“When are you having a baby?”
“You’d be a great mom.”
“You’ll regret it later if you don’t.”
“You HAVE to have kids!”
…and I used to think people were pushy about making me try seafood. Though the decision not to have children actually reminds me of that: people are really convinced you’re making a mistake. YOU’LL REALLY LOVE LOBSTER IF YOU TRY IT THIS WAY, they say, boring into my soul with their crazy eyes.
From what I can gather, my decision not to have children is often considered offensive: personally, culturally, and in a way that makes people uneasy. What is she, a fucking terrorist?
Then again, a lot of the decisions I’ve made about the way I’ve chosen to live my life have been met with subtle (and some not so subtle) disapproval. Even just the other day when I was home in Pennsylvania visiting, I ran into an old friend who said to me, in response to my decision to build an online business and travel the world: “For a minute there, Ash, we all thought you were going off the deep end.”
<Insert soft chuckle.>
I’ll be honest with you about the baby thing: for a long time, I waited for the urge. I assumed that the ubiquitous clock would start ticking, and eventually I’d be swimming around in an Indian Ocean of estrogen. GIVE ME ALL THE PINK TUTUUUSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! So I waited, and I waited, sort of the way you wait for death: you don’t think about it, much, but you know it’s coming. Someday.
But now as I approach my mid-thirties—spoiler alert—I still have not had the urge. So—double spoiler alert—I’m not planning to have a baby.
That seems like a logical conclusion to me. Rational. Even responsible. But this is where things start getting weird, because the rest of the world seems to be under the impression that I am obligated to birth a child and whip out a dollhouse. That somehow, it is my solemn sworn duty as a card carrying member of Fallopian Tubes to procreate—even when I am sure that both the world, and my talents, are better served elsewhere. It's almost as if I, personally and singlehandedly, will be responsible for the extinction of mankind if I don’t.
It’s offensive, I suspect, because it's viewed as selfish. Defiant. Radical. And because my personal decision to forsake motherhood is assumed to be an attack on motherhood all around. For example, moms get really, really weird when we have this conversation. It’s almost as if I were directly insulting them; showing up and saying, “HAHAHA, I THINK YOU’RE A SUCKER.” But of course that’s not what I’m thinking. I’m not judging their decision to become a mother; in fact, I probably adore their kids. But I am trying to make a decision of my own.
Because you know what I think *would* actually be selfish?
Having a baby because you’re bored. Because life got monotonous. Because “you’re supposed to,” and everybody’s waiting. Jesus, having a baby is as serious as having a sex change—and you will live with it for the rest of your life. Does that strike you as the kind of move you should be making if you’re anything LESS THAN sure?
So as it stands today, I have absolutely no plans to have a baby. Did you hear that, Internet?!?! No plans! AND I’M THRILLED. Just the way that women often get excited when they are expecting, I’m excited not to be. And get this? I’m allowed to be excited. I’m allowed to feel happy, and I’m allowed to feel whole, and I’m allowed to feel complete, just as I am.
And so are you.
You’re allowed to be #NOTPREGNANT, too.
I wanted to write this post, today, because I started this blog in 2009 as a way to encourage others who craved a less conventional life—but this is a topic I don’t talk about, often, for the same reasons as I outlined above: it offends people. But it is not my job to be inoffensive; it’s my job to show up. So I really wanted to show up about this, today, because I don’t think enough women are. I think there are a lot of scared young ladies out there who are making big, forever decisions because they’re being pressured to. Because “it’s what people do.” Because there’s this subtle attitude that you’re defective if you aren’t.
But the only thing defective here is the narrative.
Get to know yourself, first.
Live your life before you start living someone else’s.
Be discerning with your time on earth.
And only do it when it feels good…for you.
There are many things we can do, in this world.
Having children is only one of them.