How to Decide If You Want Kids

Reader S wonders: how to decide if you want kids? She’s on the fence about motherhood and feels ambivalence towards the question, worrying she won’t like motherhood but will regret not having kids.  Here’s her question:

My question is, how did you (and readers) decide you wanted kids at all? I’ll be 32 soon and am still on the fence. DH would regret never having a kid, but I would be okay either way. I lean toward no kids, and worry 1) I would regret childlessness when it was too late but 2) wouldn’t like motherhood. I like my life now and don’t feel “incomplete” but am confused by this ambivalence.

 

This should be an interesting discussion, and I’m going to leave it mostly open to the readers. We just had a similar discussion about how MANY kids to have (over at CorporetteMoms, our blog for working moms), and as I noted there, I had always wanted kids as one of my Big Life Goals, so I didn’t think too much about the decision to actually become pregnant. I will say, though, that it’s a HUGE life change that no one or thing can really prepare you for, and whether you want to become a mother or not, you should definitely be aware of that.

So let’s hear it, readers — for those of you who seriously weighed the question of whether or not to have kids, what did you decide — and why? How has the decision worked out for you thus far? Does anyone want to speak to regretting choosing to become a mother (or how you did it, or when, or why)? 

Psst: We’ve talked about how to plan your career for babies, and shared tips on preparing for pregnancy (what to know before you start trying to conceive). There’s also been at least one threadjack about how motherhood jives with being an introvert, as well as others that I’ll try to add here.

Picture via Stencil.

A Corporette reader wondered: how to decide if you want kids? For Kat it had been an easy decision (she just always wanted them) so she asked the readers -- how do you decide whether or not to try for kids if you're ambivalent about motherhood in general?

Comments

  1. I have a friend who deeply regrets having a child and I have seen what that has done to his life and his marriage so I worry about that more than regretting not having one. My only worry about not having one is not having anyone to care for me when I am older but even with kids that is not guaranteed. I get having one if you want one but don’t feel ready as hardly anyone feels ready but not if you are not sure if you even want to have kids.

    • Can you expand on your friend’s experience?

      • I’ve never met anyone who regrets having a child, or at least not who admits it. So I’m also interested in your friend’s experience.

        I think it’s funny how the people who complain most about parenting are often the ones who think it’s insane when people are on the fence about having kids. It makes me think the whole thing is just a lot more complicated than can be explained easily.

        • You love your kids but you miss your life, is about as simply as I can explain it.

          But I also do not complain too much about parenthood. I think it’s obnoxious to do so.

      • He is unhappy with his new life and while he loves his child (I think), he’s a distant parent, almost like an uncle or family friend with her. I think he didn’t want to have kids but was pressured by his wife into doing so and he feels like he gave up the life he wanted to do so. Obviously you make a lot of sacrifices as a parent and if you aren’t that excited about having a child, those sacrifices can be tough. His wife wanted to have several but he was adamant about not having another so she is a little sad as well. He actually told me once “Never have children unless you are absolutely sure you want to” and what struck me was how sad and defeated he seemed in that moment.

        For Anon at 3:11, this friend’s wife is constantly telling me I should have kids because my life is too easy and I should share the pain…

    • Anon for this :

      Yeah, I’m the a**h^le who says, “Oh, so you’re having a girl,” when I hear people say, but who will take care of me when I’m old? Sure it’s se*ist, but it’s been true in my experience and most of my friends.

      I would also like to hear more about your friend’s experience. Did he start out wanting kids? Was he ambivalent before having the child?

      • I have a longer reply in moderation but I think he was more or less ambivalent about it (not necessarily wanting to have kids but his wife was the kind always talking about her biological clock ticking so I assume he was open to it if he married her) but didn’t realize what kinds of sacrifices he would have to make in terms of lifestyle. Since he didn’t strongly feel the desire to have kinds, those sacrifices were very difficult for him.

      • My FIL is an only child. He’s not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but he has stepped up and cared for his parents as they’ve aged. Seeing all the burden on him is actually one of the main things that makes me want to have more than one child. It’s just so hard when you’re the only person making all the decisions and shouldering the burden for two aging parents.

        • anon for this :

          In many situations there is one sibling who does the vast majority of the caring for an elderly parent no matter how many siblings there are. In my own situation, having a sibling was a hindrance, not a help.

          • With both my parents and my in-laws I foresee a lot of fighting and resentment between the siblings due to family dynamics so agree that it can make it more difficult. Unfortunately I am afraid it will bring out the worst in everyone but hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

          • Interesting thought. I have always just contrasted my mom’s family (4 siblings) with my FIL’s situation and felt really sorry for FIL. My mom’s siblings certainly have their differences, but they’ve managed to split things up in a way they makes it much easier than being totally alone. Even being able to complain to each other, bounce ideas off of each other, and confront the parents as a group has been very helpful. I would never have more than 2 kids, though.

          • In my experience, it ALWAYS comes down to one child, no matter how many children there are in the family. That was true with my mom’s family of 5 children (she did everything, even though she lived 5 hours away – the child who lived down the street from my grandparents did almost nothing) and it was true for one of my friends, who was one of 12 (!) children. The burden of caring for her elderly parents fell almost entirely on her and only one other sibling was willing to even partially share the burden.

        • Samantha Gee :

          My husband has an autistic sister, and his parents threw their hands in the air in denial and avoiding planning for her long-term care. Now that they’re aging, he is stuck caring for both his parents and his sibling. He is completely overwhelmed and resentful, and would have been much better off as an only child.

          TL;DR: Having a brother or sister doesn’t always result in “having help”.

      • pambl1757 :

        Yeah, you’re an a**h***.
        My father died a couple of weeks ago. My brother stayed in our home town. He did everything during my father’s illness, both for him and my mother. My sisters and I threw money at it.
        He held me while I cried before my Dad left us and he kept himself together until the end.
        So don’t make assumptions about who’ll step up when it’s needed.

        • Anon for this :

          I’m sorry- it was a stupid joke. I’m even more sorry to hear about your dad.

          Your brother sounds like an amazing person. I am in his shoes. I take care of my dementia riddled mother who will likely live for years and years. The time I spend caregiving has taken a toll on my health, my marriage, my career and even my desire to have children because I can’t imagine finding the energy.

          My brother, my only sibling, visits once a year. He doesn’t even throw money at it. I see other comments down thread about awesome husbands stepping up and taking care of family. It’s probably more accurate to say that the burden generally falls on one sibling. It’s obviously hard for everyone involved.

          • pambl1757 :

            If you are still checking back, thank you.

            I am sorry you are goimg through this. My brother is an amazing person and I’m sure you are too.

  2. Anonymous :

    Well, I’m 32 and single, so I can pretty much say goodbye to having kids. But I’m basically a no regardless. I actually worked as a professional nanny for 10 years. I love kids, especially babies, but that job was amazing birth control. I’m kind of like, been there done that. Kids are incredibly hard work and a commitment for the rest of your life. Not to mention EXPENSIVE! I don’t have that kind of money.

    I’m also influenced by my own family. I see how much unhappiness one of siblings has caused my parents. Kids bring a lot of stress and misery.

    I enjoy sleeping, being selfish, peace and quiet, and a lack of responsibilities. Add on the fact that I will be the one taking care of my parents when they’re old, and I don’t see myself having children anytime soon.

    • Anonymous :

      32 is so young! I get that you are a hard no, which is fine, but for others reading, you have plenty of time IF you want to.

      • Anonymous :

        Is it though? I mean, let’s say I meet a guy tomorrow. Date for a year or two, year long engagement, marriage for a year or two before babies, try to get pregnant which could take god knows how long…I feel like I missed the boat. I don’t want to be a 40 year old mom.

        • Anonymous :

          Yes. Stop. You are actively being hurtful. You don’t want kids. Great. 32 and single isn’t too old to aspire, reasonably, to having them. Stop.

          • Anonymous :

            Not hurting anybody, just being realistic for my situation. Maybe that’s not your situation. Good for you, not for me.

          • No, you’re suggesting that 32 and single means you can’t have kids, which is absurd. It’s fine that you don’t want kids, or don’t think you can fit them in the life you want, but you absolutely are not too old.

          • Anonymous :

            You’re literally saying it about every single 32 year old. Just stop.

          • I literally am not.

            Lots of smug moms in this post.

          • Anonymous :

            Nope. Not a smug Mom. A single 34 year old who is really hurt by you. Glad you’re comfortable lol-ing at my pain despite multiple people asking that you stop.

          • I think it’s most likely you’re hearing from people who are your age and older who still want kids. Nothing in this thread strikes me as coming from a “smug mom”, whatever that means.

          • Anon, come on. :

            She is not actively being hurtful. She has her opinions, please stop projecting your own stuff. She has opinions for her own reproductive choices, she’s not having them AT you.

          • Eeertmeert :

            +1 Seriously.

          • Being realistic isn’t being hurtful. As another 31-year-old I definitely think I missed the boat /for kids to happen the way I would have wanted them to/: with someone I get engaged to after at least two years of dating, and even with a short engagement and babies right away that makes your firstborn a geriatric pregnancy. My younger brother and I are almost ten years apart because it took years before my mother got pregnant in her mid-thirties with him. If you really want kids at any cost, you can likely have them, but it’s a long and uncertain runway if you’re single in your thirties.

          • @Duckels you are flat wrong and an idiot. Pls don’t share.

        • Tons of people get engaged after a year or less of dating, and you don’t need a year long engagement. Elope, or be like my BFF who planned a 300 person wedding in three months. And why would you need to married for a few years before trying to get pregnant? You could easily get married at 33 or 34 and have a baby by 35. Stop with this 40 year old mom nonsense. And there’s nothing wrong with having a kid at 40 anyway – it may not be for you, but tons of people do it and are glad they did.
          fwiw, I am also 32 and the majority of my friends are pregnant or have children and all but a few met their spouses within the last 2-3 years. This “minimum of 10 years from meeting to children” timeline is for 22 year olds who haven’t grown up yet, not fully-formed adults.

          • Anon, come on. :

            Okay but she WANTS to date for a year or two and have a married life for a year or two sans children. She also does not want to be a 40 year old new mom. None of that is nonsense. She is a fully formed adult and can have those opinions. Goodness.

          • But she’s saying it’s not possible for a single 32 year old to become a mom because of this ridiculous timeline with multiple years at each life stage.

            There is NOTHING wrong with a 32 year old saying “I don’t want to be a mom” or “I don’t want to be a mom at 40” or “I want to date my spouse for 3 years before getting married.” But she is saying 32 year old single women can’t become moms for this reason and that’s both a) nonsense and b) crazy hurtful to all the single 32 year olds who want kids.

          • Anonymous :

            Thanks Anon, come on!

          • Anon, come on. :

            Anon at 3:54 pm-
            No. She’s really not. She used “I” statements throughout the entire post:

            I’m 32 and single
            I can pretty much say goodbye to having kids.
            I’m basically a no regardless.
            I’m also influenced by my own family.
            I see how much unhappiness one of siblings has caused my parents.
            I enjoy sleeping, being selfish, peace and quiet, and a lack of responsibilities.
            I will be the one taking care of my parents when they’re old
            I don’t see myself having children anytime soon.

            Gently, to you and all the defensive folks, please stop projecting your own stuff on her.

          • New Poster :

            I understand that she was using “I” throughout, but the implication of the post was that a single 32 year old has missed the opportunity to have kids. I don’t think its defensive, or projecting, to let a poster know how her comment impacts others. I think we all want this to be a positive space!

      • Yes, I agree. I am over 35 now and STILL want kids b/c my sister Rosa has 3, and I have matronly instincts, the manageing partner says, b/c he’s seen me with Margie and their kid’s! I can’t have a child unless I find a guy to impregnate me b/c I do NOT want an INVITRO baby. I also want Natural Childbirth, so I need to find a supportive guy who is fertile and NOT shooting blank’s. YAY!!!!

    • What? My husband’s mom had him at 43, and that was a generation ago when it was much less common than it is now. You can absolutely still have kids if you want them.

      • I agree in principle, but I do think it’s important to say that most of us can’t count of having kids in our 40s. (At least not if you want to use your own eggs.)

        I’m always torn on these issues because I don’t want to scare anyone into having kids sooner than they are ready. But I do think it’s important to be realistic and honest with ourselves.

        • Anonymous :

          Late to the party, but you can’t count on having kids with your own eggs once you hit your mid-30s. Some women have no problems, but many women find out that they waited too long. Luckily there are lots of options for creating children. Freezing your eggs when you are younger, using donor eggs, etc.

