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When you don’t not want to have kids…

…but you don’t really want to have them, either…

A conversation Sven and I had recently:

Me: Are you ready to have a baby?

Sven: I’m 35. I could have a 10 year old child by now.

Me: Ok, but if you didn’t feel like you should be ready just because you’re old, do you actually feel a desire to be a dad?

Sven: I guess not, but I think it’s something I don’t want to miss out on. I know I won’t regret having them, what about you?

Me: I felt like I was closer to being ready, but now I feel like it’s just because I’m 31 and that I should want to have kids by now. Is that really the right reason to have a kid? I don’t feel like it’s because I actually want a baby, and I definitely don’t feel a desire to be a mother.

Sven: I think you’re overthinking this.

Maybe I am overthinking this. The truth is I had been sort of warming up to the idea. But then I realized my thoughts about having a baby were about timing based on my age, and not about the excitement of potential parenthood. This is not about (not) being ready. If I was 100% sure I wanted to have kids, I wouldn’t worry about whether or not I was ready. I’m never afraid to dive headfirst into anything I want to do, even if I’m unprepared. The question is, do I even want to have kids?

Yes, Sven and I have had this conversation several times over the years, and he’s made it clear that it was a deal breaker if I didn’t want to have kids. I just thought at some point, I would want to. But we’ve been together for ten years and married for two and a half, and I’m still not sure that I do. And it’s not like Sven is dying to be a father, either. He still recoils around rambunctious children and actually refuses to hold babies because he thinks they don’t like him.

So, what do you do when you don’t want to have kids, but you don’t not want to have them, either? I decided to make a list of Pros and Cons:

Cons (Reasons I don’t want to have kids): 

  • I’ve always been pretty adamantly against doing things just because that’s what everyone else does, or because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do: meet a man, get married, have kids, etc. At this point, having kids seems less like something I want to do and more like something I’m “supposed” to do.
  • On the flip side to what I just said, Sven and I don’t have many friends with kids that live here in New York City. We’ve gone out to parties every weekend for the past five weeks, and we still regularly wake up at noon on the weekends. Sure, maybe we should grow up, but I think it would be easier if our friends were grown up, too!
  • I like my life the way it is. I would be happy with just Sven, and the freedom to do whatever and go wherever the wind takes us, and I wouldn’t regret it.

Pros (Reasons I would be open to having kids):

  • I wouldn’t regret it, either. I’m sure parenthood would be a fulfilling experience that would give me a much different perspective on life, and probably make me a better person.
  • I know I just said I’m not a fan of blindly jumping on a bandwagon, but if more of our friends started having kids, maybe, just maybe, it would be easier to see myself wanting to have them, too. I have one close friend who recently had a baby. She’s actually the one who warmed me up to the idea of having kids because she never specifically wanted to have kids, either, but now she’s an amazing mother. And her daughter is insanely adorable. So she taught me you can be a great mother even if its not something you always wanted in life. 
  • At some point, Sven will make me. So really, it’s not like I have a choice.

Sven says I should stop acting like I’m 25, so let’s just make a baby. He’s hungover and woke up at 1:15pm on a Sunday.

To be continued.

Lindsay - 11/18/2014 - 11:26 am

This post is one of the best I’ve read, MC!! Such a great perspective. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of the art-of-having-kids in this way. It’s a total bummer that there is so much pressure to have children once you get married or once you hit a certain age. I DEFINITELY want to have children. At 18, I thought I’d have kids at 25. I’m now 33 and DEFINITELY do not want to have kids until I’m 38….maybe older.

Melanie - 11/18/2014 - 8:40 pm

Thanks, Lindsay! That makes me glad to hear, because I seriously almost didn’t post this. I had already written the whole thing, but the past two days I thought about scrapping it. I was afraid of admitting how close I was to being (or thinking I was) ready to have kids, and also afraid of admitting why I was changing course. I thought I’d seem selfish at best, and an unfit mother (or even a bad wife!) at worst. But, then I told myself the whole point of this blog was to be straightforward, honest, and insightful, so I am glad you felt that way!

Jen - 11/20/2014 - 4:27 pm

Sooo as your friend with the adorable child (you were talking about me, right? Right?!?!) who also happens to live in Manhattan with zero plans to move ever, I will say that reason #3 on your cons list is very important (especially for people who aren’t able to have kids) and #1 on your pros list is too.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so you won’t be “missing out” if you don’t have children. For us, we just let fate decide (knowing that our chances were slim) and got pregnant in about five minutes (okay, I’ll say fifteen so as not to embarrass my husband, but I’m pretty sure if it’s the time that he insists that it was, then it was five minutes…but a very, very good five minutes). And we just went with it and never looked back.

That little girl is one of the best things to ever happen to me (after her dad, of course), but she’s also an easy baby. I know moms who contemplate throwing their crying babies out the window. My child is the total sh*t, and I love her. 99% of the time, I don’t care that I haven’t really slept past 8am since she was born because I’m so excited to be with her. That being said, I have to time workouts and other non-child-friendly errands with her naps and coordinate those activities with what my husband wants to do. It’s a lot more planning and schedules than in the past. For me, it’s worth it. I still have a life outside of my child; it’s just more enhanced by having her too.

You guys will do what works for you, as you have always done. And if you decide to go for it, you know you have a resource in me! xx

Melanie - 11/20/2014 - 9:56 pm

I was obviously talking about you, Jen! You made another point without realizing it when you said:

“That little girl is one of the best things to ever happen to me (after her dad, of course)”

Your hubs is still your #1, and if we had kids, Sven would still be my #1, too. However, apparently this makes me kind of fucked up, according to Sven. Whenever I ask him if I would still be #1 after we have kids, he either says, no, of course the kids would be #1 or he just smiles and doesn’t answer. I don’t like this. I don’t want to be #2 to my kids. There, I said it. I know people would read that and think I shouldn’t have kids. I don’t want to end up in a relationship where I’m jealous of my own kids because my husband loves them more than he loves me. How’s that for honest? Thoughts?

Jen - 11/21/2014 - 2:46 pm

I am not ambivalent on this point at all, and fortunately, the hubster and I are on the same page. Our relationship comes first. Now, I don’t mean we ignore our child at every whim, but it means showing her by example what a solid relationship is, that we are a united, loving front, and that she’s a result of that love. As a product of divorce, I personally think that goes a long way towards helping her into her adulthood. I also think it’s good for children to not be the center of the universe; I believe that’s why we have the over entitled progeny we do today. Anyway, if we dote on our daughter instead of prioritizing our relationship, what’s left once she inevitably seeks her independence from us?

Melanie - 11/24/2014 - 8:54 pm

Great insight, Jen. I totally agree. Now, I just need to get Sven on the same page 😉

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