Why have a baby?
December 26, 2005 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Why did you choose to have a baby? I'm trying to get inside the mindset of people who are older than I am and in a very different part of their life. If you're someone who has always planned on having a family, why did you always plan on it and how do you feel about it now? If you never planned on a family and changed your mind, what made you change your mind? If you never planned on children but one come along by accident, how do you feel about them now? I'm looking for personal stories/anecdotes/opinions about it, not so much statistics or figures.
posted by twirlypen to Human Relations (33 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I decided I was ready to have a child (note: have not even gotten married, much less spawned yet) when I matured to the point that babies became cute and watching a child grow and begin to experience life became an amazing experience rather than, "Will you please shut that brat up?". It happens to everyone at a different point in their life, if at all -- some people are born to be nurturers. Some people decide later on in life that they're going to have a family. Some people never decide, and continue to delude themselves about having wanted kids at one point even while they hate their life.

I started out hating kids. They were stinky, they made weird sounds and I didn't understand anything about them. Then one day, when I was walking out in front of the library, I saw a dad and his young daugher --- and he was SO into watching her toddling along and looking all around at spring going 'sproing'. And my heart melted. I can clearly identify that point, just like when the Grinch began to enjoy Christmas, when I wanted to have a son or daughter of my own.

Recently, I've met an amazing woman that, if all goes well and our relationship continues, I will marry and she will someday be mother to my children. If I'd met her two years ago, I wouldn't even make that last statement about. It's all about life stage ... and tbh, you can't really understand it completely until you're here.
posted by SpecialK at 11:13 PM on December 26, 2005

I didn't want to have kids until I saw a good friend in his early 30s go through it (I was about 24 at the time), and I got to watch his child grow up and I thought it was really amazing. Up until then I was pretty sure I would never have children and I even dated a woman that was into zero population growth and I thought I could spend my life with her. I guess watching that baby grow up into a person made me realize what I would be missing, as SpecialK said, I went from "shut that brat up" to "he took his first step?! Incredible!"
posted by mathowie at 11:19 PM on December 26, 2005

I got pregnant by accident at 22, and my boyfriend and I decided to keep the baby and get married. It was very VERY hard to go to school and have a baby, but we had a lot of support from friends and family, and that made all the difference in the world.

Before my son was born, I was kind of a party girl, and had no real direction in my life. When I learned that I was pregenant, I was forced to look at my life, and my choices, and what I really believed in. I was able to get really invested in the future, and I came up with a career plan that I have since followed through with. I think that have a son has given me something to work for, and work towards, and I wouldn't have been able to make some of those hard choices (between fun and responsibility, for example) of I hadn't had him. He has really changed my life for the better.
posted by slimslowslider at 11:55 PM on December 26, 2005

Just after my wife and I got married, she had an ectopic pregnancy and nearly died. The day before, we had gone to planned parenthood after her home pregnancy test came up positive. We were in no way ready for a child (financially, emotionally, etc) and were considering abortion. The timing of this was just too eerie. Flash forward a couple years and some emotional maturity, great paying job and we were ripe to be parents. We weren't really trying to have a child but it when we discovered that a little one was on the way, we welcomed it with open arms.

IMHO, one is never really "ready" to be a parent. You can plan and have boat loads of cash but the true test is being able to put "you" aside and think in terms of "we." Don't get me wrong; there will be plenty of "you" time but it will be compartmentalized and you'll find you really don't need it; and that you'd rather spend it with your child anyway. Funny how that works!

I was much like Matt and had some sick sort of pride about my disdain of breeders and/or children in general. I'm proud to say that I have never been more wrong about something.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:25 AM on December 27, 2005

Total accident. To complicate the situation the lady wasn't even my lady when we found out she was pregnant as she had moved to another city and we decided to call it quits after a four-month relationship. We're both really liberal so we're often asked why we didn't go the abortion route. Ultimately we couldn't distinguish existence from the potential to exist I guess. Or more specifically, without hindrance the kid was going to come and we're both all about not hindering things.

