Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not even one?

I'm not having any kids. No, not even one.

I decided in college, to the shock and awe of my Elementary Ed. friends, that I didn't want to have any kids. I love kids. I love to teach them. I love to play with them. I love to lead them. I love to hop them up on sugar and give them back to their parents with noisy toys on Christmas.

I am an aunt ten times over. I am truly madly deeply in love with my brother's four children. The day his first kid was born turned my world inside out. Here's the photographic evidence to prove it.

Not that there's anything wrong with having children. It's that something in me just knew that I wanted to spend my life's energy on other things. Travel, Education, Service of Others. I didn't want to (and still don't want to) be torn between the duties and joys of motherhood and My Life's Calling, whatever that means. (This may explain my current early mid-life crisis as, upon reflection, there has been woefully little travel and education, though I'm not doing too badly in the Service to Others department and that feels good.)

Here are some of the responses I've gotten from those who know and love me and complete strangers alike:
  • You must be a lesbian. (nope.)
  • You are a very angry person. (sometimes, but what's that to you?)
  • You have a terrible mother. (emphatic nope. see my Sugar Sugar blog http://karinleak.blogspot.com/.)
  • You must have children. God says so. (I've clarified with people. The Bible indicates that God told all the creepy crawly things to be fruitful and multiply just after creation. Okay, I get that. Then again to Adam and Eve. Be fruitful and multiply. Okay, sure. Then once more to Noah and his family after the Great Flood. Really, people. I don't think under population is an issue anymore.)
  • You'd make a great mother. (Thanks, but I'd like to sleep sometime in the next 20 years.)
  • You're selfish. (You are so right. You know me so well.)
  • Not even one? (WTF? No. Not even one.)
  • You should at least have a boy. (The feminist in me rages. A Chinese friend of mine said that her name means, "Well, the next one will be a boy." Aaaaarrrrrrgh!!! Nevermind that you can't force the baby to be a boy or a girl, or that I'd prefer a girl if I had to have one at all.)

The only thing that sometimes, but sadly does not always, flick people's noses out of my business is when I tell them, "I'm happy with my life the way it is."

"O-kaaaay," they skeptically say. Then they add, "You're sure? Not even one?"

What about you? Kids? No kids? Greatest Aunt/Uncle ever?

And, as always, my follow up question, the one that makes life worth living: Why?


Michael5000 said...

Hey! Me too!

I can never remember a time when I thought I might want to have children. There was a time in my late 20s when I considered going with the flow, and I am ever so pleased that I didn't cave.

Why? Damn. There is no why. I'm sure I'd do fine if a kid landed on my lap, but to create a highly dependent sentient being, just because -- or just because many other people choose to -- that seems crazy reckless.

Tereza said...

As a teen, I decided that some day I wanted to adopt kids. Then in my early twenties I wanted to have my own children. At that point I started working in pre-school, which was the best form of birth control ever. After many years with my partner, I decided to have children (which he wanted all along, but never pressured me). It just seemed like the next phase of life - natural, rewarding, profound. Now that I am a mother, I can say that it has turned out to be all three and then some. I love the family I/we have created. We plan to adopt two children in addition to having two bio ones. I can't wait. And, I must say, I feel lucky that I am still able to live my own adult life as well; that I can still feel fulfilled with work and other creative pursuits and in my friendships. It should all go hand-in-hand, but I know many women have to sacrifice one or more of those elements when they have children.

Bridget Benton said...

I'm in the same boat. I don't want kids. Not even one. I taught at a summer camp one year when I was an undergrad. Amazing experience. Terrifying, wonderful, utterly educational (for me) . . . and I had a split second of thinking "Hmm, ok. Maybe I could have kids."

Split second.

Why? I'm selfish. I am absolutely, utterly, completely excited and engaged in my own life. Making art, meeting people, asking questions, traveling, exploring, learning new things. Yes, I could do all of those things with a child and I'm sure it would be an incredible experience. And I choose not to.

