Do I Need to Start Thinking About Having Kids?


Idk if I wanna have kids.

And I don’t mean “I don’t know” as in it’s something I routinely waffle back and forth on I mean “I don’t know” as in, I just… don’t really think about it? As in I’ve pushed back the due date for this article six times because I’ve really needed to sit down and gather my actual internal thoughts about bringing a child into this world that aren’t just “Yeah! Probably! Eventually! Sure! I think!”

I know that it’s fine. For now. Because I’m 27. And even though some people I went to high school with have three kids (LITERALLY! HOW! I CAN’T EVEN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF), it’s still fine. But when is it not fine? When do we start tapping our finger on the proverbial wrist watch while giving me raised eyebrows? Is THAT something I need to think about? Do I need to think about THINKING about having kids? Jesus, I need to sit down.

*Lies down on a couch, stares up at the ceiling, and folds hands on chest, like you are my therapist* I feel… EXTREMELY not ready for that (I can’t even take care of myself) which I’m very fine and comfortable with. But my tendency to deal with things that feel very *fluttery hand motion* distant into the future is to keep pushing back, pushing back, pushing back until it’s too late to do anything at all (hey, we all have behavior patterns we are not jazzed about).

I know there are ways to hold off. You can have kids at, say, 40 if you want (not without a sh*t ton of people making you the topic of their weekly gossip sessions which is a whole ‘nother article in itself don’t even get me started!! Men are free to be first-time dads at goddamn 65 but women need to be these spring chickens or it’s all frowned upon!!!) but not without some serious financial implications (you’re probably looking at a $20,000 egg-freezing scenario), which, to speak as eloquently as I can on the subject: sucks ass.

Back to it not being something I give much thought to. Does that mean I *don’t* want to have kids??? I can’t tell you how many “NEED. BABY. NOW.” friends I have (though, I have just as many in my boat as well), and I’m just so curious to know what that feels like? Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like there’s this essential “womanly” part of you that somehow forgot to get hardwired.

But then you hear from the “one day it just turned on” people, which seems… plausible? Even my own boyfriend, who I shouted “DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD HAVE KIDS?” at in the middle of writing this with absolutely no accompanying context said for him it definitely became something he thought about more and more when he hit 32. Which begs the question: “Can ur girl bank on waiting for this ‘me want child’ lightbulb to flicker on? Is 32 too late? (This is me hint – begging for you to tell me that 32 is not too late.)”

But will it even? Will it just go off in my head and in my ovaries at some point? I’m like sitting in a packed lobby with a ticket number waiting for them to yell “NUMBER SEVEN!!!”

Do I see how I feel when It’s time to get my IUD out? I think I have like three years left idk. Oh also, shout out to the IUD for absolutely murdering your sex drive. Cool options women have: either probably get pregnant, or be “meh, whatever” about ever seeing a penis again in your life.

Let’s just ponder some things in the mind of a woman who doesn’t quite need to make a decision yet but is Thinking About Some Things:

Would not having kids be a relief? Would I get to do more? Experience more? LIVE more? Are all the moms reading this thinking “Having children is the most you could EVER live you young little silly thing?”

Would not having kids mean skipping out on a very particular and special dimension of life? Do I care? Would it mean getting pushed out of social circles I can no longer identify with? Would that kill me?

How will I keep the parts of me right now when I have the mom version of me take over?

Also! Also. The world, if you’ve had a chance to look around lately, is uh, a little bit of a hell hole, which you may or may not agree with depending on how sucked into your own personal bubble you are. And if you’re a climate change denier then I guess skip this part and look at a video of bunnies hopping over rainbows or something but like, do we REALLY know how much a kid born in 2025 is going to struggle with the given state of the planet? THESE ARE THE THINGS I THINK ABOUT.  People who feel inclined to tell me not to worry about this with all due respect, keep your fingers idle on that keyboard. Love you.

I also occasionally think about things like “Who will take care of me when I get older?” and then picture myself sitting alone in a nursing home and get too emotional to function but truthfully it’s really hard to grasp things that are so far into the future that they feel fake. Kind of like having kids. We’ve come full circle.

No okay for real: having kids sounds like one of the most wonderful, meaningful, “couldn’t imagine my life without this” parts of the human experience. I get that.

