Unpopular opinion: I don’t want kids

I’ve been thinking about whether I’d want to have a child and how a child would fit into my life. I get that everything changes when you have a baby, and I wanted to give it some proper thought. This is another one of the things my mind has been going over in lockdown.

I’m 28, and my social media feeds are filled with people having babies. Most of them younger than me. And it’s made me think – is that something I’d want? Not that I need to make a decision any time soon. But I find it hard not to look to the future and think about how I’d want it to be. To have something to gear myself towards. With regards to children, that is. 

This is the only area in life where I think to the future. I work hard to be present and enjoy things as they are now. But for some reason, it makes me uneasy to be undecided about this particular topic. Probably because this is about the biggest decision you can make. So I wanted to put my mind to rest.

When I spoke to Joe about this, he said, ‘Well, I know I don’t want kids right now.’ Who knows what will happen in the future. Knowing he doesn’t want them at the moment is enough for him. I admire this attitude and thought about how much easier it would be to adopt this mindset. 

It’s hard to break away from the mentality we’ve been conditioned with growing up. Go to school, get a job, get married, have children. So much so that I can’t tell whether I actually want to get married and start a family. I wonder if my life will have a significant gap if I don’t fill it with these things.  

At the end of last year, me and Joe got a kitten, Fred. Fred is completely bonkers and wonderful. He’s been the first thing I’ve had to be responsible for and look after, other than myself, for the first time in my life. And he’s provided a very small taste of what it would be like to have to care for a baby. 

I have to regularly feed him at intervals throughout the day, clean up his poo, change his litter weekly. Make sure there aren’t any small items lying around he might swallow, work out which objects to move that he might break knocking over, regularly check/hide wires that he tries to bite through. Make sure he doesn’t escape/go missing. And take into account that we can no longer go away at the drop of a hat on weekends because he needs someone to check on him, feed him, and clean his litter tray daily. 

I am more than happy to adjust to needing to do all of these things. Especially considering I can’t be out of the house for more than a few hours – managing brain injury fatigue is something I will always contend with. So I’m generally around every day to make sure he’s well looked after. But all of this made me see the restrictions a baby brings in a whole new light. Honestly, I’d never really thought about how hard it is. I mean, how can you really know if you don’t have a child?

I can say with almost complete certainty that I don’t think children are for me. For a multitude of reasons:

  1. I’ve never been fussed about kids. I have never paid attention to children (other than having a quick cuddle with a new baby and then happily giving it back), and I know nothing about how it works, how to look after them or how to cope. If I had some level of interest, this would almost certainly be different. 
  2. I want my happiness to be my main priority for the rest of my life. I’ve worked incredibly hard to make sure I am happy despite everything that’s happened. There are so many things that will inevitably trip you up in life on a fairly regular basis – we all have a lot to contend with. I want always to be able to take the time to do what I need to be okay. 
  3. I need my disabled body and brain to always receive my full attention. A lack of sleep leads me to develop psychosis. I can’t let my mental health slip (I think getting sectioned twice in the space of the last two years is enough experience of that world) and I can’t afford to let the condition of my foot deteriorate again (I refuse to let the amputation of my little toe become an amputation of my whole leg, which will always be a risk).
  4. I want my relationships with other people, particularly my partner, to receive my best efforts as much as possible. 
  5. Whenever I ask, ‘what would you do if you didn’t have children?’ I always get the same response: ‘Have a lot more time and money.’  

It’s weird that I feel the need to justify why I don’t want a child. This goes back to the way we’re conditioned as we grow up. This mindset is hard to contend with. But there are too many people in the world as it is. And there are already a lot of children living in dire conditions who would benefit from a loving family.

I feel relieved that I’ve finally worked out where I stand with this. It’s useful to have this particular detail clear in your head, especially when you’re in a stable relationship that you hope to be in for a very long time. It’s also good to have thought about to prevent any whims of ‘let’s have a baby!’ without thinking about how much effort it will take for the next 20+ years of your life, or without assessing if it’s what you really want.

To take a leaf out of Joe’s book, I’m not saying never, but I definitely don’t want one now. And this realisation and reminder is enough for me.

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