Maybe I Don’t Want Kids

I decided I wanted to do something a bit different for this post, so it’s both longer and seriouser than what I usually write. Fair warning.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m really not sure that I ever want to have kids.

I have liked children and enjoyed being around them pretty much my entire life. I was still in elementary school when I started baby-sitting younger children in my neighborhood, and by middle school, I was watching babies.

(Now that I’m an adult, I seriously question the sanity of any parent who would leave an infant with an untrained eleven-year-old, but that’s beside the point.)

For a few summers in a row, I even held “mini camps,” where all the children in my neighborhood could descend on my house for a few hours for snacks, art projects, and outdoor activities.

The camps were lots of fun – and also probably illegal, once you took the child-to-caregiver ratio into account.

kids1

It’s a bit tricky to explain my line of thinking in regards to having kids. I think most people hear about others not wanting children, and assume it’s because they either dislike them, or because they have circumstances that get in the way of child-rearing, such as fancy, high-powered jobs.

Neither of those is true for me. I have worked at daycares, I have worked in foster care, and I currently work as a child and adolescent counselor. I’m also quite close with my niece and nephew. I very much do like children.

But I still don’t know that I want my kids of my own.

Through all the baby-sitting, child care, and counseling, I have experienced many amazing moments with kids. I have rocked sleepy babies, I have witnessed toddlers’ awe at discovering new things, I have giggled with preschoolers, and I have had fascinating conversations with older children and teens.

I have felt total elation at being a part of so many “firsts” – first steps, first days of school, first time swimming without floaties. I have played dress-up, acted as a tickle monster, made up songs, painted tiny fingernails, and cooked pancakes in the shape of hearts – all while genuinely enjoying myself.

However, I have also experienced what it’s like to hold a screaming baby in one arm, stir dinner with the other, and shout at the toddlers in the next room to share their toys. I have changed diapers, only for them to be dirtied again with seconds. I have been in public with bloodshot eyes, a pale face, uncombed hair, and spit-up on my shoulder.

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I have known the bewilderment and frustration of having a child throw a temper tantrum for reasons I don’t understand, and can therefore do nothing about. And I have, at times, dare I say, been annoyed by the antics of overexcited kids.

Gasp. Better notify the church elders.

If you’re a parent, or have provided childcare in some way, you’re probably thinking, “But everyone gets annoyed with kids sometimes! Everyone has days where they want to pull their hair out!”And you would be absolutely right.

But the difference is, on the days that I feel annoyed and stressed out, I am still being PAID for my services. Big difference.

Also, at the end of a long day, I can go home to a quiet apartment, take a hot shower without little hands banging on the door, and go to sleep in a bed not covered in cheerios. Parents don’t have those luxuries.

kids3

Maybe this is selfish, but I find the idea of having to cater to a tiny person’s needs, 24/7, with NO time for myself, terrifying. Props to all of you who do it.

One thing I’ve learned through countless discussions with parents, whether in my role as a children’s counselor, or simply with friends and family, is this:

Parenting is hard, y’all.

It is a never-ending job in a company that you have no hope of moving “up” in. There are no lunch breaks, no sick days, and the boss is not at all understanding if you find the work overwhelming. There are many, many “thankless” jobs out there, where employees don’t receive much positive feedback from customers (or employers) – but parents have it way worse.

Children actually don’t say things like, “Thank you for prohibiting me from skateboarding in the street, Mommy. I understand now you were trying to protect me from being run over and killed, and I appreciate your concern for my safety, and your desire to see me live. Let’s have some tea.”

Paradoxically, even though everyone seems to understand and agree that parenting is difficult, everyone on the planet LOVES to criticize parents – especially other parents!

We shake our fingers at those who we perceive as being too harsh, and roll our eyes at those we see as being too lenient. We turn up our noses at the sight of toddlers tantruming at Walmart, disregarding the times that our own children (or baby-sitting charges) did the same thing.

We conveniently forget what it feels like to be that stressed, confused, embarrassed parent, in favor of judging them so we can feel better about our own skills.

 

Is it really so odd that I might want to spare myself from these types of challenges?

For me, the advantages of having children are about equal with the disadvantages. The one thing that may very well push me over the edge is fear – if I don’t have kids, I think there’s a very real possibility of reaching old age and regretting my decision. To be fair, it’s also possible that I’d reach old age and feel perfectly content with my choices, but the fear of maybe being regretful and sad just might be enough to convince me.

We’ll see what happens.

