Am I doing it wrong?

 

Hey guys:
I have to admit something right off the bat: I don’t normally listen to a lot of Therapy Thursdays. The reason is my email.

       A lot of episodes have to deal with raising families and dealing with married life. I realized that something must be horribly wrong with me because the idea of reproduction and marriage as a necessity is so far opposite my own view on life that I could possibly have a mental disconnect somewhere. I’m 34 years old, female, from VA, black and a nerdy gamer. I’m an artist and a loner but I have a boyfriend that I’ve been with for 13 years. The problem is, I have never ever wanted kids, never wanted that great big wedding, needed a huge family, none of that. Matter of fact I quite dislike children. I won’t tell people that their kids are annoying to their face but I’d rather not be next to one ever if possible. I just have zero desire I guess to be what a woman is supposed to be and I don’t know what to do about it.  Maybe this disconnect happened growing up as a black female gamer in a world where people still don’t think we exist and I just never found a way to connect?

      So when I tell people that I’d rather not have kids they press me as to why and won’t leave me be. It gets worse when I tell them I had my tubes tied to prevent accidental impregnation. Then they look at me like I’m some horrible monster. I literally had someone ask me what was wrong with me because I’d been dating the same guy for so long with no ring and no kids.

     So I’m asking, is something wrong with me? Should I be feeling the urge to reproduce, get married, and fit into what is perceives as human norms? So I’m begging for just a simple answer to a stupidly complex question. Am I doing it wrong and if so how do I fix it?

Thanks,

N

 

Dear N:

Who cares?!  (I’m not talking to you – I’m talking to everyone else!) Can we leave people alone already with the kid question?!?  There is nothing wrong with you.  Throughout history there have been women who don’t want kids or the married life.   Just as there have been plenty of men.  I’m not sure it was as culturally safe to say it out loud like it is now.  However, it sucks that you have to deal with the remaining stigma.  Really it’s more about the fact that people are uncomfortable with people who have views or feelings that are drastically different from their own experience.  We are a very tribal species and when someone chooses to live their lives or have ideas that are totally different from the majority in the group, then its quick and easy to dismiss them as crazy or abnormal.  It is simply more time consuming to listen to people in order to really understand them.  I think it’s especially tough when those differences are experienced on such a visceral level.

There are plenty of women who want a baby as if it were the key to accessing their next breath.  Your visceral or gut feeling is no less valid, just on the opposite side of the spectrum.  As a minority in this department, and in many ways in your life, it probably feels pretty isolating.  I’m sorry about that.  It’s never a fun feeling to feel alone or different.  (However, I guarantee there are at least 100 chat rooms out there where you can find your tribe of baby haters.  Ha ha!)   One idea might be to come up with a little stash of ready made comments or tricks to use when confronted with incredulous parents or when you have to sit by a booger-y kid on a plane or when someone asks you for the 100th time when you are getting married and having a kid.

Here’s just one example, your boyfriend should feel free to use:

When my husband was asked by a nosey neighbor lady 6 months after we were married ”so when are you guys going to start having kids?” My hilarious husband, without skipping a beat, quoted a line from one of his favorite movies “Raising Arizona.”  In his best southern drawl he quoted  “well, doc says somethin’s wrong with my semen.”  She never asked again.

Best of luck.  Enjoy life, do some good in the world and have a little compassion for those people who can’t seem to wrap their heads around folks who aren’t just like them.

Warmest regards,
Wendi

 

4 Comments

  1. I like kids. I really do. In fact, I work in a daycare, love my nieces and nephews dearly and have a son who is almost 3 years old. That said, I feel very similar to N here. In my case, it’s about “having another one”. I have a feeling I am simply “not ready yet” but I am approaching my mid 30s and afraid that once I am ready it will be too late/I would have complications. The way I look at it, I: graduated high school (check), got married (check), went to college (check), had a baby (check)… I have sort of a “been there, done that” type of attitude. That’s the best way I can explain it. In that sense, I can relate to N when it comes to being bombarded with that question about having kids (plural in my case). I often feel like I’m viewed as crazy, even by my husband sometimes, because of my love for babies and kids, and because I wanted a baby so bad… And then I had one. It was like, “yes! We did it!… Now what’s next?” I am not sure if any of this helps at all, but just knowing you have a sympathetic mom lending you support.

