I Don’t Want Kids. Does That Make Me A Horrible Person?

As a young woman, I watched my girlfriend’s closely. I watched how they ‘ooohhheedd’ & ‘aahhheed’ at any baby in the vicinity. They wanted to reach out their hands & touch the baby; tug at his cheeks, rock him to sleep. All the while trading admiring glances with the baby’s proud mother and dreaming of…

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As a young woman, I watched my girlfriend’s closely. I watched how they ‘ooohhheedd’ & ‘aahhheed’ at any baby in the vicinity. They wanted to reach out their hands & touch the baby; tug at his cheeks, rock him to sleep. All the while trading admiring glances with the baby’s proud mother and dreaming of the moment they would get to have their very own bundle of joy.

And then there was me. Just standing there like a limp fish, staring coldly, admiring from a distance. Not daring to touch & dreading the one moment I would be asked by the mother, to assist her in carrying her child.

I am a smart, beautiful, almost successful; tax paying, upright Nigerian woman. But all of that is forgotten the moment I say I do not want kids.

And as you can imagine, my decision was not a popular one. Born & brought up in a society where having kids is the next logical move after being married or not married (#TeamBabymama). My decision to not procreate, became a source of worry for my family members. Some tried to convince me that my maternal instincts would kick in immediately I gave birth. So what if I have my child and the maternal instincts still don’t kick in? Is it a toy that I can return?

Growing up, I was sure that like many other girls from my side of the country, my fate was sealed. School – Graduation – NYSC/Find a husband – Get married and begin procreation 9 months from the night of the wedding. Then settle into the life of the dutiful Igbo wife: breastfeeding the baby, making Oha Soup, making Egusi, Abacha, Jollof rice on Sundays and so on. Then there would be conjugal duties, plus that miserable civil service job you had to take, so that you could be able to pick up the kids & spend time with them, since Oga closes work at 8pm. There is absolutely wrong with that life, I just vehemently refused to let it become my reality. I wanted more.

Not wanting children was my first major act of rebellion. For me, it was natural. As I got older, I realized that my maternal instincts were never going to kick in, because they were never there to start with.

The day I let it slip from my lips, during an afternoon of drinks with my girlfriends, you needed to have seen the way they looked at me. In that moment, I might as well have been Adolf Hitler or Osama Bin Laden.

How dare I decide I don’t want what thousands are begging God for daily? How dare I defy God, when he commanded that we be fruitful and multiply? These are some of the questions I was confronted with. I learned that it is easier to lie to the world, including yourself, rather than face the unpopular truth.

Maybe it is my societal or religious duty to procreate. I get that. But I’m not sure if I want to have kids. Slaughter me!

You can imagine how unpopular my view is, in a climate such as Nigeria, where being pregnant is the equivalent of getting a degree from “Oxbridge”. You are announced, celebrated, congratulated. Your parents are proud and, of course, your spouse is beyond elated. He is truly a man.

But what about you? Are you truly happy or are you simply reflecting what society has demanded that you feel?

21st century mommies, the Instagram mommies, the super mommies; have made child bearing & child rearing glam! Photos upon photos of perfectly orchestrated 1st birthdays, 1st steps, adorable smiles, taking baby to swimming lessons and French school, while still looking on fleek and maintaining a top notch career.

Then there’s the social media frenzy, known as #TeamSnapBack😳! What baby weight? The silent struggle to be the thinnest possible version of yourself, as quickly as possible after childbirth.

In my humble opinion, babies are cute – but only when they are someone else’s. You spend a fuss free hour with them, and gaze and aww at their curly hair and tender skin. Pick up your bag and head to your baby free apartment. The end.

What happens to the woman who is stuck with the baby 24/7? The woman who is the poster child for sleep deprivation? Constantly bathing and feeding. Constantly trying to figure out why baby is crying. Dirty diapers, spit up, child care and so on?

Forget Hollywood; the price your body pays for having a child, physically and psychologically is unbelievable. Despite all the body magic and hours in the gym, does any one actually get their pre-baby body back 100%? Puberty has left me with enough stretch marks. Thank you very much. Who needs more? Call me vain, but these things matter to me. Let us not even talk about ‘downstairs’. Does it ever stay the same?

