If you asked me how many kids I wanted when I was ten, I would have told you five. If you asked me when I was 18, I would have said five and that I wanted the first one when I was 25. If you asked me when I was 25, I would have said at least three and that I didn’t want the first one until I was 31 or 32 (in fact I went as far as to make it a life goal to not have kids or be pregnant on my 30th birthday). I get the question now with a bit more frequency than before I was married or 30 and my answer is still at least three, but I would like to wait 3-5 more years before starting. It surprises a lot of my family and close friends to hear me say that I would like to put off having children as long as possible. And honestly, it surprises me sometimes too. My life’s dream has always been to be a stay at home mom. And it still is. The only difference is that I feel no rush myself to have kids.
I recently read an article about a woman who got her tubes tied at 28 (I Got my Tubes Tied at 28 Because I Don’t Want Kids by Chelsea Hottovy) and a lot of it resonated with me. Now don’t freak out (especially you Nana!)—I do not want to get my tubes tied. But I agreed with a lot of the points this woman made about not wanting to have children. Because reading her decision not to have children ever made me feel confident about my decision not to have children right now, I wanted to share my thoughts about having kids. It is comforting to know you aren’t the only one out there who is doing things differently than how society says you should do them.
I was a nanny for three years and I got some real world experience with raising children that most women don’t get before they have their own. And I feel lucky for that. I know what it feels like to hold a baby who has not stopped crying for hours. I have been deliriously exhausted after a 10 hour shift, and that’s after a full night’s sleep (something the mother doesn’t usually have the luxury of). I have found poop on my elbow hours after I changed an explosive diaper. There is a very real possibility that had I not had that experience of being a nanny, I would already be a mom. But because of my experiences, I am happy I am not a mom right now. Partly because I know how hard having children, especially babies is. But mostly because I am incredibly happy being a wife and a partner and I’ve seen the strain having kids puts on a relationship.
I absolutely adore how Rob and I are together in this moment in our lives. We have fun, we laugh, we are carefree and we don’t have to share each other. While I have big plans and ideas on how to keep our life as close to our “normal” as possible after having a kid, the reality is that it will never be like it is right now. Honestly, the thought that maybe I don’t ever want kids has crossed my mind. Because the bottom line is that I don’t want us to change. I don’t want anything to come between us. But then images of Rob as a dad, camping with our kids, or snuggling a baby before bedtime pop into my head and I can feel deep down that I do want kids. I want to watch our babies smile for the first time, watch Rob teach them all about computers and show them the world. And I know deep down that a child wouldn't come between us, but rather bring us closer than I can even imagine.
This internal struggle is something I have been considering for the last couple of years. It’s the pressure I perceive society is putting on me to have kids now that I am married and 30 clashing with the desire I have to see the world and enjoy my life and relationship kid-free. It’s the feeling that I have trouble shaking that maybe I am far too selfish to ever have kids. But in the last few months I have made peace with this struggle. I am not an inherently selfish person nor am I a bad person for wanting to put my relationship first for a few years. We are creating the foundation that our family will stand on for the rest of our lives and I want to be sure that that foundation is a solid one.
And when the day comes that we decide we are as ready as we’ll ever be to have kids, I will be thrilled to take that next step. But until then I am going to savor our relationship and our lives as they are right now.