Anyway, the both of us had never wanted children but like I said, that fact was slowly becoming more factual so we got a place and moved in together. Unfortunately, the relationship didn't work out and we split up just before the birth though we still maintain a very good friendship and see each other quite frequently. Once the little guy came along, everything I thought I knew about being a parent changed. I can't say I had any specific expectations except that it would make things harder for me. The thing is, for me, me started to matter a lot less right away. Part of it is that they are so entirely dependent on you in the beginning. You know that without you, they don't stand a chance. Sort of a power trip in some ways. But it's mostly that you immediately recognize everything about them. They are so completely perfect and nothing they do will ever change that. Doesn't mean that you don't want to try to guide them though. It's almost as if they have limitless possibilities and it's on you to help them realize whatever it is that they want to pursue. At first, they are mostly interested in crinkling some paper and rolling over and trying to mimic your motions. You help them in that endeavour. Eventually it'll become something bigger. My boy will always be my boy, and he will always look to me as a father. How he defines what a father is comes down to how it is I father him. I want him to trust me and to love me because I want him to be everything and anything he wants to be.

And a funny thing slowly started to change inside me. The relationship that didn't work with the lady suddenly seems like something we both want to work on. I don't know if anything will ever come of it, but I do know that my son means everything to me now and if we can work out our differences, it'll be better for him. It sounds like I'm giving up everything for him, and maybe I am. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore really except Isaac. I'm literally crying as I write this. It's complete happiness. And I fell paralyzed. I don't know how to put what it is that changed into words. I suppose I'll leave it at that for now.

So when I say "total accident," I mean the pregnancy. His birth was always planned and I'd never want to go back.
posted by panoptican at 12:38 AM on December 27, 2005

panoptican: aww.

I always figured I would have kids at some point. Sometime in my 30s I guess. I've always found babies and little kids adorable and can't into the mindset of people who don't like 'em.
posted by delmoi at 2:16 AM on December 27, 2005

Four of our five kids were surprises; only the second was specifically planned. I think having so many kids is wrong in this overcrowded world, but it's been wonderful being with them as they've grown up, and they've given me most of the happiness in my life. Our first three were each a couple of years apart, then gaps of eight then seven years. The youngest is seventeen now. I got sterilized after the fifth. By choice two would have been ideal, but I can't imagine missing all the love and fun we've all had.

We've had a lot of pain too, of course: one being deaf (from a smallpox vaccination), one being bipolar, and one possibly developing chronic fatigue syndrome, are all lasting miseries. So would I do it again? Given the state of the world, and the bleak future it seems to hold for everyone, no, I wouldn't be so selfish, and I'm sorry to have let my kids in for the difficult years I think are coming.
posted by anadem at 4:58 AM on December 27, 2005

The advice I give to anyone considering children is that unless you are ready to make everything you hold dear about your own life secondary or leave it behind entirely - you are not ready for children. The day that child is born your life as you know it is over and is now subservient to the needs of that child. The kids who end up the most messed up in this world are the one's who became inconvenient to the ambitions of their parents. Can you thrive in your career and ambitions with children? Absolutely. But if you cannot find that uneven balance your child, work and that wonderful marriage you thought you had are going to suffer big time.
posted by any major dude at 5:43 AM on December 27, 2005

As I was growing up, I always knew I would be a mother. When I got pregnant at 19, I was ecstatic and fearless, which just proves how NOT ready I was to be a parent at that age. I had no sense of the enormous responsibility parenthood is, not in just a financial realm but in how I should act as an example to my child.

Now I have 4 children, 2 adults, 1 teenager and a 3 year old, I would have all the exact same children but just later than I started. I'd have rather gotten pregnant the first time at 29 than at 19. I'm a much different parent to my youngest than I was to my older children.
posted by hollygoheavy at 6:12 AM on December 27, 2005

There was never any doubt in my mind that I would have children. I've always loved little kids.

As an only child, it was important to me that I have more than one; not because I was a lonely kid (to the contrary, I developed an active imagination), but because as I get older, I am very aware of being alone in coping with aging parents, etc. It would be wonderful to have another person with a shared history who understands where you comes from, although I acknowledge that many people with siblings don't have that kind of close connection with them.

To piggyback on what any major dude said, I would agree that a person needs to be prepared to give up putting his/her self first. In some ways, I think this is easier to do when you're younger. We were 27 and 28 when our first was born, and we were pretty poor, so there wasn't much to sacrifice. Looking at our friends who are having their first in their mid-thirties, many seem to be making themselves crazy trying to maintain their lifestyle, both in regard to money and cleanliness/order.

I think it helps to try to eliminate the word "never" from your vocabulary when you think about having kids - as in, "I will never put my child in daycare/ never let my kids watch TV / never buy a Power Ranger." It will definitely assuage some of the guilt you'll feel when you end up doing one, or most, of those "nevers."