What is the effect on your relationship with Oga; the one with whom you started? Does your love and attention move from him to the baby? What happens to your chemistry? Does it get stronger or is it a constant race to get away from the house & away from baby’s screams? What happens when you make the transition from gorgeous girlfriend & wife to Mama Bomboy?

What about the physical act of child birth? For some it is ‘miraculous’; for some it is ‘quick’ and virtually painless; but what happens to the others who don’t have a ball? What happens to those for whom it is a struggle between life and death, but are expected to make at least three more trips to the labour room?

And who even talks about post partum depression? It is very much real.

All of these are questions to which I have received, frankly unsatisfactory answers.

It is a constant game of giving and giving and giving. Then they attain the age of walking a.k.a the age of breaking shit. Oh, then there’s tuition. It goes up with every year and every new class. Is the price really worth it in the end? Is everybody meant to be a mother?

I like peace, quiet, tranquility, order, glass, a good night’s sleep, a healthy bank account, a great body (without living in the gym) all of which I don’t see happening for me in baby-ville.

I have made peace with my reality. The potential emptiness of living alone with my partner, till death do us part. The echo of our laughter, as it slithers through our half empty house. The struggle of even finding a partner in this part of the world who shares my view and would be willing to commit to it long term.

For the mothers who love motherhood, who revel in it, like my mother & many other mothers I know, I salute you. Your work is not easy. You are a superstar. You are extraordinary. I am glad my mother chose to be a mother.

Now, I beg you to consider the rest of us who refuse to bow to societal pressure. Please, let us be. If we have made peace with our choice and our reality, the rest of the world needs to make peace with it too. Doting mothers, doting aunties, nosy relatives, nosy friends – yes, you – make peace with it.

 

There are so many beautiful children in this world already, whom I can shower with love & affection. Do I really need to have any of my own?

Responses

  1. Osasu Elaiho
    “In my humble opinion, babies are cute – but only when they are someone else’s. You spend a fuss free hour with them, and gaze and aww at their curly hair and tender skin. Pick up your bag and head to your baby free apartment. The end.” <- and you just spoke my mind it's shocking!!

    For a very long time I had thought I was alone in this view. You're definitely right when you say it isn't a popular opinion but hey, it's your life and you have a right to live it as you choose.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Bkd
    I should thank you first for being bold and courageous enough to share your thoughts.
    Imagine the reaction from some family members when they caught wind of my decision not to get married or raise any children.
    “He must have joined a secret cult that forbids him from marrying and fathering children”.
    I was bombarded with invitations to one deliverance crusade or the other.
    I just tire… lol
  3. Sizzle314
    I’m a guy and i feel the exact same way. Babies are cute as long as they belong to someone else.
    It’s annoying when you tell people you don’t want kids, or maybe one at most, and they look at you like a mad man.

    Posted from TNC Mobile

  4. Lover's Love
    No Judgement Here.

    I used to have a friend who felt the same way.

    Her first marriage eventually broke up partly because of this.

    She is married now and with child.

    I completely understand how you feel. All the struggles that come with motherhood is so real but still it feels so unnatural that you dont want kids especially since you havent experienced this struggle first hand.

    I dopray you change your mind. Nothing like the mother-child love. Everyone deserves to experience that.

    1. AMW
      Seriously? “No judgement here”. Except you are totally judging and then “praying you change your mind”. You are pushing your personal values on someone who has no interest in them. It’s parents like you that are the problem. You would think that you would hear someone saying, “I don’t want children” and you would say “Oh…okay cool!”. Instead you say, “No judgement, but you’re WRONG and EVERYONE SHOUDL HAVE BABIES!! BABIES! BABIES! BABIES! There is nothing in my brain but BABIES!!”. Childfree people (myself included) are sick of the snarky comments from parents like you. Just leave us be. You have your kids – yay! good for you!. I still don’t want any.
      1. Lover's Love
        Lol! You sound pained. You need to calm down. It is not that deep. I have no vested interest in your life. I just stated my opinion. The most polite thing you could have said in your own exact words is ‘oh okay…cool!’
        1. Peridorito
          The most polite thing you could have done was not comment and push your views on someone else but looks like you already did that. Let me reverse the situation for you, say you really want children and I say no judgement but I disagree with your views on having children because I don’t understand it and see it as unnatural. So even though you want them, I’m going to pray you won’t have any. Do you see how incredibly disrespectful and hurtful that could be? So I suggest in the future you be more respectful and don’t say things like this, wishing a child on someone who clearly doesn’t want one is not a nice thing to do.
          1. Lover's Love
            Lol! You are obviously an angry person. Not even gonna get myself involved in that. I wish you peace and love. Mwah!
  5. Mo
    Lol at the comments.

