I’m not a Mom.
What to Expect When You're Not Expecting
By Kathryn Lang
I figured the title of this article would get that point across but in the hopes of being honest and open, I thought it would make sense to say it out loud for everyone to hear see. So again: I, Kathryn, am not a Mom.
And since we’re being open and honest I feel it bears saying: for those who are Moms, want to be Moms, or find themselves anywhere in between, this article is in no way intended to disparage motherhood in general. As women, we all have the choice to do what we want with our bodies and lives and I support all of that! These are just my personal thoughts and struggles as a 30 year old woman, in a long term relationship, who does not want to be a mom (and it’s totally okay to disagree!).
Alright, so now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at what this article, my new blog , and I, are all about.
I recently turned 30, and while many of my friends and family members have either started making babies or are looking to, I have realized that my thoughts about kids, marriage and life, differ from those who are close to me. I have never really seen myself as a Mom. I won't lie, there are times that I look at baby pictures of me or my boyfriend and realize how cute our babies would be (ya I said that), but then I start to think of everything I would have to go through to have that kid, and to keep it healthy and alive: pregnancy, baby showers, birthdays, diapers, school, feeding, ugh I'm already exhausted from just writing that all out.
As I write this all down there is a part of me that is concerned that I’m broken. I am a healthy woman who could easily bear children if she wanted, but she doesn’t. I really don’t see myself as having that maternal instinct that I so often hear about. Am I wired wrong? Am I never going to have that little voice tell me, “okay girl, get those ovaries ready, it’s baby time.” And, if I don’t have that voice, am I a shitty person?
In my early 20’s I quickly realized that I didn’t consider myself to have that maternal instinct. I would never go gu-gu-ga-ga over babies, and while my friends were concerned with finding a man and getting married, I was concerned with having fun and acting like a 20-something (take that how you will). As I got older, my friends found husbands, then eventually moved on to have kids, and that maternal instinct that I never felt inside myself, was clearly blossoming in those around me.
Last weekend was my grandmother’s 80th birthday. The entire family was there, including her new great-grandchild, who is my younger cousin’s son. As in any big family, all of my cousins, aunts and uncles are claiming to be the 1-year old’s favourite. Some of us have even resorted to shortening our names so that when he does start to talk, he can easily pronounce it and we can prove that we are the favourite. (I’m Auntie Kaka - which yes, could mean poo, but is pretty easy to say and can be confused with baby gibberish; an easy win). I really like being an Aunt. I can hang out with him on my terms and easily hand him back when he starts to cry.
Now here is where that maternal instinct doesn’t kick in. I say “easily hand him back” but in all honesty, handing over a child is one of the hardest, most awkward positions I can’t seem to figure out. How the hell do I hand off a sleeping baby? Where does my arm go? Am I supporting the head? What if I drop him on his head? The stress of it all gets me so worried that I seriously just sit there and tell someone else to come figure out how to pick him up. What’s even funnier is watching me hand off the baby to my boyfriend who is equally awkward but finds it funny to watch me stress out.
So is that a sign I’m suppose to understand? I can’t even hand off a baby, how the hell would I take care of one full time? I’m 30. Shouldn’t that maternal instinct of caring for a child kick in by now?
I did a quick search to see what exactly the maternal instinct means. The adjective maternal comes from the Latin maternus, which means “of a mother”. So, for example, if your mother had brown eyes and you have brown eyes, this physical trait that is genetically passed from your mother to you is a maternal trait. A woman’s desire to have a child is called her “maternal instinct”, and if you care for other people in a nurturing way you are being maternal, even if you are not a mother.
That got me thinking. I am not a woman who desires having a child at this time. Sure one day I could change my mind. I change my mind all the time. But that maternal instinct, that little voice that tells you it’s time to nest, has never shown itself to me. However, the second part of that definition does somewhat fit me. I feel that at times I care for people in a nurturing way, not necessarily in a mothering way, but I do care for people.
If I were to look at my family and the way I treat my cousins, you could say that I am a nurturing person (they would argue and say ‘bossy’ but what do you expect from being the eldest of 10 grand children). I grew up babysitting my siblings and my cousins, and being the head of the pack. I took care of them when they were in trouble or if they needed support. And to this day, they’re some of my best friends. That could be considered nurturing and therefore maternal, right?
Maybe it’s the word maternal that rubs me the wrong way. As soon as I hear it I hear motherly and associate it with being a Mom. Since “being a Mom” has never been on my to-do list, maybe the words maternal instinct have been a trigger point that makes me feel uncomfortable.
Because I do. I feel uncomfortable when I think about being a Mom. I feel guilt; I feel real guilt about not wanting kids. I'm a woman, isn't that part of my role in this word? I'm pretty sure I have the ability to have kids, and when there are so many who want to but can’t, shouldn't I experience that "joy"? I also know that my parents and in-laws would be great grandparents and are more than ready to take on that role, but I don't know that giving my parents a grandchild makes sense for me.
With all these questions comes a bit of sadness on my end. Is it selfish on my part to not have children right now and not even to have them in the plan for the next few years? Is something wrong with me? Why don't I get excited about babies? Where is that maternal instinct?
But then that little voice speaks up a bit and tells me that not wanting kids is okay. The voice also says that because I'm not 100% sold on the idea of having kids, it’s probably better that I don’t. I'm not the most logical person I know but I do listen to my gut. If I'm not fully committed to something, I know I won't be good at it.
So maybe that's it. Maybe the voice that I’m looking for as that maternal instinct is there. The voice isn't saying "have kids" because it's too busy saying "go live your life”, “go do better at work”, "go travel more", "it's 2pm on Saturday, why haven't we had wine yet?".
Maybe that voice that is talking to me is my own maternal instinct taking care of myself. Maybe that maternal instinct for me is knowing that at this point in my life I should not be a mother. Maybe that voice that I’ve been worried about not being there has been there the whole time. And I’ve been listening to it.
It just isn't saying what I don't need to hear.
So here is the tl;dr (a bit too late since you just had to read all of that to get to this.) I don't have an immediate desire to be a mother. But as I continue to get older, have friends that push out babies, and have my mom ask me “are you sure you don’t want kids?” I’m going to write down my thoughts in the hopes that other women understand where I’m coming from and help me feel a bit more normal.
Pregnancy Update: I'm in the clear.