Yesterday, my coworker and friend, Kaitlyn, wrote a blog entry about her decision to not have children. Now, before I continue with what I hope people read as an entry that complements hers, let me tell you that Kaitlyn is an intelligent, compassionate, principled woman, who doesn’t need my validation.
I agree with what she’s written, and I come at this from a different perspective.
I am the mother of two bright, funny, thoughtful children. My son is 11 years old and my
daughter will soon be 9 years old. There is nothing in this world that I would not do for them. I love them fiercely and will do (and have done) every single thing in my power to protect them and ensure that they grow up to be intelligent, compassionate, contributing members of society who will stand up for what they believe in whilst doing no harm to anyone else.
When I was 18 and met the man who would become the father of my children, I don’t think I had given a single thought to future weddings or children. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t want children, but I wouldn’t say I did want them. I was pretty neutral on the topic of children.
To be perfectly frank, I probably would have steered clear of having children if the man with whom I was madly and deeply in love hadn’t wanted them so badly. I mean, I grew up with a mother who told us repeatedly that she didn’t like kids; never should have had them. A mother who was always psychologically abusive and occasionally physically abusive. A mother who – when I told her I was pregnant – told me I didn’t have to have kids for her, as though that would be the only reason I would have children.
So, no, I didn’t give a lot of thought to having children of my own.
Now, 11 years into having children, I can’t imagine not having them.
I cannot say emphatically enough that my son and daughter are the two best things that have ever happened to me; that continue to happen to me in my whole life. Their very existence brings me an amount of joy that should be illegal. They have – unbeknownst to them – gotten me through the most traumatic experience of my life.
On the other hand, parenting is hard work. It can be emotionally, psychologically, and physically draining work – sometimes, all at the same time. There are days when parenting just sucks. There is no denying that. And, if you are denying that, you’re flat out lying to yourself and everyone around you.
But I wouldn’t change it for a single thing.
That said, while I respect the heck out of the decision that some of my friends have made to not have children, I also feel a sort of sadness for them that they will never know the kind of love that you learn when you have a child. I’ve loved a lot of people and a lot of pets, and I don’t believe you can ever love any other human or a pet in the same way or with the same intensity that you love your child. There is nothing on this earth like it.
At the same time, I think one’s decision to not have children; their recognition that parenting is not for them demonstrates an incredible level of both maturity and self-awareness. How dare any of us second-guess or dismiss someone’s decision (which is none of our business anyway), regardless of how much thought they’ve given to it. And, I’ll tell you this, of my friends who have decided to not have children, they’ve given it quite a lot of thought, probably because they’ve been forced to justify their decision so many times.
No one should ever be made to feel that they have to justify these types of choices. We all choose different things for ourselves for different reasons.
Kaitlyn chooses a million little yeses, and I choose two enormous resounding yeses.