Much to my inner editor’s disdain, I don’t have a perfect bow to tie this article together with. It kind of just feels like a “Here Are My Thoughts And Feelings Please Tell Me If This Is Where You’re At” kind of piece. Kids just very fiercely seem like something that are part of other people’s lives. Something that exists for me in a different universe that is “My Future, Probably.” How is it ever a definitive decision you make one way or the other? Just kinda wondering if anyone out there in Internet Land feels the same way.

I’m thankful for the community we have here on Wit & Delight; a community where we can vent and talk and share advice and feelings. So please, weigh in. Just don’t tell me not to worry about climate change.

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screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-21-00-pmLiz Welle is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.

 

 

 

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  • I have so many thoughts. Bear with my swirling stream of consciousness.

    First of all: don’t let anyone tell you what your right experience is. The assumption is almost always “well of course you should have kids.” Whether it be hopeful grandmothers or moms who want to have shared experiences.

    And, yes, statistically it’s true that more people have kids than people who don’t. But don’t let statistics or other people’s feelings and opinions overwhelm you.

    Having kids isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. No other decision in your life will be longer-lasting.

    Other random thoughts:

    Being alone in a nursing home shouldn’t be a reason to have kids, IMO. Procreating simply for someone to take care of you is a trap. Lots of people who have kids are alone because our culture has shifted, and people move away, or they’re estranged, or whatever. On the flip side, if the only people visiting you in a nursing home are your kids and it’s only because you birthed them, something went wrong with your other human relationships (yes I KNOW this is mean, but I stand by it).

    Also. 32 isn’t too old to have kids. You have plenty of time to make a decision if today isn’t the day.

    Don’t think you’re defective because you don’t have the “OMG I need a baby right now” impulse. Some people never get it and decide not to have kids. Some people never get it and decide to have kids anyway. And some people get it later than they expect, and then decide to have kids. It’s your ride!

    • Kate is spot on. A couple of additional thoughts I’d add is deciding not to have kids can be a really lovely way to live your life, and choose your partner wisely. Pick someone you have an amazing connection with, not because they’d make a “great parent” – that relationship, ideally, should outlast your kids and will be the one you lean on after the kids are grown. The nursing home isn’t the only long view to take, and there’s a lot you can do to ensure you have a decent end of life that doesn’t require kids.

    • Kate. Thank you. You are a very wise semi-anonymous oracle who I now trust implicitly with my life? Extremely thankful that you took the time to write this.

  • Hi Liz!
    As a mom of 2 kids (at 34), the best way to quickly summarize having kids is: it’s equally wonderful as it is difficult. As a well educated woman in a major metropolitan area, most of your friends prob won’t have kids until their mid 30s. At that time, your social life will change dramatically because many of your friends will be home with their kids. But you will adjust and make new friends OR you’ll have kids and get a whole new mom posse and subsequent set of friends that revolves around nap time. Either way, life will change pretty dramatically in your 30s as it relates to small people entering your life. If you have kids know that there are great days and days you’ll cry fantasize about having all your time to yourself like you did at 27. xo and good luck.

    • Kate this is simultaneously comforting and terrifying (though all important life things probably are?) and I love you for writing it.

  • i was SURE i wanted kids in my 20s, then i got married, settled into my life and career, and now i have NO IDEA if i actually want them. i like my life as it is! but i’m sure i’d end up loving having a kid or two! (probably??????) thankfully my husband and i are on the same page, we’ll be happy either way. but, i just turned 37, so… somehow i need to figure it out soonish ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • I had my first child at 43. Naturally. One miscarriage before. No problems.
    When I was in my 20s, I was ambitious. I was pushed to have kids, but my then-husband was ambivalent, and I had no intention of doing the majority of the work. And I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. Eventually, I did want children, and I was almost ready to go it alone when I remarried at 41. I wish it had been a little earlier, because I would have liked to have had more than one.
    The good part about waiting is that I had a career, I traveled the world and I was satisfied that nothing was as special as my child. Among the parents of my kids’ friends–and I’m old enough to be the mother of many of them–I hear them feeling conflicted about work or childcare, feeling like their kids are a hurdle keeping them from doing interesting, exciting things. I suspect I would have been the same at that age.
    I also know people who had children because it was expected, because all their friends did, and they wanted to fit in. And they aren’t happy, their children aren’t happy. I have nothing but respect for those who say having kids isn’t for them. So much better than having kids and not giving them the love and attention they deserve.

