Responsible Non-Parenting?

Biologically speaking I’ve not been dealt the winningest hand when it comes to reproduction. I’ve known for many years that children are most likely not in the cards for me. And even though it has, at times, been a bitter pill to swallow… I’m coming to terms with it as time goes by.

I’ve begun to think of myself as a non-parent, both now and for always. So it caught me by surprise to be recently asked by my physician whether or not I plan to have children anytime soon. Looking ahead to a wedding and a marriage, I suppose it was a perfectly reasonable question to answer.

But before I answered his question, I asked one of my own. “Look. I am staring straight down the barrel of 38.” I said very matter-of-factly as though he wasn’t already aware of my “advanced age” as he sat there staring at my crow’s feet with my chart and entire medical history in his lap. “At what age does it become irresponsible for me to have a child, Doc? How old is too old?”

He looked at me, slightly taken aback by my inquiry. After a brief, awkward pause he launched into a mini-sermon about how many “less than ideal” mothers are out there raising children. Some of which are very young, very immature or who lack the proper resources to care for a child. And if I am even questioning my age as a potential concern — then I am exactly the type of “responsible” person who should be having children if I wished to do so.

But you see that’s just it. I’m not sure whether or not I “wish to do so.” Biology aside, I’ve considered myself a non-parent for so long that I’ve become rather attached to the lifestyle. You know the one. It includes (but is not limited to) sleeping in, watching what I want on TV, eating meals that are not square, taking trips whenever and wherever I want to and having exorbitant amounts of “ME” time during which to ponder potential world domination.

I have watched as my friends disappear—one after the next—into the matrix of motherhood. I stand at the edge watching them dissolve into the mystical world of two a.m. feedings, car seats, play dates, Sippy cups, Cheerio containers, sleep deprivation and constant sitter hunting. And it scares the crap out of me.

My mother (along with just about everyone else) tells me that it is different when it’s your own and I’m sure that it is. But perhaps it is not only more “responsible” of me, but truly best for all concerned parties if I were to stay right where I am—on the outside of the Mommy Matrix—wrapped up in my down comforter with the remote, some travel guides and a really, really good bottle of wine.


23 thoughts on “Responsible Non-Parenting?

  1. Joanna, it’s up to you. Noone can give you an answer that’s gonna make you choose to do it or not. You know what I mean? I thought about this myself and have always gone back and forth about it. I am, like you, pushing toward 40(makes me cringe just thinking about it) and for me it’s the idea of starting all over again that’s terrifying. I am newly married ( coming up on one year) and we both have children of our own who are wonderful as children can be, but to have a fifth one “together” has been a big question for me. I settled my mind on this: we have children already and that’s a blessing in itself no matter whether I bore them all or not. So whenever anybody asks I just say I have 4 children. It is a joy to watch children grow, I’m sure you know that, but don’t have unrealistic expectations when it comes to that or let your emotions decide. Whatever decision you make it is yours alone. All the best wishes to you and Lee.

    • Thanks Irina, I appreciate your reply. It is a tough decision to make… I suppose I feel like mine has mostly been made for me by nature so I am best off to embrace it. I will always wonder what it might have been like, but I’m not so sure that’s cause enough to work really hard to try and make it happen.

  2. Kristine says:

    Let me just say that sometimes I really wish that I still had a lifestyle like you describe. Then when I go away for a few hours and come home to my babies, I realized that I missed them a little while I was gone. I was a “woman in advanced maternal age” when Brendan came along, Babe #1, so I was even older when Morgan came. If you want children, and God gifts one to you, you are physically capable of having a healthy baby bundle.i think what you really need to know is that your lifestyle is going to entirely change if a baby comes into your life, but you already know that considering your numerous nieces and nephews and seeing how your friends’ lives have changed with children.

    • Thanks Kristine 🙂 I’m so glad you are enjoying mommyhood! I just think it is a matter of embracing the life that was given to me… one that will probably never include children. It wasn’t my first choice, but sometimes we don’t get to choose these things.

