Whew. First off – I am feeling better. I’m not 100% yet, but boy howdy that was rough. It kind of tanked my vacation, but the point was to see my family and our newest member and I was able to do that.
I’ve had a lot of complicated feelings related to that trip. With the baby in particular. I promise it isn’t just related to the bad cold she gave me. It’s more about what she represents.
We decided we’re not having kids. We actually decided this like eight years ago and, uh, to be technical about it, locked that down. It ain’t happening. I had several academic reasons to not want kids and my husband always knew he’d never be a dad.
But that’s not to say we don’t like kids. We love kids. We can be goofy and fun and play with toys and any kid we’ve hung out with has been really awesome. They appreciate my silly songs and think my terrible jokes are hilarious. It’s pretty much my benchmark for anyone I could be friends with.
“Then why?” you ask yourself. Well, the urge to do it just isn’t there. I’m always really genuinely flattered when people say I’d be a good mom and are disappointed to learn about it. But the realities are that even with all my academic reasons, when I hung out with a baby this last week it was kind of a test of me and my gut feeling. Here was the first baby I’d been up close and personal with, hanging out, excited for all her potential… and nothing happened. Nothing changed. She was cute and sweet and I love her to bits. But there was no, “oh god, I need one, what am I doing with my life”.
Like I said: I had many academic reasons not to. But there was a question in my mind about if I spent time with this kid, that maybe something would shift in me emotionally. Hell, people had been telling me that for years.
Here is a short list of reactions to “I’m not having kids” that weren’t disappointment:
- Oh, you’ll change your mind when your friends start having kids.
- Oh, you’ll change your mind when you get older.
- There’s a clock that will just start ringing and you’ll want them.
- Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?
- What about your family? Don’t you want your family to live on?
- Then what are you doing with your life?
- What’s wrong with you?
My reaction to all those things was anything from rolling my eyes to pain and soul searching. But the one I couldn’t discredit was that something might change when I had friends with kids. Maybe something would happen when I had that experience. At this point in our lives a few friends had kids, but this was the first baby we’d spent time with. As I took her and held her, I slowly crossed that one off the list. I was sure.
There was a movie that came out recently called Inside Out. It’s a Pixar movie where Amy Poehler plays one of many emotions living inside a pre-teen girl. Her family relocates and her emotions go on a journey of sorts and the feelings have feelings and hijinks ensue. I normally love Pixar movies, but I really didn’t care for this one. The plot did nothing for me.
Most people loved the movie. It made them cry. I think I didn’t like it because I lack the parenting part of my brain. Now, I know that nurturing component isn’t totally missing from me (trust, I’ve done plenty of emotional fussing over friends and family). But I just didn’t care about the characters, the plot of this girl and her family… Anything about it.
I know, it’s just some movie. But I think this is the first time I really saw in myself that I’d made the right decision. It’s the first time I knew I was missing something. Is there something wrong with me? Maybe? I know that I do know what love is and I know a person made partly of my DNA isn’t a guarantee of it.
People might see this and feel bad for me. Think that I’m missing out on some unique life experience… But I’m not. I’ve had and have people who depend on me and love me. I’ve helped my friends and family where I can and had their love and support in return. You might say that’s not the same, and it probably isn’t. But I know I am content with this. I know this is how it is meant to be. I am Aunt Lauren. And that is totally fine.