Deciding not to do something feels like a really big deal. Much bigger than deciding to do something. It comes with baggage– like you’re railing against something.
I’m talking about the decision whether or not to have kids. I thought we’d write a lot about this topic here on the blog. When we started The Long Haul Project, we wanted to delve into the topic of whether people felt marriage without kids was a valid choice. Of course, things were different back then. We’d bought a house in the suburbs and were on the trajectory to starting a family. It seemed like the next obvious step. So I was troubled that the urge to actually have kids wasn’t coming to me. At all. I was consumed with guilt and uncertainty about not doing it.
Then we made some changes, including renting the house and moving into a totally kid-impractical loft in the city. We started traveling more. We launched a business. Rather than making a decision NOT TO HAVE KIDS, it felt more like we were drifting naturally in another direction. So it hasn’t been troubling me as much, which might be why I haven’t written about it.
Or it might be for an entirely different reason. It might be because I still feel weird and wrong and abnormal for not wanting kids. I wonder if I’m railing against something. As long as I’m young enough for it to be a biologically plausible choice, I will fret about it. I secretly suspect the people around me, even my husband, are waiting for the day when I “get over it” and am ready to have a baby. In fact, sometimes I even believe that day will come. But it never does.
I’m afraid that I’m missing out on one of life’s great experiences. Except then I think about all the other great experiences I’m having in my life, and I don’t want to give those up. Is it really a good idea to have a baby because you’re afraid you might regret it, rather than because you actively want to have one? It sounds like a bad set-up for the toughest job in the world. But then a creeping little voice of doubt emerges: Am I just essentially selfish? Should I open myself up to something that might be much harder, but far more rewarding?
And did I write that last sentence because I’m worried about looking like a callous and unwomanly bitch, or because I even partially believe it?
I don’t have the answers but I know I want to talk more about the topic of kids and marriage here on the blog and I’d love to start off by getting your comments, thoughts and feedback. What do you think about marriage without kids? Have you struggled with the question of whether or not to have children? How did you make peace with your decision? If you’re married and have kids, how do you feel about your friends who don’t have kids? Do they understand you anymore?