To Be, Or Not To Be — A Parent

Some people know very early that parenthood is in the cards for them. They daydream about smooching the chubby cheeks of their faceless babies and eagerly look forward to the roller coaster ride that is parenting. They may even have a list of carefully chosen names for their progeny. On the other hand, however, there is a huge portion of people who have zero ambitions toward becoming a mom or dad. In fact, recent studies show that most American millennials are choosing to skip out on the whole child rearing thing.

It makes sense. Adulting is, well, expensive. Rent is too damn high. Buying a house is daunting. Let’s not even talk about the price of eggs. We just don’t have it as good as the Boomers. Plus, we want to travel and being a cat mom or dog dad is way easier (and cheaper) than being a real parent to a real human. But its more than just the economic side of things that makes having children unappealing. The world is in shambles. Between the threats of climate change and the intense ideological polarization, the future seems to get bleaker by the day.

Despite all this, there are those of us who succumb to our instinctual desire to reproduce. I was never keen on having children. It was neutral for me, but I did lean more to the childless aunty end of the spectrum. My partner, who is now my husband was also fine with not having children. Our stance on whether or not to have children was heavily influenced by all the dystopian doom we seem to be looming in.

At the end of 2021, my then fiancé and I found out we were having a baby. We had many conversations about how crazy it would be to have “pandemic baby”. We shook our heads at our friends who had babies during the height of global lock-downs, and here we were, facing the biggest and most important commitment we would ever have — we were about to be parents.

At the very grown-up age of 28, with a college education, several stamps in my passport, a handful of ex-lovers, I had a good job and a lucrative side hustle, an abortion was out of the question, for me. By the time I fell pregnant, I was content with my life. There was nothing I feared I had missed out on. I had a healthy savings account, too.

Still, up until the morning I found I was pregnant, having a baby was out of sight, out of mind. For days, I had been suffering from an abnormal bout of thirst. No matter how much water I drank, I could not be quenched. Of course, because of the amount of water I was drinking, I had to pee every five minutes. Something was off, and I had no idea what. After describing the symptoms to my mom, she immediately asked me if I missed a period. Sure enough, I was three weeks late. I took an at home pregnancy test and the red line in the little window could not have appeared bolder. I called my fiancé and told him that I was pregnant. He excitedly replied with “for real?!” then paused and said, “wow, that’s awesome babe.”

It was awesome. It was thrilling. I had long been afraid of pregnancy. It seemed so miserable on other women. The wobbling, the nose spreading, the fear of being abandoned by the impregnator (which I had seen first-hand so many times), the c-sections, the body dysmorphia. All of that completely turned me off. I enjoyed being an aunty to my football team of nieces and nephews. I experienced all their cute moments and had the luxury of handing them back over to their parents.

My family was more in shock than I was. They mocked me for all the times I heartily declared, “This is why I’m not having kids”, when one of my nephews would melt into a tantrum. From the moment my pregnancy was confirmed, I was transformed. My rigid-ish stance to never give birth dissolved into a puddle of hope and excitement for the new life that was to come. Maybe having a kid won’t be so bad. I was delighted at the unknown. I shifted through an old journal to find the page where I had written baby name candidates years ago and began to review potential winners.

Sometimes, we don’t choose parenthood, but parenthood chooses us. The decision to accept the task is beyond our own will. There are times in our life where the idea of becoming someone’s parent is just out the question. We’ve all been afflicted by Baby Fever. It’s certainly not a black or white matter. Our lives are colorful and ever-changing. We may often find ourselves battling with our deepest human instincts and the current state of our world. Humans have been having children amid wars, famines, slavery, apartheid, genocides, you name it. A bit of global chaos never stopped us from creating art or life. The truth is no one is ever prepared to become a parent. There is never an ideal situation. There is no shame in wanting children. There is no shame in not having children, for lack of desire or otherwise. There are a myriad of ways to parent that doesn’t require producing biological children. Whatever scenario you find yourself in, if parenthood is on the table, it is essential to allow love to be your guiding force. Parenthood has the power to significantly increase our capacity for love and compassion — two things the world so desperately needs.

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I help others feel themselves so they may heal themselves.