A Woman’s Right To Choose…

…Not, in the meaning you think this title means….

I’m perfectly fine being the crazy Aunt 🙂
Let me start this post by giving you a background, I’m 27 years old. Keep that in mind that at 27, I’d have to get pregnant next month in order to be the age my Mother was when she had me (at 28). Surprisingly (or not surprisingly to those of you who actually know me), I am on the fence about having children of my own. Don’t get me wrong, my love for kids is totally intact, I mold and shape them into (hopefully) becoming the most well-rounded and well-adjusted student five out of seven days a week and I truly love my job. Being a pre-school teacher is one of the most demanding and rewarding things you can do with your life. Which is why for many the months leading up to my wedding to Tom, relatives and friends asked us “So when do you plan on starting a family?” it’s a natural progressive question. This is why I did not get offended the first six times it was asked to me and I coyly replied, “We’re not sure if kids are in the cards for us”. The reactions ranged from “good for you!” to “why not?! You’d be such great parents!” I’ve come to the conclusion with my husband that IF we do have a child it will on our terms (yes, there’s no typo if we have a child it will be the only one).
My parents are very supportive of Tom and I’s decision to have or not have a child and there’s a large comfort in knowing we aren’t the only millennials opting out of parenthood. According to a study from the Urban Institute,’ birth rates among women in their 20’s dropped 15% between 2007 and 2012.’ Additional studies from Pew Research Center shows a longer-term trend of women opting out of parenthood as since 1970 foregoing motherhood altogether has doubled. This statistic is strangely empowering, mostly because I’ve been faced with comments from relatives and even friends who’ve had kids that reflect the taboo associated with women who choose not to be Mothers. I’ve been told that it’s “disappointing” that I could honestly even consider not bringing life into this world, then there’s my favorite, the “I do not know what true unconditional love is until I give birth and lay eyes on my baby for the very first time” and even past popes in my Catholic faith have put reluctant women (like myself) on blast saying not to procreate is essentially “selfish”.
When I’m feeling optimistic about having a child, I try to appease these “pro parenting” people and say perhaps just one baby would be nice, and I genuinely mean that most days. After all, as my cousin Kathleen and I have joked, “who will pick out the best nursing home for us when we’re old?”. I have a lot of decent jewelry, a solid set of morals and values passed on from my parents and I’m already kind of a parent now as a teacher. So, essentially the critics DO have a point, I think my husband and I could potentially have a lot of positive attributes that would make us decent parents. What we didn’t count on was reactions to having one child are sometimes WORSE than explaining you’re not sure you’re having children at all. “You can’t just have one!” “That’s more selfish than having none at all!” “They’ll be alone!” the onslaught of these pro-parenting individuals many of them who I love and who’s opinion I value, make me fall back to square one of ‘undecided’ in the kid department.
These claims that having just one is even more selfish is simply unfounded for me. For one, I was an only child for nearly eight years before my brother was born. Had a beautiful “whoops!” that ended up resulting in Joey not happened, I would have been an only child. I love my brother, I’m blessed to have him and every time I watch him accomplish something great my heart swells with genuine pride. Am I better off for having him in my life? Absolutely, I only hazily remember my detailed life before he was born, however, I do not think I would have been less adjusted, more bratty, and heaps more self-centered if he had not been born 19 years and 3 months ago. That character just never was in mine or my husband’s DNA and it certainly wouldn’t be in our only child’s DNA either.
A common misconception about women on the fence about kids is that we don’t want to have children because we don’t have the time and our careers come first. This isn’t always true, in fact, I LOVE when people ask me how I’ve come to my decision rather than assume. My advice, ASK before you ASSUME. Here are 5 reasons why I’m leaning towards not having children:
1. Children can be money pits and with student loans on the table they may not be feasible to support when my husband and I ourselves have just enough money get by and get the occasional Applebee’s once a month. Don’t even get me started on medical costs in terms of giving birth and having the burden of a lifetime financial commitment to a kid (not to mention more than one, how’s that selfish?). With more millenials going to college finances is the top reason many of my 20’s cohorts feel they may opt out altogether.
2. Mental health issues are on both sides of my husband and I’s families. I won’t get into details but if you’ve taken a biology course in science you’ll know there’s always a shot at mental illness being passed down.
3. I will need in-vitro fertilization because of a genetic disorder-that while it does not impact my life to severely-it could manifest in my offspring much more severe. So my eggs will need to be tested and basically conceived for me which takes time, money and patience.
4.  The world isn’t always a great place and I would want to spare my potential child from living in a world of jerks. I feel like we as a world have far too many issues with bullying, shooting, law enforcement, government officials and quite frankly I don’t want to thrust that responsibility on someone who had no say in whether or not they wanted to be born.
5. It’s my body, my choice and I don’t need a reason why. The same way I do not judge people who want to embark on starting families or ask them why they are choosing to have children, I do not want that question thrust upon me about why I chose not to.
If Tom and I do have a baby, rest assured it will be an only child. Not only is this more financially feasible for our lifestyle, our miracle baby would be loved and gotten the best medical care in the world (if they did turn out mentally ill), I would only have one child to worry about in this scary world and that’s if we choose to have one, devil’s advocate. I also wouldn’t be that parent on social media who posts a slew of photos and videos of their child on social media every two hours. In fact, my child will probably be posted and chatted about once a month so my friends and family can actually see the growth of the child and not feel bombarded by photographs of every hour of my child’s mouth (showing a tooth coming in), showing them sleep or 60 other photographs of them doing the same thing. I will not be that social media monster mom and if I become one, please remind me of this post. A child might just be okay and affordable for Tom and I but forget about two, it just isn’t in the cards. A baby might not be in the cards at all for us. If all else fails we’re perfectly fine being the crazy Aunt and Uncle, I’ll write an update in 10 years on the outcome but please stop criticizing me, because it is a woman’s right to choose.
How do you feel about children? Are you having one or more? What influenced your choice? Leave a comment below discussing your thoughts and feelings, I love to hear from you!
Love you. Mean it.

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