Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

The Turning Point for the Kids-or-Not Decision

Drew and I were out house-hunting last weekend when we stumbled onto a cute little bungalow with a Midwest-sized backyard in El Segundo. Those of you who don’t live in California, prepare to throw up a little in your mouth: it came with 850 square feet, two tiny bedrooms, and a price tag of $650,000. Drew and I stood on the lawn and talked about blowing out the dining room wall and slapping an elaborate master on the back for an extra $100k or so.

I was pretty deep into my backyard reverie of firepits for s’mores and finally getting around to reading Hunger Games in a hammock when it hit me: Until we figure out if we’re having kids, we can’t buy this house. Or any house for that matter.

A $750,000 mortgage for a couple of DINKs? No problem. Same mortgage + two kids? Big problem. Even if we could afford it, is three bedrooms enough? That leaves no guest room, and our current condo is essentially one a big revolving door for relatives and friends in less fortunate year-round climates.

Life on hold

Okay, so we’re not buying this house. There’ll be another one. Fine. I can live with that. But this is just one of 100 times in the past year we’ve had to say:

We can’t [insert activity] until we figure out if we’re having kids.

We can’t get rid of my ancient Honda Accord yet because if we’re not going to have kids, we want a highly unreliable two-seater Alfa Romeo convertible as a replacement. I can’t start my career over and take the incredibly low-paying editorial assistant position I really want because it won’t support a family-sized budget. Drew can’t buy his highly coveted le coq sportif shoes because such exotic purchases seem frivolous next to the diaper budget. Come to think of if, we can’t buy anything – all that money should be going into a 529 to fund the $85,000/year we’ll need for private college by the time our kid would be 18. [Want to freak yourself out? Use the Cost of Raising a Child Calculator.]

I could easily accept this ambiguity or put these decisions on hold if I knew when it would end. There’s very little that I can’t tolerate when I can see an end date, a light at the end of the tunnel. So this seems simple – just set a decision deadline, right?


The moving target deadline

When I turned 25, had met the man I was going to marry, and realized that I still hadn’t had a single maternal inkling, I began to get a bit restless. Limbo and I have never been friends, starting with a poor performance under the bamboo pole in grade school gym class. (I’m tall. And clumsy.) My opinion of limbo – being in it, or trying shimmy under a bar of it – hasn’t improved much since then. I didn’t like the unsettled feeling of not being able to plan for the future, and I decided I wasn’t going to live like that forever. Not thrilled with the idea of being an older mom, I set a deadline to make my baby decision by my 30th birthday.

Two weeks ago, I turned 31.

Oops. As you can see, the blog lives on, and my missed deadline one year ago is actually the reason it exists. I started setting new deadlines. I knew the chance for birth defects went up substantially after 35, so I told myself if I was having kids, I’d be done before 35. But if you’re having two, and need to factor in time for not getting pregnant the first month out of the gate, time for them to actually gestate, and a little break in between, that puts me at needing to start, well….right about now. The decision deadline has become a moving target that inches further and further out as each year passes and I’m still not ready to have a baby.

I’m not stupid: I know that a non-decision will eventually become an actual decision because Mother Nature will have decided for me. Or may have already decided for me! But with the adoption option and some women having babies well into their late forties these days, I could potentially be facing another 15 years of limbo. 15 years is a loooooong time. That’s enough time for an infant to grow up and start driving with a learner’s permit.

And that’s simply too long to live this way.

Frankie Say Relax

I know people are going to respond to this post and tell me to relax, and that you can’t plan everything in life. But as you know, I don’t believe in accidents, so this does require planning. People will tell me that I shouldn’t worry so much about the future. But the issue isn’t that I’m anxious – it’s that I find it exciting to think about where my life is headed and make plans. If we’re not going to have kids, I want to start dreaming up that 2-week trip to Paris NOW. People will tell me to live based on the information I know now, that I can always change my mind later. But what if Drew and I have gone no-baby crazy by then and spent all our money on the palatial 850 square foot estate in El Segundo?

Can I poll the audience? Phone a friend? 50/50 lifeline?

Here’s the frustration: if we could just decide to have a kid right now, this would all be over. That’s a complete no-going-back-now sort of choice (presuming you wouldn’t give it up for adoption). Once it’s done, it’s done. Period. This is your life. But saying you’ve made the decision not to have kids is not a no-going-back-now sort of decision – unless one of you has an operation. I could say I’ve decided I’m not having kids, but then change my mind five years from now and all would be well. It leaves the door open. And damn it, I’m getting tired of the draft from that open door.

I know a lot of you reading this blog are diehard Childfree people. So let me ask you – when you made your decision not to have babies, did you feel like it was a Regis Philbin-style FINAL ANSWER? Or is the door still open a crack?

105 Responses to The Turning Point for the Kids-or-Not Decision

  • Rachel says:

    I don’t think I ever just took a day and made a decision. I feel like I have always know. I do know that when I was 15, I started telling my mom that I didn’t think I wanted kids. However, when I was 30 I made the decision to have my tubes tied. It has always felt like a FINAL decision for me, but that’s because I have always known I didn’t want kids. But I’m also fully aware that I could still adopt a child if I did change my mind. I don’t think it’s ever a FINAL answer, until you are too old to be permitted to adopt. The option is always open and chances are, if you get to the point that you are too old to adopt, you will never change your mind.

    I say live in the moment, while at the same time not spending all your money. Don’t buy the house but buy the car; don’t buy the car, but go on that vacation. You will probably have to live like that until you decide. I feel fortunate that I feel so strongly about it. Your husband is also undecided? Spend some time with your mommy friends and her kids…maybe that will help.

    Good luck! But until you make a decision, have fun but not too much fun. :)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      This is good advice Rachel – I think we’re just particularly frustrated about the house issue because it’s a big one and we’re ready to do it, but keep getting held back by this other decision. To answer your question, Drew is totally undecided as well. But whenever we ask the “Okay, if you had a gun pointed to your head and had to give a final answer RIGHT NOW, what would it be?”, his answer is NO. I guess at some point we’re actually going to have to buy a gun and one of us is going to have to point it at the other. Seems the most reasonable course of action at this point.

      • Rachel says:

        Also, you need to ask yourself how you will feel if you never get your house or your car or your vacation, regardless of if you have kids. If you can live without those things, great! If you cannot, just keep in mind that you may be forced to give up those things if you did have kids. It’s impossible to say whether it would be worth it to give that up in order to have kids, but ask yourself how you would feel about your life if you didn’t have kids AND you didn’t get those things. Would you be okay? If not, then you should put those things on the top of your priority list and figure out if you can make them work with kids. You don’t want to have to settle on things that are really important to you. That’s why people sometimes regret their decisions.

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Very true – people always talk about regret with the baby decision ONLY in regards to regretting not having babies. I think people are afraid to say they might regret not getting “material” things. But whether it’s humans or objects, it’s all about the lifestyle.

          • Scott says:

            My admittedly biased impression is that it is very rare to find someone who chose not to have kids and was later crushed by the regret of that decision. It is probably much less likely than you think it is.

            You could do a simple internet search looking for stories of people who deeply regretted choosing to be childfree, and do a search for those who regretted becoming parents. Even with the huge taboo against admitting regret about having kids, regretting having kids looks to be MUCH more common.

            There are moments when I do have slight regrets about not having kids. Honestly, that is part of my experience. But they’re really fleeting moments. They don’t stop me dead in my tracks. I don’t think because I feel some regret sometimes that I made the wrong choice. That’s life. The avoidance of regret is not a very fulfilling way to live one’s life, and it’s impossible anyway. It may just be a question of “relative regret.”