  • Liz,
    I had the same exact thoughts in my late twenties. And like you, I knew many “gotta have babies now” friends. That made me question if I was “broken” in some way. It made sad for awhile because I felt like I was “behind” on some timeline that I forgot to review. But now at 34, I decided to not worry about this. I told myself if things line up that allow for a child to enter my life, then it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. However, the “things line up” part is where you decide the criteria to make it happen not society, peer pressure, etc. Don’t let this worry tangle yourself up.

  • I’m 28, in a very long-term relationship, and am in the exact same boat. I’m giving it another few years to ponder and am also hoping I become an overnight wannabe mom.

  • hey! 32 year old without my own kids here! I have two step-children (13 & 17) and while it has been extremely rewarding and I wouldn’t have my life any other way, it also had it’s challenges, as I know birthing my own child would come with. Our youngest will be an adult in 5 years and that means more alone time with my husband. To travel. To fix up our house. To see what life is like with a little more freedom. Since we got married two years ago we get asked a lot if we want to have more kids. The truth is, I still ponder if in the future i’ll regret not having my own, but the answer i give in the present moment is NO. And all the thoughts you mentioned are the exact same ones I have all the time. Thank you for bringing this topic up because sometimes I feel like an alien for not wanting to have a child. Granted, if my husband did not already have two, we probably would have had our own. So I just went full circle too, oh well.

    And, I’ve been back on birth control for 6 months now and the libido has absolutely been murdered. Why why why?!?!

  • I’m 33 and my husband and I are expecting our first baby in June. The decision to have kids is not one to take lightly, just like any other major decision you make in life. There is always something lost and something gained, and it’s not really possible to know in advance how big decisions like this will play out in your life. This article from Cheryl Strayed’s advice column has helped put the decision into perspective for me: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    • This was such a calming comment for me to read. Thank you. Also, have shared that article with like five people.

  • I (a 27 year old woman) LITERALLY could’ve written this post verbatim. The “Having Kids” scenario that actually gets me remotely excited by the prospect has been adoption. It’s eco-friendly and makes my heart fuller to consider than having biological children-like I’d feel more in communion with the world and the beautiful mess that it is. Thanks for writing this.

  • Liz, I came to W&D to see if you had anything new up (praise Jesus, you did), and lemme tell you, as a 27 year old, I HAVE ALL THESE FEELINGS!!! Literally, basically, same exact thoughts, about 1-7 times a week…I never babysat,I don’t particularly enjoy kids (which is changing, slowly…veeery slowly), and while the squishyness of a baby is soooorta growing on me, the poop, lack of $$, that tied down feeling (no more pizza runs at 1130pm? WHY?) isn’t. So, I HEAR YOU. so, so much. About the growing old/alone thing, about the ticking timer, about the state of the world…Do we start some sort of support group (ahem, brunch?) for the people who dont have child duties on the weekend? Im happy to know Im not heartless, Im not insane, and other people think similar things about the subject. Cause I just get a lot of midwest (bless their hearts) moms who say “you’ll change your mind in a few years” talk.
    As always, THANK YOU. You’re wonderful.

    • FIRST OF ALL THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Second of all we couldn’t be on more of the same page, so that makes me feel very extremely better.

  • You’ve got plenty of time. I just had my first child last year at 37 and didn’t feel like an old hag, even though the medical establishment terms it a “geriatric” pregnancy if you’re over 35! Take the time to adventure all you want (not that you have to end it once kids come around) and do what you feel like when you feel it.

