Years ago, I had an epiphany: Not only could I choose not to have children, but I would choose not to have children.
My reasons for not wanting them could be called selfish. I took a look at adults around me that had kids, and those that didn’t – and I decided I liked the lives of those who didn’t have children better than those who did. Instead of PTA meetings, they were going on cruises. Instead of back-to-school clothes shopping, they could afford sexy studio apartments in uptown.
When my niece Mia was born – I felt something I had never felt before – not just love for a child, but a real connection to her. I have felt this with Sadie and Cai too (my other niece, and my nephew). I’ve always liked children, always enjoyed holding babies and playing Barbies (for their benefit! not mine! I promise!) and when Kevin and Jenn went out of town recently and asked me to babysit, I put it on the calendar and looked forward to it for months.
But the feeling of not wanting my own children has not changed. In fact, I feel I have the best of all worlds – I get to come home to my toy-free house, yet two of the children that have my heart live just a few minutes away. I get to pass down the tooth-fairy pillow my grandmother made me to a great child, but I don’t have to worry about which school district I live in (just so happens it’s a great one, and hopefully one day when we sell the house some really great kid will be able to utilize it …)
What has sneaked up on me, however, is how different things can become socially. I see college friends – the girls I used to go to keg parties with and walk home drunk from the bar with and flirt our way out of trouble with the law with – and they are now talking to each other about which diaper brands are best and which children are sleeping through the night and who started crawling today …
And yes, I feel left out. Not in the “I wish I had their lives” way, but in the “I wish they still had mine” nostalgia.
On Halloween, instead of buying a kids’ costume, I’m putting together an adult one. And I’ll be drinking adult beverages at a bar with other childless friends. I’m not going trick-or-treating (although I took my nieces last year and it was one of my favorite times with them, so maybe next year …)
And I know the divide will continue. Of course, I will say many if not most of my friends have somehow managed to find that perfect balance – being moms, and also being friends. I can meet them for coffee and not have the conversation be 90% she’s-pooping-in-the-toilet-now-isn’t-she-great. I can invite a friend out for drinks and have the answer be “let me find a sitter!”
Although there have been friends where the answer to an adults-only invitation was, “Why can’t you host something kid-friendly?” (to which I replied: “You host something kid-friendly, if that’s what you want. I’ll be happy to attend.” And for the record, the invitation was to a bachelorette party – something I rarely think needs to be kid-friendly.)
Most of this post is stemming from the part of me that feels like I sometimes wake up and wonder where the past 31 years have gone. I was reading in a marathon-training book the other day that our bodies have to start battling against a rate of decline at age 31. I read that, and a sob caught in my throat. I am in a rate of decline. Where has my life gone? How could I be past college, past my 20s, and here? I know 30 is the new 20 – and I feel it. I feel it when I go out and I still get carded. I feel it when I don’t feel out of place at a college bar. But my body is fighting a losing battle against time.
And I don’t want to get old. I really, really don’t want to get old.
Writing this, I can’t help but think of a post written by Stephanie. I think about this post when I feel I’m the only one with non-maternal instincts. Read it. It’s good.