            This probably in no way helps with your decision. Just saying if it’s the whole “what if I regret…?” question, well there will be regret either way. That’s life. Don’t be terrified of regret.

          • Maybe Lady
            Maybe Lady says:

            It’s true. And a question I’ve been asking myself lately is whether the 2 minutes per day I might spend wondering if I’ll regret not having kids, could possibly be outweighed by the – I don’t know, 6? 8? 10? hours a day – I’d spend soothing temper tantrums, helping with homework, getting a healthy dose of teenage sass.

  • Ben says:

    I read the first sentence wrong and thought you guys were looking for an out-house. And then I thought, “this is going to be an AWESOME blog post!”

  • Rachel Baker says:

    I was thinking about how you are worried about your life plans, specifically career plans and it reminded me of a TED Talk I saw online done by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. Her speech is titled “Why We Have Few Women Leaders,” in her speech she makes several points about women in leadership but one point really hit home with me. In her speech she says:

    “We’re all busy. Everyone’s busy. A woman’s busy. And she starts thinking about having a child, and from the moment she starts thinking about having a child, she starts thinking about making room for that child. “How am I going to fit this into everything else I’m doing?” And literally from that moment, she doesn’t raise her hand anymore, she doesn’t look for a promotion, she doesn’t take on the new project, she doesn’t say, “Me. I want to do that.” She starts leaning back. ”

    Her point being, that all too often, women worry about what the future holds, often way earlier than needed and they miss out on some really great opportunities. She later says “Keep your foot on the gas pedal, until the very day you need to leave to take a break for a child — and then make your decisions.”

    Make sure you aren’t missing out on some great opportunities! Good luck!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I love the gas pedal advice, and if I were still at my old job trying to climb the corporate ladder, I would for sure be putting the pedal to the metal. But the funny thing is that I’m trying to figure out if I can AFFORD to lean back (in fact, topple back, all the way to the beginning in a new field) if I have a kid. I guess if I’m going to, I should do it now, and just slam on the gas!

    • Kit Graham says:

      This comment is brilliant. I think it is so true, that the idea of having a child and making room in your life for that child can hold you back. I definitely experience that sometimes.

  • Lisa says:
    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      How funny, it looks like you and Rachel had the same advice for me! Glad to hear you ladies are all keeping the pedal to the metal.

  • Elanya says:

    I’m really straining my empathy-muscles here as I’m trying to imagine how you feel. For me, there is no draft from an open door, and I couldn’t tell you when it closed. It is really far more accurate to say it has never been open, and I have lived and continue to live my life as if I will never have children. Final answer. Which leaves me with no advise for you, I’m afraid :p

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Well it’s good to hear that you’ve been very happy with your choice – thanks for following along!

    • Alex says:

      Like Elanya, I have no advice, since my door was always closed as well. And now, forever will be (barring a lobotomy and adoption) since I got the operation at 23. Now 7 years ago. No regrets. I also agree with one of your posts above that a lot of people feel afraid to say they prefer a certain material lifestyle over having children, but I just don’t see what’s so wrong with that. You only live once. Might as well make it all about you :-)

      I see no reason to be ashamed of the fact that I like my quiet house and relaxing down-time and quality time with my husband more than I like caring for children. (I know you, nor anyone else here, is saying I should be ashamed, but I think you’re right that many people do think I/we should be.) The word “lifestyle” seems to have, inexplicably, at least in America, acquired a taint of “spoiled yuppie” and I think that does a real disservice to many people. Lifestyle simply means forming your life around the things that make you happy. And in my case, that does include certain material things, and does not include children. It also includes many other non-material things that just don’t happen to be about kids. I think people in general would be happier if they could accept the fact that they don’t have to martyr themselves all the time, and it really is OK to just live in whatever way makes you happy, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else.

      • Maybe Lady
        Maybe Lady says:

        Agreed! It’s weird to even think that you can change what another person wants out of life – people want what they want. If that’s not kids, well, then, it’s not kids!

  • EricaEnyc says:

    You are in a wonderful place! Only 31 and yet questioning, AND doing your homework! Since your hubby is completely undecided as well and you both know that now is not the time to have a baby, keep plugging away even though it feels like insanity.

    Would you still consider motherhood if you knew going in that your child would be born with special needs? I got married at 34 and wrestled with our decision to remain childfree, but whenever I asked myself this question, the answer that kept surfacing, time and again, was NO.

    Happy continued explorations, Maybe Lady! You are not crazy, simply highly responsible.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Wow, what a question! I hadn’t even considered that one yet. I believe you just gave me some good fodder for another post soon…

  • Ugh! I’ve been there, Liz. It’s no fun. Don’t put your life or other decisions on hold. Do what you have passion for. Follow your heart and dreams now. Life will throw you curve balls and maybe you’ll end up with a baby and maybe you won’t but you WILL regret not following the things you’re sure you want to do NOW and that speak to your soul.

    But I TOTALLY sympathize because once upon a time I was in your exact same shoes. I had the same 35 deadline and everything. It came, it went, I still didn’t have the “urge.” I felt wrong, I felt broken, I felt like I had missed standing in a crucial line because baby stuff just never spoke to me like it seemed to all my other friends.

    But I also had parents who had me in their late 30s. I knew I didn’t want to jeopardize my health, the baby’s health, or minimize my time with my child by having one later in life. My parents did that to me and I wish I had them when they had more energy. I mean, they had good energy, but they both admitted having my sister when they were 25 vs. me at 38 and 39 was a HUGE difference. Their patience was less and so was their enthusiasm. My mom died when I was 37, my dad has had bad health the last 15 years….I didn’t get the benefit of what others with younger parents did. And my kids would’ve have gotten the benefit of grandparents like I did. (Well, that was even affected since they were much older when I came along, but luckily they’d been young when they had my parents. If they’d been older too I never would’ve known them.)

    So…there’s so much that goes into it. But don’t deny yourself. It may seem like you’ll always have time to do what you want later, but trust me. You don’t always get a later. Seize your dreams, chances, opportunities NOW! IF you have a kid later, you’ll figure it out. It all does work out in the end. GOOD LUCK!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I suppose the thing to remember is that it may not all work out PERFECTLY if I don’t plan well now and wind up having a baby, but it will, somehow, work out. I think it’s probably got a little something to do with me not being able to relinquish any control over what happens in my life. I probably ought to drink more wine and chill out.

  • Liz says:

    Your post is perfectly timed as I think my husband and I are in the exact same place. Just about 30, feeling like if we wait we will be too old, but at the same time not really having the urge to move forward with starting a family. I completely understand the desire to want to plan some of the exciting parts of life – the trip to Europe with friends in two years – but would it still be feasible if we had kids? When there isn’t a clear answer to the question, is that an answer in itself?

    Had we grown up 50 years ago, we’d likely already have children if we were able and it wouldn’t really be a decision. In a way, I wonder if we’ve almost been cursed by the gift of time to be think about it. A friend of mine who is now about 50 and never had children said when she hit 35 and still didn’t have a strong urge to be a mom, she figured that was her sign that she didn’t want it badly enough to give parenting her all. Maybe there’s some validity to that.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I agree with your curse of time comment – I almost think that we’re cursed with too many choices these days. Things were much, much simpler when it was unheard of to go a different route than the norm. I know it’s stupid and lazy of me wish for my choices to be taken away…but on certain especially stupid and lazy days, sometimes I wish I didn’t have so many.

