Earlier this month I wrote about how I sometimes consider the parallel universe in which Terry and I had children. A couple of weeks later Terry came across this article featuring the number of ‘unwanted’ pregnancies in the US.
According to this, half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended.
Since deciding I didn’t want children I have felt like a bit of an edge-case; a deviation from the norm. But if this statistic is true then maybe I’m not out on such a limb after all. Perhaps the only difference is that I have spent many hours full researching all available birth control options to absolutely minimise the chance of conceiving by accident.
Luckily I have never felt any real pressure to have children, like some women do. I certainly don’t have parents demanding to know when they are going to get Grandkids. I don’t live in an under-populated community. Quite the contrary in fact. As Terry pointed out at the end of NaBloPoMo last year “You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.” The most ‘pressure’ I have ever really experienced comes from the idle comments of nosy individuals who think it is acceptable to comment on my child-free status.
Sometimes it’s good natured, sometimes it might be less so. Perhaps some people might feel they know a couple so well that they can tease them about when they’re going to start popping sprogs. But as a friend of mine once pointed out you don’t always know what’s going on in someone’s life. A well-meant “So when are we going to hear the patter of tiny feet?” can make someone who is either struggling with their own ambivalence towards parenthood, or maybe having fertility problems, feel terrible.
However the comment that really makes me seethe is when I’ve told someone of Terry’s and my intention to remain child-free and they have responded “Oh, you’ll change your mind!”
Really? Will I? And what would that say about my motivations? I’ve got an extremely long list of very well-thought out reasons why I am never going to have children. If I woke up one day in a fog of hormones and felt that broodiness outweighed logic, wouldn’t that be a terrible reason for starting a family?
I started thinking that I didn’t want children when I was about 11 or 12. I was watching Gone With The Wind (which I grant you contains very little in the way of sage relationship advice) and Melly reassures Rhett that ‘every woman wants a baby’ when he feels Scarlett is starting to pull away from him. Aside from all the general connotations about the role of a woman, I felt a pang of indignation. At that point I hadn’t made up my mind that I didn’t ever want kids, but I strongly objected to the notion that just because I was a woman it was a given that I would want one. By the time I was 18 and going to university I was certain I would never choose to become a mother.
Far from changing my mind, I add to my reasons for not wanting kids all the time. My list includes physical, economic, moral and aesthetic considerations, all of which have led to the absolute conviction that I never, ever, want to have a baby.
I am extremely fortunate that Terry doesn’t want kids either, because, as strong as our relationship is, I don’t think we could survive as a couple if we weren’t on the same page on this issue. I am grateful for a healthcare system which provides free, safe and reliable methods of contraception. I feel lucky that I live in a country where, in the extremely unlikely case that I did fall pregnant, I could get an abortion legally and safely. And I am thankful for an education which has allowed me to inform myself properly, and draw my own conclusions as to what is right for me. If any of these things were different I might be one of the reluctant mothers in that article. I can’t imagine anything worse than having children if I didn’t want them.