I always thought I would have kids. In fact, I felt like I was meant to be a mother.
When I got married, I was enjoying my partner and it never felt like the right time to have a baby.
Now, I'm worried about the future of the world and unsure if I want to be a parent.
It's something I talk to my therapist about frequently: the question of whether or not my partner and I should have kids. I know I'm not alone in my concerns; many of my peers face the same questions as we board the baby train later or stay off completely.
I used to think it was part of my purpose in life to be a mom — I love kids and always have. While it wouldn't fly today, I was babysitting at 11 years old. At 18, I worked as a summer camp counselor. I worked as a full-time nanny for several years and still keep in touch with the family I worked for.
I have journal entries and Facebook posts from my early 20s that describe my desire to procreate and the joy I expected to feel when I eventually fell in love and started a family.
As my 37th birthday looms, however, I remain child-free and unsure if I want to be a parent.
My indecisiveness about having kids crept in slowly
When I got married, I was 27 years old and one of the first of my close friends to tie the knot. At that time, I told my partner, Mykel, that I wanted to wait a while to have kids. I think part of that decision hinged on the fact that I come from a family of divorce; my parents divorced when I was 3 years old.
I also wasn't fully set on what I wanted to do with my career. I started college in 2004, but a string of personal circumstances led me to put off graduation until 2012. When Mykel and I got married, I was newly out of college and still working as a nanny.
Plus, we had just gotten married. It seemed only right that we take some time to enjoy each other before we introduced anyone else into our equation. I knew if we had kids at the start of our marriage, we would miss out on married fun like traveling, hosting parties at our house with friends, and having romantic date nights.
As time went on, the reasons not to have kids kept piling up
The years continued, and it never felt like the right time to have kids. We weren't making enough money, I was finally finding my footing at work, and we didn't know where we'd want to put down roots.
Seven years into our marriage, COVID-19 shut down the world, and part of me thought it was the time to have kids. I figured we wouldn't feel like we were missing out on spending time with friends because we were already staying home. I worked from home for the first time and had time to spend with a baby.
But I also thought about how scary the world has become and how isolated I felt during the pandemic. Did I really want to increase that isolation by having an infant? Everything about the future felt uncertain. I decided to hold off again.
It doesn't seem like there will be a future for children who are born today
The climate crisis is a huge factor in my decision-making. We live in Jersey City, New Jersey, and we were subjected to orange skies and air-quality alerts a couple of months ago when smoke from raging wildfires in Canada made its way south.
I can't help but fear for the future of a child who comes of age in an America where hate crimes against people of color and queer people are escalating, where Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and where the information I've read about AI seems to indicate it will be very dangerous for all of us. It feels irresponsible to bring new life into this mess.
Yet I can't stop thinking about babies. Is this purely biology? Societal pressure? Maybe it's just my childhood dreams of having a family giving a last death rattle in my brain. I'm not sure.
When I see tiny feet, I want to put them in my mouth. I want to blow raspberries on soft, tiny bellies. I have so much love to give, and sometimes it feels like I need another outlet for that love.
I try to tell myself that I have time to decide, but the truth is I'm not sure how much time is left, and I'm not sure if this decision is one I can make based on what I want instead of what a child needs. Maybe the kindest thing I can do for my future child is not have one.
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