  • Molly says:

    We’ve pretty much made the decision not to have children, but we left the door open a crack with a hard-deadline: “if we haven’t started trying to have kids by the time [wife] turns 35, then [husband] will get a vasectomy.” I’m actually thinking now that I’d like to move that deadline up to when I [wife] turn 33, for the same reasons you mention (getting pregnant takes some time + 9 months in the womb = at least a year before the baby is in our arms). If we do have children, I want to make sure that I’m healthy and young enough to ensure (as much as is possible) that the kids are healthy too.

    That said… I’ve already pretty firmly decided not to have kids, and I know my husband is by my side. We’ll hold off on surgery until our set deadline, to give ourselves plenty of time to confirm that we’ve made a well thought-out decision before he goes under the knife. However, even though that baby door is still technically open, it feels closed in my mind.

    For us, it boils down two factors:
    1. I can’t think of more than one reason for us TO have kids, whereas I can come up with a list as long as my arm for why we should NOT have kids.
    2. Neither of us actively WANTS kids.

    So even though we could still have children, and we have 5-7 years before any permanent surgery would occur, I feel like we’ve already made this decision. We’ve talked at length about why we don’t want children, what we value about our life together now, how having children would change that life (positively and negatively), and with each discussion both of us sound increasing sure about what we want. The caveats (the deadline, waiting several years before making it permanent) are really just giving us the length of time to justify our decision to other people (particularly our parents). When we finally tell them about our decision, I would want to have years of certainty to counter the inevitable question of: “Are you sure? What if you change your mind?” I can say “Yes. I’m sure. We decided this 4 years ago, and I’ve been sure ever since.” For us, the time we’re allowing isn’t necessarily because we aren’t sure now. It’s more to confirm to ourselves that this isn’t a snap decision, that we’ve given it plenty of thought and have discussed it over and over, and we’re still confident that we don’t want children.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      So responsible of you! You’ll definitely have quite a bit of ammo in the whole “Are you sure?” argument if it ever comes to that. It would be very difficult to challenge a decision that had been thought through so thoroughly. Thanks for your comment, and if the blog’s still going in 5 years, you’ll have to keep us posted on what happens!

  • Jenn says:

    My husband and I are pretty much in the same boat that you are in. My husband turns 30 this year and I turn 29. Though, financially we don’t really tell ourselves to hold back since we don’t know if we’re having children or not. We just keep going about our childless ways. We did purchase a condo that we got a great deal on due to the drop in the housing market. The mortgage is more affordable than renting an apartment and it’s an investment. We can always keep it and rent it out or upgrade later. It’s a one bedroom condo and the bathroom is tiny and in the bedroom so we definitely cannot have children while living here.

    We have gotten the lectures (from people that should really mind their own business) about the risks of having children later. However, we are not about to have children when we’re undecided and not ready just to avoid those risks. So yeah we’re still looking down what seems like a long road of uncertainty.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Well at least it sounds like you’re not letting the indecision drag you down at all – good for you guys! We’re in a condo now too for the same reason – it’s actually cheaper than renting – but my husband is craving a yard. I think everyone suspects we want a house for kids, but we really just want to be able to have outdoor parties. Kind of like how we got some funny looks when we bought an SUV – not for car seats, but for my husband to lug his drum set around!

  • Erin says:

    All your commenters make good points. I have chosen to procreate, but I figured I’d throw my two cents in. Perfect planning doesn’t apply to babies. No matter what the game plan, they will screw it up. And, just when you adapt to the newest change, they will change again. So, I echo Courtney. Live your life in the moment. It will work out.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I love your line: “No matter what the game plan, they will screw it up.” I might have to get a t-shirt with that printed on it. :)

  • Basketcase says:

    OMG I so get where you are coming from, although for us some of it is more immediate.

    I am due to go in for endo surgery next week. I find out six weeks after that if they got it all, or if I will have to go back on the waiting list for up to another six months before getting a second round.
    We had decided that if we are going to try, trying time starts about 2 weeks after that follow up appointment and ends at Christmas this year.

    I have told DH that if we have to wait for a second surgery, I am going in for a mirena or similar. I cant keep putting things back that I want to do with my life if we dont have kids. If we dont have kids, I want to go back to school next year. Its something I’m willing to not do if pregnant by the time applications close, but if I’m not even really trying yet?

    We too need a new car, but we are putting it off a) because I dont have a job at the moment and we have this pesky trip to Europe to pay for as well as the mortgage and b) because we dont know what sized one we want. We have a small house. It will be fine for a while yet, even if we did have a kid, but we want to buy out the neighbours and convert the two units into a family sized home. But, I dont have a job, and then we are looking at being pregnant soon and having no income again etc etc.

    I am just so SICK of the waiting and wondering and what-ifs. At least I have the advantage that I dont have bone-deep cravings for a baby, so I can just say “Sod it. DH is off for the snip and I’m spending that first years cost on a breast reduction I have wanted for over 12 years already”. This time next year we might well be booking things in… I hope.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Oh my, that certainly is a lot of balls in the air!! Hopefully things will fall into place (whatever that place) very soon for you. I love “Sod it.” – I’m definitely going to use that phrase once we make our final decision because I think it works either way – “Oh sod it, bring on the diapers.” or “Sod it, I’m buying those tix to Paris NOW.”

  • olivia says:

    My favourite line in this whole fabulous post is, “the issue isn’t that I’m anxious – it’s that I find it exciting”. Such a great way to approach things!

    One of my methods for making big decisions like these is to try them on for a week or so. So, I spent a period of time with the mindset that I was planning to have children and a period of time with the mindset that I was planning not to. (It was slightly more complicated than that really, but hey, this is your blog :) ). I realised that I felt much more like myself and also liked all the off-shooting possibilities much more during the period of non-motherhood-plans. It wasn’t the only deciding factor, but it really helped me to clarify my thoughts and feelings about the whole thing.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Wow, that’s a really good idea. I’ve never really walked around for an entire week in the mindset of “yes, I’m going to have a baby. What now?” I’m definitely going to try that – thanks for the suggestion!

  • Megan says:

    Hi Liz. Lots of interesting topics brought up on here, but the two that stuck out to me were your age deadline and your concern about the chance of having a healthy child at age 35+. If you would like to know the facts about age risks, I can really help you there, since I’ve been a genetic counselor for almost 12 years. So let me know, I can really geek out for you and give you all the stats. But I just want to emphasize my overall take on this subject after all the years in this profession – Most people have healthy babies.
    When I started my job at 25 after having my head filled with scary statistics, I remember thinking, I better have kids before 35. But after giving so much good news over the years to women primarily in their 30′s and 40′s, I was totally comfortable to start trying to having kids at 36. I was more concerned about the chance of not being able to have kids actually.
    Anyway, I just wanted to throw out some reassurance to those who may be afraid to wait until they’re more mentally ready. Just fyi, I can’t even imagine myself at 30 and pregnant, but now, it feels right.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Thanks Megan – I knew I could count on you to weigh in from the genetic counselor side! I’m sure I’ll be hitting you up for info if I round into 34 or so and still haven’t made a decision. ;)

  • Lynn T says:

    It might sound negative but I would recommend reading some of these kind of threads ( where mothers are anonymously admitting their regrets about motherhood. It makes you consider the day to day aspects of motherhood as well as the ‘kodak moments’ and whether you would enjoy the reality of it.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I’ve heard about this trend of anonymous mommy complaining and how parents aren’t as happy as they’re letting on. I think people are arguing that the “happiness statistics” are skewed because parents tend not to admit that they regret having kids – not necessarily because they don’t regret it, but because it’s so taboo to admit it. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to admit it, but it’s kind of a bummer that some of them aren’t able to provide true advice on the subject.