    • Anonymous :

      Please don’t say that. There is nothing wrong with not wanting kids. There is also zero reason to say at 32 and single you’re out of luck, and it’s incredibly hurtful to all of us with hope.

      • Yes, that part makes no sense. It seems like maybe you are trying to justify your decision by claiming it’s impossible at this point. Which makes no sense. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. But you also are not too old, by any stretch of the imagination.

      • Agreed. For the readers who are 32 and single and want kids– I know plenty of people who have been in that exact scenario and now have happy healthy children. It’s not too late if that’s what you want.

        • Anecdata: I worked with a woman a few years ago who met her husband-to-be at 37, married him at 38, had their first daughter at 39 and their second at 41. It totally can happen.

          • legalmisssunshine :

            Same! And they’re perfectly healthy and happy babies.

            Not to mention getting pregnant and having a child are two VERY different things.

          • Same as me. I was a hardcore ‘no breeding’ career gal, married at 35, first kid at 37, second at 40 and honestly the 40s have been the best decade of my life. Not everyone is on the same schedule and your feelings can change.

            The great news is, whatever path you choose, you have the freedom to choose it and the means to pursue it, and screw those that don’t support you or your personal goals.

    • Ummm literally only one of my friends had a kid before 35. They’re all married with happy, healthy kids. Couples in their mid to late 30s often don’t follow the timeline you’ve laid out of dating for two years, a year engaged, married for a year or two before getting pregnant, etc.

      That’s fine if you feel like you’re too old for kids, but it’s totally normal, especially in the urban area I live in, to have your first kid when you’re 35-40.

      • Yea, I think that timeline the 32 year old put out up there is what Rachel wailed about on Friends a million years ago & it’s just not how it usually goes for most people who meet and marry in their 30s. A large number of my social circle met, married & had kids within a year and half or so. When you get older, this isn’t as concerning – you tend to know what you’re looking for more.

        • All of my friends who married at 35 or later had kids within a couple of years because – why not? What else would you be waiting for? Now that there’s no shame in living together without being married (for years, if you want), sometimes I feel like the only reason why people get married is to have kids, and if they’re getting married at 35 – they’re ready for kids basically right then. I can think of probably 10 couples I know, off the top of my head, who got married between 33 and 38 and had kids within a year or two of getting married.

    • I met my husband at 31. Married at 34. Pregnant with my third child at 37. Ideally, we would have had a little more downtime between marriage and kids, but such is life. No need to throw in the towel in your thirties (or 40s for that matter!)

  3. Reader S could be me. I am turning 32 this year and am very on the fence about whether or not to have children. I am still waiting for that moment where I wake up and say “Yep, now I’m ready”.
    I too feel like I would regret not having children later in life, but I just haven’t had that moment yet to signal my preparedness to procreate. DH would has indicated that he feels the same. It’s incredibly confusing, and am not sure how best to handle it.

    • I never woke up with the “I’m ready” feeling, but I had two anyway. :-) It was a very conscious decision, made by both of us with the explicit knowledge that we’ll never really know what the “best decision” is suppose to be. Mystery of life and all that.

      I will say it’s humbling and has made me a far better (if more sleep-deprived) person, which aside from the inward-facing benefits, has probably helped me advance in my career from the crash course in developing EQ and dealing with difficult, unpredictable situations.

      Long way of saying: you’ll never know if it’s the “right” decision and THAT’S OKAY. It’s like letting go, a bit of an adventure into an unknown that irrevocably alter the course of your current life.

    • Rebecca in Dalals :

      My DH and I got married fairly young (25 and 26) and we both always thought that eventually we’d have kids. I always had in my head that 30 would be the latest I wanted to start a family (for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being some health issues). Well, by the time I turned 30 neither of us was super excited about the idea of having kids, so we just decided we’d be child-free. I generally like kids, I just have never had that strong maternal instinct. I think things might be different if my husband felt very strongly that he wanted kids, but since we are both on the fence about it, why do it?
      I’m 34 now and I guess I can’t say that I’ll never regret my decision, I mean who knows how I’ll feel in 10 years. We have nieces and nephews, plus friends with kids that we spend a lot of time with. And it seems fairly selfish to have kids just so that (supposedly) they’ll take care of us when we’re old. Anyway, we are happy with our life and don’t forsee that changing.

  4. Anonymous :

    FWIW, my therapist told me feeling ambivalent about whether or not to have kids is very common. I think she may have said most people are ambivalent.

    I always wanted kids so didn’t seriously consider not having them, but I at least partially regretted it for much of my son’s first year. It was just a really hard time, for many reasons (some unrelated to parenthood). But those feelings went away once I got my depression/anxiety under control again, and we got through the first year. My son is 5 now, and it is still hard, but I also can’t imagine my life any other way and do not regret becoming a parent in general. My husband was ambivalent before and feels similarly.

    • I was pretty ambivalent, but husband wanted kids so I checked under the hood so to speak and found out it would be near impossible for me to have them. Challenge accepted! I did 3 rounds of IVF and had a baby girl when I was 40. I love being a mom WAY more than I thought I would. Sure, it can be frustrating, tiring, expensive; but also hilarious, fun and worth it. I’m 45 now and having another (via a surrogate). I think had I not had kids, I wouldn’t know what I was missing and likely wouldn’t have missed it at all (and no, it’s not Stockholm Syndrome that I love it so much!). The thing that I do find amazing is how much I can get done in a day now. What the heck was I doing with all my free time before?!

  5. Anon 4 this :

    Husband and I are having this exact discussion right now. I’m 35, he’s 38 so its pretty much now or never. I think I’d be happy without kids and happy with kids, even though I get my life will look pretty different depending on what we choose. My biggest consideration was having a spouse that was 100% committed and willing to try and be an equal co-parent. (I know it may not work out that way despite best intentions but I want the commitment there in the beginning). Husband was firmly in the no kids camp for the last 10 years, but in the last 3 -6 months has become not so sure. I give him credit for really trying to figure out how having kids will impact his day to day and how be feels about that. Its hard though. I feel a bit like my life has been upended and while I want him to be sure I do find myself wishing he could just make up his mind already. I’m finding the limbo really hard.

    • I’d love to hear more about you and your husband. I’m looking to get engaged but the kids conversation has come up and has been causing me grief. I’ve always felt ambivalent, but fear the regret (i’m definitely, a you won’t know unless you try person). My partner is in the strict “No, Never” camp and has asked me to agree to the same terms. Neither of us wants to get 5 years down the road to discover we want inherently conflicting things. Im 31 he’s 37. When I ask him why he doesn’t want kids he cites fears; his father was abusive and he worries he would be too (irrational), he has never traveled and worries he wont be able to (he hasn’t traveled because he has an irrational over-commitment to his job- big-time attorney). In his mind- if he changes his mind, he can always adopt- which is true. But for me, IF I was to have a kid, I would want the whole experience.
      I don’t want to lose him because I MIGHT want kids one day, but I don’t see him relenting unless he determines he’s just afraid to have kids not just wholly adverse. I just need room for the unknown.

  6. Ghost Ships :

    Dear Sugar covered this several years ago on The Rumpus in a pieve titled “The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us” (link to follow). It is beautifully written and she has some ideas about how to go about processing everything so you can begin to maybe make a choice. I have found her advice to be helpful in matters other than the possibility of having a child as well.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I found out about that article here and I reread it regularly when I am feeling regretful or wistful about how life has turned out for me. It is incredibly powerful.

    • Ghost Ships :

      Wow this took ahile to come out of mod. Here’s the link: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    • Sugar Lover :

      If you like the Dear Sugar column, did you know there’s a podcast now?? Dear Sugar Radio. It’s wonderfu.

  7. Anonymous :

    Same age as reader S. I want kids, in theory, but I am satisfied and happy with my current life. Having kids would require me to move, both my husband I would need to get different jobs, we would travel dramatically less and I would have significantly less time for certain things that are important to me (taking care of parents, etc.). None of those things are appealing to me.

    In my dream world, I would wait ten years and then start having kids but it unfortunately doesn’t work that way for women (most of the time).

    As a result, I struggle a lot with this. My current mindset is that having kids = sacrificing my entire current happy life. I know I need to reframe my thinking but it’s difficult. In theory, I could think of it as starting a new, happy in a different way, chapter of my life. But there are no guarantees I will like that future version of my life as much as I like this one.

    • Anonymous :

      I feel the same way. It just feels like a huge sacrifice with not a lot of pay off.

      • That’s how I feel.

      • Legally Brunette :

        I was 32 and not quite ready to have kids (although in theory I figured I would have them one day, but didn’t feel any huge urge the way other women did). I had/have a great career, lots of friends, hobbies, supportive family. I never felt like I needed kids to “complete” myself. But DH is 6 years older than I am and was more than ready to have kids. Ultimately, I felt that I was open to it and I had my first at 33 and my second child at 35.

        The pay off? I still have a great career and a life and friends (many of whom are child-free). But I now I also have two wonderful children who are a delight and love me so, so, so much. I love spending time with them, reading them books, exploring places together. As an added bonus, I’ve also had the opportunity to make so many NEW friends through parenthood (my overachieving chick best friend is someone who I met through a mother’s group). Given that I’m very social and an extrovert, that was a huge plus for me. It’s also been heartwarming to see how much joy my kids bring my parents and extended family. When we visited family over Xmas break, you would have thought my kids were the first kids my family had been around. They just couldn’t get enough of them and I love seeing the bond between my kids and their grandparents/grand uncles/aunt, cousins, etc.

        I will never be someone who stays home with the kids nor will I say that every minute is pure bliss. No way. But the pros FAR FAR FAR outweigh the negatives (lack of sleep and more rigidity in schedule, in particular).

        No right or wrong decision, but I’m so happy to be a mother.

        I got pregnant at 33, and had my second at 35.

        • Never too many shoes... :

          Very well articulated.

        • This is perfectly said. I feel the same. Having kids is intimidating when you already love your life. I guess the alternative is having kids thinking they’ll “fix” something, which also doesn’t work.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          I’m envious of “love me so, so, so much” right now. My threenager is ~testing~ me. A lot. Every day. I’m mostly kidding but kind of not. Still worth it though. I figure she’ll like me again some time in the next decade before she’s back to rolling her eyes and telling me I’m wrong.

        • Yes, I was also surprised by how much impact my child had on my family. My mum, my dad, my sister… they all love my daughter dearly. My dad was not the most hands-on of parents, but he is completely different as a grandparent. They go on trips together! I’m glad I had a child, but I think I would have been just as happy without one. I don’t think my family would be.

      • OMG “It just feels like a huge sacrifice with not a lot of pay off.”? Are you serious?
        People who don’t have kids seem to share at least one of the following characteristics: experienced childhood trauma (evidenced by bad relationships with their own parents); not enough money; no partner (there’s some overlap here as you might guess); and possibly very selfish (coping mechanism, often, for the initial trauma).
        There’s a pretty obvious biological basis for having children and finding it life affirming. I never had a strong drive to have children and I have a fantastic career and now I am a complete human (I have two kids).
        People trying to decide in their young 30s without considering what their life will be like 10 yrs or 20 yrs down the road — totally an absurd argument.

    • Triangle Pose :

      Totally agree with “My current mindset is that having kids = sacrificing my entire current happy life.” It may be that having kids brings with it a whole new kind of different happiness and joy that I won’t experience childfree, but I’m just too in love with my happiness currently and want to keep it and do more of it. Spontaneous travel, fancy restaurants, spa, pick-me-up pieces from Nordstrom, funding retirement, etc.

      I also pay a lot of attention to friends my age who have kids and their before and after life. The after has never been appealing to me.

  8. I definitely don’t think you like you need to feel “incomplete” in order to have children. I never did, and I adore my daughtr and have no regrets about having her.

    My husband and I decided to go for it when turned 32. We were both very happy with our current life, but we had accomplished a lot of our big pre-kid goals: we owned a home, we both had jobs we were happy with that offered decent pay and family leave, we had been dog parents for a couple of years and we had traveled a fair amount as a couple and enjoyed several years as DINKs. I was more ambivalent about kids than he was, but I did feel strongly that if we had them I wanted to be no older than my early 50s when they left home, so the clock was kind of ticking (although not in the standard biological sense) and we decided to just go for it. I was lucky to get pregnant quickly and I was surprised by how much I loved the baby before she was even here and how much I have enjoyed motherhood. I was definitely thinking that the newborn/toddler years would just be something I’d have to slog through to get a kid (I have always liked kids more than babies) but I really enjoyed them. 32 is still relatively young though and if you feel ambivalent (and don’t feel the same desire to have them grown up by age 50ish the way I did), I don’t think there’s any harm in waiting another year or two. You may find your feelings get stronger one way or the other as you get older.

