To Whom It May Concern,
I have been asked a lot in the past few years: so are you thinking of having kids? When are you gonna start your family? Don’t you know you’d be a good mother?
I’ve gone on a journey with my responses, from annoyance to compassion to clarity.
Annoyed at all the assumptions embedded in such a question about who I am and the life I want. This particularly annoyed me during the years where I was having dreams of being barren and wrestling with what that meant. It felt so personal, like some trying to throw themselves against the door of my heart and peek inside.
Compassion for myself and those who ask, because we have such longing for life…what is more basic as a sign of being alive than procreation? I contain the capacity for a miracle or 8 – why wouldn’t I want to experience this? Compassion for the root of the question.
And finally, a clarity: Right now, I know exactly why I don’t plan to have kids, and its personal and political and I’m ready to talk about it.
1) it’s very unlikely it will happen by accident, as most of the miracles around me seem to. I’m in a open/monogamous relationship with an incredible person who has promised she can’t knock me up. My Big Gay Theory is that it is an evolutionary leap for us to normalize gay relationships and commitments and parenting because it would so vastly increase the percentage of planned pregnancies, leading to more sustainable, intentional families. I know all the things I would like my partner and I to have in place before bringing a child into the world, and have no intention of being that together for at least another decade.
2) there are so – so so so so so – so many children out there not receiving adequate love right now. As I feel no ticking inside myself, I can give that love bomb energy to those who need it without adding to that number. My love is massive, trust.
3) for every child out there, there are parents who need support. Getting to support my sister and brother-in-law as they have brought my favorite people into the world has been humbling and wonderful. It takes so many people to give a child the love and attention zshe deserves, and right now our society in the U.S. isn’t really structured to encourage that thorough loving of our children, that communal responsibility to be there and share the holding of the child’s spiritual, emotional, educational and physical development. I want to be that kind of auntie in the lives of the children in my life – overwhelmingly, memorably present and encouraging of their true selves to burst forth.
4) I am so incredibly selfish, its incredible. I have learned this by watching friend and sister turn their lives over to children – their time, bodies, sleep, space, dreams, attention, and sometimes sanity. Mothers are saints, mothers are deeply selfless, mothers are divinity in practice. For those of you who think I’d make a good mother, thank you. I am sure I would have some awesome moments. But I place on a pedestal above all other radical commitments that of being a good mother. I accept and embrace my limits, my need for sleep and space. I will give all I can within that limit, to as many as I can.
If any of this changes, I’ll declare it just as loudly, I promise. Until then, please accept it as a decision, not a discussion.
The Naughty Aunty