As a child, I believed I would eventually get married and have a family. According to my knowledge, this was the formula for adulthood. I did not view it as a decision, but rather as something that simply occurred. The more I considered it, the more tension and anxiety it caused in my youthful mind.
My voice was shaking as I told a buddy, through tears, “I don’t want anyone to have to be like me.” I would have been 9 or 10 years old,
Although I wouldn’t be diagnosed with depression for several years, and I didn’t know nearly enough about autism at the time to even consider the possibilities, I sensed something within me that I did not wish to pass on to my biological children.
Who was I to pull them out of the ether and set them on Earth if they were destined for solitude, loneliness, and depression? I could not possibly carry the globe for someone else. It would just suffocate both of us.
Everyone predicted I would alter my mind.
The traditional reaction to a child’s hesitation about having children is, “You’ll change your mind when you’re older.” My thoughts shifted and changed, but not in the way that one might anticipate. Along with puberty and adolescence came pregnancy and childbirth education. By the time I was a teen, unintended pregnancy had become one of my greatest worries. I still fear it.
I can now appreciate the objective beauty of pregnancy and childbirth. They are gorgeous in the same sense that a snake’s jaw-unhinging to swallow prey is beautiful. There is beauty in nature even when it is violent. However, I do not wish to personally feel the beauty of pregnancy. No more than I would desire a massive serpent to wrap its mouth around my head.
I once believed that adoption was an acceptable approach. But I was mistaken. Even excluding birth and genetics from the equation, the fear remained. When I subsequently fell in love with individuals who desired children, I attempted to envision myself as a mother. My mind was perpetually halted by a queasy feeling in my stomach. Even in my daydreams, I could not conjure up a version of myself that was patient and compassionate. She was legendary: a cryptid only captured in blurry photographs.
I feel guilty for not desiring children
I should not feel guilty for choosing a life without my own children, but I still do. Because I’ve never experienced “baby fever,” I can’t shake the notion that I’m missing a crucial aspect of womanhood. However, I will not let these emotions of inadequacy compel me to act in a manner that would be unfair to myself and my unborn child.
I will not have children, and I believe that is the best decision for me, period. Despite the misgivings of my 10-year-old self, many disabled people are wonderful parents. I feel I could become a parent if I so desired. I simply do not wish to. I adore my two nieces, but when I return home, I am pleased that no little child is reaching out to me.
I lack not only the desire, but also the hope that is required to deliver children into a world that is on fire. I am not the optimistic mom clutching her infant at the conclusion of the post-apocalyptic tale. Already my hands are full.
In spite of this, I wish to offer my nieces the sliver of optimism I possess. I desire for them to be anything. I want them to unhinge their jaws and consume every aspect of this existence that they desire.