Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name Elizabeth Rose, December 2018. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.
The same question weighed on my mind: Why have kids?
So I did what good a journalist would do.
I asked questions.
And after speaking with a range of people – women and men – the answers were pretty enlightening:
• A 36-year-old woman who does not want kids: “I think a lot of people have kids thinking it will immediately make them happy. Many kids are raised with this unfair expectation and are then responsible for their parents’ happiness.”
• My mom: “I knew since I was 10 I wanted a family, a Leave It to Beaver life. My mother worked several jobs to keep us five kids fed and it was hard. I made a vow to myself that I would be the best mother possible. The type of mom that my mother didn’t have the chance to be.”
• An 18-year-old woman: “I am an only child, so I feel the pressure to have kids and carry on the family name.”
• An early 40s, mom of two: “I guess I felt some familial and friend pressure. I didn’t want to be left out from the people I relate to. And basically, it’s just what you [do] after getting married.”
• Almost 60, dad to three adult children: “Because my wife wanted to.”
• A spiritual practitioner, dad to two adult children: “The experience of children is a great practice of self-control.”
• A spiritual practitioner, mom to three adult children: “To fill a maternal need.”
• A mid-40s woman, artist, no kids: “I wanted to give myself more room to create. Age 35 and up is a precious time for a woman to harness her creative energy.”
• A 30-year-old mother to a 1-year-old: “To feel needed. To have someone who literally depends on you for survival.”
•A 28-year-old pregnant woman: “We talked about it and both agreed we wanted a family.”
•A 31-year-old woman trying to get pregnant: “I think it boils down to wanting to have a reason, motivation, or inspiration to be the very best person I can be. To love someone more than I ever dreamed possible and to have my heartache from that love. Also, I just f*cking love babies.”
All valid reasons, but the last one got me thinking.
Why do we need kids to motivate ourselves to be the best person we can be?
Can you imagine if we’re able to break through this monkey-mind character assassination and actually love, protect, be kind to ourselves the way we would for a small child?
A side effect could be love towards one another.
How incredible the thought.
But it almost seems impossible, which is strange considering the only people we can truly control is ourselves.
We are, in a sense, a slave to creation. We’re born human and just have to figure it out the best we can – parents and kids alike.
I respect those who put forth the effort to raise children.
It’s gotta be harder nowadays with the distractions of technology and our social climate. Or just hard in general because…you’re responsible for the life of another human being.
Then there’s a whole monetary issue with raising a family. Like, you gotta have some.
And we can’t forget those without a choice. The ones who desperately want children and aren’t able to conceive. There’s sensitivity surrounding that.
But maybe living without kids is just as difficult in its own way.
To have no distraction and have to work directly with ourselves every single day.
For me, lean toward not having kids.
The burning desire to procreate does not exist the way moving to California or becoming a professional writer did.
And maybe there’s a sense of “What if?” either way. If you have kids, you wonder what life would be like without. If you don’t have kids, you wonder if you’re missing out.
On that same note, there are more 20 and 30-something women not getting married and forgoing kids all together.
It’s true, we are progressing into a new type of existence.
An existence that chooses non-traditional ways of life and one that is more forgiving toward individual choices.
Hopefully through this, we become more compassionate towards one another.
And are able to grow compassion for the child within us all.