Turning 30 is an achievement, and I can only say I feel blessed to have made it this far. My closest friends would agree none of us saw this year coming so soon, though. Haha. I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I believe there is a better group between parents and non-parents. Ideally, any choice a person makes should be made in order to lead him to his path to self fulfillment and that’s all I’m trying to convey.
It’s only recently that I have felt the need to reflect on this subject seriously. And I have been reading and researching a lot and I am finding out, despite my hate for labels, that I am basically “on the fence” at this point in my life. Meaning, I am still undecided on whether or not I should have kids in life. I am looking at this from a very realistic perspective and hope to find some clarity soon. It is a very private matter to me but since some people have the nerve to ask (and even put their noses in) something as private as this, then I am putting this out there.
As mentioned, I am turning 30 this year, and I guess no matter what I have accomplished in life, society will always think and decide for me that I lack the elements of being happy, and assumes I’m not – because without marriage and/or kids, a woman is never a complete woman. Is that complete BS or what? Womanhood can exist even without motherhood. And I am happy. Just maybe not happy according to other people’s standards. For those individuals who chose the childfree lifestyle, it’s not that they planned it early on. Like myself, they also thought they wanted kids, or would have kids later on because that’s the norm and supposedly the only path to self fulfillment. We are wired not just to have kids, but to want kids. But parenthood has never been something they desperately wanted, and these married couples don’t feel like they are missing out on anything, because it wasn’t an ambition in the first place and that makes a lot of sense to me. Parenthood is seen as a calling, and in many ways it is. I’m realizing it just isn’t for everyone.
As a little girl, I did assume I would be married and even have children by now, and I did not “not want” kids. In fact, I was a great baby sitter, and I feel so honored to be a ninang to the most adorable little boy on earth and would hope to be a part of his life for life. Thus, the assumption came as naturally as some people consciously wanting children. I assumed that fairy tale ending for myself because it is the only way a woman ought to live, it is said to be a woman’s only destiny. But the pronatalist’s Destiny Assumption is such crap that I am officially rejecting it. It is far from being a fairy tale and for that to be a woman’s only destiny, only purpose in life, only path to self fulfillment is just sad.
So, in all honesty I will speak about my inner thoughts on the subject now. Thoughts and arguments that only happen in my head because I have been afraid to be judged, and because I would disappoint my parents (and other parents for that matter) for sure. The truth is, I do get a slight twinge in my heart (and uterus) when I see a newborn, an adorable or well behaved baby or even when I see baby clothes. This struggle is as internal as it gets, but it bothers me I think only because as they say, the biological clock is ticking. I like the fantasy of having a child,but the reality is that they require every ounce of your attention and energy for decades, and I feel like this fleeting desire will make me regret a decision as big as this. These are just my own concerns, and in no way am I insinuating anything negative about parents because God knows how selfless they become when the children come. These are just my silly concerns and reasons why parenthood is probably a bad idea for me. Because personally, I would worry too much for my would-be child’s safety – having been responsible for bringing him/her into this already chaotic world full of pain and suffering. As a parent, I imagine I would take the pain for them if I could, but the reality is I can’t, I reckon it will be painful as hell to see that and I’m just not sure I can handle that. And I might have the silly expectation or hope that I will not be lonely in my old age (if I make it that far) because I have a child or two somewhere (if they make it that far), and not work hard on my social connections and in enriching my life and hopefully maintain true friendships along the way. I am more than willing to care for my own parents when they’re old, I acknowledge their sacrifices for me and am ever grateful but I would not want to put that kind of burden on my own children. Because when asked, and I unconsciously express the slight desire not to have children, people are quick to ask who will take care of me when I’m old, but I would rather be lonely knowing I don’t have any, than be lonely knowing they are somewhere out there but are too busy with their own lives. At times, when I have bad days and get annoyed at kids throwing tantrums in public, my mom is quick to say I will be more tolerant when I have my own. People in the majority always feel they have the power over those who choose not to go with the herd, and this is the Normality Assumption that assumes something is wrong with you if you choose B when everyone else is choosing A. Something is very wrong with that, too.
As with any other life-altering decisions, it is natural to feel confused and I am realizing that I am exactly in that state because of parental and societal pressure. But it is really as simple as making a choice,and letting that choice shape your life. Because there is definitely a great difference between wanting to fill some void this moment, and wanting and having to be responsible for another human being every waking moment for decades. I am almost certain I will not be capable of doing that without being exhausted and then resentful, and no child deserves that. The hard work and sacrifice it requires would make me a bad mother and life partner. So it might not for me and if that’s selfish then fine. I also am curious about that greatest love that mothers speak of, I also want to feel that satisfaction, and see how rewarding it is later on in life. But if I only want to do it now and for those reasons, putting my desires on top of the child’s best interest, that would not be right, either. Besides, there are a lot of babies out there who are truly in need of families and homes which are overlooked for obvious reasons that I personally don’t accept.
Never say never, they say. And I agree, I’m not saying never. Because people, especially those who are already parents will always try to change our minds, and I don’t blame them because it brought them such joy and fulfillment that they assume it must be same for everyone. But there are many other ways to have a rich, fulfilling life. I mean, child free people are not going to tell people not to have kids just because parenthood is not something that is that appealing to them, or just because it is not their calling. Similarly, I feel it is just as insensitive for pronatalists to tell people who do not share the same belief that they are missing out on so much, or that they will change their minds. I don’t believe it is the ONLY path to self fulfillment, although nothing is wrong with that belief either. but it’s just not mine.
At this crossroads now, I am slowly warming up to the idea that I just might not have the honor and opportunity of becoming a parent in this lifetime, in which case I will devote my time and energy to my other half, friends, my dogs or society, even. Or I just might become a parent and finally belong. Who knows? A parent will always share about the joys and pride of being one, and a childfree person will do the same for not being one. Both choices could lead to equally fulfilling lives, if one is determined to, and to conclude for all humanity that childfreedom must be sad and lonely is outright ignorant and disrespectful. The path to self fulfillment is never the same for each person, even though it appears we are doing the same thing on the outside. It all boils down to respecting other people’s choices, in general.
The bottom line is, I think realizing what determines our sense of purpose is important and if not going with the norms gives you that then it’s okay. There is a saying that “Until reproduction and non-reproduction are seen as legitimate choices, then no choice is freely made”, that to me is beautiful. Other people actually care about the bigger issues, like overpopulation and environmental factors. I, on the other hand, just overthink and feel that I am not fit to be a parent because I don’t want to be one (yet?), and I am sort of still in that phase where I think growing up has something to do with having those parental responsibilities, but I also know deep down just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean we should. I wish not to be judged because all this confusion is not because I don’t understand, it is precisely because I understand the demands and know just how hard parenting really is that is causing this havoc in my head. Today’s women should not take the matter lightly, even men who don’t have the desire to be fathers should have a take on it, too, because apparently there are many men who are choosing to be childfree, as well. It is a very serious commitment, far more serious than just the desire of fulfilling the curiosity of how mini-you will look like and turn out to be, or to leave a legacy (what legacy?). Until I am ready to be the mother my mother was (or was not) to me, I am definitely not giving in to the ever fleeting desire and be placed in an irreversible situation.
At least, that’s what I tell myself for now.