  2. Hello!

    I never really wanted kids. I was kind of just complacent about it, really. I didn’t like other kids. They made me feel inadequate and nervous. When my nieces and nephews came-along, I loved those noodles, but still didn’t want my own.
    Into my 30’s and unable to make my mind up, my partner and I just decided to “pull the goalie” and let whatever happens happen. We ended-up getting pregnant and now have a 2 year-old son, whom I love more than I ever thought I could love anything.

    That was how it went with me.

    BUT…that’s not the way it is for everyone and it ABSOLUTELY does not have to be the way it is with you. Even now that I have this child that I love more than life itself and wouldn’t be able to give-up now, I know that I would have been perfectly happy and enjoyed my life fully if I hadn’t have had him. That sounds horrible to most people who are parents who couldn’t imagine life without their kids…

    I can.

    I’d be out of debt, would travel more, would be able to write more, read more, go out more often, play more, be less tired, etc etc etc. Life would be good.

    Life is good WITH him (don’t get me wrong)-it’s just a different kind of good.

    I guess I just wanted to write you, as someone who is now a parent, and say WE DON’T ALL THINK THAT EVERY WOMAN SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN!!!

    I grew-up with a girl who knew from an extremely young age that she never wanted kids, and to this day, she has stuck to it. I always thought she was extremely enlightened and self-aware. Unlike me who just waffled back and forth and let ‘nature’ decide.

    People are stupid. All the time, every where. And, even with 1 kid, I get constantly badgered about having a 2nd and people will bluntly tell me to my face that I am mean for not giving him a sibling. I have friends who have 8 kids and are also judged as though they are crazy, or raising them to do the housework, or whatever…People like to judge and push opinions.

    I like Wendi’s response about coming-up with some perfectly formulated responses and sticking with them. I’ve been loving the “it’s 2016 for goodness sake [it’s my life, my decision]; [it’s my body]; [the world is already massively over-populated]; [I’m just doing my bit to reduce global warming]….” response to things. I mean, come on, people….it’s 2016.

  3. I totally agree with Wendi on this one. It kind of drives me nuts when people project their own desires (or, in the case of having kids, perhaps a bit of underlying misery that desires company?) on those around them. For people you don’t know, having a set of responses at the ready for this question is a great idea, and I like Wendi’s example that would really shock the person asking the question. Tell them it’s against your religion. Tell them you’re actually allergic to children. Tell them, with a deep shuddering breath, that you’re barren. Whatever. Leave them off-balance long enough for you to change the subject and move on. Try to be good natured about it and laugh it off. For people you know better, a deeper explanation would probably be best. Help them understand that it’s just not for you, period, there’s already more than enough people filling up this planet, please stop hounding me about it, thank you very much. There’s nothing weird or broken about not wanting kids. There IS something weird and broken about forcing your views on other people and not taking time to understand why they feel how they feel. And please remember that you’re not “supposed to be” anything aside from yourself.

  4. I completely sympathize here. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years. We got married after 5 years in a beautiful, small, backyard wedding. And we have absolutely no desire for children. I would be ‘fixed’ but no doctor would allow the procedure on someone under 30 years old. I’m now 31 and as soon as 2018 comes around (I get my Merina removed). I’ll be having surgery. No accidents here!

    I have lost both of my parents. I only have my younger brother and extended family. Thankfully my family don’t ask me any longer. But coworkers and even strangers ask all the time like I’ve got a damn virus, and I’ve chosen not to take meds.

    I do not have issues with confrontation however and can usually get my point across in a few words and a glance. But it’s ridiculous I have to be asked.

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