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I am a single, yet divorced, 28 year-old woman with no desire to have children. This does NOT mean I hate them by any means! Recently I spoke to my sister-in-law about my wishes. She has two AMAZING children whom I love very much. I also love her niece and nephew.
When I uttered the words: “Oh, I don’t ever want children,” she freaked out. She looked heart broken and with a horrified look croaked, “You don’t want children?”
Why did she respond this way? Should I go forth and find a husband and have lots of children so she has more cousins for her own children? What should I DO!?
When a person says they don’t ever want something, it typically means they don’t like it. Much like when I say, “I don’t ever want Brussels Sprouts,” or, “I don’t ever want a broken femur.”
But sometimes, you can totally love something without it meaning that you’d sacrifice your life savings just to have one. For example, I love the Circus, but I don’t want clowns of my own. I also love the zoo, but this doesn’t mean I want to raise a monkey. Understand that I’m not saying children are like clowns and monkeys – although they have been known to wear silly clothes, make funny noises, and play in their own feces.
What your sister-in-law needs to realize is that your decision to not harbor humans in your belly for nine months so you can give birth and raise children from slobberhood to parenthood doesn’t mean you hate kids. It means you like your home, bank account, and uterus as they are.
99.7% of pregnancies go exactly as planned and expected. The others are enjoyable. So if you are apprehensive because you fear the pregnancy experience or worry about the pain of childbirth, you aren’t alone. In fact, a recent study concluded that 100% of men find the thought of giving birth absolutely horrifying. This is why it’s safe for me to assume that the grief you get over your decision comes primarily from other women, and not from men.
This is because men know that if gender roles were reversed, and we were responsible for pushing large fussy objects through tiny stubborn orifices, the planet would be seriously underpopulated. Vocalizing ones decision to not have children would be met with understanding nods rather than discerning judgmental eyes.
Women have long been made to feel obligated to have children and I don’t think it’s a compulsion you should feel any shame in suppressing. Consider the plight of Octomom Suleman. When you grow up with a first name like that, your options when it comes to future childbearing are pretty limited. Think how silly it would have looked if she had grown up to have fewer than eight children. So be thankful that your first name is Lesley, and not Millimama, because this naturally deflects a lot of expectations.
I suppose one of the biggest benefits of not having children, which your sister-in-law fails to recognize, is that you get to avoid the tinderbox controversies that seem to consume Twitter and Facebook these days: Home birth vs. hospital birth; breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding; crib vs. crate.
You also won’t have to sit at the park and defend your child’s lack of collegiate development to over-achieving moms living vicariously through their toddlers. Believe me, it’s excruciating to watch other children explain the Pythagorean Theorem while yours is eating wood chips.
And even if you are thinking about having children someday, you might want to reconsider if you haven’t yet placed your unfertilized egg on a waiting list for preschool. If you haven’t already done this, you can expect to support your child well into his mid-70’s.
The thing about kids is that you need to feed them like every single day. Baby food isn’t cheap and it represents only one of roughly 6,000 new expense categories you’d have to add to your budget program.
According to a recent government study, it costs $221,000 to raise a child for 17 years in today’s economy. Assuming you don’t kick your child out of the home on his or her 17th birthday, you can safely tack on an additional $221,000 if you re-enlist for another four years.
My friend @DigitalKadi has seven children. This is not a misprint. Seven. As in: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN. Basically, a village.
I only mention this because you asked if you should go forth and have “lots of children” to appease your sister-in-law. What you need to consider in the case of multiple children is that the costs rise exponentially when you have more than the American average of 2.5 kids.
Any number higher than this average requires that you apply what’s called the “Multiple Child Factor”, or MCF. Akin to the Richter scale, the difference between having 4.0 kids and 5.0 kids is 1000 times more intense. Therefore, when you multiply $221,000 times Kadi’s seven kids and then apply the MCF, Kadi and her husband will end up spending roughly $960 million raising their children.
I know you probably feel a tad attacked, judged, or questioned when people ask if you ever want children, but you need to understand something. When someone asks if you want kids, it’s not always meant to be judgmental. For example, when I ask women if they want children, I’m really just putting out feelers to see if they’re willing to take mine.
To be honest, it’s no one’s business but your own why you don’t want children. All that matters is that they know how much you really do love kids and that your personal preference, whether emotional or financial in nature, has no bearing on the affection you show and love you feel for them.
It seems to me that you get the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy her children, hear their laughter, load them up with sweets, and return them to their parents before the sugar high kicks in. It’s a win-win situation. Not only do you get to be the coolest person on the planet, but you aren’t expected to pay for college.
If, by chance, you’re still on the fence about someday having children, perhaps the following test can help:
1. Do you cherish sleep?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then motherhood may not be for you.
I hope this helps! Now go give those children a big squeeze from Aunt Nilmama.
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