One night, Mama and I were chatting over coffee, and I was rattling off the things I didn’t like about kids. When she asked if I plan on giving her grandchildren, I replied, “I don’t know.”
Thankfully, she said that she wasn’t too keen on being a lola anyway. I joked that she should already consider Pawky her grandchild, since he is basically my son.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the past three years, and it’s about time I wrote about it: I’m seriously thinking about going childfree.
I’ve taken a lot of factors into consideration.
Difficulty of pregnancy
9 months of morning sickness, swollen feet, aching muscles, going to the bathroom every ten minutes? It doesn’t appeal to me on any level. Plus, the actual childbirth means a lot of pain (and blood, and poop), for possibly several hours.
Check-ups with the OBGYN, pre-natal vitamins, the hospital bill for the childbirth… Not to mention baby essentials like a crib, formula, clothes, diapers, and so on.
From the very start, deciding to raise a baby is an enormous drain on money, which in turn can cause my partner and I a lot of stress. And once that child starts school, oh boy, we’re in for it now: not only do we have to shell out for tuition (which can cost a pretty penny if we decide to enroll him in fancier schools), but baon and eventually allowance, school service, and miscellaneous expenses for school projects.
If I raise kids, I’ll be giving up my free time: my sleep will be interrupted by their crying, my weeknights will be used to help them with homework… If I do go out, I’ll need to arrange for someone to watch over the kids. Aside from all that, I need a lot of quiet and alone time to recharge. I want to be able to write without the interruption of a wailing infant.
It’s a safe assumption that in this economy, my future spouse’s income will not be enough to sustain us, so I will still have to go to work full-time (see aforementioned expenses). Thus, my physical energy will already be drained, but I will still have to wrangle my screaming toddler into a pair of pajamas, beg him to eat his mashed bananas, and wipe his butt when he’s done taking a dump. (I’d probably feel better about young kids if they poop and pee in a litter box, like my cat.)
Besides, how about the emotional energy I’ll be investing? I’ll need a whole lot of patience when my kid decides to throw a temper tantrum in the mall. Hell, if my kid cries loudly in a restaurant, I’ll be so embarrassed I’d possibly leave. And when that child grows up to be a teenager who’s suddenly decided that he’s adult enough to make all his decisions, I’m not going to be able to stop myself from talking down to him.
I’ve already been diagnosed with clinical depression. Can you imagine the havoc that the pregnancy hormones will wreak on my already fragile mind? I don’t need postpartum depression on top of my regular, garden-variety depression, thanks. Besides, I can’t take my meds while I’m preggo, so it’s going to be an insanely difficult time.
Self-care is an important aspect of maintaining a stable state of mind for me. That takes away from time and energy spent on others. If I can barely take care of myself, how am I supposed to take care of someone who, for the next 20 years, will be almost completely dependent on me?
One of my greatest fears is: what if I damage my kids irreparably? I’ve gone to enough therapy sessions to know that I carry emotional baggage. No parent is perfect, but I’m afraid I might screw my kids up too much, especially if I start to project my baggage onto them.
As I’m writing this, I’ve come to realize one thing all my reasons have in common: they take resources away from me, to someone else.
I know that a lot of people will say that the decision to go childfree is selfish. They’ll wring their hands and cry, “Don’t you know how many women would love to bear children but can’t?” and “You’re young. You’ll eventually change your mind.”
Maybe it is selfish for me to want to put myself first. Maybe it is selfish to opt out of making those sacrifices that come with parenthood. And yes, maybe I will change my mind eventually. (It’s not like I’m getting my tubes tied tomorrow.) But in the foreseeable future, I don’t see it happening.