Backstory: I Never Wanted Kids

I write a lot about parenting, but don’t often write about myself. Nurshable Readers have asked that I share some of my backstory with them. Who am I? Do I really have the patience of a mythical saint? Where did I come from? What makes me Nurshable? So I’ve decided to run a series of “Backstory” posts to answer everyone’s questions. Got a question? Email it to Sarah@momtomommedia.com

Question: Did you always want kids?

Answer: Oh dear. No. I never wanted kids.

“Don’t get married don’t have children.” was my mom’s advice. I was cool with that. I was the youngest child in my family, and had limited experience with babies. They didn’t quite seem human, they rode in strollers and sat in high chairs and slept in little wooden cages and the pooped and peed in paper things and ate from bottles. I knew that baby carriers existed (my mom used one with all of us) and that there was breastfeeding and co-sleeping and cloth diapering. (My mom did all that with all of us). Babies just never seemed very human, and not much that I heard people talking about made them seem human or desirable or even pleasant. They sounded like smelly raging inconveniences that people liked to dress up in cute clothing and take pictures of. Babies grew to be kids and kids were things that were mostly mean to me in school and on the playground, not something that I wanted to devote my time or energy to.

My first child was unexpected. He came to be at a time where I thought everything about me was irreparably broken. A burning feeling in my pelvis that simply couldn’t be anything else. Two lines on an EPT.

The first feeling that I felt was unexpected and unplanned for, just like my first child.

Love.

Not the love of need, not the love of want, not the love of something imagined. Love.

I had been in love before. In the way that a girl feels about a boy. I had not yet experienced the love that a woman has for a man (although I thought I had). This was my first inkling that I knew nothing about real love.

A self taught computer programmer by trade, I learned everything from books. I devoured all the books and the things that they spoke of and remember feeling strange reading about a child that I never was and had no memory of being. The things I read about babies and about children described how adults interacted with me in ways that frustrated me and made me feel sad and put aside. But I devoured those books just the same. It was how I learned.

Then he was born and held up in front of me. Tinged purple from his transition, and wet like a freshly hatched baby dragon.

He looked nothing like what I might have imagined. He acted nothing like what I might have imagined. I felt nothing like what I might have imagined.

Of course I never “wanted kids”. This child wasn’t a “kid”, he wasn’t a “baby”. He wasn’t found between the pages of a book, he wasn’t crafted from the magic of movies. He was a small human being that didn’t have the capacity to understand his own existence, but somehow had the capacity to understand mine. He was a small human that had to grow into himself.

Nurshable doesn’t come from having always wanted children and having always dreamed of having them. Nurshable comes from having been against the idea of having children, and from a journey through discovery that having children doesn’t mean what we might think it does. That babies aren’t from books, that motherhood isn’t pre-defined.

I never “wanted kids”. I still don’t. These three children are not “my kids”, they’re my family. I don’t want the kids in books (even if they sleep better than mine do). I don’t want the kids from movies (even if they’re easier). I want my children and I want to help them fill their lives with happy things. I want to see who they become, and support them along the way.

When you let go of what you think children are “supposed to be” and start thinking about what humans need and think and feel, everything just feels /natural/ and you find the flow of things.

My kids aren’t found between the pages of a book, so I don’t need to be that mother that is found between those pages either.

We can be the authors of our own journey.

That’s a joyful thing.

  4 comments for “Backstory: I Never Wanted Kids

  1. October 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Sarah,

    I know this wasn’t written as a letter to your children, but, I think you should tag and save this one as a letter to your oldest (well, not a “letter” because it isn’t, but part of the collection of posts having to do specifically with him, since I know you said one of the reasons you write here is to share these posts with them some day). It is beautiful, what you describe here…when he made you a mother. It’s something that a first child will always share exclusively with mama, and it’s incredibly powerful and special. <3 Thank you for sharing it!

    –Donna

  2. Gray
    October 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I completely agree with your very last statement “we are our own authors…”- my mom mentioned this several times especially when I had my first child and I was trying to incorporate every known advice from books or people. She would tell me you can listen or read all you want, but you will write your own
    story because every baby is different, and I must say I sure did :)

  3. Amy
    October 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Wow. Thank you for articulating my own similar feelings in a different way. I never wanted kids either, as an abstract concept; but my son is not an abstract concept. He is a unique, fascinating, growing little person whom I love in real life. He made me into my own unique kind of mom, who is (hopefully!) exactly the kind of mom he needs.

  4. Jillan
    December 1, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I dont have any children and this is exactly how I feel about having some in the future. Thank you so much for this beautiful text that expresses feelings that I never would have known how to put into words, or even into thoughts.

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