Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dear Women (and Men) Who Don’t Want to Have Kids: You’re Not Alone

I have your back. Your other single childless friends have got you too. And some, if not many, of your mom/dad friends want you back in their lives. They also have your back.

I’ve just had a great vacation in a family-friendly holiday village in the south of Turkey, and I had a blast. Sure, the crying and the whining was a bit much sometimes, but overall, it was cuteness overload. I waved at them, cooed at them and made their parents happy (and reassured them that yes, their baby was indeed as adorable as they believed).

I like kids when they are all being smiley and spreading joy around almost as fast as a combination of chocolate and coffee.

However, while seeing them play around made me happy, I realized one more time that I don’t want to have kids now or in the near future. Moreover, I might never want them.

I’ve read a lot of posts written by moms. Some filled me with joy. Few nearly brought tears to my eyes. And I definitely believed them when they said you can’t really know what it is like until you experience it yourself, the good and the bad.

Why was I reading all the posts? Well, I was reading with my three different roles in mind:

1)   As a writer, I was doing market research. Do the publications that published these posts accept posts from non-mom writers that did their research? Or did they only publish writers with first-hand experience?

Also, as a fiction writer, I wanted to read the real experiences of real women, as opposed to just reading and watching fiction. That would help me create more realistic characters.

2)   As a single woman who might as a twist-of-fate change her mind about having kids, I wanted to see what would await me.

3)   As a friend who drifted away from her married friends with kids, though not by choice, I wanted to see if all mothers really wanted just mothers as friends, or were they missing “me” - me representing the single friend whose life remained more or less the same- too?

I have to say, I got satisfactory answers for all these three roles and the burning questions each role brought.

Now, to the “you’re not alone” part:

I keep reading about how lonely a lot of pregnant women or (new) mothers felt, and it baffled me a little. After all, I'm surrounded by moms of all ages, with kids of all ages. 

Expectedly, it is hard for me to empathize with moms and the sacrifices they make, especially when it comes to the lack of rest and the abundance of workload/responsibilities.

I haven’t felt my biological clock ticking since...well, never.

I haven’t felt the urge to create a helpless human being who will need me for a very long time, whose life I might enrich in some ways or screw up in others: If life taught me anything, I’d probably do both as a parent.

As a writer, I can’t offer new-mom stories to what seems like an increasing number of mom-centric publications. (In my defense, I feel the same about technology, finance and economy publications: way out of my comfort and knowledge zones).

I find myself, maybe selfishly, thinking: “Great, another magazine or blog I can’t pitch.”

But as I try to live my 30s to the best of my ability and with more baby pictures on my social media feeds than I can keep up with, I feel alone.

I feel alone, because I’m the only woman I know who most definitely doesn’t want kids. I have friends who seem lukewarm but aren’t exactly ruling the option out, friends who want to start trying, friends wanting a second baby, friends who might be persuaded given time and some more experience into their married life, and friends who know they will have kids but are too young to consider it.

But friends who are 99% sure they don’t want kids? I don’t have those. Okay, maybe one. But she lives far away.

So yes, I feel alone.

I have some good male friends, but most of them fall into the categories above. I have maybe one friend who seems sure he doesn’t want kids, but he has changed his mind a lot about a lot of things, so I don’t know.

I just wanted to give a shoutout to anyone who don’t want kids now or ever, you are not alone: We exist.

Maybe there aren’t that many of us. Or maybe we are strategically placed so it seems that way. But we are here.

Whatever reasons you have for not wanting kids, remember that it is okay to feel that way, whatever your well-meaning friends and family might think.

Of course it’s okay to want kids too, but I can’t pretend to know what that’s like. I can support the decision and feeling, but I can’t completely understand.

And it is fine.

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