    Truth be told, i felt like you were speaking my mind in the first paragraph. I still don’t usually ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over babies, i am definitely never in a hurry to carry them. So, what i say is i don’t like babies, but i def want one or more.

    Your ‘reason’ multiplied as you wrote tho, is like as you grew, you found more reasonsss.

    All the best, i think all you gotta do is find a partner who wants same, and the rest is background noise.

    1. Uche
      I ohh over babies because I feel it is mandatory to. My family members already know better than to leave me in the care of their kids. I will sleep off and leave them to their devices.

      I already know babies are not for me. I am too lazy for all that late night business, and they take forever to grow up.

  6. Larz
    I didn’t like babies. In fact, until my own, I didn’t spend much time with them. The first time I was alone with my niece was when she was 3.

    Despite not getting on with children, I always dreamt about home with my children, what school the year will go to etc. Now I am a mother, i love my child but i still don’t enjoy spend too much time with other people’s kids. For those that can, kudos to y’all.

    The world would be such a better place if people are allowed to Ben themselves. Imagine the lives that are screwed up because ppl who aren’t fit or want to be parents are forced to be one. Funny thing, none of these well wishing busy bodies will help raise your children. Do you and be happy with your decision. Someday, someone else who feels the same way will love you as you are. And if you change your mind, well, it is allowed

  7. GUCCI-BERRY
    U spoke my mind. I have never been a fan of kids and wud rather play with them wen they are 4 or 6.. or most times not at all. People don’t understand wat if the maternal instinct doesn’t kick can I return the baby? I was told I won’t marry if I don’t want a child. I hate to be inconvenienced. I just want to be happy. Why must I have a child to be happy?
    That was bulls eye. Loved the write up
  8. S
    Dear Nnena,
    you’re going to be just fine. I’m glad to have read this, it lets me know that i am not alone in my quest to not have offspring. I dont even mention it anymore because i have gotten the worst of reactions.
    Do not make let anyone make you feel like the path you’ve chosen is not right for you. Your not wanting children will not diminish all the great and wonderful things you will achieve.
    You are not alone.
    Love and Hugs,
    S.
  9. Vanilla
    I have had these thoughts before and i am in between. It may be mainly because i get told ‘the maternal instincts will kick in once you have the child’ or the fear that if i speak it then God wont give me even one if i change my mind in the future….

    Truth is, it is worse that i lost my sister during childbirth so all i can think is about is the fact that she will be here today if she didn’t try for a baby. Sigh… So, i may want one when i marry but i’d prefer it if it were through surrogacy. Yes, i may be selfish for expecting another woman to bear the risk for me but that is my no.1 wish if i want a child!

  10. Mo
    Really nice write up. I like how the writer put their beliefs and desires about having kids across.
    I’ve always wanted kids for as long as I can remember, even wanted 7 kids at some point, thank God I saw reason. I have been extremely blessed with 2 kids who are my world and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Motherhood is no joke tho, it is hard af but the rewards blow the pain and everything else out of the water for me. That being said, I genuinely believe that people who don’t want children shouldn’t have children. Having and raising children is such an important and difficult job that at the very least you need to want to do it to do it right and even then it’s still hard af.

    There are a lot of angry comments at the person who was hoping for a change of mind. I believe (s)he meant well. As a parent I understand why they’d say that because a mother child bond is very special but again it isn’t for everyone.

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