    I also think you can’t truly separate the “Should I have kids” question from the “How many kids should I have” question. I have posted this before, but for us, one child has been the perfect compromise between kids/no kids. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much easier it is to maintain your pre-kid lives when you only have one. It’s just a different dynamic when it’s two adults and one kid – not to say my husband and I don’t adore our daughter and spend a ton of time with her, but the family doesn’t revolve around kids the way larger families often do. I can’t imagine not being a mom, but I also can’t imagine having two – they are pretty much equally foreign to me at this point.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Ha, word. I always thought I either wanted a bunch of kids or none, and now I have one and it feels just right.

      • Ditto. At one point I wanted four and my husband wanted zero. Then we said, maybe we’ll have two. Then we had one and we were like NOOOPE this is good! We’re sticking with one!

  9. Anonymous :

    We were on the fence for years but eventually decided to have a baby. He’s one year old now. Once he started sleeping, life has been amazing. I don’t know what we were so worried about. Let me just say that if you’re the sort of person who is seriously asking the question, you probably don’t have an overly rosy view of parenthood. I certainly didn’t. Turned out, it’s way better than I thought it would be. I was just psyching myself out.

    • Anon 4 this :

      Can you say anything about how or why you changed your mind? Do you think 1 is it or do you think you’ll have a second?

    • Boston Legal Eagle :

      I have a longer post stuck in mod but basically this – I couldn’t really imagine my life with my son before having him. Everyone is right when they say that it’s difficult, exhausting and stressful. It’s also incredible in a way I couldn’t have known before having him.

    • Same here. I was terrified about what having kids would do to my life. It’s absolutely different than what it would look like without kids, but I have no regrets.

      I’d always told myself I wasn’t a kid person. And I think that’s still true to an extent, when it comes to other people’s kids (my nieces, nephews and close friends’ kids being the exception). But I’m wild about my own and care deeply about being a good parent to them.

    • Anonymous :

      This is key– not having the view that everything will be perfect. I did always want children, and got twins on the first try, but I’ve actually been surprised at how easy it is once they sleep through the night. And remember, in the scheme of things you only have a baby/toddler for 3-5(?) years? It’s a small percentage of parenthood.

      • Anonymous :

        And the partner thing is KEY. With the twins we each fed one bottle/each did one diaper. We both work full time and I am NOT doing more than my half. My friends who get stuck with the majority of the childcare for their single children are way more stressed than me.

  10. Boston Legal Eagle :

    A lot of my reasons had to do with regretting not having kids and frankly wanting to give the world more people who are like me and my husband (I think we’re pretty great). That sounds pretty selfish, but it’s true. I also enjoyed my sleep and lifestyle pre-kid, but there is so much of my new lifestyle that I couldn’t even imagine before having my son. There are amazing moments where we’re just having the most fun running around laughing and there are (many) moments where it’s hell and he’s crying or not eating or not sleeping, and I’m overall not doing what I want to be doing. My son is just a toddler so I’m still in the physically exhausting stage, and I imagine that things will both get easier and harder as he gets older.

    I will say that I couldn’t possibly imagine loving someone as much as I love him before having him, and that this has opened me up to be vulnerable and I think has made me a better person. It’s a big adventure that I can’t control, but I think I needed to get to a point where I realized that there are lots of things that I can’t control, and that’s ok. Which is also a selfish reason, but oh well, I don’t think not having kids is selfish.

    I wouldn’t say I ever felt “ready” because there is no true way you can prepare for this in the way we overachievers are used to. I did wait until I was married and had a reasonable amount of money saved up, so that’s as ready as I could be. I agree with those above who say that kids are a lot of work, stress, responsibility, etc. They are also incredible in a way that you can’t really imagine (or at least I couldn’t) until you have them.

    I don’t mean this to convince anyone one way or the other, just sharing my experience.

  11. Initially, I wanted kids, but DH was never really on board with that. Ironically enough, once we’d both gotten on the same page about Let’s Not Have Kids — after we’d had a miscarriage, done some soul-searching, then done some international travel and had been married for eight years — I got pregnant while on The Pill.

    Our lives are now much, much different than before. The early years were especially trying, to be honest. (Cleaning poo off of the walls of your toddler’s bedroom is NOT a fun time.) Our son is now in kindergarten, we make sure to go on monthly date nights to remind ourselves that we’re still spouses and not just parents, and we’ve finally planned our first international trip as a family. Things will never be like they once were — not even after our son grows up and moves out — and I’ll be totally frank in that I sometimes wonder what life would be like right now had I not chosen to continue the surprise pregnancy.

    Do I regret becoming a mother? That’s a loaded question, for sure. I always feel the need to reiterate the I Love My Son sidebar during this conversation. As a person, I think I’m more considerate of others than I once was, and my priorities are definitely way different. But that’s not saying that I don’t miss regular Afternoon Delight time on Saturdays, or long evenings of gaming at my computer, or sleeping on weekends until whenever (I’ve definitely been ruined on that front — I’ll never sleep past 9am again), or any number of things I’ve had to say goodbye to over the past six years.

    I’m honestly kind of Zen about motherhood. I like it, and I do well enough at it, but I don’t think I would have felt a hole in my life had I not done it.

    Would *my* mother have been OK with not being a grandmother, though? That’s a different story. :)

    • Anonymous :

      This topic definitely shows how different the parenthood journey is for everyone.

      I sleep until noon every Sunday (DH is ‘off’ on Saturday mornings) and all three kids had passports before they were 6 months old. We’ve done international travel every year since my oldest was born. Sometimes twice a year. We love international travel so our cars are ancient but our passports are full. Parenthood is all about the choices you make. There are lots of different ways to parent.

      • Different parenthood journeys — absolutely! I agree 100%.

        For example, we’ve taken our son out to restaurants nearly every weekend since he was able to leave the house, and he knows how to behave in public because of that. (And we know how to wrangle him.) But I know parents who take their children out to eat only occasionally and dread the trip. That’s kind of where we stand with international travel — we kind of had a mental block with it, I think (and made excuses as to why it wouldn’t work for us until DS was a certain age).

  12. I always knew I didn’t want kids and I don’t regret my decision. I’m 40. Honestly from reading the C-Moms page every now and then, having kids sounds very difficult. There are pregnancy issues, feeding, sleeping, etc. The worst seems to be that the men turn into children themselves and seem incapable of taking care of a child. Also, I don’t now why anyone would want to bring kids into this world. The future does not seem bright.

    • Triangle Pose :

      +1 to C-moms page reinforcing my decision. There is also an isolation and insolation on that site that I think was mentioned with the snow day “unleash the chaos” mom who posted yesterday that is just so…off-putting to me? She was so glad that the moms site is soooo nice and I just find a lot of it to be disingenous and not reflective of the real working world even though most (all?) commenters there are working moms.

    • Anonymous :

      “I don’t now why anyone would want to bring kids into this world” – This is something I used to not really take seriously but now with the way things are in the world, I feel the same way. I couldn’t have a baby knowing President Sh!thole might kill them in nuclear war.

      • Anonymous :

        My kids are so amazing, really just the heart of my life, and I have started to make sure that they know that a. they are not obligated to have kids, no matter what social expectations they might encounter and b. it might not be a great idea to bring a being into the world when we’re so clearly on the cusp of environmental apocalypse.

        My 17yo daughter is pretty certain she doesn’t want kids (she’s never been a baby person) but my 13yo son seems very inclined to have a family. Not right now, I should add! He plays peekaboo with babies in the checkout line and just admires them aesthetically which I totally do too. I really, really dig babies and toddlers but would be happy enough to find some non-bio kids to love on if I don’t become a grandmother.

        If I were younger and considering whether or not to start a family (I’m 42 and DD was born when I was 25) I would think very, very hard about it for reasons of political and environmental stability alone. That said, my particular kids seem on balance like a very good addition to the world.

    • Anonymous :

      I post over there but keep in mind that no one is going there, just like no one comes on the main page to say ‘my DH is amazing at X’. Main page gets lots of questions about estates/elder care/difficult co-workers. Not a ton of posts about how easy those issues are. People post about problems for help.

      • Anon, come on. :

        That’s true…but unlike a bad boyfriend or you can’t DTMFA with your child and your child’s problems. You just have to deal with it.

        • But that stuff is SO temporary. The feeding and sleeping and all the other issues people post about there last weeks or months at the most. I’m not saying everyone should have kids, but I think it’s a little sad that an advice board where people post about their struggles is turning people off having children. We all have struggles and we all figure out how to get through them. I will also say I had found pregnancy easy and enjoyable for the most part and my kid was a great eater and sleeper from pretty much the get-go. Most of my IRL friends have had pretty easy babies too, although I will admit my pregnancy was probably easier than average. But a selection of posts seeking advice is not really a representative sample of what parenthood is like on a day-to-day basis.

          • Feeding and sleeping issues are temporary when they are babies, but then there are various other issues that come up as they get older. It’s tough. Like someone posted above, it’s a big sacrifice, but not much pay off.

          • Triangle Pose :

            A lot of it isn’t temporary though. Work opportunities, spontaneous travel, a lot of that won’t come back for a long time, maybe not at all if you have a special needs child. To some women sacrificing all of that just is not worth it.

          • I don’t think it’s sad at all. I think it’s offering a realistic look at the struggles that come with being a parent and some people recognize that this is not the life for them. Honestly things like sleep training and b-feeding seem difficult in the moment but it’s not like kids get easier. They go to school, they meet bad people, they have to deal with drugs and alcohol and bullies. And then they grow up and you may or may not like what they become.

          • “Like someone posted above, it’s a big sacrifice, but not much pay off.”

            Most definitely, people who are looking for some kind of “payoff” for the years they spend raising children should not have children. In my opinion. We had our son because we wanted to enjoy the journey of having a child and being a family. Not so we could have someone to take care of us when we were old, or raise some genius scientist who would cure cancer, and so if that doesn’t happen we’ll be disappointed. People who look at the whole thing through a cost/benefit lens: get your tubes tied, like yesterday. Parenting is not for you.

        • Anon, come on. :

          It’s not sad to help women who read figure out what they want (and don’t want). I think it’s just like how someone above said being a nanny is like the world’s best birth control.

          • Someone who can’t tell the difference between nannying someone else’s kids and having their own, probably shouldn’t have kids.
            Someone who reads an advice column to make a life decision like this probably shouldn’t be a parent either.
            And I’m sure these folks who are talking about “not a lot of payoff” are going to make great wives and partners, yep!
            Sad!

    • Rainbow Hair :

      The world did seem less apocalyptic when I got pregnant, but to me, my kid is such a thing of hope. Like, if anything is going to get better in the future, it will be because of the things I do and the way I raise her and the things she does (x all the other people trying to do good and/or raise good kids). Like… yeah sometimes it’s f*cking terrifying, and it feels so incredibly dangerous to have this huge part of my heart outside of me, in a fragile little person who has terrible judgment… but man, she’s got a good little heart and I think she can go out there and do some good little things.

  13. There’s no right answer here. Your life will absolutely, radically change after you have kids – no way around it. Not better, not worse.

    For me, I had an amazing and fulfilling life before my kid, with my time roughly distributed at 75% to a job I loved, 10% to amazing DH, 15% to fulfilling personal hobbies, exercise, other misc.

    Those percentages are different now – with a post kid job change, I’d say 65% to job, 20% to kid, 10% to husband, and 5% to everything else. In the abstract I’d like more time for exercise and other “me” stuff, but not at the expense of less time for kid or DH – and that will change naturally over time as kid becomes more independent.

    Overall I think having a child forced a decision about a better work-life balance that I’m grateful for. I loved my prior job but I did have to sacrifice a lot of evenings / weekends / holidays.

  14. Boston Legal Eagle :

    (Stuck in mod, sorry if this posts twice). A lot of my reasons had to do with regrets on not having kids and frankly wanting to give the world more people who are like me and my husband (I think we’re pretty great). That sounds pretty selfish, but it’s true. I also enjoyed my sleep and lifestyle pre-kid, but there is so much of my new lifestyle that I couldn’t even imagine before having my son. There are amazing moments where we’re just having the most fun running around laughing and there are (many) moments where it’s hell and he’s crying or not eating or not sleeping, and I’m overall not doing what I want to be doing. My son is just a toddler so I’m still in the physically exhausting stage, and I imagine that things will both get easier and harder as he gets older.