  • Hi there! I’m a relatively new reader and couldn’t resist the urge to jump in here! I also could’ve written this when I was 27 (but not as well or as amusingly). My husband and I had our daughter when we were 32 after 13 years together, 4 of them married, and none of them feeling NEED BABY NOW. We were those people who got really nervous holding other people’s babies, had no idea what to do or say around little kids, etc. As 30 rolled around I remember really questioning whether we actually wanted kids or if we were just too lazy/conformist to resist the societal expectation to have kids. Then we started “not not trying” and here we are. My bits of wisdom are: 1) No amount of outside wisdom is going to be able to make the decision for you, but kudos for thinking about it in your fresh young 20s and inviting this input and discussion! 🙂 and 2) The cliche goes “there’s never a good time” but there are better times than others: when you’ve got a plan for how to fit kid(s) into the rest of your life, to give both you and the kid(s) the fairest chance at a good life. It’s worth it to sit down and do some practical assessment and planning: health, career, financial, relationship, housing, transportation, support from family and friends, etc. 3) Another cliche goes “having kids will change your life” and I can’t argue with that one! A lot of your post talks about you you you (not in a narcissistic way, just literally :D) but DO think about how this little person’s life is quickly going to eclipse a lot of your personal concerns. Your values and priorities will see some shifts, and will continue to change along the journey or raising a newborn vs. a toddler vs. a teenager, etc. Are you ready to go all-in? Or if you don’t know what that even means (as was my case), are you ready to go along with the uncertainty? 4) On the other hand, don’t let your parent identity completely eclipse your non-parent or overall identity. You can be a mom and also whoever you were/are/will be. It’s just a new chapter in your life, not a completely different book.

    • Love that last sentence! So comforting to read for someone with almost no mum friends to assure you this. I’m 32 and while I feel like „some time in the future I see myself having kids“, the „want baby now“ feeling probably won’t kick in for a few years (mainly fueled by the fear deciding for a baby would take away my entire pre-mom life).

  • I am also 27 years old and am COMPLETELY feeling this post!! It’s so true, the idea of having to think about thinking about having kids. The more I think about them, the more I’m not entirely sure I want them. I’d rather just have my upcoming 30s be free. But who knows if that light will turn on? I’ve never liked kids much, have never enjoyed babysitting (though I’ve done it for older kids and friends’ kids), and have never had that “motherly” side to me (unless it’s comes to my dogs). Thank you for this post. Glad to know there are other gals who get it.

  • Take a deep breath baby doll. At 27 you have plenty of time. Probably a decade before you need to actually get super concerned. Read some articles about the bullshit behind fertility research and you’ll quickly realize that it’s more bogus info aimed at controlling women.

    Could you hit 35 and be infertile? Sure. But plenty of women (including my mom and sister) have healthy babies 100% naturally into their late 30s and early 40s.

    At almost 33 and child-free, I can tell you that the best moment of my life was when I realized that I would be 100% as happy with an adopted child as I would be with a biological child. That frees me up to do whatever-the-fack I want for the next 7+ years. If I tried for a baby in my forties and couldn’t have one, I would feel just as fulfilled by adopting. If you’re super connected to the idea of bio children, then talk to your doctor and have your fertility tested every few years starting at 30.

    On a side note: I’ve been off birth control for the past 4 years and can’t recommend it enough. Natural family planning isn’t as mysterious or difficult as it might seem. The MyFlo app makes it pretty fool proof.

    Godspeed spring chicken.

  • Reading this felt like you took all the secrets in my head and put them out for the world to see. I always thought I’s start having kids at 28…no reason why, that’s just what I decided in my head. I got married at 22, finished my masters at 26, and turned 28 3 weeks ago and shit… here it is, and all I feel is stressed about the fact that I’m no way ready, and feel like my biological prime is sipping away.

    I don’t get what I’m missing. Why do I feel so apathetic. The more my friends have kids, the more I feel less ready myself.

    • You need to forgive yourself for not wanting to stick to your timeline!! That’s okay!! Maybe you’re trying to tell yourself something. You seem like you’re not ready right now and from what I’ve gathered from everyone’s advice that is MORE than fine and normal. <3

  • I think about this topic a LOT which is probably (definitely) overboard since I’m only 25. But it feels (and I sense you can related) like a really pressing decision nonetheless. If I’m going to have kids, I’d rather have them when I’m on the younger side. My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years now and are on track to do the whole death-til-us-part thing. Which means I could be married in 2-3 years. And once the ring is on the finger, I feel like the question of babies becomes A WHOLE LOT MORE PRESSING.

    I’m getting ahead of myself, I know. My mom calls it “borrowing trouble.”

