Actually, we don’t have to have children

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“We don’t have to have children.”

My husband told me this after we’d had an argument recently. I can’t remember what brought it up, but I remember feeling a huge relief that I’d never felt before. It may have mostly been because the argument was over, and we were walking back through what went wrong and how we can avoid it in the future and apologizing to each other.

But I’m almost positive that a lot of the relief came from that single sentence – and I’d never really considered that there was tension or expectation from either one of us when it came to procreating.

Of course we’d talked about having kids – how many we wanted, how we’d discipline them, how we’d talk about the tough things like death and sex – but we’d never talked about not having kids. At least not really. Not seriously.

To a certain extent, I think there was a subconscious pang of guilt to even consider not having children when so many people wanted to experience it, but for many reasons couldn’t. So, if we were capable of making humans, why shouldn’t we? It’s like there’s this unspoken contract among able-bodied couples to raise children, personal preferences or beliefs be damned, because there are a million people out there who would kill to have your ovaries.

Trust me, if I could do an ovary transplant with someone who knows without a doubt that they want to use mine to responsibly birth and raise children, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Really. No one should be denied that if they’re fully capable and not an idiot.

My face crumpled and I looked at my husband. He wants children. He’s an amazing man who would make the best father. And here he was, honestly willing to not do any of that. Because he knows that a couple can’t be the parents a child deserves if one person isn’t all in.

So why shouldn’t I want to be a parent? My partner is supportive and we’re an amazing team. We’re both healthy and of sound mind. We don’t have much money, but tons of people with next to nothing to their name make it work.

1. I’m 24 years old. To me, that’s young. That’s really young. I can’t even rent a car. I’ve spent more of my life racking up other people’s bills than paying my own. What do I know about teaching someone to be an adult when I’m still learning what that means? And while all I need to do is look at my parents or scroll through my Facebook feed to see people younger than me doing a fantastic job at parenting, I’m not them.

2. Depression is hereditary. This, along with the fact that I’d have to stop taking depression and anxiety meds while trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy, is the toughest part. How can I possibly be the best parent my child deserves if I can’t keep my mood in check or muster enough energy to play with them or teach them something after a tough day? It would be so selfish to have a child and then not be able to take care of either of us. It would be selfish to saddle my partner with taking care of two depressed loved ones.

3. Journalism. All my fellow MMAJ majors are already like

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because journalism does not pay. And while all you need is love, you also need to be able to feed and clothe your child. Like, by law. The standards to which I hold myself in terms of being able to bring a child into this world include not living paycheck to paycheck, being able to give my child their own bedroom and being able to feed them more than the 4 for $4 at Wendy’s. None of those are feasible at this moment, and there’s really no relief in sight. No, money absolutely is not everything. But it is the key to a functioning toilet and electricity.

4. Because of all this, it doesn’t really matter if I want children. All logic and responsible common sense says that it’s not in the cards right now, and may never be. Wanting children shouldn’t automatically lead to having them and hoping it all works out. I want to be able to give my children everything those who can’t physically have children could give them in every other sense. So if I can’t give them those things, why should I be a parent? Also, by that logic, surrogacy is totes on the table. So there’s that.

It hurts having to consider that, no matter what we may want, we shouldn’t have kids. But I think, in a roundabout, really messed up way, that’s our way of being good parents – by not being them.

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