By Morgan Herbert of Surviving Artfully
For years, I swore I didn’t want kids. My dogs were enough; my job was enough. Naturally, my husband and I (mostly I) got a lot of grief from relatives, especially the would-be grandmothers. My mother-in-law had other grandchildren, but my mother never missed an opportunity to lament that she was the only one of her friends without grandkids (which wasn’t true).
After a couple years of tentative, off-and-on discussions, the hubs and I decided to toss out the birth control and “see what happens.” What happened was that I got pregnant almost immediately. The families were elated, and certain smug relatives boasted that they had always known we would change our minds.
Our beautiful, perfect daughter was born in June of 2013, and I have never regretted it for a second. Even in the throes of brutal post-partum depression, coupled with the fact that Aubrey refused to nurse, my love for her and certainty in her shone through the darkness. She’s a fantastic, smart, funny toddler now, and I absolutely do not want another one.
The “so when are you going to have anothers” started before her first birthday. Jesus, people. My organs haven’t all drifted back into place yet. I had thought that having a child would buy us at least a few years free from being pestered about our reproductive intentions. I was so, so wrong. By far, the most frequent argument for having another baby was that Aubrey needed a sibling. After all, the hubs and I had each grown up with two siblings. Did we really want to deprive our child of that experience?
The onslaught has been relentless, varying from well-meaning to downright rude. One notoriously crass family member point-blank asked me if I was physically capable of having another. Being raised under the strict Southern laws of civility, I brushed it off, but I desperately wanted to say, “I’m pretty sure the state of my uterus is none of your goddamn business.”
I know me. I know the limits of my patience, time, and abilities. I see other people with multiple children, and it works out great for them. That’s not me. I want to focus all my attention on Aubrey. I know that I don’t have the patience to wrangle two children. Right now, I can give Aubrey the attention and affection she needs and have just enough left over at the end of the day to take care of my dog and maintain my marriage. I genuinely do not want the experience of dealing with a newborn while still trying to take care of a small child. As if those reasons weren’t good enough, there’s the practical aspect: we don’t have room for another kid. Truth be told, we can barely afford the one we’ve got.
It baffles me that other people feel they have a genuine stake in such a personal decision. The reaction we get when we tell people we aren’t having any more kids is usually worse than when we said we didn’t want kids at all. People seem to think we are short-changing Aubrey and make it their business to tell us so. And maybe in some ways we are.
She won’t have fond memories of being crammed in the backseat of a car with other little people, and she won’t have an ally in dealing with her doddering old parents when she’s an adult. And there may come a day when we change our minds; we’ve set that precedent. But right now, we both know we don’t want any more kids. It is a decision we made, for reasons that make sense for us. Just like most other parenting topics, it really is no one else’s place to argue with us.
So if someone in your life insists that they don’t want kids, or they don’t want more kids, kindly take ‘no’ for an answer and move on. You’ll at least get the joy of feeling smug if they ever change their minds.
About the Author
Morgan Herbert has been writing for public consumption since 2007. Her work has appeared in print and online, most recently in Blue Ridge Country magazine and at Sammiches and Psych Meds. She blogs about parenting with creativity at Surviving Artfully, and you can follow her snarky commentary on Twitter @morganh_writes.