Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Children

I had a conversation with Mr. Phizz yesterday about children.

I have always assumed I would have a few, because...well, that's what you did. You grew up, got married, and had children. I did not grow up with an all-consuming desire to be married and have a family, I just assumed I would.

Well, I've (kinda) grown up and gotten married. But damned if I feel like having any children right now (or any time soon). But the idea of deciding to not have any seems sooooo radical to my previous assumptions, my upbringing, and that of my husband's, that I'm a bit thrown by the idea.

Mr. Phizz says to just not worry about it. We don't want any now, so that's that. We have a number of years before push will really come to shove and we have to decide if we want to avoid having to use fertility treatments and such. So we really don't have to make any decisions now. I suppose I'll just let it go and stop wondering if I want any kiddos at all. Because, while I like kids, I really...really...REALLY cannot imagine having one of my own any time soon.

I know a number of you science bloggers don't have kids and have actively and overtly decided you will not have any. How did you come to that decision? Do you ever fear you will change your mind?


ScientistMother said...

oh honey do not stress about THIS right now! If you don't want kids now, that fine. You don't need to decide that you *never* want kids unless you plan on messing with the plumbing. Otherwise the decision can be changed.

Nicky said...

I agree with ScientistMother -- deciding you don't want kids now does NOT rule anything out later, so don't worry about it. And speaking as someone who DID need fertility treatments, even though we started trying when I was still fairly young... you can't always plan these things anyway.

Up through my late 20s, I knew that I definitely did not want kids yet. (They key being "yet.") The desire to have one came rather suddenly, and not until I was ~30.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Because you seem to be getting the perspective of parents, instead of the non-parents you requested, I'll shoot.

I honestly believe that the very worse reason to have kids (yet one of the more prevalent ones) is because it's what you're "supposed" to do. Just about the most irresponsible thing a person can do, is try to make babies, when they're not certain they really want to. I mean accidents are one thing, but actively trying is such a bad idea under those circumstances.

At the same time, I was just about the last person who anyone would have pegged for parenting. I absolutely didn't want kids, being way to selfish and irresponsible. Yet kids I have and a decent parent I am - by accident to boot. I was definitely not ready when it happened (honestly, not sure if I am now) but it all worked out and knowing what I do now, I would do it again on purpose.

But that is total hindsight and the same hindsight can and often does have very different results. Quite often I suspect, the hindsight of those who tried, when they weren't ready or really didn't want to is not so rosy and given the chance they would make a different decision. Not to imply they don't love their kids as much as I love mine, just that I suspect that many parents realize that they made a choice that is unfair to them and more importantly, unfair to the child/ren they made.

And who knows how you're going to feel in a couple of years? I have more than one friend who quite suddenly went from really not wanting to reproduce, to a desperate need to.

Professor in Training said...

I'm not sure that I ever had a definable moment when I decided I didn't want kids, I just never have. My philosophy on almost everything is "never say never" and even as I near the dreaded 40-mark I am still 100% certain I don't want kids. I'm not sure I'm afraid I'll change my mind as time and hormones can do bizarre things with the mind but I've never had one single second where I've even entertained the idea of having a child so I'm fairly confident that day will never come.

Candid Engineer said...

I am in a similar situation. I'm pretty sure I'd like to have children and my husband and I have always assumed we would. It's just that we've just bought this house and settled down and I am happy and content and have no desire to mix it up right now with a baby.

Not sure when I WILL want to. Not sure when I'll want to sacrifice that much of myself, stop getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night, stop doing whatever I want, etc.

I've decided not to worry about it. I'm not yet 30 and figure I will trust myself to know when the time comes. I don't think it's worth worrying about for you right now. You, too, will figure it out if and when the time comes.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I've just never wanted them. I can coo and fuss over a cute baby with the rest of them, but when observing friends and family with young children, I've just never been able to imagine myself in that role. (and yes, I've tried!). I realise that "I just know" isn't much good to you, but that's the truth!

Do I worry I'll ever change my mind? Like when it's too late? Nah... (and even if we changed our minds tomorrow we'd go with adoption as a first choice anyway, so "too late" doesn't apply quite so much). Anyway, it's better to wish you HAD had kids, than to have them and then wish you hadn't!

microbiologist xx said...

I've never had a burning desire to procreate and assumed for a long time that I would not, but now that my life has settled down significantly and I am at a place where a child is actually an option, I am starting to consider it. However, after a few days of serious consideration, I typically freak out and decide: NO WAY. I think I am way too confused myself to be commenting about this. :)

Mrs. CH said...

I don't think you need to worry about this yet - sometimes that overwhelming desire to have kids comes to some people, other times it doesn't.

I never wanted to have kids until the last year or so. I'm not sure what it is, but it's a very strong feeling now. I never thought I'd feel this way. So, give yourself some time to decide :)

PhizzleDizzle said...

