Some people know all their lives that they want to be parents, but for many of us, it’s not that clear.
But what about those who are undecided or feel they’re in limbo? If you’re on the fence or have the desire but have obstacles, you’re not alone. These are the stories of how women decided that they did NOT want kids, or DID want kids, and where they are in that process:
Those Who Don’t
“I’m a teacher and honestly that pretty much solidified my choice to never have kids. I love my job. However, when I get home from work, I only want to spend my time doing what I enjoy and that’s time spent with other adults or alone.”
“I’ve known since I was 11 years old that I didn’t want to have kids. My nana called me on it and said I would change my mind when I was older so to prove my point, I wrote a note that said “I am never having kids” and then signed and dated it and she said she would hold onto it until I changed my mind, lol. I’m now 38 and have never wavered in my decision.
Luckily I found a husband who feels the same way as me. When people ask why, the most honest answer is that I’m too selfish. The reality is that I love my nieces and nephews and my friends kids and I get my cup filled up by time spent with them but there is genuinely no longing that goes beyond that.
I can’t count the number of times my husband and I have turned to each other after a ‘less than ideal’ child encounter (obnoxious kid in the restaurant, crying kid on the plane, whatever) and have said ‘yet another reason to not have kids’, lol! We feel fulfilled with each other and our pets and that’s more than enough.”
“I am child free and just turned 38. All the reasons I could think of to have children were all for other people, and not for my own purpose. I kept thinking those reasons would start to change and instead I am reaffirmed daily that I needed to honor my choice, internal voice and feelings.”
Those Who Do/Did, But…
“A whole new can of worms that has been opened for me in the last couple years is the hoops queer couples have to jump through to have kids. I’ve always wanted to be pregnant and have a baby, but now that we’re actually into the planning of it (my partner is trans), it’s going to cost us ~$25,000 unless one of us specifically switches jobs to search for a company that offers inclusive healthcare options.
Also the sheer amount of research that you need to have the capacity to do before even taking the leap is exhausting. Whew! We’re in the beginning stages and finding community with shared experiences can be difficult.”
“Sometimes you want kids and can’t have them. I had always wanted to be a mom, but had trouble conceiving. I spent a few years trying to get pregnant naturally, but kept having losses. It was hard watching other people have families so easily. I tried to be happy for them, but it felt unfair.
After several rounds of IVF and so much money and stress, I finally decided to choose my mental health and well-being. It felt like a relief to finally just say ‘enough’ and close that chapter. I won’t be a mom in this life, and that was hard for a while, but I’m at peace with it now.”
“I was not sure whether I wanted kids when I was in my 20s and got into a long relationship with a man who was resolute that he did not want them. At the time, since I didn’t feel strongly either way, I was okay with that.
After we broke up, I wondered if maybe that decision was made for me by him, so I started dating with a more open mind. However I never found the right person, and time kept passing. Now I’m in my late 40s and I have finally decided that I would have wanted kids, but it’s too late. I wasted time with the wrong men, so I’m a dog mom and an auntie instead. I still wish sometimes that I could have had a family of my own, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me.”
“I am 38-year old single female who is still on the fence. My situation is complicated by growing up in a specials needs family. I have a brother with severe mental retardation/developmental delays (requires total care, feeding, diapering, nonverbal his entire life—he is 33 now). I always see travel bloggers say they’ll continue to travel even after they have kids, or ‘travel doesn’t have to stop after kids, etc.’, and I can’t help but feel that’s a bit arrogant (in assuming that their child is born healthy and able to handle that lifestyle).
Maybe arrogant is harsh, but at least a bit too optimistic. Conditions like my brother are rare, but growing up around other kids like him and later becoming a nurse has made me extremely aware just what a gift it is to actually parent a child (as opposed to becoming a lifelong caregiver). It is extremely difficult to find a sitter for him, and it’s rare that my entire family can go anywhere at the same time.
