“That will change,” I’ve heard throughout the years. A week ago, my mother’s friend uttered those very words when somehow we landed on the topic, and I told her I don’t want children.
“You really don’t want children? You’re going to be lonely!” My little sister, who’s not so little anymore, warned me just days prior.
“No, I won’t be. I’ll have you guys, and in time, my nieces and nephews. I’ll be the cool aunt. Your children will jump for joy upon my arrival: ‘Mommy, mommy, it’s Titi Gera! I wonder what she brought us from South America,’” I said with enthusiasm. “They’ll ask where I’m off to next.” She giggled. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people have kids in an attempt to prevent loneliness.
There have been times when I’ve wished I fit the mold: the woman who dreams of starting a family. That would’ve made things easier growing up and while I was in a long-term relationship. I wouldn’t have had to dodge the topic of motherhood when it arose or explain my desire to experience fulfillment in other ways, ways that are more in tune with my personality. I would’ve averted quite a few arguments with my then-boyfriend, who insisted on having children immediately after graduation, as though I’d worked hard at my studies to settle down straight out of college.
“You’re thinking like that now because you’re young and want to travel. You’ll change your mind when you meet the right guy. Children are a blessing,” my mother’s friend continued, looking at my mother and asking if she’d heard me when I said I don’t want children. This wasn’t something my mother hadn’t heard before.
What I didn’t bother to tell my mother’s friend is that I’ve already been with someone I perceived to be the right guy, and even then, I didn’t want children.
Children are a blessing. Motherhood is a miracle, to say the least. I believe having a child shouldn’t be a decision made on a whim, or even worse, by mistake. Though for some, that’s the case and it turns out to be the most unexpected, frightening and yet amazing experience.
I love children. They can fill a room with happiness, even on the darkest of days. But I’ve never felt the soul-clenching desire to become a mother. I don’t want the physical changes it entails, the career and physical break it requires, or the great deal of responsibility that soon follows. I’m too much of a free spirit.
Babies are adorable, but babies grow up. A child is a blessing, but a child is also the biggest responsibility. Do my thoughts make me selfish? Perhaps. But there is also selfishness in wanting a child to avoid loneliness.
Experiences have shaped me and continue to shape me. I think differently now than I did in the past. Who’s to say I won’t change my mind in a few years? I may. But like I told my mother’s friend, I may not. Maybe I’ll never feel the desire to be a mother; maybe I will. Maybe I’ll want to have my own children; maybe I’ll want to adopt. There’s no telling what the future holds. I’m open to possibilities, even the ones I can’t visualize right now, but I won’t mute my feelings or decisions simply because they’re so rare, so “unwomanly-like,” they make others uncomfortable.
I spent about five years with a man I thought I loved, or maybe did love. I battled with the notion that because I’m a woman I should want to be a mother. I thought that if I spent enough time with other people’s children – and believe me I did – the feeling would come. At times, I hoped for simplicity reasons that it would…but it didn’t. And it hasn’t.
I will not succumb to the expectations of society. If I ever choose to be a mother, it will be because I truly, profoundly and without a doubt want to be a mother. Society can call me selfish and criticize me for being different, but I prefer that a million times over than to have my child look me in the eyes and sense even the slightest hint of resentment.