I broke these up because I knew I'd need more time for the second half. You thought marriage in the modern age and feminism was heavy for the holidays? Try coming over here and holding on to this any time of the year.
"Just because one can, is no reason that they should."
I was born a female and I come fully equipped with all the working female bits, no assembly required. Though no one thought to ever buy batteries to put in my biological clock. This intro presupposes that maternal instinct and the desire to make babies are not included in the base model.
Since I was twelve, I have not wanted to have kids. I can't properly articulate the screaming heebie-jeebies I get at the thought of gestating a living human being in my body, birthing it and then breast feeding it. It's a life long commitment that I've never felt prepared to make. And I'm not alone in this. We all have our reasons.
Here are a few of mine and their dire consequences.
There are enough people on this planet already, seriously. We are not in danger of dying out as a species. I also think about the state of the world and whether or not we can all get our collective shit together as a species and fix this place for future generations. I might be more invested in this change for the adults of the future if I had my own, but I have a niece and nephew for that and I adore them. Especially now that they're a little older and I can rationalize with them like tiny adults.
I don't hate children. I don't want to have a whole bunch of them either. The only living creatures I'm responsible for are my house plants and I've specifically selected hardy ones that require little to no effort from me. If they live? Awesome. If not, well I won't shed a tear. Of course children and even pets are not the same as house plants. I say this to illustrate my willingness to have something be completely dependant on me for sustenance. I am fiercely independent, some might say stubborn, I expect those in my charge to take accountability for themselves, hell even my favourite plant was chosen for it's ability to take moisture from the air to keep itself alive. Babies cannot do this. Toddlers cannot do this. Adolescents, some teenagers and a lot of adults cannot do this.
Don't get me wrong, babies can be adorable and they are really fun to photograph (when they're still) I've discovered. I don't think I've even held a baby. I think I might have held my nephew for a whole three minutes when he was an infant, but he cried almost immediately. My instinct wasn't to comfort or console him, it was to give him back to his mother. I have never changed a diaper. I cannot deal with drool and spit up. I envy babies' ability to just gob all over their faces without a care in the world, but internally I want to throw up at the sight of it. I'm not even keen on my own drool. I can deal with my own bodily fluids, but other people's? Even an infant. I... I just can't.
You may be saying to yourself that's not a good enough reason and once you become a parent, you stop caring about that stuff, it becomes unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Just like the pain of labour. Horse hockey. I've had kidney stones, right up there with the same level of pain so I'm told. True, I'm not feeling it any more and I didn't die, but it's not something I'd volunteer to feel again, no matter what rewards might await me.
If kids hatched from pods potty trained and with all their teeth I might reconsider. I don't balk at the notion of shaping a human being to be an awesome member of society. I think I'd make a pretty kick-ass mom, I really do. Seriously. Creepy as this sounds children are so much easier to mould and manipulate than adults. I don't mean manipulate in the negative sense, but in the sense that I could teach them to be decent caring human beings much easier than I could with another adult. A lot of grown ups aren't as maleable. This reason all by itself is not a good enough reason to birth a child.
Now, whether or not you think my reasons (or anyone else's reasons) are "valid" is not the argument I'm trying to make here. If I may borrow from the ever witty Adam Savage, I reject your value judgements and substitute my own. The other reason for this massive, multi-part post is the consequences of my choices.
Only those who really want to raise children, and can devote all the time money and love to it that they can should have children. There are already so many children in existence that were never really wanted. And that's a fate I wouldn't wish on any enemy. To be unwanted, neglected and not loved with any sincerity is a terrible thing to do to a member of your family, especially one that you made (almost) by yourself from scratch.
Most would consider me lucky to not be barren, I could have kids if I wanted. And for those who cannot have children and also desperately want them... I won't pretend to understand your sorrow at this loss until I'm old enough to regret my choice. But that's just it. This is a choice I get to make and for now, its a choice I am prepared to regret. Let that sink in for a moment. I'll wait.
It's a hard one for a lot of women and a good chunk of men to understand as well. This isn't just about the choice to abort a pregnancy if I want to. This is about choosing a path, this is about choosing to be pregnant, to become a mother on purpose. And it is one of the most important choices I will ever make in my life. So it deserves occasional reevaluation, revisions, and testing. It is always there in the back of my mind, like a peacefully hibernating bear. Every so often I or someone else pokes it with a sharp stick. I like to live dangerously.
Not long ago a woman who chose not to have children was probably going to become a nun or there was something wrong with her in the head. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm almost sure there was a category for it in the older versions of the DSM, right along with homosexuality. It wasn't natural for a female of the species to not want offspring because it's what we are "equipped" to do. Isn't that a woman's role in keeping the human race going? A woman is more than just her ability to reproduce. Whether she simply can't or isn't willing to. And I will always believe that.
Heavy? I'm just getting warmed up.
Part III is coming.