I do not want children. That’s why I helped to co-found The Childfree Life. I know that I never, ever want children. And, if I get knocked on the head or something like that and I end up DO wanting kids, I know that I would definitely foster or adopt. But I’m sure that will never happen.
So why do I keep getting these little twinges every so often? I was watching old reruns today, and there was a promo for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Laura was pregnant, and Rob jumped out of bed and ripped off his pajamas to reveal that he was fully clothed and ready to rush her to the hospital.
Things like that can set me off. I think, “I’ll never have that moment of telling our parents that we’re going to have a child. I’ll never have that funny moment of my husband frantically running around like a chicken with his head cut off when it’s time to go to the hospital. I’ll never take a ‘family’ picture with a new baby.”
And then a bolt of lightning hits me – what are you thinking?
I’m certainly not wishy-washy. I’m not flighty, I’m not the kind of person who changes her mind on a whim. I’m a very intelligent, independent woman, or, at least, I like to think so. I have a Master’s degree, and just because it’s in communications doesn’t mean that I never had to write 50-page scholarly papers. I have specific goals, and I have a clear idea of what I want to do with my life. Children are not part of that vision.
I know that there are women out there who get these urges because something is missing in their lives, but there is nothing missing in my life. I have a wonderful husband, two lovely dogs, two beautiful sugar gliders, a nice house, a good job … the only thing missing would be a bigger paycheck and a horse, but hey, we can’t have everything. Sure, I get a little blue sometimes, but it’s certainly not because I’m not a mother.
I’m not sure why I sometimes want those moments – the Kodak moments that everyone is supposed to experience, according to the Life Script. Why do I sometimes feel sad that my husband will never bolt out of the house without his pants and jump in the car without me while I calmly wait for him to remember me? Why do I feel a tug in my chest when I realize that I’ll never watch my husband play with his son or daughter?
But in the next instant, I think about labor and childbirth. Endless homework, teachers’ conferences, soccer practices. Sneaking around to have sex, or worse, having the kids spend the night at Grandma’s so we can have sex. Constant screams of “mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy!” Parents who think my child is competition for their child. The inability to go for a 12-mile run and then spend the rest of the day on the couch.
I KNOW that children would completely derail my life. I have tried to picture being a mother, and honestly, I cannot even imagine it. I’m much better at imagining myself running around with a sword killing orcs.
So why do I get these urges? Maybe it’s because society says that all women want children. I’ve never been mainstream. I didn’t go to a single high school athletic event or dance, I never once considered going to prom, my first choice for college was community college for two years before heading to a “real” university, I never lived in a dorm, I didn’t move out of my mom’s house (she got married and moved out and sold the house to me,) I planned my wedding in three months instead of a year. And, in all of these things, I have felt similar twinges, almost a feeling of loss. Do I regret skipping prom? No, but it’s a crucial event in a teenager’s life, according to society, and I sometimes wish I’d gone. But, then again, I know I wouldn’t have had fun because I didn’t like most people in my high school. Do I regret living in an apartment instead of a dorm? No, I had a sugar glider and couldn’t have him with me in a dorm. I know that dorm life is supposed to be a huge part of the college experience, and sometimes I wish I had cool dorm stories to share. However, I’m an only child and I know I wouldn’t have done well with that whole lack of privacy thing. Do I feel that I rushed my wedding planning and didn’t have a chance to enjoy it? Sometimes, because it was all a blur. But when I talk to other women, their planning was a nightmare and their wedding was all a blur, so I guess it doesn’t really make a difference.
Are my urges for those Kodak moments just a desire to belong? To do the things that society says I should do, even though I know they wouldn’t make me happy? To have the same experiences as everyone else? Have I been programmed by society to crave the things that are set forth in the Life Script?
It seems very possible. As I ponder all this, I am realizing that the things that I feel that maybe I’ve missed are things that are part of the myth of life. The perfect prom. The crazy dorm adventures. The fairy tale wedding. These are all illusions, and so is the frantic husband who drives to the hospital without his wife. If the stories I’ve heard from countless individuals are how most people experience life, then none of those experiences are as magical as society wants us to believe. I’m not missing much.
Or, maybe my body thinks it wants children. God knows I have the hips for it. It must be hormones that are torturing me, but I’m only twenty-eight – I’m not ready for my biological clock to start ticking! It actually makes me angry that I even get these little urges because they make me doubt myself for a split second, and that makes me feel like I’m losing control over my decisions.
I know a lot of other childfree women sometimes get these urges. It must be Mother Nature just trying to annoy us. After all, we may be human, but we’re still animals. Reproduction is a very basic instinct. However, I’d like to think that we’ve evolved past that primitive urge. We’re complex beings with the capacity to control our reproductive futures via birth control and, frankly, pure choice. Why can’t Mother Nature recognize that and concede?
Therefore, I must conclude that these twinges I’m getting are a combination of nature (biology) and nurture (society.) That sucks. That’s a lot of pressure to resist. No wonder I sometimes crave those Kodak moments.
Right now, the only urge I’m having is to attack the article database so I can write my literature review about the life encounters society dictates we must experience. And then to find citations to support the theory that primal instincts still demand reproduction. Since I will continue to live apart from the mainstream, and since my biological clock seems to be revving up, I’ll prepare myself that these horrible urges may occur more frequently. However, I’ll rest assured that even if my body bingos me, my mind still knows what it wants. I’ll start worrying when I start fantasizing about changing diapers instead of killing orcs.