#Adulting is a column hosted by our contributor Kimieabreak that explores what it means to be a 30-something woman trying to get by in today’s society. It features her personal musings, interviews, and research into navigating various aspects of this stage of life during this unique time in history.
Exploring Mommyhood & the Choice to Be Childfree
Little girls and dolls are synonymous with peanut butter and jelly. You very rarely see or think of one without the other. I want to say that most of the little girls that I’ve been around are little mommies in training. Before the age of two, they have their own little baby doll that they carry with them everywhere. As the kids grow up, so do the dolls activities and accessories: strollers, diaper changing, feeding, nursing, toys for the doll to play with.
Already at such a young age, these young girls are positioned and training to be the best mommies ever. To fulfill life’s ultimate purpose,—the greatest thing a woman can do: keep the tribe alive and reproduce.
I feel like most women just have IT. They love the way babies smell and have that gentle nurturing touch. I, myself, never wanted a doll or showed affection towards children or babies, but if there was an animal? Oh, baby, I was there.
My baby doll equivalent was a baby Shamu. I didn’t go anywhere without him. I loved and nurtured this
Now when it comes to nature and nurture, I have two potential scapegoats. One is being an only child, and two is Disney
I would play in my yard and try to conjure up squirrels and birds, the way Cinderella, Snow White, and Pocahontas could. I would force-love my little Yorkie into being my adventure comrade. And, to think back on it now, when she passed 15 years later, she definitely felt like the little sister I never had.
I spoke about this to a friend of mine who shared that she, too, felt an unease around babies. When asked to hold them, every muscle in her body would tense up, and the fear of not holding the baby’s neck just right, or not knowing how to bounce the babe just so to calm a tantrum, was the stress equivalent of having a cop behind you when you just got your learner’s permit.
She explained that it was just a lack of experience; that, as only children with no close-aged cousins or family members around, we just got shafted with a lack of exposure. We’re just inexperienced…it’s not that we don’t have the touch; we just don’t know any better. Most people are brought up around siblings or young family members and so they naturally have a better touch or sensibility than we do.
During my first long-term relationship, people would ask, “Are you guys planning to get married and have kids?” We were both on the same page: that we didn’t want kids; at least, not now. My gut reaction was always a strong, “NO”. Why would you want to bring a kid into this shit-storm of a world? My passionate, youthful, inner activist declared that the world was already overpopulated. That it was selfish to want to bring your own mini-me into the world to show how cute your genes were when passed on, instead of adopting one of the many children in desperate need.
Being fairly fresh out of my teen years, the trauma of adolescence seemed like the last thing I would ever want to subject someone “I loved so much” to go through. I think I had an average level of angst growing up. And definitely had one or two screaming matches with my mom, cursing her for bringing me into this world without my permission. Genetically, there were things I didn’t want to pass down to my kid: my shit skin, for one. And there were definitely traits from my partner’s family I did NOT want to propagate.
As I reached my late 20’s with my current partner, I experienced a shift, and started thinking that THIS guy would make a great father. He’s responsible, and genetically a win. My inner mom-o-meter was ticking off boxes I wasn’t conscious of. My mom had me when she was 35, so I always had the thought that, if anything, I still had time to make up my mind if it changed.
Which brings me to the summer I spent with my 2 1/2-year-old
My goddaughter is perfection— sweet-natured and easy. It was the first time in my life that I contemplated the realities of becoming a mother. I was so in love
I have to say that people on the other side don’t make a good sell when they say parenting is the hardest, scariest thing they’ve ever done, “but the love they give you makes it all worth it!”
A few flights with screaming kids later, my eggs calmed back down into their hibernation state. Now in my early 30’s, 35 is closer than ever. I still don’t have that “this is for me” clarity. And now, when people ask, I want to be able to say a solid “no” instead of a socially acceptable “not yet,” for fear that if I do end up pregnant, one way or another, there will be whispers of, “oh man, she never really wanted it.”
Part of me strongly wants to experience pregnancy, but everything after that seems like a time suck. I don’t have the patience or the energy to entertain a kid for 18 years. My mom-friends assured me it’s really ONLY for the first two and then they have preschool, but nothing makes me want to bite my arm off more than keeping a newborn or toddler company.
At least with my dog, if I have a lazy day on the couch, sure I get a
Also, I can’t help but be bothered with the thought that the most responsible parent thing to do to keep your kid safe, is to maybe not have one.
But that’s none of my business.
After writing this all out and reading it back, it seems like a glaring stamp on the forehead that motherhood just isn’t for me. But I can’t seem to make the hard “no” just yet. Maybe once I’ve sowed my career oats, and life calms down, seeing it through a little-bitty’s eyes is just the way to experience life all over again. The ups and the downs
Or maybe Darwinism has yet to kick me in my late-bloomer feminine field, and I’ll be overwhelmed with the need to protect and nurture something bigger than myself? Until then, I have to admit that I do feel my patience developing, and sense myself sending supportive vibes to the mama with the screaming baby on the plane. I smile at the silly conversation I overhear 4-year-olds have to themselves in the grocery store. I can tolerate about six games of UNO in a row. And my muscles are still tight, but learning to relax, when I hold a baby. Maybe it is a learned skill, or maybe I’ve already been a mom all along to my fur babies.