    When I was younger, I didn’t question for a second that I wanted kids. Then I got into the groove of adulthood and started understanding the realities of having children – physically, financially, emotionally, career-wise, etc. A lot of it scares me! I’m ambitious; I don’t want having kids to hold me back in my career. I’m a hypochondriac; I’m scared to death of childbirth. And pregnancy for that matter.

    I was talking to an older coworker about it recently. She has two young kids but had them in her late-thirties. She’s glamorous and ambitious and cool af. She’s definitely not the “broody” type who had baby names picked out at 22. Her perspective was that, yeah, having kids comes with a lot of sacrifices and is really hard. But picture your life at 50 WITHOUT kids. Does it seem fulfilling? Like, yeah you can travel, you can afford nicer things, you have more independence and freedom. But is your life FULL? Like, on the days when you’re not traveling or exercising your independence, on just a normal average unremarkable day, does your gut tell you your life is full?

    For me the answer is no. Which is TOTALLY SCARY but basically I think it comes down to the fact that I had a great childhood and I want to replicate that in my own family. I also think my boyfriend and I would make really cute kids 😉

    Soooo in answer to your question: Hell yeah, us other mid-20-somethings are out here freaking out over Children Dilemma too.

    • Oh, also TOTALLY freaked out about bringing new humans into this dumpster fire of a future and leaving them there to deal or be destroyed by it. But if I think about that too hard I can’t even live MY OWN LIFE much less worry about hypothetical children. If we assume the world is spiraling out of control, how are we supposed to make ANY decisions required for building a personal future?

    • HOOOOOOOOOOOOO BABY all of this hit so close to home.

      I feel like I’m just going to chill for right now and see how I feel in five or so years. I mean like, it’s totally possible that I’ll one day turn 35 and be like “yep, let’s do this.” because that is ten years from now and we are constantly changing!!! Like think back to yourself at 15. How different were you then compared to now??

      We got this. <3

  • Ok, this post and all these comments make me want to cry. THANK YOU for writing all the thoughts in my brain that make me feel like I’m some monster who will die alone with no one to take care of her. (I’m not saying you’re a monster, you’re not, WE’RE NORMAL DAMN IT.)
    I’m 30, married, and have zero idea if children are in my future because, exactly as you said, I never think about them but constantly wonder if I should be thinking about them. I imagine my future life and I don’t think about looking in my rearview mirror at cute but filthy children that I adore, I think about sitting at the bar at Tilia with my husband and ordering that second bottle of wine on a Tuesday even though we know we shouldn’t. Can I have both of those things? I DON’T KNOW.
    And yes to all the rest of it! I wish I could safely wait until I’m 40! I never want to have sex (f u iud)! The world is scary! But I know kids would be kick ass!
    I also don’t have a bow to wrap this up. I’m just sitting around waiting (hoping?!) to one day wake up and want that cute but filthy face in my rearview mirror. Until then, though, a second bottle it is!

    • KATE OMG THE TILIA BOTTLE OF WINE EXAMPLE HIT VERY CLOSE TO HOME IN MY HEART. We’re feeling exactly the same. <3

  • All sorts of normal thoughts & worries here. I fall into camp “the world is literally melting and disintegrating and we do not need to make future food scarcity even worse yada yada yada.” But there are literally thousands of children waiting around, growing up without parents. And there is PLENTY of time to adopt! Some might say there is even a moral imperative to adopt if you’re looking to be a parent. Bonus: you never have to push an 8 pound human out of your body.

    • A VERY VERY TEMPTING BONUS. Honestly this post’s comments have made me so much more open to the idea of adoption.

  • Hi Liz,

    This post is eerie. And but that I mean it’s like you went inside my mind and wrote out every thought I’ve had about this topic in recent years. I’m 28, with no current boyfriend, and wondering if I’m going to be delayed on all the “things” i.e. marriage, kids etc. Therefore, this article is also so incredibly refreshing! I’m not the only one! Thanks for exploring topics close to home, not holding back on your thoughts and creating a space for like minded ladies to discuss.

  • Hi Liz– I’m 27 too, and I relate to a lot of this. The one big exception is that I have decided that I want kids. If I’m being honest, I think I always knew that, but I share some of the same fears you do (particularly about the environment and whether it’s selfish to bring kids into this world). I also wonder how I will get through pregnancy/breastfeeding without my antidepressants (that should be a future post on here!!).