Usually my parents alternate travel, or I just go with my mom. We are fortunate that he needs very little extra “gear” for everyday things (soft foods and adult diapers mostly), but I’ve known kids who need to pack up portable suction and emergency supplies just for mom to run to the grocery store. Perhaps I just haven’t met the right guy who I could envision tackling any kind of parenting challenge with (healthy, special needs, or anything else), or maybe I’m just not willing to take on that risk. A special needs kid may likely need assistance beyond the parents’ lifespan, and then that responsibility falls on the siblings, other family, or an institution. It’s something I think about every day as my time to decide is now.”
Those Who Changed Their Minds (and Became Parents)
“I thought I didn’t want kids. Then I, very unexpectedly, got pregnant (birth control error) and that turned out to be the biggest blessing of my life. My son’s been my favorite travel buddy for 19 years now. In 2018 I gave him a sibling. After years of trying, ICSI helped us out.
If I didn’t get pregnant by accident the first time. I think I would’ve waited for years, if not forever. I’m so grateful of the fact the birth control didn’t work that one time 😊.”
“I got to 36 and just thought, ‘let’s see if it happens,’ and first month bam! Pregnant.”
“I very recently decided that I do want children. I travel extensively and have loved my solo travels, married travels, non kid travels.
I recently went to Morocco and, while it was a beautiful trip, when I was actually traveling, I felt kind of burnt out and not into it, which was new. When I got home of course, I’d romanticized it so much that I had created this incredible adventure that I so desperately missed in my mind. I took a few days to think about what was going on and what I really want- do I want to travel full time/ do the nomad thing/ etc. what I realized is that my passion isn’t necessarily for travel itself… it’s for creating memories and magical moments. I think this is so easy to do with travel because it comes with the territory obviously. It’s basically a given that you’re going to experience excitement and come home with a host of new memories and romantic experiences. So I was thinking about that in regards to having kids – I realized that I find the idea of creating magic and fun memories for a child is something that sounds so fulfilling to me. Of course it won’t be that way all the time, but I realized that I do think it is something that I want and an experience that will enrich my life. I work as a travel agent, and if you asked what I love most about my job, it’s planning out vacations and activities for couples or families knowing that they’re going to create lifelong memories thanks to me. So, anyways, a long winded way to say I’ve realized that the very best parts of travel (for me) and my job are things that also are going to come with raising a child, and I’m really excited about it.”
“I knew I wanted to be a mom from a very early age. But there are things I wanted to do first. I grew up poor and never traveled so once I got a big girl job I knew I wanted to see the world, and I did just that. I visited over 60 countries on all 7 continents before we had our daughter. I was definitely worried that having a child would end or at the very least slow our travels like everyone said it would. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. She’s been to 14 countries at 20 months and now I feel like I have the best of both worlds. The joy of motherhood and the joy of travel. Your life doesn’t end after you have kids. As you know!”
“I was unsure about having children for years. I was married for 12 years and we decided to not have kids. Then, in my mid-30s, I found myself divorced and at a point where I could really assess what I wanted, unburdened by another person. I came to the conclusion that I was open to having a family (if it happened, it happened and if not, I was content with my life) but also knew that time wasn’t on my side. I started a relationship with a wonderful man who felt like a true partner. We discussed children and I was open about my fears – age, losing a sense of self, sacrificing freedoms, etc. – but I ultimately felt confident that a family with him would feel fulfilling (yes, also challenging at moments), so we decided to have a baby. We did choose to only have one, but it’s been wonderful. Not without hard times and sacrifice, but we are supportive of each other, find balance through ebbs and flows, and communicate our needs to prevent resentment.
There is so much judgement around any decision related to children. I heard comments along the lines of, “I thought you didn’t want kids,” or “was this planned?” – also hurtful because we did face issues with pregnancy loss leading up to the birth of our daughter – but know I would have continued to get comments about being childless if that had been my path.”