My entire adult life I have been asked if I have children. I'm a woman, after all, I should have them. I should want them. Guess what? I don't. I don't have children nor have I ever wanted children. It's not that I don't like kids, I do. I love them. I was a classroom teacher for 5 years (4 years with 5th grade and 1 year with 4th grade) and a museum educator for 5 years. I think kids are so smart and just not given the credit they deserve. They really are more observant and more clever than you think. But even knowing all of this, I don't want any of my own.
I've known that I don't want kids ever since I was a kid. When people ask me if I have kids I always joke that my mom did the mother's curse, you know the one. "I hope you have a kid just like you." And I knew I was such a brat there was no way I was having one. *cue laughter* Okay, that part is true. I was a huge brat and I'm often amazed that I made it into adulthood without my mother killing me dead. But that has nothing to do with why I don't have a kid. I don't have the desire to have one. I never felt my biological clock ticking or whatever. I never felt the urge to nurture a child in my body.
Perhaps it has to do with my childhood. My father, bless his heart (I'm southern and we do that) was an alcoholic. He could drink an entire case of beer by himself over the weekend. If you don't know how many that is, it's 24 bottles of beer. My mom would maybe get 1 and he'd drink the rest. Sometimes, he wouldn't bother coming home from work on Friday and be gone all weekend long. He'd finally stagger in on Sunday evening where there would be icy silences and low conversations. Though he'd do all this, my mother never divorced him and she would buy the cases of beer. So she was an enabler and I'm sure she didn't see herself that way, but a billion dollars worth of therapy and a lot of years tells me that she was.
In the midst of this dysfunctional household, which totally revolved around my dad's drinking, controlling the drinking, and managing the drinking my mom just didn't have time. She often said she had 3 children and her daughters were the easiest to take care of. Anyway, because of this dysfunction within our tiny family unit I was sexually molested by an older cousin when I was around 6. I never told and no one noticed. I lived with this secret for a very long time. It totally shaped my entire life and how I saw things and the decisions I made. So kids, no way. Hell on a good day I was lucky to take care of myself. I knew there was no way I could take care of a child.
I eventually went to therapy and after a blue million dollars I am so much healthier and happier. I realize now I have clinical depression, which is a disease. This means my brain doesn't create certain chemicals I need to function on a normal daily basis. I'm smart and take meds for this. I know I will take these for the rest of my life and I'm good with that. I have to take blood pressure pills too so there really isn't much difference.
Even after the pills and the therapy I still know I don't want kids. Like I sad, I really love kids so I became a teacher. I love interacting with them and working with them and teaching them. But, at the end of the day, I want to go home and not have children in my house. My very close friends understand this about me. But I still meet many people who ask the question about kids and I explain I don't have them and I usually get the face. Or they say something like, "Well that's unfortunate." or "You'd make such an awesome mom." Thankfully I don't get the "you'll change your mind" anymore since I'm 48 and am considered "too old" to have kids.
I wonder if men are asked constantly if they have kids. I know as a woman I am so are men subjected to the same questioning? I remember the first time I was asked the kids question. It was at my dad's funeral, I was 19. Someone thought it was such a shame he didn't have grand kids and now he'd never see them. Yeah, guess what pal, there will never be any grand kids. Ever. I figured I'd leave that to my younger sister. Guess what? She didn't want kids either. Hmmm, so was it nature or nurture that didn't give us the burning desire to have children? Don't know, since I am not a scientist with a hundred degrees, but I do believe the household didn't nurture that urge to have children.
As an adult, I can look back and see that my mom did the best she could. She loved us and took care of us and supported us in whatever we wanted to do. She was our cheerleader and our confidant and the person we ran to when we were hurt. She often told us that we were the lights of her life. There wasn't a day that went by that we didn't know we were loved by her.
And none of that still encouraged me to have children. I know I'm not the only woman out there who didn't want children. I have friends who don't have children and didn't want children. So please do not pity us or shake your head and tsk when we tell you we have no children. In fact, don't make that the first question you ask a woman you just met as if that would be the biggest accomplishment in her entire life. Hell, ask about what book she's reading or if she's taken a vacation or where she had her nails done. If someone wants you to know about their kids I am sure they will tell you, but please don't naturally assume that just because a person has a womb they have kids.
And if you don't have kids and don't want kids please DO NOT be embarrassed or make excuses. You don't owe anyone an explanation about how you chose to live your life. Just make sure you have lived the kind of life you want and you are getting out of it the things that make you happy.
Soooooooooo many parallels in our lives, Gwennie. As much as I adore my kids and can't imagine never having had them, I don't think that's anything any woman should be pressured into. No one benefits from the societal expectation that women *should* have children. Not the women and certainly not the children.ReplyDelete
You are a wonderful, creative and productive person......! The trauma of all that you suffered didn't slow you down one bit. One day we all need to get together and reminisce about the things we all experienced as children....sure it would be very eye opening. I am probably in the "middle" layer of cousins......I could tell you all things from my perspective and vice versa, as we all experienced the alcoholism (among MANY other issues) and observed things from different perspectives. The molestation is so horrific! I wish so badly that we could piece it together and pinpoint the adult molesters in this. I believe it was a well kept family secret, one of those things no one talked. I believe it was multi-generational and the alcohol made us all ripe for the "picking" of these sickos!ReplyDelete