    But the comment from Katie is what really resonated with me. If I think about myself at 50 years old and think about what would make me feel fulfilled… I highly doubt it’s going to be my professional success. Not that I don’t want that, but because I can already tell by the age of 27 that my work does not fuel me. It’s my relationships that do, and that’s why I’m pretty confident experiencing the relationship of a child is something I want out of this life. (Plus, I think my husband and I make a great partnership.)

    I wonder when the *right* time is to have kids ALL.THE.TIME. The truth for me is that my husband and I are really confident in our wants for kids, so we’ll probably have them younger than what I think is *best* from a financial / independence perspective because I’m scared of infertility (which, yes, I realize can happen at any age and also is not a good way to decide when you should have kids).

    Anyways, this post doesn’t really offer any answers to your questions, but perhaps is interesting to hear another perspective — that you can want kids, but also have anxiety about the future of the world / how it will affect your mental health / whether it is less selfish to adopt, etc.

    P.S. In the past few years I’ve met parents who have made it a priority to continue traveling after having kids (sometimes even bringing their child along). I know it’s different to travel with kids and it’s also a privileged thing to be able to do it, but I’m going to try my hardest to make that a reality for my husband and I.

  • RE: kids/no kids/birth control/planning, I’d love to see a post sharing helpful “tracking apps” like the Flo app, etc, so women know when they’re ovulating, whether they’re trying or not trying, as well as when to expect their periods. I had no idea apps like this existed and was so THRILLED to find out they did. I use my app religiously.

  • I love my kids. I was 23 when the first was born, 27 with the second one. They’re 19 and 15 now. It always amazed me how people seemed to think they had some right to know if I planned to have kids, how many, what I would name them, etc. Newsflash: if you’re not in my bedroom, it’s not your business!

    Anyway, it’s okay if you don’t know if you want kids. It’s okay if you don’t want kids at all. And a hell of a lot cheaper!

  • THIS.

    “Cool options women have: either probably get pregnant, or be “meh, whatever” about ever seeing a penis again in your life.”

  • If you’re looking for permission to not think about it, go for it. Embrace and love on yourself. There is something empowering about being a woman in your late 20’s and early 30’s you realize your worth and can enjoy your friends, work, and life. Does having kid(s) change things-sure. It changes everything and nothing at the same time. I’m 31 and have a 3 yr old and I’m selfish as ever. I’m also the most patient and giving I’ve ever been in my life. If you asked me yesterday if people should have kids I would have told you hell no! Tonight after having the sweetest cuddles I would tell you go for it. There’s no right answer- having kids changes your relationship with your work, your friends, and your life. I still don’t know if I want kids 😉 thank you for such a beautiful post it was a mirror of lot of conversations I have had with girl friends over the years.

  • I used to worry about the future of my children, but then I remembered how lucky the younger generations actually are. They get to be a part of an incredible technological wave, and out of big problems (i.e. climate change) come ingenuity and revolution. These kids get to go to Mars. And they will vote all the bad f&$%ers out of office, no doubt. Things might get worse, but it will get better because the human race has to survive, it’s what we do.

  • Oh girl, this is great and like many here it resonates deeply. I’m *still* in your boat at 35. I never say never but I have no real desire to have kids for many of the reasons you mentioned and then some. I also don’t put a ton of pressure on myself for not being like the others. I think about it, more often than I used to, but I always come back to the fact that I know myself as well as I can where I am in this time and space and I always manage to find my way, even through uncertainty and doubt. Maybe I’ll be more than a dog mom someday and maybe I won’t. I know I’ll be great either way. Thanks for writing. It was really helpful for me to see this in order to process some of the thoughts on this topic bouncing around my brain. ALSO, GTFO birth control. I’ve been off of it since 25 and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s not natural and fucks with our bodies in so many ways.

  • This is where I am at too. My partner and I had to repot the majority of our plants a few weekends ago and we looked at each other and decidedly said we weren’t ready for the puppy we’ve been talking about for 4 years -_- And as a climate change professional, you are totally legit in your concern for our planet (although I am still holding onto hope)!

