People automatically assume that, because I don't have kids, that I hate kids. Not true at all. In fact there was a time when I thought I wanted to have kids. And yes, I said it that way purposefully. I thought I wanted kids. When I was young(er) and just married, the subject came up often. Having kids, what would we name them when we have them (I wanted Zoe Angelina for a girl - at the time, neither name was popular. I always loved the name Zoe and Angelina would be after my Grandmother... now? Yikes, there's probably 3 or 4 of each in every classroom in the country!). But I wanted time. Time to see what I wanted to do before my life became centered around a little one or two.
When you have an Italian family, you have to be prepared for all the "when are you getting married's" and "when are you going to have kids" and my personal fave, "why don't you have a baby for your mother." And the more these things were said to me, the more I resented the fact that this was expected. And I'd get angry and lash out at whichever old Italian relative was saying it to me. Why did I have to have a baby? Why did I have to put my body through that torture and give myself up to the screaming, eating poop machine all for the sake of my mom's happiness at being a grandma? Isn't this my life after all? Don't I get to make that call? More and more it became very clear to me over these years that this was not what I wanted at all.
When I was younger, I never had dreams of being a mommy. Sure I played with dolls and stuff when I was little. But when I got my first Barbie, it was game over. Barbie was hip and stylish and she did not drive a mini van and take kids to soccer practice, she drove a Corvette and went out on dates with Ken (and sometimes the tramp cheated on Ken with GI Joe. What can I say, my Barbie loved a man in uniform). Barbie was cool. She had the life. I identified with her way more than little girls who were still playing with Baby Alive (if you don't recall this doll, she moved her mouth like she was eating and you fed her the baby food that came with the doll and then she'd poop it out). Barbie's life was way more on par with what I saw myself wanting.
The thought of pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of an infant were terrifying. The idea that this little helpless being was going to depend on me for everything brought on the panic. Is it what I want? Is it something I feel I need to be fulfilled? The answer kept coming back, No. No, it's not what I want. No, I don't need a baby to feel fulfilled. No, I'm not going to have a baby just for the sake of having one or because it's expected. No, I'm not going to do this so my mom can be a grandma. The decision was made. My decision. The one that felt right for me.
And then I reached 40. And more panic set in. Up until then, even though I knew the decision was made, there was still a little crack in the door that made it still a possibility. But 40 shut that door and locked it. Oh sure, I know many woman have babies after 40, but I did not want to be one of them. I shut that door and threw away the key all on my own, and then I went into a kind of freak out mode.... what if I made the wrong decision! That's the thing about decisions I guess, you have to trust it to be right or you will always wonder if it's wrong. I was able to make peace with my decision, again, and have never looked back. No regrets. I have two nieces I adore. My BFF has three girls (one is my Goddaughter) that are like three more nieces. Other friends and family members have kids and I love them all. I'm glad I can be cool (or crazy, depending on your perspective) Aunt Lalia. I would be there for any of those kids in a heartbeat.
When I meet new people and they ask me if I have kids, I reply "No, by choice" because just saying "No" was always met with a sad look of sympathy. Not having kids does not mean I can't take care of child nor does it mean I hate kids. Just as having kids doesn't automatically make one a great parent.