    I will say that I couldn’t possibly imagine loving someone as much as I love him before having him, and that this has opened me up to be vulnerable and I think has made me a better person. It’s a big adventure that I can’t control, but I think I needed to get to a point where I realized that there are lots of things that I can’t control, and that’s ok. Which is also a selfish reason, but oh well, I don’t think not having kids is selfish.

    I wouldn’t say I ever felt “ready” because there is no true way you can prepare for this in the way we overachievers are used to. I did wait until I was married and had a reasonable amount of money saved up, so that’s as ready as I could be. I agree with those above who say that kids are a lot of work, stress, responsibility, etc. They are also incredible in a way that you can’t really imagine (or at least I couldn’t) until you have them.

    I don’t mean this to convince anyone one way or the other, just sharing my experience.

  15. Boston Legal Eagle :

    (Stuck in mod, sorry if this posts twice). A lot of my reasons had to do with regre*s on not having kids and frankly wanting to give the world more people who are like me and my husband (I think we’re pretty great). That sounds pretty selfish, but it’s true. I also enjoyed my sleep and lifestyle pre-kid, but there is so much of my new lifestyle that I couldn’t even imagine before having my son. There are amazing moments where we’re just having the most fun running around laughing and there are (many) moments where it’s hell and he’s crying or not eating or not sleeping, and I’m overall not doing what I want to be doing. My son is just a toddler so I’m still in the physically exhausting stage, and I imagine that things will both get easier and harder as he gets older.

    I will say that I couldn’t possibly imagine loving someone as much as I love him before having him, and that this has opened me up to be vulnerable and I think has made me a better person. It’s a big adventure that I can’t control, but I think I needed to get to a point where I realized that there are lots of things that I can’t control, and that’s ok. Which is also a selfish reason, but oh well, I don’t think not having kids is selfish.

    I wouldn’t say I ever felt “ready” because there is no true way you can prepare for this in the way we overachievers are used to. I did wait until I was married and had a reasonable amount of money saved up, so that’s as ready as I could be. I agree with those above who say that kids are a lot of work, stress, responsibility, etc. They are also incredible in a way that you can’t really imagine (or at least I couldn’t) until you have them.

    I don’t mean this to convince anyone one way or the other, just sharing my experience.

  16. Add me to the 32 year old crowd. My SO has 2 children from a prior marriage and while I usually love spending time with them, I’m still not sure if I’ll feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have a child.

    My SO emphatically doesn’t want more children so it makes it difficult for me to think about it objectively. If I decide motherhood is important to me, I’d assume it would be a breaking point.

    I do know that I don’t want to be a mother enough to do it on my own and I think that would be what it would come down to. That, or finding a new SO, and that seems like such a crapshoot. I don’t know how anyone thinks through decisions like this.

    • I’m so relieved to find someone in the same boat as me: SO does not want children, and I want to stay with my SO even though I probably want children. I feel awful for choosing my SO over hypothetical children that may or may not happen with a hypothetical new SO.

      • Thank you for existing. Glad to hear I’m not the only one, too.

        If only I could predict the future. If we stay together and everything is rosy, it will all be fine. But what if we split in 3, 5,10 years? How will I feel then? It’s difficult for me to relinquish my fate to what could come down to his decision.

    • FWIW – my best friend married a guy who already had a nearly-adult child and was really not into having any more children. She was almost 40 at the time and so basically had to decide, before she married him, if she wanted the chance of having a child more than she wanted to be with him. She chose him, and she now has no regrets about the choice. Her husband’s daughter’s mom is really not in the picture and so she had to help him finish raising his daughter, and then now is grandma to her stepdaughter’s grandkids. She is having an amazing time and says she wouldn’t trade it for anything. If someone is looking for it, there are all kinds of ways to have the experience of being meaningfully involved in a child’s life that don’t involve giving birth to and raising a child.

  17. Anon, come on. :

    I look at my friends and their life before and after having a child and I know the after is not for me. Also, reading the moms site – I think I used to be 95% sure I am going to be childfree and now I’m 100%. Luckily my SO agrees – I think finding a compatible partner on this issue is actually more important than being 100% sure yourself.

    • Agreed on finding a compatible partner. I have a friend whose husband was team No Kids prior to marriage (she was very clear that she was never going to have kids) but once they were married he starting to change his position with the reasoning “it’s what married people do”. She obviously felt very betrayed by it. On the other hand I’m sure some people never get over not having the kids they wanted because their partner didn’t want them.

  18. My fiancé and have been having this discussion lately. We didn’t meet until I was 36 (I will be almost 39 when we get married). By the time we met, I’d pretty much decided it wasn’t going to happen for me, even though I’d always wanted kids. We are both mostly on the fence, but I think I’m a little more on the “I would regret it if we didn’t try” side, and given the time constraints, we’re going to try right after the wedding. Both of us are worried about giving up the great life we have. He’s also younger, as are a lot of our friends, and we live in an urban area, so having kids (if it happens) will make us the odd ones out in our friend group. Hopefully we’ll either find parent friends or our friends will join the train in the next couple of years.

    • good luck! you are not alone. I’m 39 and TTC now – probably headed to IVF shortly and trying to stay positive. I have many friends who are older parents but I also anticipate making new friends if/when I have a baby.

  19. I let instinct take over. I thought I didn’t want kids until I did, and when I did it was like a craving. I wanted that fuzzy little head on my shoulder right now, not nine months from now.

    I had lots of logical reasons for why it would be hard, why it would be expensive, why it would change our lives too much. And it has been all of that, but also the best thing I’ve ever done.

    I just trusted my gut.

    • For me, this gut feeling turned out to be a side effect of the hormonal bc I was using. I had never wanted kids before, and as soon as I was off this pill, I felt uninterested again. Now I feel like there is no way of knowing what I really want… It is all just biology messing with my head?

  20. For those of you that had kids, looking back, did you and your DH/spouse/SO sacrifice equally?

    • Generally yes. I am still slightly bitter about the fact that I had to miss a couple of cool work travel opportunities (one to a place with Zika when I was pregnant, one when I was on mat leave) while my husband went to Europe for work during his paternity leave. None of that is my husband’s fault though (my job wouldn’t send me on travel when I was out on leave, his would). I think you need to expect that pregnancy and nursing (if you choose to do it) will require some sacrifices your spouse won’t have to make, but after that it’s easier to sacrifice equally. And even when you’re nursing, there’s a lot your spouse can do – diaper changes, washing pump parts, doing laundry and other household stuff, etc. I think time spent preparing and caring for the baby and household should be 50-50 from the very beginning, but you can’t divide each task 50-50 the way you can later.

      • Anonymous :

        My husband and I do but I am the poster above with twins. I am frankly kind of militant about not doing more than my share. We both work full-time, I work a little more overtime than him, and since I didn’t BF but exclusively pumped, we both fed/diapered/etc. one baby each at the same time. I try not to bean-count but I do a self-assessment every week or two to make sure I feel like we’re evenly invested. And to his credit he steps up; this isn’t just me assigning responsibilities.

        • That’s awesome! I hated pumping and enjoyed nursing (after the usual pain/confusion in the beginning) so for me it was way more pleasant to do 100% of the feeding and have DH pick up the slack with diapers and baths and laundry and all that stuff. Just like we did different chores pre-baby based on our individual preferences. But you make a good point that if you want to divide it more equally, the mom can pump. My BFF did that and it allowed her and her husband to split up the night feedings so they each got a lot more sleep.

    • As someone who has never regretted my decision to have children and does not resent my husband in the slightest for this: Not even close. Part of this was unavoidable. I had difficult pregnancies (especially the first one) that resulted in medical leave. Then I nursed exclusively for six months and continued to nurse (and pump) to one year. That meant, among other things, that I changed jobs to avoid travel which meant a professional step down.

      As our children grew, I found that I really preferred to be the one who was with them when they were ill and my job (even as an attorney) is much more flexible than his. That meant I was the one who stayed home with sick children and I was the one who was more available for emergencies. Generally much more of the day to day work of raising children falls to me. I realize that some of you will find that horrifying, but it honestly does not bother me at all. He has stuff he does for the family that I do not want to do or am not as good at and I have the stuff I do. In my view it generally balances out. However, professionally I have definitely taken more of a hit.

      But hey – my Saturday mornings are all “me” time since he is the one who is stuck with sports duty! (Which includes making sure they have everything they need; being the snack parent; scheduling; etc.) I am the universe’s least sporty person so that is all on him.

      • ” I realize that some of you will find that horrifying….”

        I would be horrified if you felt like you did not have a choice in the matter. But you are doing what makes you happy, and being an attorney is nothing to sneeze at!

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I was on bedrest for three months before the baby, so that part was all me.

      Once the baby was born, he did quite a lot at first as I had a C-section (my son was formula fed so that made it a lot easier to split the work). I went back to work after five months and then he took paternity leave for two months (Canada, so less of a financial hit). I have the more demanding job, so he does more hands on child care than I do. If I have bathed that kid 25 times in 6 years, I would be surprised!

    • Anonymous :

      Once you’ve adjusted for biology (pregnancy, delivery, nursing), yes.

    • Equal isn’t possible. He has not been pregnant for 18+ months (we have 2). He didn’t go through a miscarriage or nurse. He didn’t gain and lose a third of his body weight twice in two years. But we have both made sacrifices that bring us both to a place of contentment. I am not the default parent. When childcare falls through, we have an honest conversation about what is going on at work and non-negotiable for both of us and we figure it out. When one of us needs a break, the other picks up the slack. Also, it might sound inconsequential but there are plenty of things my husband does that I have never done, like trimming their nails. I have no idea how to trim baby nails and I’m OK with that. He makes all the baby food whereas I would be buying jars. Great question.

    • My takeaway from this is to never have kids. If SO is the majority force in wanting kids he can do the majority of the work.

    • Absolutely. Yes, especially now. Obviously, he couldn’t breastfeed the kids, but he did his share of midnight feedings after I weaned. Now that the boys are in school, he does most of the drop-offs (our nanny picks up), despite the fact that he has a commute and I do not (I telecommute). He does most of the sick-kid days. He arranges playdates, carries equal mental load for planning logistics. In fact, he’s probably the single best decision I’ve made in my life.

  21. Legally Brunette :

    I was 32 and not quite ready to have kids (although in theory I figured I would have them one day, but didn’t feel any huge urge the way other women did). I had/have a great career, lots of friends, hobbies, supportive family. I never felt like I needed kids to “complete” myself. But DH is 6 years older than I am and was more than ready to have kids. Ultimately, I felt that I was open to it and I had my first at 33 and my second child at 35.

    The pay off? I still have a great career and a life and friends (many of whom are child-free). But I now I also have two wonderful children who are a delight and love me so, so, so much. I love spending time with them, reading them books, exploring places together. As an added bonus, I’ve also had the opportunity to make so many NEW friends through parenthood (my overachieving chick best friend is someone who I met through a mother’s group). Given that I’m very social and an extrovert, that was a huge plus for me. It’s also been heartwarming to see how much joy my kids bring my parents and extended family. When we visited family over winter break, you would have thought my kids were the first kids my family had been around. They just couldn’t get enough of them and I love seeing the bond between my kids and their grandparents/grand uncles/aunt, cousins, etc.

    I will never be someone who stays home with the kids nor will I say that every minute is pure bliss. No way. But the pros FAR outweigh the negatives (less sleep and more rigidity in schedule, in particular).

    No right or wrong decision, but I’m so happy to be a mother.

  22. Anonymous :

    Thank you for this thread. I’m 33 and divorced. I was married from 27-32, and I unknowingly got pregnant and had an ectopic pregnancy. We weren’t trying. We envisioned kids once we were more stable. We both grew up poor and wanted to be homeowners with savings to give our child the life we never had. I’m glad we never had kids as we don’t have to co-parent.

    Now, I’m single and have no real desire to get married again any time soon. I’ve thought about what this means. I think I’d be a great mom, but if it doesn’t happen, I think I’ll adopt. Several family members have been foster parents. I also was a Guardian ad Litem and saw a real need for stable foster/adoptive parents.