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12 thoughts on “Maybe I Don’t Want Kids

  1. Jackie

    You might grow up and regret not having them…or you might grow up and regret having them. I’ll take my chances of regretting not having them. Which is very unlikely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hailey

    The way I see it, adoption and/or fostering is always an option if you *do* decide that you want kids in your life. You know? That’s what I’m doing with myself.

    Like

    1. It’s certainly an idea that has crossed my mind. When I worked in foster care previously, I did find it rewarding – but also very challenging. I think the part that always gives me pause is the idea that there’d never be a break – it truly is a 24/7 job.

      But I do give a big thumbs-up to you if you decide to go the fostering route 🙂

      Like

  3. momsranting

    Yea. I haven’t decided if I actually want to keep mine yet or not. Maybe we could do some kind of swap and just kind of feel what it’s like for you to have one or four, and I’ll go shopping and Come back in like 6 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Diagnostic Manual of Annoying Child Behaviors – Just in Queso

  5. Okay, so after you mentioned writing an article about maybe not wanting kids, I just had to seek it out…

    And I think you’ve made fine points here. As a parent, I truly appreciate that you know it’s not easy, that it’s a never ending job that leaves you exhausted much of the time and it’s honestly all we can do not to snap on occasion. It’s such an unbelievably *refreshing* perspective to read when we’re constantly hearing what a terrible job we’re doing and getting lectured about all the “obvious” solutions we’re missing by people who never actually deal with children.

    But you’ve clearly had a lot of experience, so you have a much better idea than your average bystander.

    I’m not even going to pretend that parenthood is always wonderful and looks like it does on TV. All those jokes about getting little sleep barely brush the surface of what actually happens, lol. I will say that I was never the type to go crazy over baby pictures or fantasize about having a family someday, but it really was different when I had my own kids.

    For example, changing your own kids’ diapers is like smelling your own farts. Not exactly pleasant, yet still less horrible than dealing with someone else’s. Maybe that wasn’t the best metaphor or even in good taste, but hell… I have two toddlers at home, so my comfort level with bodily functions could be a little out of whack.

    And while the tough parts are prolonged, compared to watching kids, the wonder is also more intense. You’ve got a deep, lifelong bond that is tough to imagine until you’ve seen someone open their eyes for the first time on the planet .

    But it’s still not for everyone. You’ll see what happens… maybe you’ll change your mind in time, or maybe you won’t and that’s cool too. It’s not something to enter into lightly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to check it out! I appreciate your thoughts, because I definitely wanted people to understand that I certainly don’t judge parents or hate kids. There are days where I leave work exhausted and feel thankful that I can go home and be alone, and not have to worry about getting homework done, fixing meals, etc. But then, at the same time, I’ve occasionally left work exhausted and then had to watch my friend’s kids — and it surprisingly helped my energy. Of course, the fact that I equally enjoy both kids and solitude does NOT help me arrive at a decision either way haha.

      Your example was pretty gross, but it was actually the perfect explanation to give! That makes total sense. Honestly, I think I’ll more than likely have kids. I don’t want to miss out on any major events that life has to offer. I just didn’t want anyone (particularly family 😉) taking it for granted that it was a 100% certainty.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought it was really very good and more than fair. Plus, I can remember being on the fence myself–worrying about many of the same things.

        Only you can figure out what’s right for you, of course, but for what it’s worth… I think one of the reasons I was reluctant to have kids is that I was scared of doing a good job. It’s tough and unpaid and exhausting and people constantly criticize parents for everything, always thinking they’re either too harsh or too lenient and responsible for whomever anyone ends up struggling with depression or becoming a criminal…

        But I also think the kind of person who recognizes how tough the job is and worries about doing it right has a better shot than people who take it lightly, or always assume they’re 100 % right about everything. NO ONE is a perfect parent (it’s a moving target and we’re human) but being able to question yourself helps.

        I don’t like how people (especially women) are pressured into it, either. You’re in your twenties and have time to decide… I think the 30’s fertility decline is exaggerated and it’s better to risk a small chance of fertility problems than have a child when you’re not in a good position to care for it. I’m very glad I waited until my 30’s because I’m in a better marriage, more secure, and in a better emotional place. Plus, I don’t feel resentful, as though I didn’t get enough time to be young & carefree.

        That’s just me, of course. Not saying that no one is ready in their 20’s or that everyone in their 30’s is, but women hear a lot of “you better do it now if you could ever possibly want kids!” scare tactics.

        Just some food for thought, since you’re kind of on the fence.

        Like

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