  • Here’s the thing… If you keep waffling, then then answer is clearly “no”. How can you have a kid if you are not dying to have one? I have always said I didn’t want kids, but technically the, er, door is still open. Of course I take little pink pills that some would now like to outlaw. Oh well. At any rate, I have always known and never wanted to be pregnant. I always thought that if I changed my mind I would adopt. In October we adopted a dog.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Good point – with all the work involved, it DOES seem like something you should be DYING to do before you actually do it. Congrats on your dog adoption – puppies are almost as much work as babies!!

  • Nikka says:

    I know how confusing it is to look around to all your girlfriends and wonder why you seem to be the only one who is in this “limbo”! I turn 30 this year and my husband and I made the no-kids decision official several years ago. However, I still feel like I’m coming to terms with it because it IS so out-of-the-norm.
    I guess one thing that really helps me is to recall all the conversations with my girlfriends who have kids or have the crazy longing for babies. Does this sound familiar: “I ALWAYS knew…”, “Ever since I was a little girl…”, “I could NEVER imagine my life without…”
    I’ve never said or thought any of those things. I feel like if I should have kids, I would KNOW it and feel that strongly about it, like the other 99% of women on the earth, right?

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Gosh, when you put it like that – I can’t say I’ve ever had those thoughts either! Boy, I need to put together a “sage advice from the audience” page on this blog.

  • True… and you always have to clean up a dog’s crap… kids eventually learn to do it for themselves. Oh well.

  • Sabrina says:

    Honestly, I believe that if you’re having trouble making a decision then you probably don’t want children enough to justify all the sacrifices you know you’ll be making.

    You’ve clearly though all this through very carefully. Far more carefully than quite a few parents, in fact! Yet it sounds like you have absolutely no clear, driving determination to have a child. That sounds to me as if you would value your independence and freedom more.

    Be very careful when it comes to people wittering on about maternal instinct – it’s certainly true that many women “have” it, but I don’t think it’s true to say nearly all women do. A desire to care for and nurture things is certainly not limited to human babies, or women, so I think it’s a bit pointless to keep worrying about what will happen when it “kicks in” like it’s something measurable – because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever feel that way, and the whole idea of maternal instinct moves motherhood from a choice to an obligation. Not healthy or helpful, in my opinion :)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      That’s a very interesting take that the biological clock kicking in turns motherhood from a choice to an obligation. I had never thought of it that way, but it’s an excellent point. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Sam says:

    Don’t put your life on hold, just do what feels right for you now.

    I never wanted children through my teens and early twenties, and became ambivalent to the idea around my late twenties/early thirties. By 33, my partner and I decided that we would rather try to have kids than not bother at all.

    Five years on, and there’s still no sign of children for us and to be honest, it doesn’t look like there ever will be. If we’d put our life on hold, the only benefit we’d be seeing right now is the savings through not having to buy any contraception. (We haven’t gone down the medical intervention route, as I just don’t have the urge enough to put myself through all that physical and mental torture.)

    As we just continued our life, we have the house and the car and the lifestyle we both love. If kids come along and we have to give some/all of it up, we’ll gladly do so, as it would just be the next big adventure.

    Try and imagine how you would feel having kept your life on hold and being in the same situation as us, childless and unlikely to ever have kids of your own. Would you feel annoyed that you hadn’t taken the opportunity to do and have all those things that you could have? If the answer is yes, just go do them.

    Life’s just too short to waste, plus nothing that you can control is set in stone (like all the material stuff), while the ability to have children is completely unpredictable.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yes, I DO think I’d be annoyed to think of all that I put on hold, wondering if we’ll have kids…but then again, it would probably mean we’d just have a giant pile of cash on hand that we could then go nuts with! Ah, who knows!

  • kylie says:

    I know how you feel when we got married i put a wait one year and we will start then well one year came and i pushed it out to later that year then somhow we will get to 4 years in May (where did that time go?) and we the age limit of 35 will be hit mid next year. I really can’t decide what we will end up doing but s suspect that i will let the deadline pass on by and that it will decide for me.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yes, sometimes indecision is a decision in and of itself! And I guess that’s an okay thing.

  • Megan says:

    I apologize now for not reading the other comments before I make my own. I do plan to go back and read them all later.

    When I made the decision to be childfree, I was about 15. Sounds awfully young to make that call, but I was pretty certain. I’ve revisited it several times, including once when I was dating a guy who adamantly wanted kids, but I kept coming back to NO. I imagine I’ll continue to revisit it and occasionally feel mild regret, but on the whole, I feel good about it.

    Here’s the thing. If you’ve been giving it as much thought as you clearly have, and you’ve let decision deadlines slip, and you simply can’t decide yes, then the answer is no. It’s likely that you’re so conflicted about it because you really don’t want kids, but everything in society tells you that you do and so you think it’s logical that you should and so you keep considering it. But I learned this lesson in dating. There were guys I went on a couple of dates with who were really, really great guys. And I wanted so badly to be attracted to them, because they were funny and smart and nice. But in the end I just wasn’t feeling it, no matter how much I wanted to. I just couldn’t talk myself into it, even though every logical bone in my body said that they were perfect for me.

    For me, it’s the same with having a kid. I know I should want it, my body occasionally tries to convince me (through awesome dreams where I’m pregnant) that I really do want it, but I keep coming back to the fact that I just don’t. I truly feel that if you keep going back and forth on something so much, and it’s something totally life-changing like this, you deep down don’t really want it.

    Good luck!!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      You make some excellent points, and I can definitely see the wisdom in them. At least you’re lucky enough to describe the dreams where you’re pregnant as awesome. I’ve only had one dream where I’m pregnant and it was flat-out terrifying. Hmm, wonder what that could mean…

      • Megan says:

        I’m absolutely convinced that the series of pregnancy dreams I had in my early 30s were my body’s way of pointing to that biological clock and telling me to get a move on. I never had actual kids in the dreams, but was hugely pregnant and it was the most amazing feeling. (I actually tried to write a comment about these dreams on an earlier post of yours where you mention the biological clock, but I forgot to check the human box and the whole comment got deleted so I gave up…yet another sign I wouldn’t make an especially good mom.) I’ve actually always thought that I would love to go through a pregnancy as long as I didn’t have to have a kid afterward. I looked into surrogacy, but they typically want women who have had kids before just so they know they can carry to term. Plus by the time I was looking into it, I was older than most places want.

        But yes, I wonder if your scary pregnant dream was your subconscious trying to tell you something. Either that, or you shouldn’t eat tacos right before bed.

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Well, let’s be honest – dropping my tacos-before-bed habit just isn’t going to happen. That’s so interesting to me that you’ve wanted to go through the act of pregnancy without wanting a child! And how good of you to try and be a surrogate. You’re braver than I.

  • Nancy says:

    The “Beyond Motherhood” book I recommended has a great section about regret. Woman who made a clear decision before running out of time, regardless of what the decision was, felt the most peace. With all the effort you are putting into the decision, I image you’ll have peace as well with the final outcome. What a comforting thought!

