I absolutely adore children. Or rather, I adore them as long as I can escape from them at the end of the day. And I think that is perfectly OK.
Yet, each time I inform people that I don't have a burning desire to have my own children someday, that I lack that deep-rooted maternal craving, they look stunned -- as if that is what every 20-something woman should be waiting for, working towards.
The response is usually one of the following:
"But you work with kids, you're so good with them. You have four younger siblings!"
"Oh, someday you'll change your mind."
The first response I can tolerate, because it is true. I do work with them, I am good with them and I do have four younger siblings.
It's the second response that irks me to no end. Yes, maybe I will change my mind. Maybe I will fall in love and want to give that man a child. Maybe I will become pregnant unexpectedly and take that leap of faith. I have no doubt I would love a child if I had one. But for someone to simply tell me what will happen, that I will definitely change my mind because women give birth and that is just how it always has been and always will be... that doesn't sit well.
Of course I've thought about changing my mind, thought about it in the fleeting, maybe-this-is-how-my-life-will-be-someday way which 20-somethings have perfected. I think about it when I realize how much I love working at a daycare. I think about it when I hold a baby and am amazed by their intricate features and little cooing noises. I'm not heartless.
But when I actually think about holding a newborn, my newborn, knowing that I have to be responsible for that little person's safety and well being for at least the next 18 years... that is terrifying. I immediately lose any desire I had gained for a child of my own.
I shouldn't feel like I have to justify my reasoning, but I am, do and I am going to.
I just don't think that loving kids and fostering the ability to create them, carry them and care for them necessarily means I am cut out to be a mom. I don't want to pour time and commitment into another person, give them my best, only to risk not being everything they deserve.
That being said, I adore my mom -- she is my best friend, and I appreciate everything that sacrificed to raise us as a stay-at-home mom. She did everything right and in all honestly, I don't think I could ever live up to that.
In a screwed up way, it is because of my blessed upbringing that I don't want to be a mother. I had everything I could have wanted while growing up and I would constantly be comparing my parenting efforts to my experience being parented. I would feel pressured to stop working in order to be a better mother, and I know I would never forgive myself for that.
So yes, the root of my hesitancy is this: I don't want to be a mother because I don't think I would be a good enough one. No child deserves a half-a**ed effort.
But there are other reasons too. Reasons like the fact that I enjoy my alone time -- hell, need my alone time. I can be selfish and put myself first. I can be unstable. I often let my emotions get the best of me. I am career-oriented. I am never interested in a man for a long enough period of time that marriage is a thought, let alone children. I can't even feed myself three balanced meals in one day. I hate mornings and resent anything (or anyone) that wakes me up before 9 a.m.
Unlike parenting, being a writer is something that I have proved time and time again that I am capable of, that I am good at and maybe even excel at. Why push one good thing aside, something I am passionate about and spend so much time committed to, to do something I am unsure of and am only doing because I feel like I should be doing it, such as raising children? I don't see the logic.
I just want people to be OK with that, to not look shocked when I say I don't necessarily want kids, to not immediately tell me I'll change my mind.
Sure, I'm 21 years old and my reasoning could eventually be irrelevant. Maybe I will meet someone, fall in love and creating a tiny little human being will feel like the most natural thing in the world rather than feel like what should be done. But that's not the point.
The point is that is shouldn't shock people that not every woman dreams of a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs with a perfect husband kind of life. If I want to live alone in a cozy apartment with only a dog for company, that should be just as acceptable as living the "American Dream." And hopefully one day, it will be.