Welcome to Life Chats. Previously Small Business Sunday, but I wanted to expand a bit beyond just talking about my business and work.
And we are starting off with a big one. (This is a total rant. You’ve been warned.)
If you’ve been hanging around my blog for a while now, you probably know that I work with kids a lot. I’m technically specialized in early childhood. I spent at least some of every day I work with kids 5 and under. And it’s awesome, and I have so much fun at work and wouldn’t trade it for anything because there is nothing more amazing than seeing a kid figure something out something for the first time or learn something new.
But I do not want kids of my own. I never have.
I remember talking about having kids when I was younger. I think I used to say I wanted four? It was one of those ‘if I have to have one, I might as well have a small army’ sorts of things.
But I never actually pictured myself with kids, nor was I particularly keen on anything motherly. I didn’t have many dolls as a kid, preferring stuffed dogs instead, and when we played house, I always wanted to be the cool aunt or the fun older sister who got to go to work and go home after hanging out with the babies or went travelling or whatever. I pictured myself in a million and one different jobs and hobbies, but never with a baby in my arms.
It was just one of those things I assumed I had to do. You grew up, went to university, got a job, got married, had kids, and so on. That was just how it worked.
As I got older, I realized this wasn’t the case. I didn’t have to do it, just because I was raised in a faith system that said you were supposed to, or because my mom wanted grandkids (I’m forever a disappointment, not just because of this. It’s a running joke now), or whatever reason other people had. I was more than allowed to do what I wanted about kids, including not having them. It was a fantastic realization.
I’m generally pretty open about this. I don’t announce it to the world at every opportunity by any means, but if people ask, I will tell them.
And I am forever astonished at the opinions people having about my reproductive choices. It’s one thing when it’s my friends and family, but I get this shit from complete strangers. And I hear some variation of the same sentence. Every. Damn. Time.
“You’ll change your mind someday.”
This annoys the hell out of me for two reasons:
1. It’s none of their damn business. These people are often complete strangers. Literally no reason to be at all invested in what I want to do with my life.
2. I resent the fact that these people seem to think I am unable to make decisions for myself, that I don’t know my own mind and preferences, and that anyone knows what’s best for me better than I do myself.
It’s entirely possible that I will change my mind someday. I doubt it, because there are things I want far more than children and I’ve never been keen on the idea of them anyway. But that’s entirely up to me. And a little up to whomever I would hypothetically be making these babies with, because obviously if I were to change my mind, I kind of need their agreement to actually procreate.
It baffles me how people wouldn’t question things like my career choice or what tv shows I watch or what I choose to do in my free time, but feel enabled to comment on this. I know that reproduction is vital to the species surviving, and that there is an automatic bias from that. But the fact that it’s socially acceptable to effectively try to gaslight people (or that’s what I call it. Fits the definition of convincing people what they think is crazy or wrong) because they don’t want children is ridiculous.
The thing that seems to confuse people the most is the fact that I work with kids and love what I do. Apparently liking kids and wanting kids are mutually exclusive for most people. I love hanging out with kids and working with them, but I also love giving them back to their parents or teachers. Besides, kids just don’t fit into my life plan. There’s lots of things I want and want to do, and having kids will make all of it a million times harder to achieve.
Plus, isn’t it rather unfair to any children who are brought into the world out of a sense of obligation rather than them actually being wanted?
So yeah, maybe I’ll change my mind. But it’s no one’s business but my own.
I haven’t come up with a good response for that comment yet. I’m usually good with the others, including:
“What if your partner wants kids?” Then we probably aren’t a good match, and he’ll end up with someone he can have kids with. Thankfully, we’re on the same page with this.
“Don’t you want to give your mother grandchildren?” Nope. That’s not my job. She can go get more kids if she wants them. Or my sister can have them. My mum made her choice to have children, and I’m making my choice not to have kids.
“What if you change partners later in life and they want kids?” As mentioned, this is not something I hide. At this point of my life, where lots of people my age are already having kids, it’s probably something I’d bring up on the first date. And if this hypothetical future partner wants kids, they probably won’t last with me.
“Wait, do you not want kids because you can’t have them?” To my knowledge, I am physically capable of procreating. I can’t say for sure, as I’ve never tried. I just don’t want to.
“Wow. That’s so selfish.” Wait, is it more or less selfish than creating an entirely new child (which, by the way, is the single worst thing you can do for the environment, based on the carbon footprint of each individual human being) when there are already over 47,000 children in Canada’s foster care system who are in need of a good home?
“Don’t you want to leave something behind?” I don’t need children to do that.
And so on so forth. I assume I’ll hit a point where the ‘you’ll change your mind’ comment will change to a ‘you must regret it’ question, and the fact I don’t have a good response for the former will be irrelevant.
But I get the feeling this is something I’m going to be interrogated about for the rest of my life. It’s why I keep talking about it, to be honest. Maybe if I keep going, it’ll be easier for the next woman who comes along and comes up against the same thing.
In the meantime, I’ll keep borrowing everyone else’s kids at work/family gatherings/other events, having the time of my life, and then enjoying the peace and quiet when I get home.
If you want to hear a great talk on this topic, and some of the difficulties of taking the next step and seeking sterilization (at least, in the USA), you should check this out.