    My husband and I put a lot of time into this decision – exploring who we were as individuals and as a couple; not who we wanted to be or who we thought we should be. We found that the scenarios around what we wanted and needed never involved children. When I realized I never wanted to be pregnant, he got a vasectomy, and even though the parenthood door is still open through adoption, I haven’t even been considering it lately. Knowing we made the decision as a couple, with full awareness of the options and consequences, has brought me tremendous clarity and relief. I still have grief to work through. I know I could have been a fine mother – that I would have found a way through the challenges and experienced joys I couldn’t have imagined my life without. But there are a lot of things I could do and choose not to, for a variety of complicated reasons. Why agonize about missing out on parenthood any more than missing out on being an expat? (I think I might grieve even more that I’m not living in Italy than that I don’t have children!)

    Now my husband and I can focus on building our lives as a family of two and, ironically, my career has blossomed since the decision. I love having the time and energy (and money) to devote to a nonprofit career supporting our community, and feel that the opportunities I’ve had recently to grow professionally are signs that I made the right decision about how to invest my gifts. My sister once shared with me her favorite quote: “Life’s most important decisions are made with too little information.” I don’t think you’ll ever know for sure. But you’ll come to know as much as you need to make the decision, then you’ll grieve, and then you’ll move on to another adventure. For me, I just knew it was time to be done with indecision.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      What a lovely comment, thank you! I’m glad to hear you’ve found peace with your decision – one of my favorite quotes is “A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” I think you just free up so much mental energy when you stop agonizing about something, and then things just start working out (like your blossoming career). I look forward to getting to that place. Writing this blog and all the great comments from readers like you are really helping me narrow in on what’s important.

  • Kelli says:

    At this point in my life (24) I feel pretty strongly about not having kids. I’ve discussed it with my boyfriend and he seems to have the same thought process, but the person giving me the most flak? — my sister. Her ‘biological clock’ is blowing up and is dying to have kids. Her reasoning for me to have kids? — so her kids will have cousins. I said I’ll be a great aunt, but having kids just so hers can have cousins is a Terrible reason…

    Also —
    I pulled this comment off the ‘I hate motherhood’ thread, and thought it applied closely to your current status.

    “I’m so happy to find that others feel this way. I never wanted to have children – it’s not that i didn’t like them – it’s just that i loved my free time and was happy with my life. My husband and I had been together for 14 years and he always wanted children but said he was OK with whatever I wanted to do. At 35 I decided to take a chance because I was on the fence with the whole idea and i thought it was now or never – to my surprise i was pregnant within a month. I love my daughter with all of my heart – but I hate it when people say “I bet you forget what life was like before her!” – no, I don’t. maybe it was because my husband and I had been together for years before – but i think of my life before her quite fondly – and i think of it quite often. I also know how you feel about being isolated. We live a few states away from our family and we have few friends in this town. So, thank you for posting this. At least I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.”

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Wow, that IS a terrible reason for your sister wanting you to have kids! She should just have enough of her own so they can keep each other entertained, if that’s what she’s looking for. Thanks for bringing in that other comment as well – I’m glad to hear there’s moms out there who are willing at admit that there was meaningful life B.B. (before baby).

  • Tory says:

    I have never felt strongly about having children, but I did always consider myself on the fence. I always figured that eventually I would “meet the right person” and suddenly want to have children, or play the martyr and have them because he wanted them. Turns out that the “right person” is as ambivalent as I am, and we talk about children sometimes but usually just decide we like our DINK lives as they are.

    That being said, not having made a permanent, irreversible decision can be so mind-bending that sometimes I think I’d rather just have a child so I knew which way things were going to go, you know? So that a decision would be made, would be final. It’s the not knowing, the not being able to plan, the confusion, that makes it difficult.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Absolutely!! Some days I wish someone would either just tell me I’m pregnant or that Drew and I are both infertile. Making the decision seems like it’s going to be worse than living with it – whatever it is.

  • Katie R. says:

    My husband and I made this decision last year. I’m 28 and he’s 32. It was time for me to get another Mirena IUD and he knew how painful it was for me to get one inserted the first time. I was quite willing to do it again but we started discussing whether we actually wanted to have kids or not for real. Ever.

    We were driving somewhere in the car having this talk. I remember that vividly. He asked if I wanted him to get a vasectomy so I didn’t have to do Mirena again. I asked if he was sure he was ok with doing that? And were we too young to make that decision?

    We tossed out a whole bunch of what if scenarios and nothing came up with us seeing kids in our future. So we scheduled a date to see the urologist that has done “over 26,000 vasectomies and counting” and that was that. I took him to his surgical visit and took him home to relax over the weekend.

    I was glad we finally sat down and made the decision. It was something we’ve been talking about the last three years and now that we’ve done it I feel like we can move on with our lives and prepare for a future without kids in it.

    The tricky part has been when to tell the parents this decision is permanent. I told my mom by accident and thankfully my parents are accepting of our decision. He asked me to not tell his parents yet and it’s been nearly a year since the vasectomy. They still don’t know. Not sure we will tell them anytime soon unless they bring up the “grandkids” topic again.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yikes, that’s a tricky one, I don’t blame you for putting off telling his parents. But see, isn’t it terrible we have to be panicked about telling our parents this? Once we’re past a certain age, and married, you don’t ever hear about people being afraid to tell their parents they’re pregnant. Ah well, I guess there’s always a price to be paid for taking the road less traveled. Congrats on your decision, and I’m glad to hear you’re both happy with it!

      • Katie R. says:

        I agree – it is terrible we have to worry about it. A week after we were married his mother asked me when we were planning on giving them a grandkid. Now that six years have passed with no grandkids they don’t ask as often but I’m dying to just tell them it isn’t happening and to stop asking about it.

        I hope you’re able to make a decision either way! It certainly makes planning for the future lots easier.

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Wow, one week – I’d like to say that’s a record, but sadly, it’s probably not!

          • AmyJane says:

            My Mother-in Law started badgering me AT MY WEDDING RECEPTION. As in… FOUR HOURS AFTER WE EXCHANGED VOWS.

            And bless the woman’s cotton socks…she has stamina, I’ll give her that…

            SHE HAS YET TO STOP.

          • Maybe Lady
            Maybe Lady says:

            Wow. Just…wow.

  • AmyJane says:

    Mmm, this is a tough one, for me that door closed with a resounding *thud* around my late twenties when I realized that I simply was not in possession of a biological clock.

    My best friend pointed it out actually when she commented: “That is the third puppy we have seen today that made you almost wet yourself with bliss as you dragged me across the street into oncoming traffic just to go and see it. You nearly killed me to go and look at a total stranger’s pet. Three times. Today. However all I could raise out of you was “meh” when we went to see our friend’s new baby.”

    True dat. The little guys just don’t do it for me. Actually, bar a few rad teenagers I know…anyone under 20 really doesn’t do it for me. I had to have a stern talk with myself (always scary) and just face the facts…the whole parenthood “thing” doesn’t do it for me. If I somehow had to do it, so be it…(my godchild’s parents perishing? Baby in a basket ala Moses on my doorstep?) but my first choice was a resounding NOPE. So that was that, hands dusted off, moving on, happy. Door shut.

    I got a puppy. All was blissful.

    I got married, and although my husband and I have had the baby talk, (both going: “Ew, no. Annoying. Done.”)in years past, and have been together for ten years…HE WON’T SHUT THE DAMN DOOR.

    So now I feel like I have had to leave it open a crack…and it is annoying the sh*t out of me. A fence-sitter, he might be called. So I am in a sort of similar situation, where I just want to finish this back and forth for once and for all, (obviously leaning hard on the panic button that bleats “JUST SAY NO!” at top volume…) but feel like I can’t until he is happy in his decision to remain childfree. Or not. I just don’t want to be the one who signs off on that decision… maybe I am being an immature brat because I know that would leave me open to all sorts of “Well YOU decided…” arguments down the line. Or that I would somehow be responsible for his regret, if he should have some in the future. I can handle my own regrets, that’s just a part of life, right? Choose one thing and you automatically can’t choose another, I understand and accept that fully. Go to Harvard, can’t go to Yale. (I wish.) But somehow I can’t handle the thought of him having regrets about the whole thing. And it being my fault. Gah.

