I am not a mother. I am not sure I want to be. I understand there are women out there who yearn to have a child with every fiber of their being. –The mere thought of raising a child terrifies me on so many levels!
First, let’s address the birthing process shall we? Death by childbirth is not an archaic nor third world issue. Since, I was little I had an unnatural fear I would die in childbirth, if it ever came to that. As an adult doctors have confirmed, given what they could tell of my lady parts, 1) There is a good chance it will be difficult for me to conceive 2) Should I conceive, I shan’t carry to term. This is coming from multiple doctors. Not comforting, to say the lest. It reinforces the fear of death by childbirth. Although with morbid humor one of my cousins once exclaimed, “Oh that would be such a “You” way to go! All historically melodramatic and martyr-like. Kinda passive aggressive of you to prove to the family that if you followed their ways, it’d be the death of you.”–Thanks. Not helpful.
More than bringing a child into this world, is the ENORMOUS responsibility of raising a child in this world. I will be the first to admit the loss of control and turning my life upside down does not appeal to me. Selfish? Perhaps. Honest? Definitely. I has taken me all my life to come to terms with myself (and I’m not yet where I want to be in regards with my own introspective analysis), throwing a baby into the mix is not going to assist in the matter. It will just open up another facet. I am not ready for that. Once I know precisely who I am and what I stand for, then I feel I can take on the challenge of child rearing. If at all.
In addition to this is the loss of identity as an individual. It starts with the marriage “John’s wife,” but then grows into “Jimmy’s mom.” This does not sit well with me at all. Some women relish the idea of being “Jimmy’s mom.” I do not. It pains me more than I was “Darin’s little sister.”–Yeah, no. I have a name. I am independent of my brother. Please do not lump us together in personality because we are polar opposites. So it goes with “John’s wife” and “Jimmy’s mom.”
The most stressful issue about child rearing is many forget children are not forever. Parents are raising future adults, future voters, future citizens of the world. A parent is a steward. They only “have” the child for about one fourth of its life. Hopefully, parents will teach them love and how to cope with confrontations, assuage arguments, and so on and so forth. The baby is not a baby forever. Eighteen years is all one has in American Society. That’s it. Then the children will fly the coop. Parents are just guides and no matter what one does or does not do, the child may turn out to be a mass serial killer. There is no formula. Some of the wildest entertainers were raised in strict religious households . . . Why? Because a child is an individual. It will make up its own mind. There is no hope for control.
Lastly, the Cult of the Child. It began during the Victorian era and has only flourished since then. Prior to the 19th century, children were treated more or less as little adults. A child was another pair of hands to work the farm and another mouth to feed. Most children did not survive past 5 years old, so parents made a point to not get too attached, to save themselves from the grief if and when the child died. This is all generalization, of course, but worth mentioning. In the Victorian era, the sun and moon rose and set on the child, the baby was everything. It continue to be the woman’s sole reason for existence and source of pride, no matter how emotionally close she was to her offspring. The idea of playtime, as we know it has its roots in the 1800s. There was a slow but growing market for children’s things.
Everyone dotes on the baby. I always feel bad for the husbands for getting shafted. Yes, I understand the baby has needs and cannot survive without help for the first few years of life. I also know men are more invested in fatherhood than ever before which is wonderful! However, what about the spouse you chose and chose you? What about that person whom you married and will live along the side of you until you take your last breath? What about them? I know more and more people who divorce after the children have gone to college, because for the past 18 years they have been individual parents to a child. They don’t know who this “stranger” is living in their house. It certainly isn’t the person they married. They’ve all changed and no one talks about it. Children may initially bring a couple closer. Families evolve and not always for the better. A baby “happens,” a parent does not get to pick a baby. They do not date and see if they are compatible, if this would be a good relationship for the long run. A spouse, in the Western culture is someone you choose. You make an educated decision about, weighing the pros and cons. Being selective. That is the person who will hopefully be with you once the children have flown, as long as the relationship is not neglected for decades.
The topic of children was a huge concern of mind with my now ex-fiancé. He loves children. He needs children. He is like a mother hen, it is almost comical. I had told him, to my detriment, that I would give him children (we had names already picked out and would start baby making right away.) Notice the wording. Because I loved him and he loved children, I would GIVE him what he loved. I would not be having children because I wanted children. I would have them because I loved him and wanted him to be happy.–Which is honestly a bad reason to have a child. Then the child will for sure come between us. He said half jokingly that I would have to remind him that I was in the house, because he would be so involved with our baby. This is not what I wanted to hear, but knew this to be the honest truth. My secret (messed up martyr) wish would be if I died during childbirth to our child. That way he would get what he wants and I wouldn’t have to raise the child and watch our relationship drift part. Melodramatic much?
Lastly, I am hearing impaired. I know there are many wonderful parents out there with disabilities who are happily married with children. I’m still in a fear of how to make it work. I would not be able to hear the child cry at night and would have to keep the baby in my sight at all times. I loathe to be a helicopter parent, but there would be no other way for me to manage without help. I am sure this fear might be placated if I had a supportive spouse beside me, but at the moment the mere thought gives me anxiety.
For those wondering, I was raised in a loving two parent household. My parents have been married for 40 plus years. Yes, they’ve had their ups and downs. We are still a pretty tight knit family. Just the four of us. Yet, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who was raised this way. Most families are to the contrary.
Perhaps in time I might change my mind about children of my own. As for now I am firmly on the fence.