But one of the truest tests is this: one day - and likely on more than one occasion - your child is going to vomit and/or poop all over you. Are you ready for that?
posted by SashaPT at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2005

I thought I would never be ready to have children. I didn't think I had the tools, resources or emotional stability to manage children and not screw them up. One person changed all that: Dr. Haim Ginott.

The book I actually happed upon in the library was How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish; it seemed an easy read - but it wasn't until I got it home and started reading it properly that I began to realise what a life-changing (believe me) moment I was going through. The hook that snagged me and my wife completely was on page 84. On the suggestion of writing notes to engage children's cooperation: "Older children also like receiving notes. A group of teenagers we worked with told us that a note can make you feel good - as if you were getting a letter from a friend. They were touched that their parents cared enough to take the time and trouble to write to them. One you man said that what he appreciated about notes was that 'they didn't get any louder.'"

I don't know why it was that necessarily. The fact that we collapsed laughing, maybe? Certainly the realization that it was - and sorry to get so sugary - "about the children", and raising a person...I don't rightly know, but suddenly it just became possible.

Anyway, these two - Faber and Mazlish - are two mums (moms) who, in parental desperation, went along to a class conducted by Dr. Haim Ginnot. And never looked back. The book they wrote about that experience is entitled Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, and I can honestly say that it is the best read of my life - laugh-out-loud funny, cry-your-eyes-out moving - and enormously helpfull. Read and re-read, I can tell you.

Dr. Haim Ginott has written several books about parenting, but the key work is Between Parent and Child; it is a short and powerful book. Try and find an old second hand original copy rather than a recent reissue.

This has been a lengthy (first) entry, and if I've bored anyone, I'm sorry, but it is a story close to my heart - and I'm so pleased for an opportunity to tell it. My wife and I had been married twelve years or so before we read these books and started to consider that having children was not just possible, but enjoyable.

We had Annabeth Poppy on August 29, 2004.
posted by scatterheart at 6:57 AM on December 27, 2005 [5 favorites]

Don't overthink it. The time to have children is when you and your spouse want them -- for any reason, or, more likely, no reason at all -- and can afford them. If you don't both want them, for goodness sakes, don't have them. Some people are willing to nag (or be nagged) into having kids, and, while it seems to work out most of the time, it's not a gamble that I think is worth taking.
posted by MattD at 6:59 AM on December 27, 2005

Growing up, I did not want children. I had looked at my family and saw time and again that the women were the only ones who took any responsibility towards raising the kids. Even when there was not a divorce, the men in the family were hands-off fathers. I felt that having another person so dependant upon me was too much of a burden. I didn't even want to get married until I was 35 or so.

Life is funny and my plans didn't go as expected. I met my husband in my first month of college. We were married in the middle of our junior year. We were just 20.

In my 20's our friends started having children. When our best friends had their son, we were the first people to see him after his birth. I was so scared of touching him. He looked so small and delicate. His father occassionally jokes on my obvious fear during that first encounter. I held the boy (now a strapping, intelligent 7 year old) and didn't change my mind. I still didn't want kids.

Over the next two or three years, I started watching the guys we knew who had become fathers. They were nothing like the men in my family. They were hands-on, loving and attentive fathers even when their children were having a challenging moment. I also started looking very closely at my husband and his family. I realized then just how messed up my family is regarding children and who raises them.

I was 25 before I decided having a child was something worth consideration. When I went off the Pill and started trying to get pregnant, I was scared. It took nearly two years for us to conceive. I was 28 when my son was born. I remember telling the delivery nurses his name several times before he was born. For some reason, I thought it was important that his name be known. We are not terribly logical or entirely rational when trying to deliver. My son shattered my tail bone and yet, I ended up having a c-section because of his large noggin. I only cried when I heard him for the first time. Remembering that moment still brings me to tears.

I hope I'm a good Mom. I love him more than I ever anticipated loving anyone or anything. I am a strict, over protective parent with fairly high expectations. I have to constantly remind myself that he's only (age) and I need to reset my expectations. That being said, I still hope he will be able to look back at his childhood and say it was filled with love and laughter. Every day, we work to make sure there is silliness and giggles all around.

As for my husband; he amazes me. He is involved with our son in ways I didn't anticipate. It is obvious to me that my son has a great father.