    I must be the only woman in the world anticipating the menopause because that would be THAT. No more waffling on the whole maybe baby thing ANYMORE.

    that would be of no help to you at all then. Cheers. I guess I’m just sayin…I feel you on the whole “let’s just get this decision MADE already thing.”

    On a side note, LOVE the blog…

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Thanks AmyJane!! I completely hear you on not wanting to be the one who signs off on the final decision. Sometimes I wish that Drew felt one way or the other with some kind of extreme intensity, because I would more or less be happy to do what he wanted. I know, the feminists are going to hate me for that one. But I just mean that his happiness means so much to me that giving him something that makes him happy would make ME happy, regardless of what it was. And there would be a good reason behind it. Unfortunately, he’s a pretty bad fence-sitter himself, so I think we’re going to be passing that signing pen back and forth for a while. *Sigh*

  • AmyJane says:

    …And I read somewhere that the question that should be asked is not: “Do I want a child?” but “Would a child want me for it’s mother?”

    And I blush to admit, my fist thought was… “Hell no. I’m kind of a jerk.”

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      That’s one I wish more people would ask themselves. Namely anyone who has ever appeared on a reality television show.

  • Squirrel says:

    AmyJane. I am in almost the same exact boat as you … (just found this site and have spent the last hour reading, and I really hope I remain anonymous). But here’s the deal: My husband and I got married two years ago, are insanely happy together, but I was always on the fence w/the kid thing. I’m like 70 percent sure I don’t want one, he’s like 90 percent sure that he is. Huge issue for us, we almost broke up over it, but eventually realized we would try to find a way to work it out because we love each other so much. Anyway, here we are, I’m 36, he’s 46, and we still haven’t started trying. I realize it gets harder, more dangerous, etc. the older we get, but I’m still really freaked out about it. He’s been more patient than Job but I am so fearful that if I express how I really feel — that I’m still not sure — that it will be the end of us, and that I will spend the rest of my life heartbroken over losing the man that I love for a decision that I wasn’t sure I was ready to make but would have never ever regretted once it was a done deal. Not to mention robbing him of a life experience he’s always dreamed of, which is guilt that I am already feeling because, the later it gets, the harder it will be for us, and I’m not even sure I can get pregnant.

    Good grief, that was long, and confusing, but I look forward to continued reading/feedback. Thanks for listening.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Such a tough spot you’re in! It’s so hard when the answer isn’t readily apparent or something you just instinctually feel one way or the other. And even harder when time is not on your side. *Sigh* – why is it so easy for others? Unfortunately, I don’t have any sage advice for you since I’m still trying to work through all this myself (anyone else out there have anything good?). My only suggestion is that I know there are counselors/coaches who specialize specifically in helping people make this decision. If I’m still in the same boat in a few years, I’ll probably be giving them a ring myself. Just a thought…

  • Charlene says:

    Thanks for this blog. I’ve just found it and it’s really helpful to me. There’s tons of horrible stuff on the internet about this issue, both from the side of parents and from childfree advocates who come off as pretty harsh.

    I’ve always been a good “decider” about things I’ve wanted over the years, and it’s been pretty mystifying to me that the kid question has not been very easily answered. I’m 37 and about to finish my doctorate; I spent my 30s in grad school, being married and pretty poor. I thought I might try to have a baby while I was in school, and I did not feel ready to do that–I didn’t see how I could possibly do both, because I’m kind of lazy and hated being as busy as I was already. Grad school was hectic.

    My career is the main career in my marriage, and I can’t take any time off over the course of the next year or so, so….? The door is open a crack there, we haven’t said “no,” we aren’t using extensive birth control methods, but we aren’t trying either. Pretty soon the jig will be up, and I hope if I do have a baby really late (say 40) I don’t die or have another horrible outcome. I’m afraid of that.

    The thing is, I know what it feels like to REALLY REALLY want something–I am totally passionate about my life’s work, which is in the mental health field. It involves really caring about people as well as spending a decent amount of time thinking, writing, doing research, and devoting energy to taking care of myself so that I can do all of those things well. I want to do this work more than anything, and I know this because I keep coming back to it over and over again, I never get tired of it, and I am continually humbled and inspired by it in pretty amazing ways.

    I apparently don’t REALLY REALLY want kids, or I would have had them, come hell or high water, busy grad school or not. I have maternal urges sometimes, I can imagine my husband and myself being a great parenting team, I can imagine being a family in ways that don’t involve losing my identity and my work. Nonetheless, I haven’t been overwhelmed with that “REALLY REALLY want” feeling.

    One night, my husband and I were talking about this issue, and I said, “If I really wanted to do this, I don’t think I would have to ask myself whether or not I really want to do this and then try to convince myself why I should.” In some ways, I think I am coming to understand that the silence I experience when I ask myself if I want to have a baby might actually be the sound of “no”…but not a revolted no or a fearful no, just a quiet, silent “no.” That silence is perhaps the absence of a desire for a child, rather than the PRESENCE of a desire to be childfree. Does that make sense? It’s kind of a weird experience, especially when so many people seem to have such a clear “instictual” knowledge in this way.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      What an interesting way to think about this, Charlene. It kind of reminds me of something my husband tells me when I’m trying to plan group trips with our friends. I always spend an excessive amount of time trying to chase down responses from people on whether they want to go skiing in Big Bear or camping at Lake Cachuma because people are kind of flaky and forget to respond. But when I’m trying to get a final count and I’ve sent a 2nd email and haven’t heard back, I still say, “I bet they want to come, they just need to figure out x, x and x first.” But Drew always reminds me that if someone really wants to do something, they’d say yes right away and figure out how to make it happen later. Their silence is that quiet, silent “no” you speak of. I sense a blog post on the “silent no” coming soon…

      • Charlene says:

        Regarding the ski trip thing–that’s exactly it, right? When people genuinely want things, unless they are really torn up by intense neurotic conflicts/psychological blocks or other serious hindrances that make their goals very difficult to achieve, they typically go out and make those things happen.

        In a way, I think I can’t quite believe that “silent no” that I experience, and I keep second guessing myself, especially now that I’m at the last stages of a chance with it. It’s such a quiet feeling, a kind of open, peaceful space that is the absence of strong feeling, rather than the presence of it.

        I’ve always been pretty good at being unconventional in the ways that are important to me, but somehow, I think I’m kind of shocked that I don’t feel strongly called to have kids. That seems unconventional in a way that I wasn’t expecting to find myself being. Almost *everyone* has kids. In a way, thinking of myself as childless by choice feels really, really odd. I’m surprised by it.

        I’m looking forward to your post on the “silent no”.

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Agreed – I keep being surprised by each year that passes where I still don’t feel compelled to have children. I guess life is unexpected like that!

    • Danielle says:

      I’m very happy I found this blog and even happier I read this comment. I’m going to be 39 and I have many of the same feelings. I thought I would have children one day, but I never had a burning desire to do so. I always think of Marisa Tomei as Lisa in “My Cousin Vinny”, tapping her foot and screaming about her biological clock. I’m starting to feel it tick, yet I still don’t have a deep desire. I also have fertility issues. I’m on the fence of how far and even *if* I want to pursue a pregnancy. I’ve started thinking that my lack of deep desire is a silent “no”. Perhaps it has been difficult to truly make a decision because I was a teacher for many years and I truly love children and think I would make a good mother. I know my husband would make a great father. Yet, I’m still not anxious to have a child – just anxious to make a decision.

