A while back I wrote about some of the reasons why I’ve chosen not to have children. (See: “When Are You Going to Have Kids?” and “When Are You Going to have Kids?” – Part II.) In addition to the trip down memory lane I took when I went back to Denver recently that reminded me of all the times I’ve fallen in love with Wayne again and again, I also got a chance to really examine my roots. The who I am and who I’ve become because of where I’ve been. I realized in addition to influencing many other things, it’s also impacted why I don’t want kids.
A Kid-less Childhood
I came as a bit of a surprise to my parents. My mom was 38, my dad 39 when I came along. My sister was almost 14. My mom was five months along before she realized she was pregnant with me.
She was the youngest in her family, my dad’s sister had had her third and last child by then too. I came up the youngest out of our whole family. My cousin Mike, my aunt’s youngest, was closest to me in age –only five years older. But everyone else was easily almost 10 years or more my senior.
Since my aunt and her family lived in Indiana and we were in Colorado, we didn’t see each other except for maybe a couple of weeks during the summer. There wasn’t much family kid connection to enjoy, and certainly no examples to follow for interacting with those younger than me.
Kids are a Burden
In addition to not being around other kids, and certainly no babies, I also grew up around the notion that kids were a burden. I was reminded time and again that I was. I was also reminded how much I’d adversely impacted my sister’s life by coming along when I did.
My family showed me love and took good care of me, don’t get me wrong. But there was always that undertone of how I’d financially and psychologically disrupted a lot of things. And that that’s what usually happens when kids come along.
The Birth of the No-Kid Attitude
If times had been different when our mom was coming up, she probably wouldn’t have been a mom either. But she came up when women were expected to marry and have babies. So that’s what she did.
Her attitude carried over to both me and my sister. She emphasized time and again the importance of getting an education, not a husband. And certainly to not have kids because they wrecked everything. (Yes, “wrecked” not “changed,” which would have been a gentler outlook and which would have influenced her offspring perhaps differently.)
Neither my sister nor my mom can stand being in the vicinity of kids. Kids irritate them. They don’t like the noises or smells they make, and certainly have no desire to entertain or rear them.
Where That Leaves Me
I rather like children, though I didn’t even start becoming aware of this until about eight years ago. I thought I shared my mom and sister’s views, but really I was just repeating their rhetoric.
And while a part of me will maybe one day mourn not having kids as I grow older, I also now know that part of my decision not to have kids stems from other things besides being terrified of the physical aspect of giving birth.
My kids wouldn’t have the doting grandma I had, or a cool hip aunt whose house they could spend grand summers at. It’s lonely enough in this world as it is, but to come in to a family who doesn’t fully appreciate the miracle of your birth is excruciating. I would not wish that on anyone, and certainly not for my children.