids to daycare? What will you do then? You love (this mythical future wife) her for who she is — you need to think about that.”

    He was dumbfounded and just shook his head, having no answer… which of course for an 18 year old, is the right one. :) He’s a good guy.

    I got married at 19 and was pregnant almost immediately. By choice! I had very little impulse control at the time, we eloped after 3 weeks. It is what it is. We were divorced a year later. But I was never afraid for myself or my son (said 18 year old,almost 19 ;) ). I met my current husband randomly – I wasn’t ‘on the hunt’ or any such thing. We’ve been together for 17 years. Had two more kids. I was *done* with kids by 25.

    I have fleeting, wistful regrets… but of the daydream kind. They aren’t serious. I am so content with my life now that I’d take every step the same way, even the painful ones. You only learn the hard way.

    Yes, I chose to devote the 20s of my life to raising children instead of ‘having fun’ or working on a career. But now, at 38, my children are grown. I’m looking at my middle years, where we are in our prime, at a rich and full life (and a long time) with adult children to share it with, instead of the back-breaking, time-consuming, hectic life with small children. It’s utterly wonderful and I would not change a thing.

    I see women my age with babies, toddlers. I couldn’t conceive of the idea. All sorts of health issues crop up with an older set of parents, besides. There is a reason your body is telling you to go ahead ;)

    Also last thing I’d just like to say, and I tell this to everyone — if you don’t want kids, please don’t have them. Don’t. Get sterilized.

    Also, once you’re done having kids? Get sterilized. I got ‘fixed’ as it were at 25 and it’s been a blissful 13 years of serious fun sex ever since. ;)

  104. Jennifer responded on 24 Apr 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Have a baby. Have lots of them. It is a crazy vocation that NO ONE is ever ready for. Your life will be less yours–that is true. But you will be richer for it. And so will your writing.

  105. Nah Cho responded on 15 May 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    At the age of 14, I came to realization that I do not ever want to be pregnant. Ever. When I told my friend, she looked at me as if I told her that I liked to eat babies in my free time (she wanted kids, like, yesterday). And I felt as if I should feel ashamed, since I was of the female gender. But then I realized, no. By having children while I don’t want them, would be a very selfish thing to do (I won’t go into detail why, but I’m planning write a post on my blog… eventually).

    Anyways, it’s not that I hate kids. I think I’d enjoy babysitting nieces and nephews, and godchildren. I just wouldn’t like to be taking care of them for more than 24hrs. I don’t want to be the mommy figure. Just the cool aunt.

    I don’t really want to be a parent, especially a traditional parent (nothing wrong with them, just not my thing). Maybe I’ll foster/adopt 15+ year olds and be more of that overprotective, but supportive, roomie than a mom. And that, to me, is better than having my own biological kids. In fact, I’m really warming up to that idea.

    I’ve actually been thinking, seriously, about having my tubes tied since I was about 16 (my friend was horrified). But people keep telling me I will regret it, and I’m afraid of the consequences. I’m still young, and I have been known to change my mind (not that I think I will on this particular issue). But I like to have my choices.

    But I do understand, in a way, about the not wanting to want kids. I have the opposite. Sometimes I find myself wanting to want to have kids. It’d make my life so much easier, I think.

    Either way, best wishes to you! I hope that whatever happens, you’re satisfied and content with it.

  106. Eat the Damn Cake » The things that freak me out when I think about myself in a bikini responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    [...] how we run through paper napkins SO fast, and imagining myself as a really great mother, and imagining myself immediately losing all of my friends and most of my mind as soon as I have a baby, and worrying about Bear’s blood sugar, and feeling rejected by the last publication that [...]

  107. Bonnie responded on 27 May 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I grew up thinking I would have children; not for any particular reason, just because it seemed like that was what one does when they grow up. One day it hit me that I don’t actually have to have a baby, and that it was my decision. Ever since then I have been very unsure as to whether I will ever have children. This indecisiveness also has to do with the fact that I’m gay, so having children would not be an easy process. I’m also only 16, so I (hopefully) have a long way to go before I have to decide. I think, for me, I’m hoping that Mother Nature will decide it for me: that my maternal instincts will either kick in big time or they will never happen. Either way, I would like it to be decisive. I definitely have some of the same things running through my head as you do, Kate, with the career issues. I want to be a civil rights activist, and a lot of the time it doesn’t seem really compatible with having children. However, I know a lot of women who have made it work, and I think if there’s anyone who can, it would be you.

  108. Eat the Damn Cake » getting rejected from volunteering. (seriously. it’s a thing) responded on 26 Jun 2012 at 11:10 am #

    [...] like kids. I want to have them one day. Sometimes I feel strangely confident when I think about being a mother. More confident than I feel when I’m faced with something like weird colored water coming out of [...]