Our lives changed so much after our son was born. (I know that having more than one child reorders your life even more so.) I'm more organized today than I was before. I'd like to say I'm more patient. However, I'd be telling lies if I said that. We don't go out nearly as often as we used to. We have quiet evenings at home with stories and legos and chasing each other through the house trying to build enough static charge to zap each other. Some days, I'm at my wits end and have to step away for some time.

Would I do it again? Yes, after long consideration and reordering the household budget. Unfortunately, I do not forsee a second child in our lives unless we adopt. I have now had two docs recommend against another pregnancy. I don't think this is medical advice I'll disregard.
posted by onhazier at 7:09 AM on December 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

I took me many years to get to the point where I thought I was mentally ready to be a parent - 36 to be precise. My spouse and I discussed it a great deal before we were married and after. My desire was for the joy of watching my child grow and learn and I wanted to live in a house full of laughter and play.

We were pretty much in the camp "want only one" and we got a handful: Trisomy 21, pneumonia, atrial septal deviation, stroke/seizures, every day seemed to bring something new and painful. Some two years later, every day I know that I've gotten my wish. She is very much my daughter, which means she's silly, funny, focused, and willful. I wake up most days to the sound of her bouncing up and down in her bed, saying "whoa-oa-oa-oa-oa-oa-oa-oa!" and cutting up laughing.

We're now talking about a second which was never part of our original plans, but plans are made to be changed.
posted by plinth at 7:13 AM on December 27, 2005

I've always enjoyed being around children -- younger and older -- but was content to travel through life without becoming a parent. My wife did not think that she would ever be ready to be a parent due to lingering personal issues. She changed her mind though -- feeling as though she would be missing out on something -- and we knew the clock was ticking. Fast forward and we are now in week 6 of the era of Joseph. I've taken to parenthood like a duck to water -- even reveling in the formerly mysterious newborn stage. (I'm 44, by the way; wife is 40. We're thinking we might even try for number two.)
posted by Dick Paris at 8:09 AM on December 27, 2005

I got pregnant just out of high school, with a guy I hardly knew & had just started dating. I thought about abortion but at the end I just couldn't do it and we got our Irish Catholic selves married: in the church and everything. I was 18, he was 20. The marriage didn't last long; we split up by the time our daughter was 2. He has always been an involved, good & conscientious father, despite geographical & ideological differences. So I went to college with a child, and I just brought her along for the ride. She started out at 6 weeks in a basket under a soundboard with cloth diapers wrapped over her ears; at 2 she sat happily on pool tables rolling balls into pockets; at 4 she learned to dine at NY gallery openings. Meanwhile, I took child psych classes and education classes and painted a lot. She graduated from college last May and she's great. But it wasn't easy and if I had it to do over again I would have waited.

My second child was from a sudden, intense love affair; I was 28. We had known each other for I think about 6 weeks when I got pregnant, but in a crazy way it was kind of planned. Hard to explain by the rational light of day - neither of us had any money or a decent job or any of that stuff you're supposed to have - but we did it and I've never looked back. That marriage didn't last either and his father has chosen not to be particularly involved, which kind of sucks.

I feel that I've been a better parent to my son than to my daughter although I've loved them both absolutely since the moment they were conceived (and yeah, I pretty much can tell you about that moment; I just knew) and they have always, always, always come first in my life and always will. Still, I was ready for my son in a way I wasn't for my daughter, and whether that's a function of age or just the fact that he was the second, I don't know. I can't imagine not having children, but then I've been a single mother for the majority of my life.

I am extremely fertile, careless and birth control pills give me severe migraines: this is a bad combination of traits and I've had several abortions. I don't regret them. I treasure the two children I have; I am sorry that I won't have more, sometimes, but I'm very glad and grateful that I was able to choose to have children. I felt strongly about staying home with my kids for the first two years at least of their lives, and I managed to make that happen. Sure, we weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we were together, and I've always felt that that's what counts in the end. At this point, with a 23 year old and a 14 year old, I have to say I genuinely like my kids as well as love them: they're bright, funny, thoughtful people with a lot of interesting things going on in their lives and in their heads. I feel like I did a good job, for the most part, even if they didn't have the kind of conservative childhoods that they were "supposed" to.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:11 AM on December 27, 2005

I don't have kids myself, but I am, as they say, an "accident." I'm completely cool with that, because my parents are awesome, and really "accident" isn't the right word -- they thought they couldn't have kids (married 10 years) and when I came along, it wasn't planned or specifically wanted, but it was okay. Nobody freaked, and by this time my mom and dad were financially able to deal with the situation. My mother and I have talked about this, because my husband and I do not plan on having kids. She's told me that she understands -- that she was never one of these women that just lost her crap when someone brought a baby into work and that she had little to zero idea of how to be a mother, that there was no "instinct" whatsoever for her. She just modeled her mothering off of people she knew whose kids weren't fucked up and treated me, and I quote, as if were smart enough to build the atom bomb, from day one. My mom rocks, and I'm actually relatively normal and successful.