  • I needed this article. Thank you! I just turned 36 last week, got married for the first time last October and while my husband and I openly discuss NOT having children, I still feel pressured by my family and my “having kids is the best thing in the world” friends (which I assume is just a front and that they’re not living in a real world, cause, like, how can it be SO GD EASY ALL THE TIME?!). Am I supposed to feel like less of an adult – no, less of a woman – because I just don’t think about children or having them? Man, what a time to be alive.

    Thank you for this, Liz (and the W&D team).

  • For me it was helpful to look at how I approach other big, personal life change decisions as well. Getting married is something a lot of my friends actively wanted, and while I did in a passive way, I never felt “ready” for that either – and that / he has turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

    So when baby talks came, and I again felt that passive “well sure, ONE day” feeling I didn’t feel like that meant I wasn’t ready. Many parent friends have told me they don’t ever feel ready anyway – even when they have the kid, they’re still guessing and just doing their best!

    The best advice I got was to think about the later life I wanted. How old did I see myself with kids still in the house (18-20 years old)? Did I want more young “free” years with my husband in our twenties and thirties or in our fifties and sixties? I also looked at my overall attitude towards kids…as the trajectory was positive (from 100% freaked out, to good for you not for me, to they’re not bad, to maybe this could be good one day) I felt pretty confident I wouldn’t regret it. The kicker was honestly when my close friends started having babies too…getting to go through the next phase of life together means the most and makes it all more fun. They have shown me the beauty in starting a family!

  • I don’t have answers for you, BUT! I’d love to share something a friend of a friend said that I think of often. “You’ll parent the way you live.” I find it soooo much less unnerving than imagining a stranger “mom me” taking over and creating some new life I don’t recognize. I’m pregnant with our second baby, and after almost 3 years with our first, I can say, I’m still me, this is still our life, I still run my business, we still value the same things, we still travel. Everything is a modified of course, but I really am parenting the way I live, there’s just an extra person in our family to include in that life.

  • Thank you so much for this post! It’s so heartening to know that someone else feels the same way, and reading all the encouraging comments have made me feel less alone in my thoughts on this (because much of society, at least the one I’m in, still thinks of a married couple having kids as a given). This topic is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. As a 31 year old who’s been married for 3 years, I feel like the pressure is on to start giving this some serious thought. Not that I haven’t been thinking about it, but my musings have been pretty much inconclusive because there are so many unknowns. For me the main issue is I’m very happy with my life as it is, and I’m not sure how having kids will affect that. Also I’m not too keen on the process of childbirth, tbh. I’ve also had thoughts about what life will be like when I’m old, but I don’t want to make a decision based on fear of regret. I guess I’m still figuring things out on this one, but I just wanted to say thank you for putting this article out there.

  • LIZ. Thank you for articulating my bundle of abstract kid feelings. I never know what to say to partners/friends/strangers when they bring it up as an inevitability, and I feel so weird saying “IDK?” Like, that isn’t healthy for my compulsive-planner brain. One thing I would add is an idea I constantly struggle with: raising children seems like SUCH a Big Deal that part of me thinks anything but “YES I ABSOLUTELY WOULD LOVE TO HAVE KIDS” is — or should be? — “No.” Which makes me kind of sad? Maybe that feeling should point me toward what might be my answer? IDK.

  • Don’t let the pessimistic attitude of our time cloud your hope for the future. Imagine being a parent in 1861 at the dawn of the civil war, or perhaps living on the frontier in the 1870’s. It looked like the end of humanity was on the horizon if you lived in western Europe during world war one. Despite the challenges we face, it’s important to remember what we have…and that is the greatest wealth, health, security, peace, and potential in all of human history.

  • You’ve tapped into my inner feelings on the subject and nailed them right on the head. Literally, every time I get asked the question, I’m just going to send people right on over to this post.

    Thank you for that 🙂

  • I’m 39 and pregnant (naturally) with my first child. I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids until I was 34 or 35. Keep doing what you love, and give yourself time to figure out the things you aren’t sure about yet.

  • I’m 27 and I have pretty much the same thoughts. I’ve been with my boyfriend almost 10 years now, and we always hear talks about kids. I was never a kids person, I don’t really find babies cute, my hearts melts with puppies and kittens. Truth is I wanted to have kids when I was younger but as I grow older I want them less and less. I feel kind of divided. For example, I would always dream of watching Disney movies with my kids and dressing up as characters or dressing my babies with rock band t-shirts. I still have these thoughts but my depression the last 2 years make me feel as if this time will never come. For the first time in my life I feel like I’ve finally started actually living and doing things and I want to spend some years doing the things I’v always dreamed about.