    The question then becomes, when? I don’t forsee kids for the next 5 years. I need to focus on rebuilding my own life, and kids seem super expensive. If and when I have one, I want to be able to provide for it.

  23. If you’re worried about regrets and you have a partner, embryo freezing is an option. It’s expensive and not for everyone, but it’s a lot more effective than egg freezing and might be a good option if what you want is to keep your options open a bit. Obviously there are no guarantees, but for some people it’s well worth it.

    • Embryo adoption can also be an option; I have a single friend who is exploring this right now. For folks who can’t/don’t want to use their own eggs.

  24. Never too many shoes... :

    As with all things, it is a bit different for everyone. My husband wanted a baby when we got together at age 30 but I was not ready and was a bit on the fence. I woke up one day around age 35/6 and was *desperate* for a baby – like overnight my instinct went into overdrive. Some fertility issues took up time and I was 38 when my son was born.

    My life changed from what I would call an administrative perspective in that organizing our lives became more complicated. Our son has fairly significant autism which also changed things over time. BUT my actual life, my work, my interests, my social life are all pretty much as they were – I am a private practice litigator with no desire to go in house, I throw parties and am going on a girls trip to Mexico next week for five days. Is it a bit harder? Sure. But I really object to the idea that everything changes once you have a baby. You are still you and you have agency over your own life, the key is to have a partner with the same desires and priorities. And, to be totally honest, money helps a lot (I outsource cleaning, cooking, laundry as often as possible).

    But when my son curls up next to me to sleep or giggles or wants to smell my hair for comfort, well, I am so glad I chose this complicated, messy path.

  25. Anonymous :

    I don’t really like other people’s kids. More now than before I had them but I still have zero interest in cooing over a new baby visiting the office.

    You don’t have to give up your pre-baby life. We still vacation in Europe every year and ski regularly in the winter. Does hiking/camping look different now with kids in tow? Yes, definitely lots of modifications but also lots of new joys like the first time a three year old sees a deer in the wild. I love rediscovering the joy in my hobbies/activities through my kids eyes.

    I BF because I wanted to. DH still got up 50% of the nights from the very beginning. He WAH two days a week to help manage daycare drop off/pick up. You don’t have to love any particular stage – I loved the newborn stage and hated the 1-3 year old stage. Loving the school age years.

    I never felt really ‘ready’ but I worked out how old I wanted to be when my kids were finished high school and realized I needed to start trying in my early thirties. We were married 4 years when we started trying. Kids at 31 and 34. Would have another but DH is done.

    • Anonymous :

      And to address the original comment posted – I never felt ‘incomplete’ without kids. Just like you don’t need a husband to have a complete life, you don’t need kids to have a complete life. Looking for fulfillment through kids sets you up for hardship. That’s a lot for kids to live up to. Kids aren’t ‘completion’, they are a bonus.

  26. I guess I’m also waiting for instinct. I always thought I’d have kids until I graduated college and started seriously dating my fiance. He does not want kids at all but basically if I wanted them he would. But that’s also not a good indicator that he’d be a good co-parent. But I love our life. I’m 29 and don’t see myself having kids. I’m really sick of people trying to convince me otherwise. Or that I will want them later on. It’s not your business leave me alone. I have a great but demanding job and there is absolutely no way I could continue with this job if I had kids. That’s not the deciding factor but one of many. And I haven’t fully decided yet. I also told myself, if I decide I want kids, I wont take any extraordinary fertility measures if it doesnt happen.

  27. I’m solidly in the child free camp. I never felt strong urges to be a mother but always assumed that I would eventually have children. I’m 37 and my feelings have only gotten stronger that I don’t want them. My husband and I discussed it years ago and we are both happy with our decision. We get a ton of pressure from his mother, but thankfully not mine. I feel like it is not fair to any child if you don’t want them wholeheartedly. I would rather not have them than regret them later. My own childhood was not ideal and I have a lot of emotional baggage. I won’t be caring for my parents, at least not personally, and any money that I would have spend on kids can just go towards retirement and my care when I’m a senior citizen. I cannot stand it when people cite that as a reason to have children. Kids are great and I’m happy for others to have children, I don’t hate them in any way. They just aren’t something that I want.

  28. Senior Attorney :

    Keep in mind that parenthood is forever. Those small children who love you so, so much may turn into sullen teens and young adults who may not want to have dinner with you during restaurant week. It’s a profoundly mixed bag. I adore my son but once you become a parent your heart is never safe.

    Just a thought in light of the fact that these discussions tend to focus on babies and children…

    • But your heart is never really safe anyway, right?

    • So much this! (I am realizing how many people in this group are young enough to be my children.) The day to day, time-intensive stage of parenting feels like it last forever while you are in it, but really it is such a short time in your life and it goes by so fast. Your kids are going to grow up and have lives that you have no control over. They might live 15-minutes away and come over every Sunday night for dinner (don’t knock it; that is what I did). They might live on the other side of the country and be constantly complaining on an internet board about how their mom wants to see them/talk to them ALL THE TIME and ugh – one phone call every two weeks is plenty.

      Have kids if you want to be a parent; don’t have kids if you do not. But remember that you have very limited control over how they turn out and that for the rest of your life you heart will live outside your body (to quote Elizabeth Stone) and you cannot protect it – which might be the single most terrifying thing in my life. (And I have never regretted parenting for a heartbeat – although I would not re-live 13 for anything except the opportunity to re-live 4-12.)

      • But if you are lucky (and not a terrible parent), you get an adult-kid who you love and like and who loves and likes you back and who it is a pleasure to talk to and spend time with (and who is happy to spend a week in Europe with Mom). You get to watch this tiny baby you grew in your body grow to adulthood and be (mostly) happy and healthy and good and you get to take enormous joy in that.

        I am firmly in the camp of people who do not want children should not have children. It is a lot of work. it is expensive and often painful. You will experience failure and helplessness. You never, ever again get to put yourself first. It will change your life forever. But if you do want to have children, don’t let those things stop you. The joy is immeasurable.

        • But let me add (since someone else talked about competitive parenting and people who complaint/brag about not being able to take a shower): When I say you do not get to put yourself first, I am not talking about the martyrdom school of parenting. I showered every day and kid could scream in her crib for 10 minutes if necessary to make that happen. I am talking about the big stuff (for example I had some hobbies I gave up because I thought they were too dangerous for someone with a dependent child to continue). I have a friend who stopped riding his motorcycle for the same reason.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah, having a baby doesn’t make me say no to kids. Babies are great. Having an ADULT is what scares me.

    • Anon for this :

      Yes. This is one of the reasons I don’t want children. Life is hard and I have never liked it enough that it felt ethical to expose someone (especially someone who may be as sensitive as I am ) to the hardships of life.

      I love children and think it would be really powerful to hold so important a role it someone’s life, no matter how it turned out in the end but really we suffered and I don’t think I could stomach having to watch a child of mine go through that. I just don’t think the highs of life outweigh the lows. My mother has straight up told me that she regrets having us, and I totally get it. It’s not that she doesn’t love us, she absolutely does, but it was very hard for her to see us suffer. It was hard for me too, even as a kid, to see how helpless she felt as a result. As strong as she tried to be. I think there is a role for childless people, especially women, to contribute and that feels like enough for me. I can’t wait to be important aunt or “aunt” if I ever get the opportunity and would consider adoption or fostering especially if I had a partner that that was important to but don’t want to ever feel like I brought someone into the world to suffer if I could help it.Not for my own ego. Not if I couldn’t sincerely tell them that the good was appropriate compensation for the unimaginably hard. And I can’t.

  29. I am really concerned about the risk of having a children with special needs. Obviously accidents can happen and anyone in the family can face a life-threatening injury or illness, but the thought of birthing a new baby and discovering that he or she needs lifelong care for every.moment.forever is extremely daunting. I think it would destroy my life and my marriage (since both my spouse and I are on the fence anyway). Anyone else worry about this?

    • Anonymous :

      They have genetic testing and ultrasounds for this stuff. It is not 100% foolproof, but the odds are overwhelming you would know about any major special needs before birth (likely in the first or early second trimester) and could choose to terminate. If you are extremely concerned, you can do an amniocentesis of the baby’s DNA – a procedure that has a small risk of miscarriage but will tell you with certainty if the baby has any chromosomal issues. You can also decide to place a child up for adoption after it’s born.

    • Yes, exactly this.

      I would sort of like to have one kid (but am okay not having one) and my husband is a hard no. I could probably convince him, but I honestly don’t think we could survive having a kid with special needs. I have a family member who’s gone through this and it’s awful. If I could be guaranteed a reasonably healthy, normal IQ kid, that would definitely change my thinking.

      • I strongly recommend reading “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster. She details a lot of the pre-natal testing that’s available now, and it’s really good.

      • OP for this thread and I agree – my husband’s sister has required lifelong care and despite her mother doing an absolutely loving, wonderful job, it has caused innumerable difficulties and sacrifices. We would definitely do ALL pre-natal testing and probably also genetic testing due to my sister-in-law.

        Honestly, having a perfectly healthy kid who grows up to be an independent adult sounds hard enough. I think if I did have a kid with special needs, I would love them and do the best I could, but I would regret their birth. I know I would and I don’t want to bring a child into that because it’s not fair to them.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I used to use those exact words. I had every test available to make sure this did not happen to me. I told my husband that, even after fertility treatments, if there was anything that seemed to high a risk I was having an abortion. Because I knew I was not cut out for parenting a child with special needs.

      My son was so cute and is perfectly physically healthy. And he has autism, is only partially verbal and will likely require care for the rest of his life (although how much is still not clear as he is only 6). So much for my careful, type A planning.

      It is hard and scary sometimes, but, as I said earlier (and say often), you can make anything work if you want it enough. My career is on track and so is my marriage. All that to say it is a reasonable worry, of course, but even though I would absolutely not have chosen this, my life has not been destroyed. Changed, for sure, but not ruined.

      • I work as a volunteer with special needs kids like your son and it’s totally changed my view of what I could deal with as a parent. Before I started volunteering, I felt like I could never handle a special-needs kid. Now I have a much better sense of the rich and joyful lives special-needs kids can live and how they can participate in their families, and now I’m not frightened of it in the way I once was.

      • Thank you for sharing this, Never too many…I think it’s so important to hear these perspectives.

        We had all the testing and ultrasounds and etc. etc. My son was born with a correctable birth defect that required us to spend the first three years of his life going from the doctor to the surgeon to the physical therapist to the occupational therapist and back again, over and over. He is fine now, but it was definitely not what we had planned on. But it is also definitely not an experience I would trade because I learned so much about myself – and about love and patience – during that experience.

    • Triangle Pose :

      Yes, it is one (of many) reasons I am in the child-free camp.

      • Hopefully it also puts you in the partner/relationship-free camp because you might end up a caregiver that way too! (said with sarcasm)

  30. This question is such a struggle. I’m about to turn 33 and love my life and my DH. I also see many of my friends with kids and don’t love how their life looks. Up until recently, I’ve really struggled with the issue and was hoping when I went off BC 9 months ago I would get pregnant without “trying” (meaning that I’d get pregnant with business as usual LGPs). However, now that I realize the 2 or 3 times a month we normally garden is probably not going to cut it, I feel like we need to make the deliberate decision to actually start officially “trying”. That’s a very scary thing for me to even say out loud. – not because I think it’s hard to tell my DH – but it’s much harder to say out loud and admit it to myself. We’re going on vacation next week and I’m trying to work up the courage to have the conversation. Part of the urgency now is that I’m terrified that because I didn’t get pregnant casually trying that there is something wrong with me. I’m hoping I’m being irrational, but know that it certainly could be the case too.

    • I wouldn’t worry about your ability to get pregnant based on LGP 2-3x/month without BC. There are about 2-5 days per month when you’re fertile. If you haven’t been tracking that and aiming to have LGPs during that time, then the odds that you’ve hit that timing more than a couple times in 9 months is really low. Even if you line up the timing correctly there is still only something like 25-33% chance of conceiving. Start with a cycle tracking app and take it from there.

    • This applies to all the people saying they don’t like how their friends’ lives look after kids– how do you really know what their lives are like or whether you would like being a part of it with your own child? I’m just curious, because, yea I wouldn’t love staying in all day with someone else’s baby, but I believe it will feel very different when it’s my own child. Just like I wouldn’t enjoy going to someone else’s child’s band concert or their teen’s school play– but I think it will feel quite different watching my own kid. This is not to pick on anon at 3:06, a lot of people have said the same in this thread.