I'm 26 and my husband is 33. At this point, there just isn't any place in the trajectory of our lives for a kid. I know, I know, you change, things change, so on so forth et cetera, but unless things change really, really profoundly for us, it just isn't going to happen. We're not attached to a lifestyle, but we are attached to reality regarding our finances and who we are as people. I don't think I'm meant to have kids. There is absolutely no desire or drive or even question in my mind about it. I never supposed I would have kids. It's never been in my proverbial cards.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2005

Up until a year ago, neither my wife nor I wanted to have kids. We both liked children, loved spending time with them and playing with them, but I was worried about my family's genetic history, and she was afraid she'd be a bad parent.

We talked about it, and more and more realized that really we wanted to have one and do a god job of it. 4 months after deciding to try, she got pregnant, and she's now 3.5 months along :)
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:16 AM on December 27, 2005

The advice I give to anyone considering children is that unless you are ready to make everything you hold dear about your own life secondary or leave it behind entirely - you are not ready for children. The day that child is born your life as you know it is over and is now subservient to the needs of that child.

That's true, but it doesn't have to have quite the negative connotation. As another mefite told me once before my daughter was born, "the most important thing you need to know when your first child is born is that you can no longer be selfish." It's not giving up your life as much as not being selfish or egotistical. Your life isn't all you, you, you after a child is born, it's true.

For me, getting over selfishness has finally made me feel like an adult.
posted by mathowie at 8:19 AM on December 27, 2005

I always wanted children, and in my late teens/early 20s I was in a relationship with someone who adamantly did NOT. This was one of the factors leading to our demise. After we split I had a wild and crazy senior year of college which ended with me getting pregnant a week after graduation. The father, who I loved intensely, also had no interest in raising a child. So I moved home, back into my old room and told my folks "I'm having a baby."

I was 22 when he was born. I needed to figure out, and quickly, what I wanted to do with my life. I ditched my career plans (being a medievalist no longer seemed as compelling) and started library school. When my son was around 9 months, I met an older guy with 2 little boys from a previous marriage, and we have now been together for 10 years, married almost 7. If I hadn't had a child, I doubt I would have looked twice at him, and there's no way I would have taken on stepkids. I would have still been chasing emotionally unavailable alcoholic poets!

After we got married we started trying to get pregnant and had another little boy. As I type this our kids are running around the house playing with their Christmas presents. They're not so little now: 15, 12, 10 and 5.

A few years ago I wanted to have another, but my husband did not. It was a tricky time for us, but then the youngest weaned and started sleeping like a normal person and we were able to leave the kids with my folks and travel a bit and I realized I was ready to start a new stage of my life. If I got pregnant now I would welcome it, but it would be a mental adjustment. We're planning a vacestomy for later this year and it will be bittersweet. It's strange to think that at 33 I am done with childbearing, since most of my friends from school are just beginning. Still, I'll be a young, energetic grandma someday, which is fun to anticipate!
posted by Biblio at 8:19 AM on December 27, 2005

As another mefite told me once before my daughter was born, "the most important thing you need to know when your first child is born is that you can no longer be selfish." It's not giving up your life as much as not being selfish or egotistical. Your life isn't all you, you, you after a child is born, it's true.

For me, getting over selfishness has finally made me feel like an adult.

I of course, totally agree that a parent's needs should be put aside for their child's...but to me, having kids is much more selfish than NOT having them...a lot of childfree people are told they are selfish for not having kids and that always puzzles me to death.

I guess I don't see anything wrong with being selfish in regards to your own life.
posted by agregoli at 8:55 AM on December 27, 2005

I guess I don't see anything wrong with being selfish in regards to your own life.