      • Maybe Lady
        Maybe Lady says:

        This concept of the silent No is really interesting to me – others have brought it up on here too. I think you’re all inspiring me to write a post on this one soon…

  • Kaylen says:

    I don’t think anyone should have children unless they want to be a parent, day in and day out, 24/7/365, and they know for sure that they want to sign up for that job. It’s a rough job, there are a lot of diaper changes involved, and yes you will get pooped/peed/thrown up on. Repeatedly. Right after you have changed into clean clothes/showered from the last time it happened.

    Unless you want to devote your life to the care and well being of a tiny human, and you know that for sure, then don’t do it. It is a rough road for those of us who desperately want to be parents and love our kids more than life. It is much harder for those who aren’t sure they want it, do it anyway, and then are terribly disappointed with the reality of it.

    I would recommend checking out some mom blogs if you want to get down to the nitty gritty and see the day to day for what it’s worth. I don’t think it’ll help you decide whether or not it’s right for you, but I do think it’ll provide a perspective that the other DINKS commenting can’t. It will give you something more to consider as well in terms of what might change if you become a parent, and what might not change. And the highlights are always good to remember….for example, your kid might have a tantrum that goes on for an hour in the grocery store, but when they give you a big smile and hug later on in the day, any frustration you might have felt completely melts away. It’s totally worth it just to see them smile.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Thanks Kaylen, I mentioned this in response to one of your other comments, but I do in fact visit mommy blogs regularly as well to get the full picture. Thank you for all your comments!

  • Kaylen says:

    It’s more like 14 hours a day of tantrums, baths, laundry, cleaning, etc….not to mention actually spending time with them. It’s all-encompassing in a way I never imagined before I had kids. I like it, but it’s hard not having more than an hour or 30 mins or 15 mins to yourself all day before you have to go to bed (and then it starts all over again the next day). I’m not exaggerating on the time – it’s a bigger time commitment than college, if it helps you to think about it that way.

    Just ask yourself if you can live with only having 15 mins a day to yourself for the first 7 years or so of their lives. Maybe longer. Can you do it for 7 years? It’s hard but worth it to me. Would it be worth it to you?

    Also, agree with the commenter who brought up the special needs question. I would have no problem parenting a child with special needs, but some people just do not want to sign up for that. You have to ask yourself if you would sign up for it, because you don’t get a warning with it – it just happens sometimes. It blindsides you. So could you live with the fact that your hypothetical child may be born with special needs? Or – that your hypothetical child could develop special needs later on in life? Not all needs are visible or identifiable at birth – some only present later, such as autism. Could you parent an autistic child? Would you be willing to do anything it took to make that child’s life awesome, be the parent they need you to be, deal with their teachers and special education plans or IEP plans for the majority of their educational life? Physical therapy?

    I’m just bringing up food for thought – but you have to ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself about the answers. It’s not like you can un-do a pregnancy, right? Better to know before jumping in headfirst. (All parenting is jumping in headfirst by the way lol).

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Very good questions – I definitely want to do a post on the special-needs subject sometime soon, as I do think it’s a question everyone should know the answer to before getting pregnant.

  • I am new to your blog, so perhaps you discuss it elsewhere and I haven’t caught it yet, but I was intrigued by the seeming lack of pressure from outside influences for you to have children. I am regularly amazed by the number of people who find it entirely appropriate to argue with me about my choice not to have children–including virtual (and even actual) strangers! Those close to me have either given up (family) or respect my ability to make my own life choices (close friends), but there are those who persist. In a weird way, though, that pressure helps to solidify my resolve. Having to defend my decision against that pressure elucidated the argument in my own head, and over time that has led to enough confidence in my decision that I no longer feel the need to defend my decision and can simply tune out the pressure.
    I can absolutely relate to the dislike of limbo, though–of both the emotional and bad party game variety. I like to be able to plan my life and fully explore and evaluate the opportunities ahead. I wish you the best of luck in resolving your own limbo.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      It IS strange that I don’t get a lot of pressure about it! I wonder sometimes if it’s because I go on the offensive with it by having this blog. Everybody already knows my thoughts on all of this, so they realize it would be silly to try and pressure me one way or another. Or maybe they’re afraid of appearing as a cameo in my blog! I’m sorry to hear you HAVE been the recipient of that pressure, but I’m glad you’re taking a positive attitude about it in realizing that it’s helped you solidify your stance on things.

      • I must say, I admire your ability to share your experience grappling with this question. You address a topic many find difficult to discuss (even privately) with a sincerity and gentle humor that is refreshing. I find so many of these conversations are filled with some combination of hostility, hyperbole, and proselytization (I couldn’t think of a synonym that started with “H”). Congratulations and thank you for bring some dignity back to public discourse…
        …Without people like you, it was only a matter of time before we devolved into settling all debates with Jello wrestling. I’m not saying Jello wrestling isn’t fun, it just doesn’t seem to be grounds for sound social debate or public policy. I am clearly furthering the mature discourse cause…and THIS is what helps persuade people that perhaps my procreation isn’t quite what they are hoping for. ;)

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Why thank you Methodique! I agree, there’s so much hostility sometimes between the Childfree and parents, it’s nice to have a place where that’s not what it’s all about. I can’t say I’m successful with that in every post (and I think this is the first time I’ve ever been accused of being dignified), but I try!

  • I was actually referring to my irreverent sense of humor, not the atrocious grammar that results from trying to post via phone…but, really? Potato, potato.

  • Sarah says:

    I was a chronic fence-sitter until this year, I’ve finally decided to get off the fence. I’m going to turn 40 this year and my biological clock hasn’t kicked in and I just can’t convince myself that I want kids in my life and my marriage. We were always the couple people would say “You’d be such GREAT parents!” to.
    I am told multiple times “but what if you regret it?, think of all the things you’ll miss out on?” All I know is, how can you miss something you don’t know about? I’ll miss the feeling of standing on the moon too, but I’m not overly cut-up about that one either. You really can only miss things you DO know about- like being able to go for a bike ride at the drop of a hat, planning great trips overseas, financial freedom and the certainty of early retirement.

    I have finally come to the precipice and I balked, I just can’t do it, I can’t make this momentous life-changing decision. I’m not incapable of making big decisions, I am a professional and I put myself through school, I’ve moved countries, I got married over 14 years ago- but this is one decision I just kept putting off. Well, no more, I decided to tune out all the white noise and listen to my true inner voice for my life and my husband’s life and we’ve decided it’s just not for us. Realistically, if we’d wanted it so badly we would have taken the plunge years ago, we wouldn’t have been so damned paranoid and rigorous about birth control.
    And the big surprise is I have to tell you it’s a HUGE relief! Finally I can stop stressing out about it. It also feels kind of subversive and badass, like you are part of a different “club” now. Women I’ve known for years who are mothers are saying things to me on the downlow like “you know, I wouldn’t give them back, but if I had my time again, I wouldn’t do it” or “man, I really miss the money!”. There are winks and nods from other child-free couples, who’ve said to us “isn’t it great!” and I have to say, yes, it is!
    I kind of felt like I had to cram all the fun and wonderful things I wanted to do and which I couldn’t do with kids (like a cycling trip through the Pyrenees or doing a 7 day mountain bike stage race) BEFORE we had kids and our life was over, now I feel like I again have the luxury of time to plan our adventures together, to sit on the deck and watch the sun set and sip a glass of vino uninterrupted, to spend an afternoon trying to cook a perfect souffle, to travel to Italy for 6 months and learn to make pizza and pasta from scratch, volunteer at the humane society, take that photography course, to do whatever we want!
    Thanks so much for your blog, I think it is great to know there are other like-minded women out there who are questioning whether having kids is for them and not just mindlessly conforming to established practice. Not everyone needs to be a parent!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I’m not at all surprised that it was a huge relief for you! One of my favorite quotes is, “A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” I can’t WAIT to get to that point where I’m just taking the plunge or putting my foot down. I’m sure it’s exhilarating.