Which leads to . . . another why. I choose not to because it's not a priority. And doing something like bringing a new life into the world and nurturing it as it grows and discovers its own self requires a lot of time and energy and needs to be a priority if you're going to commit 18+ infinity years to it. A Big Priority.

And it just never has been.

chuckdaddy said...

I guess I never put a whole lot of thought into whether or not I'd have a kids, I just always assumed I would. It does seem unfair that you (as in "you", not "one") are expected to have a reason to not have a kid, but no one applies the same interrogation methods to those who choose to have a kid.

One thing I have found interesting about having a kid, is the whole concept of future. Before, all life changes were, more-or-less, fully instigated by me (New job? A trip?...) What got in my way of a fuller life was passivity (When will I get off my ass and go teach abroad, for example). But now, no matter how passive I am, my son will keep growing... Maybe that didn't sound as profound as it did in my head, but I think a kid can definitely make it easier to give one's life (one as in "my", not as in "you") more purpose.

btw- I've changed Elliott's name to "I Hope Next Time It's a Varmint"

G said...

At this stage in my life, I feel the same way about kids as I do about dogs: they are sooo cute and I just want to hug and smooosh and tickle them... until they poop, vomit, cry, and/or wake me up at 5 in the morning to do one if not all of the above. To summarize: I love that other people have dogs I can play with.

What pisses me off is the smugness of people who pressure others about children ("it's the best thing I ever did! [You should totally try it]"); the same way that some married people can get about being married, as though they need to convert you in order to validate their own life choices.

If I don't just tell people off (because I'm nothing if not rudely blunt), the answer I've given to people to shut them up goes something like, "Because I'm on a diet and they taste so goooooood."

Karin said...

Michael5000, Bridget and g: I totally hear ya. It IS a choice and isn't it great we get to make it.

I'm surprised at how infrequently peoople enter parenthood without so much as a "Dude, this sex feels good" thought.

tereza, chuckdaddy: that's why I'm grateful for people like you. You and your spouses read books, take classes, eat&drink/don't eat&drink all the right things like crazy to prepare yourselves in everyway possible to be the best parents you can be somehow without going completely insane. I love this.

Karin said...

g said: (because I'm nothing if not rudely blunt)

g: first of all, you're a woman after my own heart. Life's too short to not get to the point. Bitchy Women of the World, Unite!

g said: "Because I'm on a diet and they taste so goooooood."

That reminds me of a story from my youth.

My mother and her fine upstanding cop friend were sitting around drinking coffee, shooting the breeze one day, okay maybe they were drinking beer because they were having a rare philosophical discussion. The question posed was:

If you could solve world hunger by killing one child, would you do it?

Clarifying questions popped up around the table. Would I have to kill the child myself? Would it have to be my child or someone else's? By killing this one child, I could end world hunger? Etc., etc. We made up imaginary answers that satisfied us until our fine upstanding cop friend arrived at his final answer.

He said, "I don't think one child would feed the whole world."

nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Karin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

Whenever somebody asks if I want to have children, I always want to say, "Well, I don't really want to contribute to the overpopulation of this planet and civilization's inevitable self-annihilation." But that usually freaks people out. And, part of me does kinda-sorta does want to have a child. But only a tiny bit.

Rebel said...

My email address should be attached to this post if you want to respond. How did you feel about the CELTA course? Any advice before my interview? Did you end up teaching abroad?

Gray Singleton said...

Lady, post some stuff! We wants ta reads it.

-the artist formerly/still known as G

Anonymous said...

Occasionally, I think having a baby wouldn't be a bad idea, but then I think about all the kids in the world who already exist who need good homes. Why make more? I would consider adoption, but I can't justify bringing new life into a pretty messed up world.

Omar Poppenlander said...

Beth and I have made the decision not to have children, I think. But the decision was soemwhat by default, as we are closing in on being 40 now and who wants to start a family this late in life?

Why? (And perhaps in our case, why didn't we have children when we were younger?) The timing was never right, we had other priorities, etc. Who knows? I don't regret it . . . yet.