  109. Suzy responded on 15 Aug 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Layla responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 1:27 pm :

    I don’t want any. Ever. I’ve known this since I was about 12. I want to live my life for me, and to enjoy it, and not spend it looking after someone else. Also the idea of being pregnant repulses me. I know it’s natural, but to me it’s completely the opposite.
    I’m also really glad I know, that I’m not undecided. I think that would be hard.

  110. Suzy responded on 15 Aug 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Sorry I didn’t get to say what I wanted to say – I pasted Layla’s comment and pressed submit by mistake. Duh!
    When Layla said to be undecided would be hard, she is not wrong!! I am 40 and really panicking. My partner of 8 years wants to have a kid but I have always been undecided. I am so scared of the pregnancy (the risk of being older), the birth and then basically the next 18+ years! I have in effect been keeping my legs crossed for 8 years since coming off the pill. (very hard) I have had one miscarriage (at 12 weeks) and vowed I would never put myself thru that again. It was hell. Now I have to contend with a partner who is secretly desperate to have them and my increasing years and uncertainty. Not much fun I can tell you!
    Thanks for listening

  111. Rachel responded on 05 Sep 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to have kids, I just don’t know when I’ll feel like I am financially secure enough to do it in the midst of all this schooling.

    I wanted to say that people don’t tend to regret things as much as they think they will. Women who don’t want kids are told all the time that one day it will be too late and then they will regret it, and I don’t think it’s true. Also, while people with kids say that they are happier because they have kids, when you try take more objective measures it actually looks like people without kids are generally happier and less stressed.

    I’m not saying don’t have a kid. It’s just. . . it’s pretty normal (normal in the sense of “majority action” not “correct action”) to have kids and most people think it’s a great idea, and that makes me feel bad for the women who don’t think that they want kids who get kind of bullied by everyone else. If you are a women who wants a kid then, YAY, have one! But for the women here struggling because they’ve never wanted kids and now people are pressuring them: Don’t do it!

  112. anon responded on 07 Sep 2012 at 2:52 am #

    i guess i will throw in my two cents. in summary, because this is going to be a long post, it would be a mistake for me to have children.

    i am a neurotic, socially isolated, obsessive-compulsive, anxious, depressive product of sexual abuse that was partially my fault. just that i was able to list all of those things means that i’m too self-centered and wallowing in my own problems for children to be in the cards at all. my own mother is a selfish horror with many similar issues, and the last thing i want is to be that kind of parent. i don’t want to be responsible for another human being when taking basic care of myself is a herculean feat, and i don’t want to be the parent a child dreads coming home to after school like she was to me.

    also, the idea of pregnancy and childbirth gives me (completely irrational, mind, as i’m a virgin) panic attacks. being around my boyfriend is enough to make me worry to death that i’m going to be the first person who ever got pregnant from poking bejeaned pelvises together in a hug. i hate the fear, but i would honestly rather die than carry a living being in me and expel it or have it cut out of my abdomen. i feel like most of the people i have known in my life don’t understand how i could think of something so “beautiful” or “natural” as completely monstrous. i have nightmares about it, where the baby didn’t even come from a man, it just happened and somehow it was all my doing.

    fortunately, the internet has told me that i’m not broken for not wanting kids, and for some women it’s just not the right thing to do. don’t be afraid if a baby is really what you want, but don’t be afraid if you never want to have children. you’re not wrong.

    -anonymous

  113. Eat the Damn Cake » the things grownups say automatically to kids they run into in the hall responded on 20 Sep 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    [...] a lot, like a dork, and how different from mine her life is. And how I can’t imagine being her, but I’m sort of jealous. And how she just had a BABY and I’m getting nervous about singing some [...]

  114. Bea responded on 04 Oct 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Wow. So many having the same thoughts and feelings that I am having.

    I’m afraid of regret.

    I never imagined having children… I never imagined getting married… I never imagined life beyond 18.

    I’m 34 and have been married for 5 years. My hubby will be 39 in a month. It’s decision time.. and I’m leaning towards do it.

    Someone way up the page wrote, “Pregnancy and the birth process while a big deal is just a small, small part of a much larger journey.”

    I think I want the journey.

  115. Eat the Damn Cake » I decided to have a baby responded on 07 Nov 2012 at 11:53 am #

    [...] baby is like giving up.” I’ve never been into babies, really. Over the past couple years, I sometimes wanted to have one with sudden ferocity, but then afterwards I felt a little ill. Terrible idea! What about my [...]