      I’m so glad to hear you’re off the fence – now please go out and do all those wonderful things you described!

  • Danielle says:

    “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” -Tony Robbins

    I read that quote the other day and I thought, It’s time to sit down with my husband and make a final decision. This sitting on the fence is getting old to me. I’ve been doing it for at least 5 years and I’m tired of being in limbo. That is just me though.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I can only imagine! We’ve only officially been on the fence for a year or so (since we REALLY had to start thinking about things) and I’m already frustrated. I can only imagine the state I’ll be in four years from now.

  • lauren says:

    I just found your blog–actually my husband found it for me–and this is the first post I’ve read (thought I’d start with the popular posts list and take it from there). I lost count of how many times I almost burst into tears while I read the post and all the comments. For years, I’ve basically thought I was crazy or broken or something was wrong with me or I wasn’t a real woman or…something. For EVER, I’ve been the only one of my friends who was lacking the baby-love and mommy-love gene. To see all of this, all of these people who are on the same page, is an incredible relief. I feel validated even though I still don’t really know how I feel.

    I’m in a similar situation as you–although we bought a house with an extra bedroom in a good school district JUST IN CASE. For most of my life, I did NOT want kids in any way nor did I even like kids. I still don’t like kids or babies and frankly have no clue what to do with them or say to them when I am forced to interact with them. But after some friends/relatives started getting knocked up, something switched on inside me and I suddenly wanted to be pregnant and have a baby, like right that second. We talked. He’s always been OK with things going either way, so he was on board–but we agreed it would be not for another couple of years. This July was supposed to be when we would start trying. Since our original talk, which was in 2009, I lost that that feeling, that maternal urge, and I’m feeling quite back on the other side of the fence. But I’m like you–nervous, unsure, etc. I don’t think I really want my life turned upside down by a kid, but what if I regret it? Who’s going to take care of me when I’m elderly? Etc.

    Sorry this comment is so long. I just feel kind of elated about this blog and needed to say all that. I can’t wait to read all your archives. Thank you so much for writing this!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I’m so glad you’re finding the blog helpful! It’s a lot of work, but it truly makes it all worth it when I get a comment like this. There are so many of us out there who think we’re the only ones who feel this way because everyone we know is popping out babies. Supposedly 20% of women will remain childless into their mid-forties now, but it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes. Whenever I have those feelings like maybe I should have one too, I’m afraid they’re based on something stupid, like I don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t, the only one left out. I’ll need to write a post on that topic soon – as soon as I figure out how to do it without making my friends feel bad! Well, best of luck as you’re deciding and thanks so much for your comment!

  • Amy says:

    You remind me of me about four years ago. Obsessing, obsessing, obsessing. But I’m now 36, and the angst has disappeared. We have nieces and nephews we LOVE. The thought of being a parent fills me with dread. The thought of being the cool auntie and uncle that the nieces and nephews can visit for a long weekend when they’re 13 and their parents are driving them nuts sounds awesome. I am very happy with our decision. :)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I’m so glad to hear that even a fellow obsessor can find some peace after a while. I’m looking forward to it!!

  • ST says:

    (I read as many comments as I could, but not all, so this may be a repeat to you.)

    When I was childfree – by gosh those were the carefree, anxiety-filled petty days – I planned my life with meticulous detail, including the fertility countdown and not taking on additional career responsibility (in hindsight, this was a mistake).

    Childfree or mother – it is choosing different anxieties. I’m no longer carefree (who can be with a kid who hasn’t learned how to judge risk-taking?) but I still have anxiety-filled (why the freak is the sprog crying and crying and crying?) days. I’m less petty (pettiness requires good long-term memory to hold grudges, and having my kid has totally disrupted my sleep pattern and long-term memory).

    One factor for the decision I made is the fact that I and my husband will – with any luck – live until 70 or more. That’s 30-40 years of being together. That’s fine and dandy. 35 years of daily life: gaming after work, house work, dining out, movies, tv, procrastination etc. I figure, he and I will have daily life again when the kid/s leave home in 18-20 years. So why not?

    In retrospect, probably not the best decision-making.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      It’s a very good point that as we live longer, the years that are taken up with child-raising are now a smaller percentage of your total life. With my family genes, I’m sure I’ll live to 80 or more, and that would mean only 25% of my life would be full-time child-rearing. I really had never thought of it that way, so thank you for your comment! Very interesting!

  • Becky says:

    I just found your blog today and have already commented on other posts, but I thought I’d give a little background about us. We got married two years ago – he is now 26, and I am now 29. We have a total of 7 nieces and nephews and are certain that we will end up with 8 when it’s all said and done. We enjoy seeing them, loving on them and sending them home.

    We have recently become debt free with the exception of our mortgage. We own our home and our two vehicles. Last year, we enjoyed a vacation to Cancun and our state’s (NC) coast. This year, we enjoyed a vacation to Puerto Morelos, Las Vegas/California and are going to our state’s coast again next month. We have already planned next year’s vacation to Montego Bay, Jamaica and are planning to visit NYC as well. Notice a trend here?

    We have a six year old dog who is our baby. We treat him like a human and never apologize for it. Neither of us are particularly interested in having children. Our future dreams and plans involve everything but kids. In fact, we are already making plans to travel more, build our Forever Home and find vacation property at the coast. We are homebodies and don’t have a TON of friends, but we like our life just the way it is.

    While the door is not completely shut on having kids, it’s not open very wide either. I got Mirena in March of this year, so I will be 34 when it needs to be replaced. We will make a final decision at that time. Until then, I am trying to be relaxed about the decision and not dwell on it. Easier said than done, at times.

    We’re all in this together!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      We have some eerie similarities, Becky! 7 nieces and nephews for us too, with one more likely soon. We’re digging the vacations, house, cars, and debt-free living as well, and if you subbed the dog for 2 cats, that’s us. It’s always good to hear from someone who’s in exactly the same boat!

  • Brandi says:

    I was adamant about not having children my whole life, until now. I am 40 and have been married for 16 years and I want a child. I am struggling. Why do I want one all of sudden? Maybe being older I feel more patient, more grown up and I feel I could actually handle raising a child.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      We humans are fickle creatures indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a total change of heart myself in 2 years or 5 or even 10. Maybe spending time around the kids of all the other people in your life has swayed you? Who knows!

  • Jen says:

    Many, many thanks for your blog. I’ve just stumbled upon it and it’s so heartening to know that others share my concern/worry/ambivalence about this issue. I’m leaning more towards having kids than not, but it’s still terrifying to know that I don’t have a strong maternal urge. I appreciate knowing that such thoughts may actually be OK– normal even?

  • Joules says:

    I wasn’t sure when I had my surgery, despite what I told my doctor. I just asked myself which I was going to regret less and took the plunge. I haven’t felt more stressfree since the day he told me the surgery went great and I couldn’t have kids.

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