Or, 5 Reasons Why I Always Second-Guess Myself When I Decide I Do Want Kids
1. I like being responsible for only myself.
I have a niece and nephew whom I love dearly. But one time I spent a few days taking care of them and by the end I was a ball of raw nerves. I lived in constant fear of them swallowing something dangerous or falling down the stairs or poking out their eyes with sharp objects. One night, my nephew was jumping up and down in his crib after I put him to bed and he managed to bust his lip against the rail. When I came in the room and saw him covered with blood, I damn near died. You know, I already have my hands full just taking care of me. Keeping my hair brushed, taking my vitamins, feeding myself decent food, making sure I get enough sleep…it’s a big job. Looking after additional humans would tax my endurance to the utmost.
2. I enjoy peace, quiet, and order.
Children are essentially the opposite of all those things. First of all, anything involving kids also involves my archenemy: CLUTTER. No, seriously, this is a big deal for me. The crazy whirlwind inside my brain is calmed somewhat if my environment is tidy and serene; conversely, my mental state is severely aggravated if the space around me feels crowded and disordered. Thus, my life is just one endless quest to vanquish the clutter monster (sometimes as I’m feverishly clearing floors and surfaces, I imagine myself in a superhero outfit). My hypervigilance allows me to maintain a fairly clean home most of the time, but I know all that would go out the window if I had a child. The house would suddenly fill up with toys, clothes, shoes, blankets, bottles, diapers, diaper bags, high chairs, cribs, playpens, strollers, and car seats. I’d be powerless to stem the flood of extra gear that accompanies child-rearing and too exhausted to keep it organized.
In my head, the Clutter Monster is like a combination of Jabba the Hutt and Satan.
Then there’d be the mess associated with the baby itself—food and poop everywhere. Babies never manage to stay clean for more than an hour at a time. Add constant noise to this scenario (crying infant, shouting toddler, endless-question-asking-kindergartener…) and there goes my sanity.
3. I am fiercely independent.
It’s hard for me to even express how jealously I guard my solitude and personal freedom (the more so because they were often trampled upon during a difficult childhood and adolescence). I will never, ever take for granted the ability to do what I please when I please—it’s one of the primary joys of my adult life. I don’t want to answer to anyone but me. Unfortunately, for a parent that isn’t possible. The kids must always come first, especially when they’re small, since they can’t feed or dress or wash themselves and they need lots of attention and entertainment. Parents are on the hook for all that. All the time. My life would no longer be my own. As I get older and the kid question occupies more of my thoughts, I’ve started keeping a sort of mental list of all the pleasant things I’d have to give up:
- Staying up late
- Sleeping late
- Reading whole books in one day
- Deciding not to cook meals and eating random snacks instead
- Going to movies
- Grocery shopping by myself
- Spending Saturdays at thrift stores and antique malls
- Taking long, hot baths
- Watching entire seasons of TV shows on Netflix in a few days
- Working on time-consuming DIY projects
Plus, I have this fear of losing my own identity—of becoming a sort of mom drone whose own thoughts and feelings get lost among the constant demands of a caring for a child. I struggled for a long time just to be my own person and I treasure my autonomy with a Gollum-like fervor. I don’t know that I could relinquish it very easily.
If and when I do get pregnant, my first reaction will probably look like this.
4. I dread the choice between a career and full-time mommyhood.
If I had a child I’d definitely be torn about returning to work for a number of reasons. Being separated from my sweet little infant after six short weeks would just be hard, and I’d worry about someone else caring for my baby instead of me. But on the other hand, living on one income would be a pain in the ass. Plus, I love being a librarian. I accomplish important things, I connect with like-minded colleagues, I exercise my intellect, I find uses for my talents and abilities. Without that outlet, I’m afraid I’d go nutso (as if I’m not halfway there already). The only other choice would be a halfway arrangement where I tried to balance some work with some time at home, which would no doubt result in my almost having a nervous breakdown every single day. That’s a sucky decision to have to make, and what makes it worse is that any option you pick comes with plenty of built-in guilt. Whoopee.
5. Pregnancy and childbirth are horrifying and gross.
YES I SAID IT. Have you read about the things pregnancy can do to your body lately? Well, don’t. Otherwise you’ll wake up in the night screaming (sorry, husband). And let’s not even talk about the actual birth, during which unspeakable acts of violence occur in delicate regions of the body and one’s natural modesty and reticence are most callously violated. Oh lawd. I’m getting the shakes. Someone hand me my smelling salts.