  3. I think in today’s society it’s so easily to be influenced by what the norm is for women. We get married and some point after that we start having children. At the end of the day, you just have to remember everyone walks their own path. I grew up with just my mom and she chose to be a single parent, and as much as marriage with children seems wonderful, sometimes I think being a single mom might just be the way to go for me. You just have to do what you feel in your heart is right, other people be damned. 🙂

  4. JT says:

    Ya, so I have really been struggling with this because you know in some ways I would like to get pregnant because after all what better way is there to eat ice cream every night with a perfectly viable excuse, of course the downside is I am sure all the other men in the neighborhood would be jealous and most likely wearing an empathy belly wouldn’t help them feel for me. So ya I guess I will pass on the whole getting pregnant thing!

  5. I think the popular term these days is “child free.” Honestly, I think either choice is valid and you can have a rich, full life either way. We do get fed this thing that having a kid is the most important thing we’ll ever do as women, so it’s easy to feel like a failure or like you’re missing something if you don’t do it. But really, there are so many other ways so have value in your life, and that attitude is incredibly patronizing. Therell be good times and bad times with both decisions.

    I think you should just enjoy what you have while you have it, and if that changes, then enjoy what you have then too.

    • Yes, Stephanie, you’re right. Enjoy what you have and if that changes, enjoy that too. Great advice! And you’re right the P.C. term is “child free” these days. I never know whether or not I qualify b/c were it not for medical issues, I may very well have chosen to have them by now. But by not choosing to pursue intervention NOW, then I suppose I am “child free.”

      • I think you qualify to use it if you want to. I think the term was invented as a way to say, “I don’t need your pity. My lifestyle is valid and I am happy, so stop with the attitude like my life is incomplete.”

        I remember taking a taxi when I was about 20 and having chit chat with the driver, who asked if I had any kids. At that point, I was 100% positive that I didn’t want any ever and said so. He said it was my purpose for existing as a woman and if I didn’t my entire life was invalid. I was both stunned and incredibly pissed off. I can only imagine getting that kind of attitude if you had wanted kids and weren’t able.

        • Stephanie says:

          Yeah, people are turds sometimes. Whatever. What still pisses me off about it is that I tipped him anyway.

        • Woman In Thrisis says:

          UGH 😛 That would be tough for me too… but I have done teh same before and then regretted it later. Oh well… karma, right?

  6. If you really want to be a mother, do it! It’s an amazing journey. I was told I would never have kids, so I married a man who already had one, and from there a family bloomed. Biology has a funny way of working things out sometimes. But if you’re sure you’re just fine without jumping into the Matrix, just find someone like me with too many kids, and borrow a few from time to time! It will give you the chance to do the mom thing here and there without ruining all your chances to sleep in with total control of the remote control and the mom you borrow from will forever adore you for giving her just one moment without listening to someone screaming “MOM!!!!” It could be a win-win!

  7. You have plenty of time to make that decision. Enjoy the wedding process and being a married couple. I know of a few women who have had children in their early to mid 40s and they have enjoyed every minute of becoming a mom and raising their wee ones. Remember one step at a time, one in front of the other.

  8. Don says:

    Hmm, giving advice about something like this is really tricky. But for whatever it’s worth, I think that if someone really wants to be a parent, they know it. It certainly isn’t any type of obligation.

    • Yes… you’re probably right. I have often that perhaps my apprehension to do much about it is answer enough. I don’t see it as an obligation. I just don’t want to look back and see it as a regret. But the “avoidance of regret” isn’t a good reason to have them either.

      • Don says:

        “Responsible Non-Parenting?”

        Excellent title. Most people seem to engage in non-responsible parenting.

        Thanks for sharing some of your life on line. You’re having a life worth writing about–and you write so well!

        I’m going to have to stop saying that, because I keep repeating how much I like your writing. I’m sure by now, you’ve picked up on that. 😉

        • Thanks for thinking and sharing that you think I have a life worth writing about 😉 I know we all have our stories and they are each unique. I love the people I have met through sharing some of my story and in return, learning about theirs.

          I also appreciate the compliment on the quality of writing. Believe me, those kind words are something I consider every time I wonder whether or not I should keep my virtual pencil sharp! So thank you!!

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