There's nothing wrong with it, and I didn't mean to imply people without kids are selfish. The point I was trying to get across was that once a kid shows up, that's when it's time to look out for someone else first and foremost and put your needs aside for a while.
posted by mathowie at 9:53 AM on December 27, 2005

I know you didn't - lots of people seem to think that way though, and it confuses me, especially when most people's answer to "Why have kids?" is, "Because I want to."
posted by agregoli at 10:05 AM on December 27, 2005

When I was first married, I was indifferent to the idea of having children. My wife and I debated it some the first year, and decided not to actively pursue having children. Eventually she went off the pill, and we tried to be "careful." The outcome of that, of course, can be guessed. Our first son came along 8 years after we were married. Though we were no more financially ready to have a child than we were eight years previous, we were in a more child-friendly mindset. Our second child, nearly five years later, was even more of a surprise than the first (after that my wife had her tubes tied; pregnancy had become physically dangerous for her).

We're very happy to have children. The oldest, now almost 16, is a definite challenge, having gone through precocious puberty and dealing with ADD, but he's a good kid, very bright, with some challenges that he'll probably carry through life. His younger brother, just turned 11, is equally smart, physically affectionate, with a wicked sense of humor.

There's no owner's manual for kids, of course, and sometimes I think one should be licensed to reproduce, because there seem to be so many parents out there who pass on their own selfishness and shortcomings to their children. I suppose we all do, in a way. But having children should be the ultimate in unselfish behavior, because you're not only giving life to your offspring (any human female can do that, with more or less help), but whether you give birth or adopt, raising a child is literally an attempt to pass on something of value to the world. I'm thrilled that our children seem to be buying into the values we've tried to pass on to them, while they are very obviously growing into their own persons. Despite the considerable challenges and the total lack of certainty in the future, I think this is very much what we wanted.
posted by lhauser at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2005

(Orientation: I am almost five months pregnant, first child.)

That's a difficult question to answer. I had no illusions about what raising a child entails, and that - along with some powerful personal reservations - kept me from wanting children of my own.

In the last several years, my life has taken some unexpected turns, many of which are probably the result of a growing maturity. I met and married a wonderful man who wanted a family, but who would have been happy without children. He never pressured me, but I won't say his enthusiasm for family didn't affect me. I ended up doing a lot of thinking and reevaluating over the years.

Ask me why I chose to have a partner, and I'd be as much at a loss. Why have a child? For me, when I envisioned a life without that unique connection, it felt a little emptier. An important thing was lacking. Ultimately, outside of wanting that relationship in my life, I suppose I wanted to add a little bit of light in my own way, outside of and in addition to whatever work and volunteering I do. I want to give my child every advantage, all the love and support and wisdom he/she will soak up. I want to pass it on and send it out into the world. It's all that, and it's more, and trying to put it into words that convey everything is impossible.

I took child development classes before getting pregnant, and I plan on taking a parenting class as well. I've got books, and I've got support, and I still have crises of uncertainty: am I really ready? Will I do all of the right things? Answer: no. But I'll do a damn fine job. I'm eager to get to know my child.
posted by moira at 12:24 PM on December 27, 2005

My parents and grandparents had children, and some generations back before that too I think. It seemed like a fundamental enough part of the humanliving experience that I wanted to see what it was like for myself. Not wanting kids feels to me like wanting to never move out from one's parents' home, to never be naked in front of another person, to never try drinking, to never travel to a non-English speaking country -- really, to put a bound on how much life experience one wants to have.

(That said, I'm very happy I had the chance to wait until my 30s, exactly to have more life experience that would've been difficult with a child -- I feel like I'm getting to have it all.)
posted by Aknaton at 12:38 PM on December 27, 2005

Ask me why I chose to have a partner, and I'd be as much at a loss.

Perfect analogy. There are relationship experiences you can't have while playing the field, and I gathered that there were others you can't have without children. That was my motivation.
posted by Aknaton at 12:42 PM on December 27, 2005

For me, getting over selfishness has finally made me feel like an adult.
posted by mathowie at 8:19 AM PST on December 27 [!]

This has been true for me as well. In many ways I feel like my 36 year long adolescence came to a jarring halt when our daughter was born 3 months ago. There are moments I lament lost freedom (to think only of myself), but mostly I feel exhilarated (and exhausted) to be an adult.