Thanks for the good advice all. I think I am just going to not worry about it right now. As DuWayne alludes, it's probably not a good idea to have a kid just because I'm afraid I'll want one later (and not be able to). Plus, statistically I should have some time before that happens.

I just...I just know now is not the time. And I'll stop fretting about it. It's not a permanent decision, and I don't have to try and make one, right? RIGHT!

JLK said...

I always thought I'd never have kids. I liked the idea of a selfish, adult existence where I get to globetrot and do whateverthefuck I want wheneverthefuckiwant.

But then a year or so ago I started to realize that I want to be a mom. I'm not sure I can really articulate the reasons behind it, but I can tell you how the mentality changed.

There is a NIN song called "Every Day Is Exactly The Same." I started to realize that the milestones of my life are pretty much over. It occured to me that maybe the reason people have kids was because it gives them so much to look forward to. If I didn't have kids, my life would consist of finishing my degrees, getting a job, and then looking forward to retirement with a whole lot of routine in between. But people with kids have first smiles, first steps, first words, first days of school, first dates, marriages, grandchildren - an entire legacy to look forward to.

I realized that watching a life you created grow up and become a person is a major thing - frustrating, rewarding, infuriating, and fulfilling. Not to mention HARD. But I really believe that having a child in your life instills a sense of purpose where one may be lacking, reward where one may be starving. I, even as my ultimate feminist self, decided that I want to create and experience that ultimate loving bond that exists between parent and child.

I should mention that I wholeheartedly believe that anyone can live a completely full life without children in it, and I totally understand that decision. I really do.

But for me, there's just something about it. Maybe it's that it is the ultimate joint venture between two parents, particularly when they love each other with all their being. I didn't always feel this way, but now I think of a toddler running into the room screaming "Mommy!" or "Daddy!" or even a teenager saying "Mom, I think this is where I want to go to college" and it spurs this strong desire in me to experience it. Even "I hate you, mom!" because I won't let my teen go to some party or some shit - it just does something to me.

And I am someone who thinks babies under 6 months old are boring. Cute, but boring. Kids between age 6 and age 13 are annoying. Kids between age 13 and 18 are difficult and obnoxious. I expect my own kids to be exactly like that.

But that LOVE....that ridiculous LOVE....that trying and so incredibly difficult and painful LOVE that I think can only be experienced by being a's just something that has become increasingly important to me as I have gotten older. I can't explain it, I really can't. It's not Baby Fever, it's not parental pressure, it's not my "biological clock" ticking away. It's not something I'm "supposed" to do.

Here's how I think about it. If I found out I couldn't have kids, I would want to adopt. I wouldn't go through the expense and stress of fertility treatments - as someone who has been on the other side, I see how trying it is. But I would seek out a child whose chances were limited, probably from another country, and I would love them and care for them and try to raise them as best I could.

Idk, PD. I realize I've started rambling. I understand the feeling of "I'm supposed to do this" and I also understand the feeling of "I don't want this now, but what if I regret it later?" I've even toyed with the idea of going off my birth control just to see what would happen (with husband's knowledge and consent, of course).

I will say this from what I have seen in and heard from others - there is never a "great" time to have kids. Being able to imagine what it would be like to have one is definitely not a pre-req, since I don't think anyone knows what it's like until they actually do. The fact that you don't think you're ready says to me that you probably aren't - it isn't something to do reluctantly. For me, I'm not sure I'm "ready" but it's something I really want, and I've been willing to look at timing implications and all that to figure out when the "best" time is knowing that there really is no "best" time.

It really is for you and your husband to decide - I don't think anyone in the blogosphere can tell you. I have never heard anyone IRL say they regretted having a child when they did even when it was by accident. But your needs and your life need to come first. There are always options.

As a sidenote, you and Mr. Phizz would have some very beautiful children though. ;)

PhizzleDizzle said...

As a sidenote, you and Mr. Phizz would have some very beautiful children though. ;)Heh...thanks JLK :).

Science Bear said...

I have several major issues about having children:

First, the sound of a baby crying makes me want to pull my hair out and is quite possibly worse than nails on a chalkboard to me. This poses a major problem with bringing a child into the world, since they start off as babies (unless you adopt).

Second, though I've been at a place in my life when this could have been an option (not any more), both myself and my then husband had worked very hard for a long time to get where we were, and wanted time to enjoy the fruits of our labors (so we got a puppy instead).

Third: everyone tells you it's different when it's your own kid, versus someone else's, but what if they are wrong!!!

Lastly, the idea of being completely responsible for the shaping and survival of another human is a bit to much for me. I can barely keep my own shit together much less my stuff and a creature completely dependent on me for survival... though I have no problem with canines.. odd I know.

Seeing as how 3 of my friends have sent "expecting" announcement in the last 2 weeks, and most of the people I grew up with have at least one child, I DO wonder what I missed from time to time. I also wonder how my life would change... but not enough to ever actually do it. I think I'm going to stick with being an Aunt, so I can teach them things but then send them home!