      • Different Anon, but I think you can see enough of it to know it’s not for you. I am childless and spent part of every weekend for around two years with a couple with 3 children and it was very clear that I did not have what it took to be a parent.

    • I know you know this, but you can only get pregnant when you have intercourse within about 4 to 5 days before ovulation or, sometimes, right as you ovulate. (The egg is only good for 12 to 24 hours.)

      It can take a while to get your cycle back after going off birth control, and your cycle means more than menstruation. We do this idiotic thing wherein we assume that menses are the epitome of a woman’s well-functioning cycle. They are important, but it’s so much more than that.

      You might not ovulate for another few months. That happens. You might start charting today and figure out that you are ovulating, but that could have started two months ago.

      The measure of fertility should be about ovulation and if you’re gardening during ovulation. You wouldn’t expect to get tomato plants if you planted seeds in December. Have your husband plant seeds at an appropriate season.

    • To track when you ovulate, you may want to test your LH hormones (which surges right before ovulation). You can buy a cheap kit on Amazon to help you with that. That’s what I’ve been using. No luck so far, but it makes me feel like I’ll have a better chance of timing it right. Also, I encourage you to talk to your significant other about “trying.” I was afraid to bring it up too – such a loaded subject with so many deep fears and desires there – but my husband has been really supportive, even though I know he doesn’t feel the same sense of urgency as I do, but the fact that he’s sympathetic and willing to put in extra effort makes me love him more and feel better about life in general. This could bring you closer together and deepen your trust. Sometimes it’s better to be vulnerable. Good luck!

  31. When I was young and in love, I had a bad case of baby lust for a few months, the intensity of which was surprising since I had never particularly seen myself as a mother. Time passed, I broke up with my BF, and I forgot all about it.By the time I met DH, I was nearly 30 and had no interest in parenting. Fortunately, he didn’t either, so the decision was easy for us.

    I’ve seen how becoming a parent has affected my siblings and siblings-in-law, and it is a total mixed bag.

    My narcissistic BIL is a better person for it, as it brings out something unselfish in him.

    Another BIL is the most thoughtful parent I know, but in many ways, having children ruined his life. He is tethered to the place he lives because he and the kids’ mothers are no longer together but share custody. He has given up on many professional dreams because he needs a steady paycheck to support his family. I know that he loves those kids like crazy, and wouldn’t have it any other way, but he has many regrets, too.

    And my sister, who wanted children deeply, and went through long, painful, expensive IVF treatments to have one, is also in a tricky place. She adores her daughter and wouldn’t give her up for anything. But she hates being “mommy.”

  32. For the longest time, I didn’t think I wanted kids, and my husband always said he didn’t. It was about the fear of the enormous responsibility mainly. But at some point I looked past what it would involve to have a baby and thought more long term about having a child. It certainly helped that I had a wonderful childhood, because I realized that was something I wanted to give to another human being. I wanted to pass along my family’s story to another generation. My (now) husband – we got married because I wanted to have kids – agreed to take the journey with me. It certainly hasn’t been easy, and it has changed me in ways I never expected. All this is to say that it is a very personal decision that is unique to you, your personal history and why you think you do or don’t want children. One thing is for sure, you have to be ready to sacrifice your (other) self-interests – travel, sleeping (ha), perhaps even career depending on your situation- for the good of your children. Otherwise you will resent them and it will be awful for everyone.

  33. For me it’s the law of “F yes, or no” – you sound like you’re not in the “F yes” camp.

    (Google for more information – I read about this “law” in dating first, but use it for everything)

  34. I think one thing that swayed me to have a kid (just the one) is the understanding that you can do parenting how you want. It turns out that I wasn’t afraid of having a KID– another person move into my house that I’d have to take care of– I was afraid of having to do American Competitive Martyrdom As the Only Acceptable Parenting Style.

    I have a kid now and I’m very happy with our decision (not saying its not hard– sometimes it’s unbelievably hard)– but you don’t have to make it harder on yourself to prove to strangers on the internet that you’re doing a better job being a mom than they are. I still have friends and hobbies and travel. I never pumped. I sometimes prioritize myself over my child without feeling guilty about it. I bathe regularly and roll my eyes at those woe-is-mom viral facebook posts about having to sacrifice EVERYTHING for your kid, because that’s complete nonsense.

    I think I would have lived a totally fulfilled life had I not had my daughter. But she’s an awesome, smart, funny little girl and I’m incredibly grateful that I get the experience of being her mom.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      So much yes to this.

    • I’m happy I read this. I once read a blog post from a stay-at-home mom/occasional blogger who said she hadn’t showered in three days when her first kid was about 3 and the second was six or seven months old. I could not believe my ears – yes, life is definitely busy, but how can a SAHM with a supportive partner and ample means for babysitters not even get a chance to SHOWER, much less pursue a hobby? On the one hand, it scared me because “that could be me,” but on the other, it illustrated how ridiculous mommy martydom can be and made me consider whether there are other ways. I’ve since read Bringing Up Bebe and started following some professional athletes who have maintained their careers post-motherhood and felt a lot better…mostly.

      • I think you might be surprised at how few SAHMs have a supportive partner, at least in the sense most working moms would use that term. The families that I know with SAHMs are very divided along traditional gender lines – the mom does 80-90% of the childcare (usually without a nanny or much babysitting unless there are a ton of kids), cooks family meals, takes care of pets and generally keeps the household running and the dad goes to work and brings home the money. I mean sure, it’s 2018 and most dads will spend some time with their kids in the evenings and on weekends regardless of the mom’s employment situation, but men with wives who stay home typically aren’t hands-on dads like the husbands of working women. And even if the family can easily afford babysitting, the mom often feels guilty spending money on that when she’s not earning income and childcare is her primary job. I can actually see it being harder to shower as a SAHM than as a working mom with an involved partner and a lot of paid childcare.

      • Yes, this!

        Her husband has time to shower and the family does not consider it a luxury. Ergo, she should also have time to shower, and the kids will not eat the toaster when she’s doing it.

    • I agree completely that there’s no need to do all the competitive parenting stuff. But sometimes I think something is wrong with me because I don’t do that stuff and I’m still exhausted and struggling trying to juggle my baby, toddler, and full time job. I’ve never been on any social media, so I don’t even see all the martydom (and certainly don’t participate in it), and I really don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone except myself, my husband, and my kids. So why is it still so difficult?

    • +1000

  35. 31, single, not seeing marriage in my future anytime soon. However, I haven’t seen a certain topic ANYWHERE on this thread yet, so I’m going to yell it as loud as I can:

    FOSTERING AND ADOPTING CHILDREN STILL MAKES YOU A MOTHER.

    I have known since I was a kid that I wanted to raise children and have a family. However, at some point after reaching adulthood (and especially after turning 30 and still being single), I realized that I am a selfish person in some regards – I have no interest in ever being pregnant or dealing with an infant. Additionally, I don’t think I would be emotionally capable of raising a child with certain disabilities (Down’s syndrome, for one), and while I absolutely feel ashamed to admit that about myself, I think I’m being more honest than many parents who say “Oh, we don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, so long as it’s healthy!” and then do a terrible job at dealing with their child’s subsequent disability.

    On top of all this, nothing makes me happier than the idea of fostering and/or adopting a young child or teenager who is facing the prospect of never finding a parent because they’re no longer a cute little baby. Due to serving as a GAL on numerous custody cases, I also have realistic expectations about what you can and cannot control about your child’s development, and I’m more than willing to step in for a parent who did a sh*t job, and raise their kid in a healthy manner. (With, of course, the help of therapists and other foster/adoptive parents who have dealt with gently helping kids to move past trauma).

    The end result? I’m probably never going to be a “mother” in the traditional sense, because barring birth control failure or another accident, I’m never going to get pregnant and have a biological child. But I’m going to foster and adopt children as soon as I’m done moving into my new house, and I’m going to call myself a mother. Specifically, I am going to work with a local organization that places LGBTQ+ kids with foster parents after their bio parents have kicked them out or abused them, and I’m going to have a house full of children who feel loved and respected no matter what their identity. It’s gonna be really tough, especially since I’m going to be a single parent working at a Big Law firm – but I know I’ll have support from my peers and firm executives, and I know my parents will be thrilled to have grandkids in the family (even if they’re not small babies that look like me).

    Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a judgment on anyone who wants biological kids (my sister is thrilled to be pregnant for the first time, because she desperately wants bio kids). I just think more women who want kids should consider this option, ESPECIALLY if they’re older and single, or uncertain whether they could handle pregnancy or an infant. There are so many kids out there who ALREADY need a home, and fostering and adoption shouldn’t be seen as a last resort for infertile/gay couples only.

    :)

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Genabee – you are not going to *call* yourself a mother, you are going to BE a mother.

      And an amazing one at that.

    • Thank you for saying this. This is actually one reason why I don’t worry about being too old to have a biological child, because I know there are other ways to have a family.

    • Not that Anne, the other Anne :

      I’m so glad you said this! I’ve never really wanted biological children and my husband has a genetic disorder he would rather not pass down, so we’re looking into fostering/adopting. There are so many children in this world who need a good home.

    • I’m a single mom who adopted a boy 4 years ago. It has been rough at times but usually is great. He’s got a ton of energy! I transitioned out of litigation into legal marketing before it happened. I’m in NYC so it is expensive and I don’t really have a lot of help. Life is very different now.

  36. Anonymous :

    I’m 30. Last year I got divorced because my ex really wants kids and I don’t. I knew that when I got married but I was 20 and everyone told me it was normal not to want them and I would change my mind. Ten years later and my mind had only gotten more made up. It’s been hard, but I know that I made the right decision for me.

    I don’t dislike kids but there are so many people in this world already and I do dislike many (not all!!) parents – they are often judgmental (of the childless and other parents), they are much harder to become and stay friends with, and they (understandably, but still, it’s not who I want to be) put the wants and “needs” of their child ahead of the good of society. The mental illness in my family is not something that I want to pass on; I was terrified of having a special needs child that would need care for the rest of his or her life (and even for those things you can test for [e.g., Down’s Syndrome, not autism or schizophrenia], my ex could never have forgiven me for aborting his child); and I already have enough things in my life I’m failing at without adding kids to the mix. Also, I REALLY rankle at the idea (I had a very conservative, religious upbringing) that the most important thing a woman can do with her life is have sons (or have daughters, but only so they can go on to have sons of their own), and I know at least a bit of my reaction to the idea of having kids is my stubborn streak and trying to set an example for my younger female relatives that there is more to life than just motherhood.

  37. Not going to lie: it’s hard to have kids. My husband and I finally decided to go for it because it’s one way to really experience the full range of human emotions (and wow! the lowest lows are pretty low indeed but same with the highest highs). We have two boys, one of whom has Down syndrome. A few things in retrospect that made it work for me:
    1. Marrying the right man. We both have careers but he fully supports me in mine. 100%. He’s probably more effective with our boys than I am, and he’s super involved with the volunteering and day-to-day tasks like school drop off. He carries his share of the mental load.
    2. Being relatively established in my career. I see my career as a steep curve up from 20s to 30s (I had the boys when I was 35 and 36), a complete plateau for 3-4 years, then finally now, a resumption of the steep curve. By the time I was pregnant with #1, I was past the often-soul-crushing lower-management layer that’s hard to get out of.
    3. Being established financially. Money can help with a lot of things. I don’t think we would have survived some of the stresses/surprises of parenthood if we couldn’t outsource things like cleaning, childcare, and for a while, even food preparation.
    I do fantasize occasionally about being single and child-free (like my older sister) but mostly am grateful for the life I have. You make the best of what you have, so I’m sure I’d be equally happy had I made a different decision.

  38. Anonymous :

    I wonder how much having a wonderful childhood versus a not-so-great one informs your desire? On the one hand, wanting to share the good childhood, but the not ideal one – does it make you want to recreate a better one, or scare you off?

    • Triangle Pose :

      I’m sure it does somewhat. But I think the same level of happiness in childhood can have polar opposite results in different people.

    • Scare me off. I’m afraid I’ll model the behavior my parents showed me because that’s mostly what I know. I don’t know if I can learn how to be an amazing, loving parent when my own childhood was very mixed on that score.

    • Anon for this :

      I had a really awful childhood. It didn’t really factor into into my desire to have or not have a kid. But I feel that it has made motherhood a bit easier for me because I have a better (?) perspective about what things are really a big deal. To me the big deal items have a lot more to do with good communication and respecting your child as a human being than they do about the non-issues of the “mommy wars” like [email protected] milk or screen time or sleep training.

