I am currently straddling the fence.
On one side, lies the wide flowing river of “norm” and “expectation” and “fitting in.” The other side is a difficult, white water river rapid with challenging boulders to float above and navigate around. The description of this latter side doesn’t quite do it justice however–for the difficulty or challenge comes from external forces–forces that do not matter if the internal strength is true and fulfilled.
Okay yes this is very esoteric writing…what do these sides represent? Well, to put it simply: To have or to not have kids.
I assume now, upon re-reading the above “sides of the fence” you can easily guess which side represents what. But for clarification purposes, I shall define– The wide flowing river represents To Have Kids, whereas the other river represents to Not Have Kids.
I think many people have preconceived notions of one or the other decision. And furthermore, many people feel very passionately about one or the other and have ideas as to what either decision says about that person.
But at the end of the day, as with assumptions about which religion is really the true one (whose God is the best etc.) and which career path one should really take to be successful, and which diet one should really follow to be healthy, or how one should really spend their paycheck, and in which order one should reach their life milestones (school, career, date, married, house, kids…)– At the end of the day, it all comes down to that person. Afterall, they are the ones who are actually going to live their life right?
Now to my own perspective. Growing up, having kids was a fuzzie notion that yeah sure would probably happen sometime in the future. I get along fantastically with kids–as I tend to share their same goofy child-like perspective of the world. However, growing up, I never felt the, how do I describe, burning desire to coddle, hold, take-care of babies. I did not play with dolls and baby dolls pretending they were my own as I would imagine maybe most girls do/did? And so (now I am self-analyzing) also not having to babysit growing up, nor be surrounded by cousins younger than me etc—I suppose I was never exposed as much to kiddies.
So now, after having passed the classic life milestones (wide flowing river) of building a great career, finding my fuzziebear soul mate, getting married, buying a home—I am now faced with the next “Great Expectation”: having kids.
I realize, that in this day and age, and culture too—I have the freedom, and perhaps some people may think, the luxury to actually think about the decision, this awesome, huge, incredible decision of “yes lets do this!” or “maybe its not for us”–bringing another person, life, brain, individual into this world.
And I went through a period of time where i was more on the white water river side, of not having kids, as a rebellion to the overwhelming societal expectation of “of course you’ll have kids.” I rebelled against those who would presume, protelyze that you HAVE to have kids otherwise: a) you are selfish b) you will not be happy nor have a fulfilling life c) you are committing a sin by not doing God’s purpose–and the list of assumptions, stereotypes goes on and on and on. In order for me to feel at peace during this period of time, I felt the need to analyze and respond to each of these accusations so easily hurled by random people–people who don’t know you yet feel the strange arrogant need to tell you how to live your life.
SO firstly–the selfish thing. Ahh this was a great epiphany for me. SO selfish is defined as doing something for your SELF, cuz YOU want to do it, and it makes YOU happy and it is all about you you you you you hence, SELF–ish. Well, if deciding , respecting the huge decision of having kids and thinking about it and then deciding well its not for me—IS in fact being selfish then…well so be it! I have the right to make a choice about my life.
But wait…oh judgmental person, sooo….you HAVING kids…did you not choose to do so? Were you having kids because you were doing it for….your parents? For society (definitely not doing the earthy favors, with the whole increasing carbon footprint stuff)? Thus are you really saying that having kids was something you DID NOT want, but you did it out of obligation, a martyr for the sake of human kind and thus, you are unhappy, and just slaving away under societal / cultural obligations? Noo I think not. I think you wanted to have the child. I think you are happy being a parent. And oh no! Choosing something to make you happy–based on the definition upon which you yourself judged me, YOU TOO are selfish! (Bet they don’t see that coming)
So then what? Well how about we just learn to respect other ways of life? Of respecting that hey, what makes one person happy, may not make another person happy and therefore you don’t need to waste everyone’s time judging and telling them how to live their life. Its almost like by telling someone else you HAVE to do this–otherwise you won’t be happy—it sounds desperate—as if they are trying to justify their own life by preaching others to following in their footsteps.
To me, this whole judging assuming stuff reminds me of –well Terrorists. Yes, terrorists. See, they kill people because they believe that their religion is the one true and right thing. Rather than respecting the beauty of diversity and other ways of life and thinking, they believe very narrow-mindedly that only their way is the right way. So people who judge harshly on those who decide not to have kids as “oh they’re selfish or you’ll never find true fulfillment” are the same as Terrorists. HAhah –yes an extreme silly example but–if you ponder it, it is true–it all roots from non-tolerance, ignorant narrow-mindedness, and a lack of respect/appreciation for diversity and other ways of thought and i think, a small root of it comes from human pettyness.
I think people who bluntly say “Oh you’ll change your mind” or are incredulous to your hesitation of whether or not to have kids—are just unaware. They cannot imagine a life any other way, and I get that. I am all for the fact that hey, kids to YOU are the most amazing fulfilling thing in your life—and I am happy for you, thrilled! But please respect that your life decision was for YOUR life, and not necessarily applicable to every other person- so there is no need to negatively judge.
And also, please do not get offended, or take it personally as an insult to YOUR life decision to have kids, if I express that I am not sure. Cuz you know what? It has nothing to do with YOU —(insert selfish?) it has everything to do with me and the life I am going to have to live.
So after going through this period of time, I have mellowed out a bit, and am open-minded absolutely to the possibility of wanting kids in the future. Indeed it would be a great adventure for my husband and I (we’re luckily on the same page) and that would be how we would dive into the decision—A next great life adventure! But never ever out of obligation or as a result of cowing down to the external societal pressures.
We both are at peace with our lives and are truly fulfilled and happy and grateful for all aspects of our lives. Ironically it is because of this warm fuzzie gratefulness/fulfillment that we feel every day, that is what makes us hesitant to make a huge change like having kids.
Well, only time will tell 🙂 but one thing is certain—To continue to just appreciate each day and the important simple things in life —and if it happens, it happens…if not , then no worries.