It will never be used.
I want to lift a glass to it all the same.
There are times when I marvel at the ability of my body to create life, even though I don’t want to take advantage of that power. Our bodies are amazing things. So many systems work together and discretely alike to make us go. And we, as individuals, work together and discretely to make our species go. That’s awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
For a long time, I was ambivalent about kids. If I pictured them, it was sort of in a picture-on-the-mantle sort of way, where they were disconnected from me and who I am, but existed. I could imagine them existing — I’m pretty good at imagining in general — but they didn’t interact with me as a person in that imaginary setting.
There were times I was sure I didn’t want them. Then there were a few times I was sure I did. I remember a moment feeling overwhelmed that I was afraid someone wouldn’t be around to meet my future progeny, and the distress that caused me.
Later though, more and more, my mind and body and heart came around to the knowledge that I didn’t want kids at all.
Some people know from an early age and never change their minds. That’s great — convenient, if nothing else.
Many others, like myself, go back and forth before deciding. About a year and a half ago, I found three things to be true.
1. I didn’t want a child if I didn’t know 100% I wanted them.
2. You can change your mind and have a child, but once they’re there you’re a parent.
3. My body is mine and mine alone.
Those three things evolved, slowly, into an understanding that on a very profound level, I not only had no desire to have a child, but I deeply did not want to be a parent.
I reject the idea that womanhood is found between my legs in a funky-looking arrangement of organs inside my body. I reject the idea that my reaching my max level up of womaning has to do with kicking my uterus into gear and housing a new being in it for nine months. I reject the idea that I cannot understand real love unless I am a mother.
I have been fortunate so far, in that very few people have greeted me with insensitive comments that erase my own personhood when I tell them I don’t want kids. Only one person has told me I’ll change my mind (and he got an earful). Only one person has told me I will regret it (I won’t). And no one has made value judgments about my worth as a woman person due to my decision (at least not to my face).
It’s a deeply personal decision, whether to have kids or not.
For me, even the idea of pregnancy is too much. Everyone — everyone — is different. For me, to not be alone in my own body for nearly a year makes me feel ready to panic. To not be able to detach, to get away, to retreat. I know myself very well. I know what I need to be a sane, generally-affable personage. I need alone time and space. I need a lot of it. Daily. I am a terrible sleeper as is and have to fight for every six hour night. When I don’t sleep, I get ill. I know that raising children would not be good for my body or my health. I spent most of my early life worrying about what others thought and needed and wanted from me. And going into my fourth decade, one of the big things I knew is that I needed to make decisions that made sense for my life and goals.
The decision not to have children is often treated like a selfish one. But having a child knowing I would not be able to give her what she needed from a parent would be worse. I reject the idea that not having children is any more inherently selfish than having them; after all, we can barely feed the children we have on this planet as is. What I embrace and accept is the idea that we are all individual people who need to make the choices that make sense for our lives and however our lives intersect with our partners.
For me, it means that my womb will remain unchanged and uninhabited.
If I were allowed — and the fact that grown women are often not allowed to make this decision is asinine to me — I would probably get sterilized. I’ve spent a decade on various forms of hormonal birth control, which filled my head with fog and altered my body and messed with my emotions and generally made me miserable. My IUD was the best choice I’ve ever made for myself, but getting that was a battle. Remember that person I said told me I’d regret my choice and that I would change my mind? Yeah, that was my doctor. I had to fight my doctor, because he didn’t want me to “waste” my remaining fertile years. He thought that I would change my mind in five years when the IUD would be removed and that I would then be devastated because my body couldn’t have kids. He didn’t think I’d be able to have kids even now. He thought I hadn’t thought things through enough. He didn’t trust me to know what I wanted, at age 29. It took me describing my childhood in poverty, my current finances, my feelings, my history as a rape survivor, my intense introversion — all to convince him that I knew myself well enough to get an IUD.
That’s the maddening thing, that lack of trust. I know who I am, and I know what I want. I’m confident in that.
I like kids. I’m really good with kids. But it bothers me when people say I’ll be a good mom. I would not be a good mom. I certainly wouldn’t be a happy mom. I know myself well enough to know that — and that’s one of the many reasons I won’t be one.
I am appreciative that even though I feel like I have to explain myself with this choice, I have one. When people say they don’t need feminism, it’s this kind of thing that makes me wonder if they’ve forgotten why it exists. Equality and choice. That is the underlying basis for feminism — that men, women, and everyone in between will have the right to choose what makes sense for their lives and be treated fairly and equally in society regarding the realization of those choices. That I can choose to devote my life to stories and words and live alone with my cats and be a feminist, just like the woman who wants five kids can be a feminist. (She can!) That a man can choose to be a stay at home dad and want five kids and be a feminist. That two moms can give birth to their kids or adopt them or choose not to do either. That we are free to be more than one facet — that we are allowed many.
There are plenty of people on this planet who will keep it populated without me. I’m happy to leave them to it. (I also already have 8 nieces and nephews, so I think it’s safe to say my spot will be filled.)
What I love is the knowledge that my body can do something, but that the potential for it doesn’t mean it must. I love my body and what it can do. I’m thankful that it works, that it’s healthy, and that it gets me through this life.
I just don’t need it to create a new one.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox
Join other followers