      If you’ve seen your drug addicted alcoholic parent passed out on the floor multiple times a week for most of your childhood while the other parent mainly communicates by screaming at and criticizing you, then you don’t really get too worked up about feeding your kid baby food that isn’t home made. Ya know what I mean? I also know that my daughter’s life is one million times better than mine was, which is very comforting when I start getting overly critical of myself.

  39. I was about 75% sure that I didn’t want to have kids prior to meeting my husband. We met when I was 31, and got married after 8mos of dating & a 10mo engagement. During that time, and along with our first year of marriage, he demonstrated to me how good of a father he would be – we equally share in household duties, we can communicate with each other honestly, he’s a great caregiver to our nieces & nephews, etc. The biggest factor for me was having a husband who would be a coparenting parent – I know too many mothers who are “married single mothers” where they do everything and their husbands sit in front of the TV with a beer after work. I refused to do all the parenting if we would have a child, and my husband demonstrated to me that he would be an equal partner.

    We have a now 1 year old little girl and my husband has absolutely held up his part. He’s always gotten up with her at night, he made all the bottles, does daycare drop off (I do pick up), we trade off on who stays home when she’s sick, etc. He’s also kept up on his part of keeping our household running by doing 90% of the cooking, half the laundry, etc.

    • I think our husbands would get along. I’m super excited to see my husband become a dad. He is just going to be so great.

    • Sometimes i regret our decision to not have children when I consider how awesome my husband would be as a father.

  40. Triangle Pose :

    I’m sure it does somewhat. But I think the same level of happiness in childhood can have polar opposite results in different people.

  41. As a 32 year old myself, I highly recommend step kids. Some of the fun, some of the work, someone to take care of you when you get old, and BONUS for grandkids (which I’m convinced is the only reason anyone really wants kids in the first place).

    I always just assumed I’d have them until I fell in love with a man who’d already had his (and is done). Sometimes I wonder if I’ll regret not having them, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.

    • You might find that you want a child(ren) of your own. Taking some risk in saying this publicly, but I was in the same situation as you, and having my own child has brought me so much more joy than being a stepmom. The first years of being a full time mom are hard, but having a nanny and other care helps A LOT with the hardships, and the later years of pre-k and now kindergarten are just so much more satisfying than the experience of being a stepmom (where I have always felt like an outsider). The bond is very different when it’s between you, your husband, and your child that you get to raise and love together, with no other adults with parenting claims in the middle of you. Just something to consider if you’re at all on the fence….

      • Sorry, I think what you meant to say here was that YOU found that you wanted children of your own.

        • True – just saw this – I did decide I found I wanted a child of my own,since our lives were already kid-centered with step kids, but I do not enjoy the step mom experience (being an outsider, dealing with the ex). I do enjoy being mom, though, because the good outweighs the challenges.

  42. Anyone who was on the fence and decided NOT to have children?

    • Sure, there are at least a couple people up thread who said this was the case for them.

    • Yes.

      My SO and I were both of the view “if I meet someone who really wants kids, I’ll have kids.” When we got together we were still both really on the fence, but after a lot of discussions and spending a week with my nephews, he got a vasectomy. We approached it from different perspectives: I have a much-younger sibling that I effectively raised, and know how significant a commitment children would be. He is more affected by the global issues, overpopulation, climate change, and didn’t want to bring a child into a world of chaos.

      We still have twinges of “aww, you’d be a great parent” especially as it feels like everyone around us is having children (seriously, 6 in the last 6 months). BUT we made the decision two years ago and are still happy and comfortable with it.

  43. I was a firm no until about 34 when my husband and I both started changing our minds. Thank goodness we were on the same page. Part was all of our friends had kids and we realized, hey, that kid thing is doable. It’s not fun being the only childfree couple of the group. Then we decided we’d try and just see what happens. When that didn’t work we started tracking but swore no interventions ever. That didn’t work and then we got tested. Inconclusive. Now at year 2, age 36, we finally want a child so much that we are going to start IUI next month (if this month doesn’t work) and maybe even IVF after that. I don’t regret waiting at all even if it means we end up with no baby. Having a child before you want one isn’t good for anyone. If I had wanted them earlier, just not right now, that might have been a different calculation.

  44. For me, it was never a matter of deciding whether or not I wanted kids, it was just making peace with the fact that I do not want kids. It took me a while to escape the societal (and, when I was younger, religious) expectations and recognize that not everyone has to have kids, and since absolutely no part of pregnancy or parenthood appeals to me at all, that I just… won’t have kids. Fortunately, my husband is on board with this (and was before we got married, for the record). As for the fear of regret… I’m only 35, so I suppose there is still time for regret to sneak in. But I’m not going to let the fear of regret cause me to do something now that I absolutely, emphatically do not want to do. Especially something as life changing as having a kid. Also, I figure that since I’ve never had the drive to have a biological kid, if I wake up in 10 years and think I do want a child in my life, fostering and adoption will still be options.

  45. Anonymous :

    My first was an unplanned pregnancy when I was still in school. I decided against abortion (though I am strongly pro-choice, in part because of that experience) and raised her on my own for many years before I got married. My husband and I knew we wanted to have children and he felt strongly about having them while we were still “young.” We also knew we wanted at least 2 more and so we had them 2 years apart. I love my children so much and do not regret them at all. However, there are things that I find I enjoy even more than I thought I would and things that are much harder than I could have ever imagined. Also the stress and anxiety is so much sometimes because I worry about them! But overall I am happy to have them and really enjoy them!

  46. Anonnnnnn :

    I’m unmarried and turning 38 this year. After years of the online dating game in NYC, I finally met a great dude. He’s my age, and we both love the same things: travel, creative stuff, sushi, scotch, city life. I robustly enjoy my friends’ children, but my partner and I have decided to be childfree with each other. I’ve also decided that if things don’t work out with him, I probably won’t dip my toe back into dating. I love my life and my friends. Raising a child requires a ton of lifestyle sacrifices that I realized I am not equipped to make. And while I was pro-kid for a while, I didn’t think my reasons were strong enough: the ego buzz you get as a parent when they get accepted into the Ivy of their choice or get a full scholarship to play football at Alabama, etc…..

  47. There are plenty of women (& some men, I guess) who regret *having* kids — it’s just a taboo topic. But google & you’ll find that more ppl are speaking out. A quick search found a study noting 1 in 5 parents in Germany say they regret having kids! (not including the URL bec. it’ll get caught in moderation). Point is, you can regret anything you’ve done or not done, but how horrible would it be to regret something that do deeply impacts another human being’s life? If you’re not gung-ho on being a parent, don’t do it. Don’t take that risk.

    Volunteer with children’s theater, work as a Big Sister, babysit the kids of everyone you know. There are plenty of ways to be involved in the lives of children. Also, adoption is a possibility, & there are tons of foster children in the U.S. system that need help (esp. older kids & disabled kids).

  48. SiliconValleyAnon :

    I’m 41, my DH is 43, we’ve been married for 10 years and have chosen not to have children.

    I adamantly didn’t want kids when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. I grew up poor in a small rural town, and I saw what happens to girls who got pregnant. I realized that I could revisit that when I started making six figures, an unimaginable sum to my past self. In my late 20s and early 30s, as my DH and I were early in our relationship, neither of us were sure about having kids. We’d be able to provide for our kids in ways that our parents hadn’t been able to, and that alone made us feel like we’d probably be at least okay parents. When we got married, we agreed that “not now” was our current answer and that we’d revisit the question as it seemed appropriate.

    In practice, we revisited the question around major life events: job changes, death in the family, when my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer, etc. And each time, we didn’t really WANT to have kids. Some people have always known that they wanted kids, some people have always known that they didn’t want kids. We never lost that ambivalence, and made that part of our decision-making. We decided that if we didn’t come around to “YES! we must!”, then we wouldn’t.

    Being 41 and not having kids is pretty cool. There’s plenty of ways to be involved with kids without having them yourself. I’m the favorite auntie of my friends’ kids. I’m taking a friend’s teenager to see Taylor Swift soon, a task which her moms are grateful to avoid. I get to focus all of my energy on my career and my family and my hobbies. My life is happy and fulfilled.

    And all of this is about my life. I’m not saying that you can’t be happy and fulfilled any other way. I’m not even saying that, if things had turned out differently and I had kids, I wouldn’t feel happy and fulfilled there too. There’s lots of ways to be happy and fulfilled. This is one of them, and I’m okay with that.

  49. I’m 44 and never wanted to have kids. Luckily I met the ultimate nice guy who was ambivalent about kids and never pressured me. We have a great life and 3 nephews and 1 niece that we love a lot. Everyone always told me I would change my mind and I still get questions/comments from people about someday regretting not having kids. I will be happy when I look old enough that people stop asking and mind their own business.

    Sometimes it can be hard to chose the less taken path. We have lost friends who would rather be around other parents or don’t have time for us anymore. I have had people question my and my husband’s fertility and even our mental state(!). I have been called selfish and “child hating.” We get asked frequently why we don’t have “fur babies.”

    My advice is to go with your gut. If you don’t feel strongly, don’t do it. You can live a happy and fulfilled life in many ways and it doesn’t always include kids.

  50. I am 35. My son is almost two and we are currently trying for another. I have always wanted to be a mom and love it. I also work full-time as an attorney.

    I completely respect the decision by some not to have kids. Being a parent is hard, no matter how much you love your child, and if your heart isn’t in it at all I think having a child is the wrong choice. But, if you’re on the fence, try to look past hysterics of the “mommy blog” articles, movies and TV shows about our-of-control kids, and well-meaning friends and family who say things like “you’ll never sleep again” and “say goodbye to your social life”. Being a parent is a beautiful thing and provides immeasurable joy which, for most parents, outweighs the sleepless nights, snot and crankiness. Becoming a mom has taught me that I can handle more than I ever thought I could and has made me more efficient, proactive and confident.

    For the record, I loved being alone and doing whatever I wanted on weekends before my son was born. However, I now love doing things with him and watching him learn about his world. Things that seemed mundane before are made new through his eyes.

  51. I would not have thought of this in my 30s, but I now see (at age 5o) that my DH and I will be able to stop working years earlier than if we had had kids. I also see parents my age who are clearly stuck in less-than-ideal jobs or careers because they have families to support, with years of work ahead of them.

    IMO, if you’re on the fence, don’t do it. But it’s a more complex problem for the original poster, who says that her DH really wants kids. When I was in my 30s, I was ambivalent too, leaning slightly against it. However, I think if my DH had really wanted kids (which he didn’t), I would have done it for him. Would I have regretted that? I don’t know. What I can say is that now, at age 50, after putting a great deal of thought into this question in my 30s, I don’t regret not having kids. It just wasn’t what either of us wanted.

    One more thing: If I were in my early 30s now, and ambivalent, I’d seriously consider having my eggs (or embryos) frozen in order to get more time to make the decision.

  52. I never felt “ready,” even though I always expected to have kids at some vague time in the future. My husband imagined himself as a young parent and felt ready. We took the plunge, and he became primary parent while I became primary wage earner. It worked out well. I love love love being a parent, much more than my career, but I would never have felt ready, not the first time nor the second.

  53. Exact same situation, same age. I finally decided that if I was still debating it and wasn’t 100% sure I did not want kids, then on some level I was ready enough. My son is 13 months old and is the light of my life. The last year and a half or so have had some pretty deep valleys but also some peaks I never could have contemplate before having a child. I was worried I would regret having a kid or not really want to be a mom, but my son is the most special and amazing person I’ve ever met. I love him in a way I never imagined I was capable of.

  54. Ask “why”. Why do you want children? If it is because you theoretically might regret not having children, think again. The problem is, the default is always to have them, but for many of us, that is just not the case. I never did, and have a deeply fulfilling, happy life as an aunt.

  55. Anonymous :

    Honest question. I see so many parents posting about the joy love etc. they experience with their children. But I’ve never seen an explanation for it, really. Someone up thread mentioned that most of the comments here are about babies/toddlers. But isn’t that joy/love whatever just biological programming? In other words, involuntary? When your 3 year old says “I love you” isn’t she just parroting you? As kids do-that’s how they learn. But how can a 3 year old know what she means by that? Also how many people can she possible know? What’s her basis for comparison? Maybe she just really likes you, or maybe she just really likes that you bring her chicken nuggets or whatever. Does her “I hate you” at age 13 cancel out the “I love you?”

