I am participating in the UncoSynchro blog, a writing collaborative effort from #UNCO, focusing on subversive themes of faith and life. The theme for March is (un)Lucky.
Disclaimer: this blog post is in no way intended to criticize, shame or otherwise denigrate those who have made a different life choice than me. It is simply intended to give my thoughts on the matter.
I want to write today about a topic that has been on my mind for many years now: the subject of kids. For a long time, I really did genuinely believe that I wanted kids. I thought that that was something I wanted and thought I would make a great dad someday.
Yet, I've come to think slightly differently on the matter. I've been giving it a lot of thought and I've realised that having kids isn't as important to me as I once thought it to be. I think I've realised that if I never have kids, that's ok. Not everyone has to have children. Not everyone has to make that choice. That doesn't mean that I've somehow failed or that I've been unlucky. That also doesn't mean that my life is somehow less fulfilling if I haven't had kids.
That's a phrase that really gets under my skin: this idea that people who don't have children are somehow less fulfilled or less satisfied with life. That's quite frankly, incredibly insulting and ignorant to say to someone. You can have just as fulfilling and just as successful a life if you never have children as someone who has. It just means that you put your centre of value into something else besides your children. It could be your career or your volunteer work or your partner or your friends or your pets or something else entirely. Any number of things can bring you fulfilment or joy, it doesn't have to be children.
Also, can we please not look down on people who don't have kids and feel sorry for them? Again, insulting and degrading. You don't know all their life circumstances that have led to them not having children. For me personally, I just don't see the appeal or the point really. I recently went through and made a pro/con list of all the reasons to have or not have children and honestly, the cons won out. This doesn't mean that having children is a bad thing or the wrong choice. I want to validate those people who have had children and let you know that I support your decision and the reasons why you made it (whether or not it was intentional).
For me, though, I just don't see the appeal. Having kids can be a real burden and a real pain and I don't see a reason to sign up for that. Plus, I love to travel and I know that that would probably not be able to continue if I have children (or at least not to the extent that I would like it to). There's also the fact that you lose a piece of your identity when you have children. You no longer are yourself. Instead, you become "Jacob's daddy" or "Susie's mommy" or simply just "Daddy". For me, as someone who's struggled with identity issues my whole life, having to give up a part of my identity has zero appeal for me. Not to mention the fact that I would never get to sleep in again and as someone with insomnia, I crave being able to sleep in! And there's also the fact that your time is not yours anymore. Your days become all about your kids and their schedules and their needs and it stops becoming about you.
So, are those selfish reasons to not have children? Perhaps but isn't it also just a little bit for selfish reasons that people have children anyway? There's a need to care for something. There's a need to have your legacy preserved. There's a need to have that identity or status that being a parent gives you. I'm not saying that those are bad reasons to want kids. Not at all. What I am saying is that they are, in a sense, selfish reasons. So, it is selfish to want kids and selfish to not want kids.
Here's my somewhat rambling point of all this. Not having kids doesn't mean that I'm somehow unlucky or haven't been successful in life. I'd like to think that when I get to the end of my life, I will look back with pride on my accomplishments even if they don't include children. I'd like to believe that irregardless of having children or not, I will still feel like my life has been blessed and that I've led a pretty lucky life. I'd like to think that my choice to not have children will be respected and appreciated by society and by my friends. For the longest time, I was bowing to societal pressure to want kids. Now, I'm choosing to go against the grain and declare that it really doesn't matter to me if I never have children. I'm going to be ok either way. At the end, what really matters is whether or not I've made a difference in the world and whether or not I've been loved and have loved. That can come in a myriad of other ways besides children.
I think I'm a pretty lucky guy, even without the kids. And I think that will continue to be the case even if the children never happen. The kids will be alright and so will I!