Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I Never Wanted Children, but I’m Pregnant

I Never Wanted Children, but I’m Pregnant
Blair Henley

This is my story of deciding early on in life that I did not want children, confirming my decision once I was married, and still feeling that way once my friends started having their own cute babies. But, now I am 11 weeks pregnant.

I didn’t consider having an abortion for several reasons. First, my husband and I will make good parents. Actually, I think we’re going to make great parents. Although we may disagree about little things, we somehow seem to have the same beliefs about important life issues. So, religion, education, discipline, and other significant matters will be easier for us than little matters like how the toilet paper is supposed to be hung (yes, an actual fight). The second reason we are keeping the baby is that we are in a position to raise a child. We are relatively stable financially and emotionally, and we have a pretty good circle of family and friends who will support us. The last and most important reason is that we are both ridiculously happy to be pregnant. I have decided to embrace the fear of having children head on, and while I still acknowledge that I’m thoroughly terrified, I know that everything will work out.

I had formulated several rationalizations for not wanting children. I felt I needed this defense because people think there is something wrong with you if you don’t have children. I never felt like I had a biological clock, a maternal urging, or even the basest need to continue my genes. I could acknowledge that babies are cute, but once they started talking and walking, children seemed like little Tasmanian devils. I sincerely could not understand why anyone would want to sentence themselves to years of temper tantrums, snot, and poop. I know, I know, there’s the other side to kids I just can’t see, right? Well, I’ll see in 30 weeks or so.

Raising children is just one of those things you don’t mess up. If you’re going to have a kid, you are supposed to put everything into making him happy and not screwed up. I have never thought I was capable of that. I feel like it’s my own right to screw up my own life. I’ve done it enough times that it was evident to me that I’d be pretty good at screwing up a kid’s life too. Well now that I’m pregnant, I’ve decided that’s a pretty harsh perspective to take, although I still feel like raising a child is the pinnacle - more important than anything possible.

Not having kids was part of my identity. Being childless made me different from everyone else. I guess it’s the same thinking that makes people dye their hair pink. I haven’t decided whether to abandon my need to differentiate myself. Maybe I’ll just dress my child in all black. A little Johnny Cash.

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