I remember the day my nephew was born. I felt instant love. Unconditional love. The joy my brother and sister-in-law experienced filled me up with profound happiness and contentment. I just loved him so much. And then a few weeks after his birth, when he was barely a month old, I flew to Europe and held him for the first time. My heart was full. Overflowing. And that feeling, this profound joy, I felt again when his little sister, my niece, was born last fall. I remember instantly and intuitively knowing how to calm both of them down when they were crying in my arms—just some gentle singing and rocking side to side and they would stop crying.
I absolutely love being an aunt. My brother’s children mean the world to me. I adore them.
And then there is my own world and my feelings around motherhood. It’s very different. I am in an incredibly fulfilling relationship with a person I’m absolutely obsessed with—emotionally and physically. We met when we were both college kids and fell head over heels for each other. We dealt with a few years of transatlantic long-distance relationship and family conflict around religion, and came out stronger, more united, and more in love. If I wanted to have a child, this would be the person I would have it with. No doubt about this, ever.
The truth is, I don’t think I want a child. It’s not because I don’t have motherly feelings. I have them. But for a few reasons, I don’t want to be a mother.
I often think about social constructs; centuries ago we had children so they could work for us on fields or in factories, so they could provide for us when we were old. Today we spend thousands of dollars on their private schools and pre-k science classes. Times changes, standards change and societal constructs change. Yes, maybe we had to create offspring centuries ago to ensure the survival of the human species but today, humans aren’t threatened to go extinct. While there is nothing wrong with passing along genes, I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think every human has to part take in it. I quite frankly also don’t always feel proud of humankind and don’t deeply believe it’s worth preserving it to extremes. Humans are creating a lot of pain and destruction. Yes, some of us are pretty brilliant but are we worth more than other creatures? Worth preserving at whatever cost? Hmm, I don’t think so. And I say this without cynicism—I love living and I love creating better things that help us all progress.
I also think a lot about my very personal life, my mental health, and my body. All these things change dramatically from one day to the next once you have a baby. Sure, 99% of parents would agree it was the best decision they made but I wonder if that’s not also true for 99% of non-parents.
No matter how supportive your partner is, as a woman, it’s your body that changes. You will carry a baby in your womb. You will potentially deal with morning sickness, hair loss, pregnancy diabetes—all these things can happen and even if you get super lucky and work super hard, a pregnancy fundamentally changes your body. It also changes your relationship. You cannot take care of yourself and your partner in the same way with a child. A child needs you 100% of the time. It needs your full, undivided attention, most likely for the rest of your life on one level or another.
I don’t think I’m ready for all of this. I don’t think I will ever be. I think of how happy I am right now and how much I love my partner. I want to grow with him, travel, continue exploring the world. I don’t think a child can work into that picture and I don’t think it has to. My relationship is complete now and a little more every day as I grow with my husband. I deeply believe that I can contribute to society without creating another human. I think there are many things that I’m actually better at and that would help more.
I support all the mothers and all the non mothers in their choice—it’s deeply personal and should never just be expected. Life can be fulfilling in a million ways and we should never forget that.