The question is almost always phrased in a way that makes it seem like I will undoubtably be having another and the only thing to thing about is when. I hate this question. It’s personal, it’s probing, and my answer almost always leaves the person who asked it looking at me like I’ve just fully offended them.
The answer is simple though. I will not now, or ever, have more children.
I have wanted to write about this for a while but always found it difficult to put my thoughts and feelings down in both a witty and readable fashion. The fact is, the way I feel about this isn’t witty, or fun, or probably even enjoyable reading material for most. It’s just facts.
I’m not good at motherhood. I do not say that so that you will pity me or comfort me or even tell me I’m a great mother. I know that I’m a great mother. J is sweet, smart, well-behaved, and all around an awesome kid. That didn’t happen by chance. His father and I worked very hard and continue to work very hard to parent him and teach him to be a good person. Parenting and motherhood are not one in the same.
There is this saying that goes something like ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup.’ The basic idea is that if you have a cup, it’s physically impossible to pour a substance from it into another cup, if the first cup has nothing in it. It’s a metaphor for life I guess. You can’t give love, affection, time, energy, and whatever else if you don’t have any of it to give. It’s a great saying and generally pretty true, but it’s missing something.
For me, what I think is missing, is that fact that sometimes your cup just might not be big enough. It doesn’t matter how full your cup is. If it’s only 6oz you can not possibly pour out 18oz (I hope I’m making some kind of sense here.) This is how I feel about motherhood.
My cup is only so big and is almost never full. If I had to pour out more to give to more cups I’d be left with nothing.
I am not good at balance. Figuratively and literally funny enough. I can’t balance taking care of my son, my home, and giving attention to my significant other while also trying to tend to my own needs. Someone/something (usually myself or my partner) is always left with less than what they need or deserve.
To add to that, I don’t particularly enjoy motherhood. I love my son. He is my heart walking around outside of my body and the thought of never having met him crushes me. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He is not the problem. My general lack of joy for motherhood is.
Something they never tell you about becoming a mother is that you ultimately will lose yourself to it. You will become defined by it. When people see you out without your child you get asked “where is ____” before they ever ask you about yourself. (Some may say the same is true for all parents, however in my experience fathers are usually asked “how is ____” because it’s not unusual to see a father out without his child. This topic is a whole other blog post, I could go on for days. Fathers aren’t defined by fatherhood, mothers are.) When talking about you in conversation it’s usually pertaining to you AND your child, almost as if your name and their name become one. You are no longer asked about your hobbies, interests, or even your career if you have one, it’s all about the baby. I know some woman who grow to resent their child because of this.
I am not saying that every woman experiences this or feels this way. I know multiple woman who absolutely love every aspect of motherhood and I think that is wonderful. I am not that woman and I don’t need to be. Womanhood and motherhood are not one in the same either.
I think the expectations that society places on mothers are almost always unreal and unattainable. I do not know one mother who feels like she has it all. Who isn’t lacking in at least one aspect of her life. I feel like that is a pretty universal feeling. The thing is, for some woman, that’s okay. For others, such as myself, it’s not.
When I tell people I do not want to have another child I usually get a mix of responses. I’m going to lay those responses out for you and give my thought.
“You say that now but once he’s off to school you’ll miss having a baby that needs you!” The truth is that I do not enjoy being needed that much. When my son goes off to school I’m going to celebrate by lying around in my pajamas all day doing absolutely nothing. I’m going to go to the bathroom with the door shut and take day showers completely uninterrupted. Perhaps I’ll go to a diner and eat completely by myself. Now I’m sure at some point I will miss having a routine or a purpose, but that can be easily resolved with a part-time job or volunteer work.
“But you have to give him a sibling! That’s not fair!”
When I spent four hours in agonizing pain to push my son out of my body, and the cord was cut, that was the end of him having any right to my body and what it does. The idea that I HAVE to give my son a sibling is something that fills me with rage so much, it’s hard to have a clear thought. Just because I consented to having one child, doesn’t meant I consent to having another. Just, no.
“You’ll change your mind”
This is probably the one that bothers me the most. The right to change my mind is my prerogative, however, so is the right to have my mind made up. It’s a sexist stereotype that paints woman as people who are constantly changing their minds and can’t make a decision. It’s false and it’s harmful. It’s the reason I can’t walk into a gynecologist office right now and get my tubes tide. Most doctors won’t perform the surgery unless you are at least 30 or have had more than 2 children. The fact that society as a whole doesn’t seem to want to trust woman with making decisions about the bodies and their families is frustrating. I promise you, my mind is made up.
“Don’t you ever get baby fever”
Absolutely. The smell of a new-born diaper, the baby clothes section at Target. All of it triggers a little part in my brain that makes me go “Dawwww look how cute and sweet!” But it ends there. Babies don’t stay babies. They turn into toddlers, who turn into preschoolers, who eventually turn into teenagers. The decision to have another child based simply off of baby fever is baffling to me.
If you’ve stuck around this far I have the feeling you might be thinking I’m selfish or that maybe I’m just doing this whole motherhood thing right. Honestly, you might right about that. I am selfish in a way. I love my free time and freedom and I’m not willing to give it up to have another child. Perhaps I’m not doing this whole motherhood thing right, but this is the only way I know how and having another child wouldn’t fix that.
At the end of the day the decision is mine, and mine alone (its my body, not my partners). Motherhood for me like skydiving for some. I’m doing it, I’m experiencing all of it, but I have no desire to do it again.
Thanks for reading!