I think we’ve had a bit of a miscommunication, and I think part of it is my fault.
If you’re just joining the depressed party, I am not planning on having/adopting/fostering children in this lifetime. It’s a decision I made back in high school, and I was lucky enough to meet a man who was not hellbent on procreating and passing on the family name, so together we’ve agreed that cats (and maybe a dog) are the extent to which we will grow our family. Of course, Husband always reminds me to “never say never” because perhaps we will change our minds, and I suppose that’s true, although in the past eighteen years, I’ve remained pretty firm in my choice.
This isn’t a common choice for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make, and I daresay it can be pretty controversial in central Utah, where more than 10% of the entire population of Provo is under the age of ten (I’m not even kidding; it’s truly baffling how many babies there are). But it’s our choice, and we’ve made peace with it, and the reasons (which vary from medical — you know, I’m, like, depressed most of the time — to financial). And, for the most part, despite the occasional controversy, several people have come to terms with it, and they’re pretty respectful and accepting, which is pretty rad.
But then we run into the matter of “statements I make for humor’s sake,” and I think that’s kind of the rub.
When I say things like, “I’m kind of a kid hater,” I mean it generally in jest, much like when I say “I learned one thing in college, and that’s how much I hate people.” For the record, I hate only one person on this earth, and while I prefer to be pretty independent (despite my extroverted personality type that’s so social I can’t even do regular chores when I’m home alone), I’m not, like, a monster. I kind of like people a lot, you guys. And I think we can all be in agreement that strangers’ children who scream and hit and run around a restaurant while you’re on a date are not that awesome. Do any of us like these children? Probably not.
So let’s set the record straight. There is something beautifully sacred about motherhood, and it is the noblest, most admirable, selfless decision a good mother can make (keynote: good because the women who neglect and abuse their children are not, and may never be, noble, admirable, or selfless). My decision to not have children does not supersede that in any way — I don’t find it any less beautiful, nor do I think poorly of myself when I realize it’s not for me. I simply do not want to be a mother. That’s an okay thing.
So, yeah, bring your babies to lunch because you don’t want to pay for a babysitter. Ask me to hold them (I won’t bite, and although babies generally hate being held by me — it’s like they can smell fear like dogs or something — I don’t particularly mind it). I’ll even change a diaper because chances are I like you that much. Pull out your iPhone and show me fifteen videos of your child making indistinguishable sounds and then translate that for me into full-blown conversation. And then accept me when I’m awkward and don’t know what to say or do and get distracted and miss your child’s babble. Understand that I will never experience the indelible bond between child and parent, that I will never love someone else that much or in that way for the rest of my life. Don’t pity me. Keep having them because someone’s got to make up for what I’m not doing. Talk to me about natural birth and cloth diapers and strollers and baby slings because — surprise! — I’ve thought about all those things myself (it’s true — I know what I’d name my children [Michael Vincent and Ruby Kay, though that’s obviously pretty moot], how and where I’d give birth, what I’d feed them, how I’d clothe and transport them, where I’d send them to preschool, and what I’d hope for them if they were to become teenagers).
Because when I say I don’t want children, that’s not a statement saying I don’t want them to exist.