Agregoli, "loss of selfishness" is just a way of describing the all-consuming responsibility that comes with caring for a little human being that is utterly unable to care for herself. That kind of responsibility really lets you learn what kind of person you are. Of course, caring for a baby is not the only way to learn who you are, but it is one of the most satisfying.

Even if we choose to have a baby simply because we want one, we are still choosing to undertake that responsibility, therefore in a way we are choosing to be less "selfish".
posted by sic at 12:54 PM on December 27, 2005

Agregoli, "loss of selfishness" is just a way of describing the all-consuming responsibility that comes with caring for a little human being that is utterly unable to care for herself. That kind of responsibility really lets you learn what kind of person you are. Of course, caring for a baby is not the only way to learn who you are, but it is one of the most satisfying.

Well, I disagree. I don't need to pop out a sprog to know what kind of person I am, as you acknowledged, and I don't find the idea very satisfying at all. But to each their own. I agree the responsibility is all-consuming, and that's why I don't want it in my life. I've got too much else to do!

Even if we choose to have a baby simply because we want one, we are still choosing to undertake that responsibility, therefore in a way we are choosing to be less "selfish".

I disagree with that. Less focus now on yourself, sure, and I get that point, but the bringing another person into the world because you want to? That's entirely selfish.

Anyway, I didn't want to fight or quibble - but the "selfish" thing really bothers me, as a childfree person, because it's one of the endless things that people say to the childfree - "You don't want kids? You're selfish." It's the pot calling the kettle black to me.

I'll leave the thread alone now, don't want to derail further.
posted by agregoli at 1:02 PM on December 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

bringing another person into the world because you want to? That's entirely selfish.

Absolutely!! And I am that selfish, and created one (or rather, as a male, had one created for me) to satisfy my own desires and curiosity.

it's one of the endless things that people say to the childfree - "You don't want kids? You're selfish." ... don't want to derail further.

I agree that that's a weird thing to say. I'm only bringing it up again because it helped me explain, back on topic, why I had a child.
posted by Aknaton at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2005

So, there's the idea being bandied about here that somehow, you're selfish and less mature and won't learn what kind of a person you really are and blah blah blah if you don't have your very own helpless newborn. Like, you're a perpetual adolescent without the ability to truly care about another's wellbeing; like you're missing some essential life experience that makes you whole if you didn't experience 'the miracle of birth,' or whatever; like you don't have a 'real' family if you didn't reproduce.

Some people can't have their own children, and some of them go through emotional and financial shit and misery trying anyway. Some people would rather foster or adopt older kids, or put their time into their extended family. Some people live under a government that doesn't allow them to be parents. Some people have no particular reason preventing them from reproducing; they're simply content without them.

The attitude in this thread suggests that people like us are entirely incapable of being complete, adult, human beings, and that makes me absolutely miserable.
posted by raena at 5:00 PM on December 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Raena, I don't think most people in the this thread are saying that at all. For the most part, it seems like people are answering the question by giving their very personal reasons and experiences, which of course will differ from those who chose not to (or cannot) have children. My closest friend chooses not to, and I don't assume any emptiness in her life or selfishness/immaturity on her part.

There are some people on both sides who will throw that stuff around, and that really is unfortunate, but it seems to be pretty minimal here.

I'll add my e-mail address to my profile, in case you'd like to address any comments I made in my post(s).
posted by moira at 5:33 PM on December 27, 2005

To me, life is about learning. I never wanted a kid in my twenties. After a brief college-age starter marriage, I also said I'd never get married again, and I lived an emotionally disrespectful (to myself and others) life. Then as I hit 30 I started turning more inward and dealing with my baggage from the first 30 years. By respecting and learning more about myself, I was learning more about life in general without that intention initially. I came to see that all of my relationships were mirrors of my relationship with myself...and started enjoying having my "buttons" pushed by friends and family and lovers, realizing those were opportunities to accept the darker parts of my personality and let those buttons go.

Then I realized there were buttons that wouldn't get pushed (therefore fewer opportunities for learning) if I didn't have the most intimate relationship I could imagine. So I got a wife.

Soon after we got together a few years ago (with very mutual goals in our union), pushing each others buttons and constantly laughing and learning and growing together, we realized that there were some buttons that could only be pushed by a child.

So now we have a 10-month old, and are both enjoying the things he's teaching us about life and love. We approach him respectfully as the fully-certified Expert Baby that he is, and we're the newbies fumbling our way through parenthood. We giggle lots.
posted by Bradley at 9:02 PM on December 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

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