    If I met another adult who told me they loved me without knowing me I’d think they were crazy.

    I feel that I’m not being eloquent and I truly don’t mean to offend, and I’m not being purposely obtuse. I don’t have children. The way I feel about my own parents is complicated. And I have never been able to grasp the argument for having children, that it will trigger some previously unused receptors in your brain which compels you to feel that love that parents describe. Its like if I asked Alexa if she loves me. If I programmed her to say yes, she’d say yes.

    In my 30 years I’ve come to the conclusion that a fundamental component of love is choice. When choosing a partner, chemistry counts and usually comes first. But couples who have deep, long standing relationships usual say it comes down to choosing that person every day, even on the bad days. That sounds like real love, making a decision to commit to someone in part because of the chemicals in your brain but mostly because you want to, you decide to.

    You don’t get to make that choice with children. People always say their children as so wonderful, special, etc. but they’re just little DNA replicas. It has occurred to me that people are enamored with the version of themselves they see in their children. And as others have pointed out in this thread, you rarely hear people gush with the same enthusiasm about their grown children. Although I think at that point, when children are grown, you can actually feel something akin to love-by-choice.

    I guess what I’m getting at is, is there anything beneficial when it comes to parenthood other than the obligation to feel love for them?

    • For me it’s three things:
      1- Being a parent is challenging and interesting in ways that continually change. Helping someone to grow and learn about life from the ground-up offers a new perspective on the world and a nice antidote to paid work.
      2- Parenthood offers a different emotional dynamic than other relationships (in that you don’t have the option of divorcing or breaking-up with your kid). My toddler does stuff on a daily basis that I wouldn’t tolerate in a friend or partner, but I get to stick with her because that’s part of the deal. That sacrifice itself is rewarding and beautiful (even if it’s a kind of Stockholm syndrome it works).
      3- Being a parent let’s you know someone in a unique way. I don’t expect my kid to look like me, be like me, or even love me (though I try to act in ways that make her feel loved), but interacting with her and watching her change is like a present that I get to unwrap everyday (sometimes the present turns out to be something awkward and awful, but the surprise and anticipation is still there). Even dealing with her when she’s being obnoxious can be rewarding because it’s part of a larger story story that I get to watch unfold.

    • The love I feel for my child is not something I really can explain to someone. It’s like trying to explain what it feels like to have a v*gina to a man. Maybe it is all “biological programming” but so what? That doesn’t matter to me more than the end result, which is that my kid is a funny, smart, sensitive, amazing human being. Yes, he’s only 11 but part of what’s amazing about being a parent is watching a baby grow into an independent person with their own thoughts, feelings and emotions. I know we have some tough years ahead, but in my opinion, anything worth doing is hard work. And FWIW – I know lots of people who gush about their grown children; go talk to some people over 60.

      • Anonymous :

        This is the original Anon. Came back to look at this thread because I was curious if anyone else had responded. I think your comparison is apt. But the “biological programming” issue was the point of my question. Saying “so what” doesn’t really help, especially when I’m trying to figure out the appeal of parenthood other than that type of emotion. I think it does matter because, to me, it’s akin to being tricked. Heroin also gives people high highs and low lows, and makes everyday things seem special and wonderful. But the high is manufactured. Most of us wouldn’t say “so what” to a loved one with heroin addiction. From the outside, that special, wonderful feeling parents talk about when their 3 year old says “I love you” looks a lot like a fix, since the 3 year old can’t truly mean what they’re saying. There is no basis in reality for that feeling.

        Another less, shall we say unsavory, example comes from a coworker. She told me she’d prefer Disneyworld on a sweltering summer day, in a crowd, with a screaming baby, covered in vomit or what have you, to a quiet day in the air conditioning. As a childless person, I have some strong feelings about the prospect of being covered in someone else’s vomit, no matter how old that person is. And i doubt she’d be as carefree about it if an adult puked all over her at Disneyworld. The takeaway from the conversation, for me, was that not only will a having a baby put you in objectively unpleasant situations, but your brain will dupe you in to thinking you like it.

        Another coworker once told me that she loved her children, but hated her life. Does not compute.

        Your 11 year old sounds like a great kid. What if the “end result” as you put it is that he becomes a less-great adult? I understand that parents love their children no matter what. But what if you’re not the parent with a funny, smart, sensitive, amazing teenager, or adult? This reads to me like part of your feelings about parenthood are self-congratulatory. Which, fine, as you say raising kids takes work and it’s ok to be proud of yourself when you do good work. But as he becomes that an independent person he will most likely make choices that you won’t like, that you disapprove of, that embarrass you. Serial killers have parents too. If it comes down to whether or not you can pat yourself on the back for the “end result” doesn’t it follow that parenthood was a profoundly negative experience for Mrs. Dahmer?

        And FWIW I speak to plenty of people over 60. My own parents, for one. Their network of friends that I’ve known since childhood, whose kids I’ve grown up with. Most of my parent’s friends speak about their children like they speak about adult friends. Mostly positive, but not everything Jr. does is cause for exultation. If they even know what Jr. is up to (they probably don’t, he’s 35 and busy).

        I appreciate your response, but on the whole, I’m still taking away that kids give you a manufactured high and a false sense of superiority that fades with time, along with your youth and money.

  56. Anonymous :

    For anyone on the fence, I think the question is this: yes, you love your pre-kid life (pretty well established by now that kids aren’t a fix for anything), but is it conducive to long-term personal growth? For some the answer is yes- I have a friend who is always pushing her own limits with travel, sometimes by herself and sometimes with her husband, is pushing her career to places i can’t really comprehend, and is always pushing outside of her comfort zone with new risks and challenges. I have no doubt she will never regret staying child-free.

    For me personally though, I loved my pre-kid life but always felt like it had a shelf life. Like the activities were getting monotonous and it was starting to feel like more of the same. I truly feel like I left it all out on the field in my 20s in terms of fun but entered my 30s ready for kids and the new challenges they would bring. At 33, I just had my third baby, and it is insane sometimes but it is the right choice for me.

    Other qs that I think are helpful for those on the fence: if you had a week of three horrible days, one neutral, and three absolutely amazing, would you consider it a good week? I have always been the person to stay out late and have the awesome time knowing it would mean staying up all night the next night to slog through work or whatever needed to be done. At the end of the week, I’d forget the awful night and remember how much fun I’d had on the great one. I think this is part of what makes the chaos of a big family a good fit for me- the lows are low, no doubt, but the highs are really high. Balancing it out, kids are the right long-term fit for me personally. If i was a person who would rather have 6 good days in which I was totally in control, I’m not sure it would be as good of a fit. My husband is similar in this respect which made the decision easy for us.

    I definitely believe that if you are considering kids, you need to be realistic about how terrible it can be sometimes. Our generation is fortunate in that we’re more open to sharing those challenges. But it’s also not accurate to say there is “little payoff”- for me personally, the payoff is real and constant even during the craziest stage of having little kids. The days are long but rewarding, the pride when they do something generous or brave is overwhelming, I’ve been forced to look hard at my priorities and narrow them which caused me to give up a litigation career that I hated and start from zero with a totally different legal practice that I love. I cut a lot of stuff from my life that turned out to be fluff that I don’t miss. And once a month we get overnight babysitters and my husband and I stay at a hotel, which is awesome.

    In short, kids for me facilitates personal growth, which is why I don’t regret the decision. Some people already have a life that facilitates personal growth, which is why they probably won’t regret not having them.

  57. No kids, no regrets :

    Overview (TLDR): 37, used to be ambivalent, no kids, no regrets yet

    At 32, I had a lot in common with reader S. Ambivalent about kids, leaning toward no, wondering if I would regret not having them. I did not have a SO at the time. Over the next few years, as tons of my friends started families, I remained ambivalent. I’ve never been a kid person, but have fun being an honorary Aunt and spending time with my friends’ kids, and love giving those kids back to their parents and going back to my “real life.”

    Sometime around 34 (still single), I realized that I was definitely ok with never having kids, but also felt confident I could be a good parent. I basically decided that if I ended up with a SO that really wanted them, I’d be up for it, but if I didn’t, I was totally fine with not having them. I feel like the answer to this question resolved itself for several other girlfriends of mine around the same time. One started looking more seriously for a SO that also wanted kids. Another decided they weren’t a priority for her. A single coworker decided she wanted a kid right away and became a single mom via a donor. For anyone that doesn’t feel confident about this decision, I encourage you to give it a little more time. The sense of “now or never” from a biological standpoint ramps up, and I think it helps to crystallize things.

    I also, at the suggestion of my parents, who heard a family friend was doing it, considered egg freezing around that time (I think my parents would really like to be grandparents, but, thankfully, they are meeting that need by spending time with their friends’ grandkids!). There is also a test you can have done at your OBGYN to check levels of eggs. I decided that since I was fine not having kids, egg freezing wasn’t something I wanted to do. I watched a friend go through it, and it did not look fun. Holy hormones. This also feels like an appropriate time to mention that don’t need to give birth to make a family, fostering and adoption are great options, and for you single people, if you want kids, you don’t have to wait for a SO if you don’t want to.

    Fast forward to today. I’m 37. I met my current SO almost 2 years ago. He has no interest in kids, and when I learned that it gave me a feeling of relief, mostly because settled the issue. I have no regrets and I don’t anticipate them. I love my life the way it is. When I look at the lives of my friends with kids, whether they are 2, 12, 22, or somewhere in between, I always feel happy that isn’t my life. I still think I could be a good parent. But I’m very happy not being one.

  58. How to say "no kids for me" ??? :

    Hey Kat, I would love for you to address how to answer “when are you having kids?” when you’re not planning to! Sometimes people make this an awkward conversation or say the wrong thing and I don’t know how to best address it.

    Others please chime in! Lots of ladies in the no-kid camp here – what are you saying people to get your point across and shut down any further questions?

  59. Anonymous and confused :

    I’m frankly surprised that with all of the different comments and stories here, I don’t see a situation like mine. My DH made me agree before we married that we would have a kid (passing on his DNA, not adopting), because he thought one day he might regret not having one. I’ve never had any desire for a child of my own but assumed I might at some point in the future. Now at 32, still no desire, but by now I’ve realized that my DH would not be anywhere near an equal partner in raising a kid. Most of it would be on me. It feels like either I need to come around to the idea of a kid real quick, or end the marriage, and neither sounds pleasant.

    • Anonymous :

      If you think your husband wouldn’t be an equal partner in raising kids I’m guessing he’s not an equal partner, full stop. It also sounds like his desire to have children is a type of conceitedness. Otherwise why the DNA clause? I know its important to some people but the way you phrased it makes it sounds like he was just looking for an incubator to cook his *special* genes into a kid.

      I’m sure there is more nuance to your situation, but on the whole, my advice is not to shackle yourself to a person who sees you as means to an end, or that doesn’t support you in general.

  60. Wow – lots of good discussion on here. My story is that I was certain I never wanted kids. I was never a “baby” person and found the idea of pregnancy terrifying. I wound up pregnant shortly before my 32nd birthday, had my daughter, and have never regretted it for a second. She’s the love of my life and fills my day with joy. Yes, it’s hard work, but I can’t even imagine life without her.

    Also, and I’m sure I’ll get flack for this, but every childless older adult (50+) I’ve ever met is weird. I think having a kid gives you a certain level of humanity and understanding that can’t be gained elsewhere. Again, this is just my personal experience and opinion. Maybe you have an Aunt Susie who is child-free and well-rounded, and if so that’s great. I just haven’t encountered that.

    • Aunt Susie :

      I have been thinking a lot about this conversation since it was first published. The reason you see “weird” Aunt Susie is because she IS the outlier and you are attributing her weird-ness to not having children. Correlation may or may not indicate causation…if she DID have kids, she’d probably still be “weird” but with the street cred of kids…? There are plenty of weird mothers out there who don’t gain the humanity and understanding that you mention come with kids.

      I think many women in the generation prior, or “50+” as you state, didn’t have the financial/job security to do the things women today can. I’m 36, completely ambivalent about kids (as is DH) and if I wind up “weird” at least I will be a ridiculously well-traveled, well-educated and financially sound Aunt Susie. I’m ok with that.

  61. I was 32 last year and kept putting it off. DH and I knew we wanted children, but he said it was my choice when it happened. I woke up on mother’s day and decided I didn’t want to be sad on that day anymore. Our first baby is due March 16.

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