As a newlywed woman on the cusp of turning thirty, I feel like I’m supposed to feel excited about the idea of having babies in the near future. All around me, friends are boldly taking the plunge into parenthood and they all seem genuinely thrilled about it.
I’ve always assumed I would have kids in the same hazy, far-off kind of way I always assumed I would get a job, get married, retire, and die. But now that I’m stepping into the age bracket where it would actually have to happen, the thought of it fills me with nothing but complete terror.
Here are the top six reasons—and trust me, there are many more—that I’m terrified to procreate.
My Body is Decidedly Slowing Down – Not Gearing up for the Most Demanding Time of its Life
When I was fourteen, I ran my fastest mile in gym class: nine minutes and thirty-six seconds. I was wearing cutoff jean shorts and my favorite lavender tank top, and afterwards I proudly flipped my hair as I walked past my crush.
That was the absolute peak of my physical vitality. I cannot overstate how downhill it has been since that day.
Now I get winded walking up wheelchair ramps. If I get less than six hours of sleep, my organs feel like they’re deteriorating. The last time I went hiking, I ended up napping in the woods.
And now, now, is when I’m supposed to feel like I’m finally ready to grow new humans inside of my body, allow my nipples to become chew toys, forgo sleep for years on end, and chase around miniature, ill-behaved versions of myself who have a million times more energy than I do? Pass.
I Was Not Born to be a Mother
I know many women who’ve always just known, without having to write anxiety-ridden lists, that they want children. They are people who know how to remove stains, understand what makes food healthy vs. unhealthy, and are quick to jump in when someone gets hurt.
I was lucky enough to be raised by one such woman. She had a home-cooked meal on the table every night. She was president of my school’s PTO. For my friends’ birthdays, she still mails them packages of festive socks that never arrive late.
For years I assumed I’d become the same type of mom, but I’ve gradually realized that I’ll never be that energetic, attentive, or generous. If I have kids, I’ll always be fighting the urge to lock myself in my room, watch old school Avril Lavigne videos on YouTube, and get lost in thoughts that mostly center around myself.
Also: I gag at the sight of blood, I consider my meals a success if they come from a frozen box instead of a drive-through, and I have never bothered to learn the different types of fabrics (i.e. if you say something is polyester, that means nothing to me).
^Me in college, moments before giving birth to a bottle of Pepsi–which thankfully turned out to be a rather low-maintenance child.
My Anxiety is Already Off the Hook
I’m someone who has to make sure the oven is turned off twenty-five times before I leave the house.
Having cats has amplified my anxiety tenfold. When I’m not home, I experience intrusive thoughts about possible ways they could die. (What if they lick Nutella off the knife in the kitchen sink and die? What if they crawl into a Kohl’s bag, suffocate and die? What if they think we’re never coming home, get depressed, and will themselves dead?)
When I was a teenager, my mom made me wake her up when I got home at curfew each night, claiming she couldn’t fully fall asleep until she knew I was safe. I thought she was insane.
Now I’m just impressed that parents can ever sleep at all, given how many ways there are for children to die. If I have a kid, I fear I’ll never relax again.
I Enjoy Having the Tiniest Bit of Money
We have enough money to pay our bills, enough that we don’t have to freak out about unexpected car repairs, and—thanks to my second job—a little extra to put toward non-extravagant travel.
But we’re only one kid away from poverty.
My friend recently told me that daycare for her new baby costs $20,000 per year. “I don’t know how we’re going to afford it,” she said. “But I guess the money will just end up coming from somewhere!”
I can’t stop thinking about that. $20,000 wouldn’t just come from somewhere in my world. It took me four months to build a savings account of $1,300. The only place $20,000 would come from is me robbing banks at gunpoint.
Also, my husband and I will literally spend the rest of our lives paying off our student loans. How can we pay for our children’s educations when we can’t even pay for our own?
Travel Would Never be the Same
Travel is very important to me. Looking forward to my next adventure is often the only thing that keeps me going during long, monotonous work weeks.
Vacationing with my husband is fun and easy, and any inconveniences are fairly painless to manage as childless adults. On a recent trip, we took a train that ended up breaking down for two hours. While we were happy just to sit and read, the couple behind us had to spend the entire delay chasing after and apologizing for their seven-year-old son, who ran up and down the aisle screaming “WHEN IS THE GOD DAMN TWAIN GONNA START?”
My fears about travel post-children are also inextricable from my fears about money and friendships post-children. How would vacations even be financially possible while raising a kid? And with almost all our close friends living far away, what happens to those relationships when it’s not so easy to set off on a long road trip?
My Theory That I Can Only Do Two Things
Here’s a brief summary of my days: I work, then I write, and then I realize I should have been in bed two hours ago. That’s only two things, and there’s already barely enough time for them. Many nights, I don’t get to write.
Motherhood would be an entire third thing—and all-consuming in a way the other two are not.
I know that I could be a therapist and a mother, or a writer and a mother, because I’ve already proven to myself that I can balance two major things—even if just barely. What I don’t know is if I could be a therapist, a writer, and a mother. As much as I’d love to believe I could effortlessly juggle all three like the kind of modern-day superwoman we’re all expected to be, I’m very aware that my time and energy are finite.
If money weren’t an issue, I could let therapy go. I can picture a life without my current career, but I can’t imagine life without writing. But writers hardly make any money, and right now I can’t foresee a day when we could support a family without my income.
So writing—or at least my ability to focus on it with any consistency—is the thing I’d have to give up. I’d have to give up my favorite thing.
And yet, despite all these reasons and more, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that not having kids would mean missing out on what my mom calls “life’s greatest adventure.”
I have a friend who says that anyone who is on the fence about kids ends up having them, and I think she’s probably right. Which is why I’ll most likely end up crossing my fingers, diving in, and hoping like crazy that I will look back at this list and laugh at how completely wrong I was about everything.