I had an incredibly refreshing conversation with my dental hygienist last night about having children. Thus far in life, when I have brought up never liking children or really wanting any of my own, people have never failed to tell me my opinion will definitely change, that it’s different when they’re your own, etc. But even if those people are over-the-moon in love with their offspring, that doesn’t mean I will be. So I’ve given up on trying to be positive and open-minded-sounding about it. When my hygienist asked whether my husband of 9 months and I were thinking about having kids, I said, “We’ve talked about it, but I definitely know we’re not ready now, and I’m really not sure I’m ever going to want any. I was never one of those teenagers who babysat, and I’ve never spent much time around children, but I just don’t have an affinity for them.”
And you know what she said? She opened her eyes up wide (the rest of her face was covered with a surgical mask, but I have to assume the remainder of her expression was just as earnest) and said, “Then don’t have any. I never wanted kids, so ours were more of an ‘oops’ situation. And while I wouldn’t trade them for the world now, if I’d never met them? I wouldn’t choose to have kids again. You have kids and you give up your life. It’s not really your life anymore – it’s theirs.”
I have never had anyone speak so bluntly to me about this topic. The closest I’ve gotten is having someone say, “Well, sure, you just got married, so you should wait a year or two – then you’ll definitely want to have some!”
Maybe it’s that I’m still very much a girl rather than a woman, or because I grew up way too fast as a kid and then got stuck in the later stages of childhood, quasi-Freudian-style, but I don’t trust myself caring for another life. I spend way too many waking hours as it is arranging things just so and doing things in a particular order in the hopes that the universe will not smite my husband out of existence. And I can really only use my universe-wrangling skills for one person at a time, so he’s bound to die if we have a kid and I get distracted protecting him/her from untimely demise. I just can’t let that happen.
We had a dog once, for a week. She was a two-year-old border collie with a few nervous tics, but mostly just an average dog’s inclination to bark and whine and be weird in a new person’s home. And we couldn’t handle it. Bryan worked from home every day at that point, and we couldn’t handle it. He would stand frozen in the backyard, covering his ears, while she barked in unison with a perturbed neighbor dog. I’d clench my fists in frustration when I’d take her outside over and over again to poop and she’d just flat-out refuse. We barely keep up with the cats’ litter box as it is. I sleep five hours a night already, due to insomnia and stress. I have no desire to shake things up. I have no maternal instinct. Thank you, hygienist lady, for making it feel OK for the first time ever.