  116. Jennifer R responded on 04 Dec 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Gads, where do I even begin. I want kids, but I’m not one of those people who dreams about hanging out with their child or what they should be when they reach adulthood. I’m forty. Married for a year, been with my hsuband (who is older than myself) for 3 years. He works: I don’t. He has a college degree; I don’t. I still want multiple degrees and an innovate job in healthcare for myself. It pisses me off that I’d be the person who has to dial back or eliminate most or my plans to take care of this kid, not to mention that raising a child is so insanely expensive it makes me want to throw up. A large part of me is jealous of and pissed off when friends post “Hey, we’re pregnant AND husband just got a promotion with salary upgrade AND we’re buying a house”, as I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I could have a child and not resent sitting around feeding it and changing it and teaching it, while losing out on career possibilities, and yet, I need the better career to support it in the first place. I want kids but not if it means they become the center of my world and I don’t have a life away from them. And then I think about not having one and I feel depressed and weepy. WTH.

  117. Dimmy responded on 24 Jan 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Sigh. I never wanted children, ever. I was very sure. I have been with my husband for 13 years, married for 6. We have had a great life so far, it’s not perfect and has it’s ups and downs but the trauma and drama of my own childhood and teenager years no longer hangs around.

    I’m 38 years old now and my biological clock has kicked in. Or at least something has kicked in. It’s not so much that I want to have children, I just don’t want to NOT have them anymore. All of a sudden (well, the last 6 months) I am doubting myself. And it is consuming my mind. And I mean consuming. I’m not comfortable with this doubt, nor am I comfortable with either having children or not having them. I just want someone to tell me what to do, but of course this is a decision that me and hubby make. He’s almost feels exactly the same way as me – but hasn’t got the same doubt. He seems much more comfortable than me with the idea of not having them.

    I’m running out of time….. it’s just all of a sudden it feels like there should be more than just myself and my husband sharing our little world, it feels like there should be more people in it. It’s a strange feeling.

    I too think of all the sacrifices and courage the generations of women before me had to have to make so that I could have the opportunities that I do today. And I have tried to take hold of those opportunities as best I can in this life so far. Maybe it won’t be the same for me as the generations before – I know a lot of them had a hard time having children because they never felt like they had a choice. But if it’s something I choose, and do it knowing that I don’t have to, that I can choose other things instead, maybe that will make all the difference.

    I don’t want to be an older mother – so it feels like now or never. I’m kidding myself though, I will always be an older mother at this stage. I’m finally doing a university degree that I always wanted to do, and there’s a couple of other things I still wanted to do too.

    Hmmmm, so much to weigh up when this decision is not really about me, but about someone else who isn’t even here yet….

  118. YoungAdult82 responded on 31 Jan 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    This article really helped me. It made me laugh and it made me feel less lonely. What does a woman my age, 30, want to do with moving to NYC, which I recently did, and then just going right ahead and popping out a kid? I don’t even want one! Not right now anyway. Maybe in 2 years… 4… 10? Can we please make it 10 I think I’ll be ready in 10 honest! But that clock is ticking. Arg… Scared and confused but less alone. Thanks for this great post.

  119. Zayna responded on 19 May 2013 at 3:24 am #

    Wow, awesome article, thank you! It made me laugh. I’ve always been very maternal and imagined myself with a big family. I’ve had two children and now I hurtle between wanting another one and not wanting another one and wanting another one and not wanting another one. My poor husband puts up with a lot of emotional unbalance from my hormonal encounters with mother nature.

    I recently went so far as to remove my contraception and try for a third but after 3 months of trying I completely panicked at the thought of having another baby, no future career and less time for myself and got the contraception fitted again.

    For some ridiculously silly reason, I’ve always hated the idea of the perfect family of four, but now that I have it, it’s not that bad!

    Oh and as much as I love my own kids, I still don’t much like other people’s children either.

  120. vv responded on 19 Jun 2013 at 5:17 am #

    I’m about to pop my first kid out. I’m in my early 30s, still carrying a bunch of issues, and also wanting to pursue my cool career. Some days I’m happy to have answered that strong mother nature call, some days I think I’m totally stupid and should have sorted everything in my life out before making that poor child.
    Stay tuned for the reality check over the next few months :-)

  121. bobcat responded on 20 Jun 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    I am 22. the only time I wanted kids briefly were when I was a 15 years old wanting to please her boyfriend because “having kids would make a man loved you so much”.
    I am pretty introverted (a lot of childfree individuals are introverted) I am also very short tempered with equally short patience, and I know having kids 24/7 would put me in a mental institution.

    the funny thing is, contrary to the popular myth about women who don’t want kids, I am not career driven. Yes, yes, I do have an ambition to be a scientist/researcher in STEM field, but I want to have life outside my career. it is just that the life I want never, ever, involves me copying my own DNA.
    I once told my boyfriend to straighten my mind had I ever said I wanted babies. before anything like that happens, I’d like to be sterilized. right now the idea of sexual intercourse puts me off and I’d like to wait until I’m sterilized.

    other (albeit most important) thing is, for personal reasons, I believe having one of my own is unethical and against my belief. If I were suddenly bitten by the motherhood bugs, I would volunteer in an orphanage, be a foster parent to older kids, or simply babysitting other people’s kids. my legacy is how I give impact to those who have interacted with me. those people don’t have to be biologically related to me. spread meme, not gene. yours is even more tangible: you write a blog. your ideas will be alive forever in the internet, unless you delete them.

    as others have said, there is no turning back if you chose motherhood. if you haven’t been able to make your mind up yet, please don’t jump right away into it. it’s better to regret not having kids than regret having them.

