“I think the reason I find it so difficult to be satisfied with my husband is because, like, realistically I know I could have literally anyone I want… you know what I mean?”
“Um well no, I’m not really sure what it’s like to think that”
“Oh, well, I mean it’s different for you. You don’t want kids so you’ll probably have to settle for what you can get.”
Although this was a conversation I was involved in many years ago, those words are burned into my brain and I can still hear them as vividly as when they were said aloud while driving along a highway at night back in 2009.
I’ve known my entire life that I don’t want to have children, in fact I don’t think there’s many things about myself that I am more certain of from the absolute core of my soul. It’s difficult to explain how I feel, because when it comes to the concept of motherhood, I simply feel nothing. I can’t remember a single instance during my entire life that I ever felt any kind of connection to the idea or a desire for it, no part of it elicits even the slightest emotional response in me beyond “no fucking thanks”. As for pregnancy, I’m borderline phobic. Images of heavily pregnant stomachs make me feel legitimately distressed and uncomfortable, and I can’t even fathom the idea of something actually living inside me. On top of all that, I believe this planet is completely fucked both environmentally and socially, and it’s not a place I would want to bring a child into anyway.
It’s a frustrating position to be in, because people will always tell you that you’re wrong. That you’re not a “real” woman if you don’t want to have a baby. That you’re “missing out on fully experiencing life”. And more infuriating than any of that, the condescending, smug nod of the head followed by, “Mm, you’ll change your mind one day.” That last one has slowed down now but when I was younger people would tell me that all the time and I would get so goddamn angry! I wish people would understand that it’s a good thing that at least I KNOW I don’t want kids so I’m not going to fucking have any, rather than just popping one out anyway because society says I should and ending up being a terrible parent.
But coming back to the conversation at the start of this blog, it’s also something I am deeply insecure about. Once you hit late 20s, not wanting kids makes dating progressively more complicated because it’s something so important that needs to be discussed early. Bumble is populated with men in my age group whose bios read “No kids, but want them”. Even guys on dating apps with pics holding their niece or nephew make me feel unsettled because is that a subliminal “Look how good I am with kids” message? My biggest dating fear is getting into a relationship with a guy who is ‘on the fence’ about it only to have him decide a few years down the track when the biological clocks start ticking that yeah, he actually really does want to be a dad, and I wind up being left high and dry for another woman who is willing to provide him with that. At the same time, I would never want someone to sacrifice that for me. Parenthood is such a deeply personal decision that nobody should have to compromise on.
Guys online always say to me, “How do you have trouble dating, you’re so hot” as if having some degree of conventional physical attractiveness overrides all the other complicated layers of bullshit that go into finding a suitable long term partner. I guess most people just assume that most women want to have a baby so they don’t take this kind of thing into account.
Maybe that person all those years ago was right, maybe my absolute aversion to motherhood does mean I will have to settle. And if that’s the case, I guess I’ll adopt 15 cats and stay single forever.