Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why I'm Not Having Kids Yet

So far in our two years of marriage, only one person has asked when we're going to have kids. Plenty more, however, assume it will be "soon." I'm not sure which bugs me most.

Everyone knows it's an impertinent question, but we ask anyways. Curiosity, perhaps? I wish people wouldn't. Unless you're asking a best friend, you don't have the right.

Why not? Because the decision to have kids isn't like deciding what restaurant to eat at. It's lifelong, permanent, serious business. It isn't something you do just because you feel like it, or because you like kids and think it'd be fun. Or because you're bored. Or because nature tells you to.

You have kids because something about your family is incomplete. Love duplicates itself and overflows into acts of creativity. You want to better the world and leave a lasting mark.

Having kids is connected with questions of what life is about and what my place in it is. It's connected to my sense of worth and purpose and my plan for the future. Deep stuff. My answer will give you a piece of my life's philosophy.

It's also an intimate question. Kids are a lifelong relationship you're going to pour into. You're going to love them more than anyone else. I already love and pray for the children we plan to adopt years from now. You're asking for a very intimate piece of me. Don't ask, "When?" as if I would enter motherhood as lightly as buying a dress.

You're going to interpret my answer through your worldview. But what works for you in your life might not work for me in mine. If I tell you I don't want kids for awhile, what will you think my reasons are? I'm young? I'm scared? Maybe I don't want to or I'm not ready. Maybe I'm selfish, or I'm wise. You could think anything.

The real reasons could be far more various. There could be health reasons. As someone with hypoglycemia and digestive issues, pregnancy will almost certainly mess me up. I also struggle with depression; what if I wrestle with it during pregnancy? What if I pass depression-tendency genes on? What if I'm depressed while raising children? Before I have kids, I need to find answers to these questions.

There might be career reasons. I'm doing what I've always wanted: writing. I churn out thousands of words a week. I'm getting better daily. I'm reading and researching and learning and editing. I love it. If you don't love your career the same way, you may not understand.

My love of career doesn't mean there's no room in my heart for a child. But I'm not going to start a family until I'm ready to give them the love they need and the attention they deserve. Kids involve sacrifice. If I begrudge those sacrifices, my kids will suffer.

There might also be past experiences. I was a nanny. It was horrible. The toddler wanted my constant attention--not my help or companionship, just my eyes watching her. I came to hate that child. I was exhausted, bored, and extremely depressed. I know how big of a life transition having kids is, and I want to prepare myself as well as a person can.

I don't generally like kids under the age of five. Kids who can talk and think for themselves are interesting. Teenagers are really cool. That doesn't mean I've given up on babies. But I'm going to be darn ready before I have any of my own.

I refuse to bring a kid into the world only to love them halfheartedly. Too many kids are neglected in this world already.

When you ask, "When will you have kids?" offhandedly, it makes having kids seem like something to do on a whim. It isn't. My future children deserve more deliberation than that.

Word count: 646.