  122. click here responded on 03 Sep 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Taken pleasure in studying this, great things, appreciate it. “A guy may discover wisdom even from an adversary.” by Aristophanes.

  123. alice responded on 13 Nov 2013 at 7:17 am #

    What a great read.
    I have never ever wanted children and now at 29, I can’t stop watchin gshows like One Born Every Minute and Business of Being Born etc. I have a small pregnancy scare recently and was SO relieve I wasn’t as its not the right time but the idea of being pregnant is fascinating to me and i would hate to miss out on that and the whole birth experience. I have so much more I want to do before bringing a child into my life so maybe this is a few years off for me yet, or maybe its not to happen at all. I think people can have just as fulfilling life without children.

  124. Mandi responded on 14 Nov 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    While trying to find something, anything online as to how I was feeling I cam across this. As I can see its at least a year old, but totally applicable to how women feel today. We are caught between our natural drive to have babies and live in a modern society that says we have to have a career and take care of ourselves. Not to mention the need to not want to be alone; to want to share our live with a significant other. That is biology, and yes when you meet that person that is special, you want to make babies. It usually comes up, and you are so caught up in the moment with that person. Its like its all designed to get you caught up and before you know it, there you are pregnant. I know that babies are great, and they are necessary to ensure the species. I think very few women are against babies. Its just time and energy that it takes to make them and keep them. In our modern world it is as if there is no time for women to do that but we must find and make a way. Lets even say that you are married to the most wonderful man on the planet; no offense but he is still a man. Women are supposed to be the nurturers, the ones who know what to do when the baby is crying. We are the ones who do a good job when cleaning the house; not do some half-way job just to not have to hear anymore nagging about it. I guess what I am saying is this; women are good at taking care of things, we get stuff done. The problem with being a mother is that all of the other “stuff” that we have to do doesn’t go away. I think when the advance of birth control came around women got smart. Why should we kill ourselves having and raising kids while at the same time keeping the house. If we don’t have children, then we can do what we want. Choose to take any career path anywhere that we want. Look for adventure; not have to rely or put up with a man if we don’t want to because we don’t have to anymore. And as I write all of this I am sitting here, a mother of a 15 year old that I raised as a single mother for most of his life. I put myself through nursing school during that time. Recently, I got married to a wonderful man and I am pregnant at the age of 34 years old. Not too long before that I had decided to go back to school to be a doctor. So now I find myself a mother of a teenager, a new wife after being single for over 8 years, pregnant while trying to become a doctor. I really don’t know what I am doing at the moment. Am I crazy for trying to do all of this? Sometimes I think that I am, and who am I to think that I can even do all of this anyway. I am torn and while I am super excited to be pregnant, it was all planned and my husband is a wonderful man, I don’t really want to be a mom again to a little one. My teenage son doesn’t need much and I can have intelligent conversations with him. Its great, we actually have a lot in common. What will I have in common with a little baby. The truth is I want to be a doctor, I don’t want to sit at home and change dirty diapers. I see people on Facebook who have just had babies and I cringe with every baby photograph that they post, I mean they are obsessed. I’m scared that will be me; a totally obsessed baby Facebook poster-er. As I write this I feel so horrible; I mean this is my baby, how can I feel this way? I just do and I know that I am not alone. I might just turn into that crazy Facebook mom who thinks that the whole world cares about what their baby had for breakfast; and when it happens I wont even know that I have turned into that. Oh well, its enough that there are others out there who feel like me. Women, expected to do everything and be everything, to everybody. Expected to take care of the world in a sense, but behind the scenes as to make sure a man gets the credit, after all isn’t that what a good woman does? She is a self-less creature, wanting to please those in her life. Whatever you are; mother, not a mother, single, married, career woman, stay at home mom: love yourself and give yourself a break. Just the fact that you are a woman in this world means that you are taking care of the world just by being you and being here. Now remember to take care of yourself and don’t feel guilty for one second. xoxo

  125. elisa responded on 03 Mar 2014 at 5:39 am #

    I like children, but when I feel others force me to have children soon, then I hate it with all meaning. especially when they tell me it is bether to have a baby boy. It is not others job to decide for me. I like my freedom, my gym my beaty and I hate to destroy them for small crazy thins called children. Maybe this is not normal but this happened me recently when I got married, I feel that they want me as a tool only to have a child and destroy my beauty and freedom for someone else. I hate it and i will leave that stupid life…

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