- Told my parents I was bisexual in a note. They took said note to IHOP and my mother anxiously read the note ALOUD to my father over eggs and pancakes. They were both relieved to find out: "That was it? We thought you were pregnant or sick!" *BEST PARENTS EVER.*
- Told my brother (He actually beat me to the punch as I nervously beat around the bush and this is why we are soul mates) and friends.
- Started dated a woman and followed my New Year's Resolution for 2004 which was: "I will come out to my family before the end of 2004 or if I start dating a woman, whichever comes first." Only New Year's Res I ever kept.
- Told my entire family. Some one-by-one (I received a ravioli dinner and margaritas from one thrilled family member-shout out to Auntie!), some as a group (think post-Easter Sunday dinner...)
- Commence lifelong decisions about what to share and with whom, but always facing the risk of exposure to ignorance, intolerance, anger, rage, confusion, and disgust.
I do not want to have children.
I know. I. KNOW.
Seeing as I am unattached, romantically, this revelation has not become much of a topic of conversation. (Especially since I have failed to concretely espouse this statement until now.) But I imagine I am speed skating on paper-thin ice. I have thrown this statement out willy-nilly at various points in my life, with little commitment or fervor. And even with my lack of sincerity, there has been a bit of a backlash.
Well-meaning family and friends have made assumptive statements, even when their advice was unsolicited. I have heard many versions of the "You'll change your mind" persuasion:
- When you meet the right person
- When you get a little older (this was in my 20's...I think by now, the idea is almost inconceivable...see what I did there? You're welcome.)
- When everyone around you starts having babies
- When you get settled in your career
- "But you love kids!"
- "You would make a great mom!"
- "There's nothing like having children." And my personal favorite...
- "Being a mother is the most important/magnificent/wonderful thing a woman can do."
Quite the contrary. Being a babysitter, camp counselor, daycare teacher, and nanny has illuminated me to the extreme responsibility and dedication it takes to be a parent. Let me be clear, my reasons for remaining child-free are personal, carefully considered, and (for the most part) set in stone. I say that last piece, because it IS possible I could change my mind. But, to put it in clear terms, I am 98% sure I will not have children.
I'm no statistician, but my reason for landing on that number seems simple: there is a 1% chance birth control could fail and and a 1% chance I will change my mind. To go "big picture" on you, when the weather reports calls for 98% chance of rain-you're bringing your umbrella, expecting rain, and shocked if it doesn't. That's how one should go forward with me and procreation.
As also mentioned, my reasons are personal (read: private) and, in my opinion, irrelevant to this conversation. While it's understandable a typical segue from such a proclamation would be "Why not?", the connotation reads that my reasons are up for discussion or debate. And they are not.
For example, the thought of asking why my brother and sister-in-law are having a baby seems bonkers to me. That's a personal decision, made within the confines of their marriage, dealing with private topics such as fertility, finances, career, etc. So, when they revealed they were expecting, I wasn't struck with dozens of questions, trying to "understand" why they would make that decision. I was overjoyed for them and was consumed with emotion and tears when I found out. I am going to be one hell of an auntie and couldn't be happier.
So, why then, should my decision NOT to have children permit people to make assumptions, share opinions, and throw judgments? It shouldn't and that's the point. Sure, I have felt that desire to get married and have children. Hell, I was in a state of near panic for months leading up to my little brother's wedding, questioning why my life had strayed so far from what I pictured at age 29. Then I realized the expectations I carried with me were so heavy, I wasn't even sure I wanted them anymore.
So, I tabled my expectations and got very zen about the process. I trusted in my mother's mantra that "everything happens for a reason" and decided not to worry about it, until it was time to worry about it. And I haven't worried about it since. It's a non-issue for me, a no-brainer. Maybe when I decided to stop freaking out about societal expectations, I hit the snooze button on my biological clock for infinity. Maybe at age 38, I'll marry someone with children and become a stepmom. Maybe at age 43, it will go off again and I will adopt "hard to place" children. Maybe at age 48, I'll still be content with a decision I made 15 years earlier and be living my life the best way I know how: with love, compassion, and authenticity. And isn't that what it's all about, anyway?