    I fear that if I have kids and things and somehow I don’t get to pursue my dreams I will end up not loving them as much as I should, or I would get super depressed with no idea how to come back from that. Or if I get depressed while my kids are young I will probably ruin them.

    My partner will probably want to have kids in 4-5 years and I have no idea how this will work out. It feels so weird hearing people talk about those that don’t want to have kids as if they’re weird, and here I am thinking that I have no idea when and if I will ever want them.

  • I feel kind of out of the loop here, because I was 18 when I firmly decided I never wanted to procreate. Pregnancy wreaks havoc on a person’s body, children are stinky, screaming little money-suckers, and then there’s a whole host of gender identity issues and hereditary illnesses on my end to think about….

    I turned 30 last year and I still don’t want kids. At least people have FINALLY stopped asking me when I’m gonna give my mom grandbabies. A decade of saying “never” has finally paid off!

  • This is the most relatable thing I have read on the internet in…ever? Thank you for saying all the things I’m too scared to admit to out loud but eat away at me all the time as a nearly 30-something. It’s tough. Thanks for not tying a bow around it, too. It’s just not that easy. Here’s to hoping the switch flips for us, one way or the other!

  • I’m also 27, in a long term relationship, and I can tell you that I feel exactly all of these feelings as well. It’s something I think about all the time, and based on these comments, we are not alone!

  • I have a lot of thoughts about all of this! I am 38. My husband and I have always known we wanted kids, and I would have loved to have kids young, but I didn’t meet him till I was 33. We started trying to get pregnant at 35, which I think was about as soon after being with him that I felt comfortable making a commitment of having a kid together! Sadly, we have not had any luck. Not a single positive pregnancy test. We never thought we’d be in this boat but we’ve been working with a fertility clinic since October and just did our first round of IVF, and yes it was $14,000 out of pocket and we don’t know if it worked yet. So, realistically: You’re not too old yet, but there is a limit to how long you should defer the decision. 32 is probably a reasonable time frame 🙂 Just in the hopes others won’t have to go through what we’re going through, I would not wait till 35 or later, there’s a huge drop-off in fertility at that point.

    We also worry about the eco-impact of having our own kid. I feel selfish going to such lengths to get pregnant with my own biological child, but it’s been my dream for so long that I’ve made peace with the decision to try. If IVF doesn’t work after a couple rounds, we will look toward adoption instead 🙂

  • With motherhood, there are always two warring sides. There’s You you and Mom you.

    I got pregnant for the first time at 27 but I knew knew KNEW I wanted kids. The thing is, you’ll never be 100% ready, but I think you need to know for sure it’s something you want to do. I can’t really decide if 27 is too young or too old (well, it’s not too old) to have kids. I started at that age because I felt that my career was in a good place and I want to have a few kids while I’m still young-ish. This is something I KNEW I wanted, and my partner felt the same.

    One thing I hear a lot from other women my (our) age is that they feel they can’t even take care of themselves, let alone a tiny helpless human. Well lemme tell ya, you just might take care of yourself even less once that tiny human comes around. But you somehow do it, without realizing how or why you are doing it. You don’t have a choice to do it. You just have to.

    Would not having kids be a relief? Maybe. Would you get to do more? Maybe. Experience more? Maybe. LIVE more? Maybe.

    You can do a lot without kids, and you can do a lot with kids. Some of those things intersect (like, you can do a trip to Europe with kids), but everything else is fundamentally different. I loved the life I had before, when I didn’t have to plan out 10 things in advance to do anything, but I love the endless possibilities it feels like my life has now.

    And then…. How do you keep the parts of you right now? If you find out, let me know. Some parts of yourself you lose forever, but you will get new parts, and you might stop being YOU for a while. Motherhood is a brutal, beautiful journey, and I can’t stress enough how hard it is. Probably wouldn’t even be able to get you to understand. You simply have to experience it to know. But do I love my kid? Yes, I love him a million times more than I’ve ever loved anything. Had I not had him though, I think I still would’ve gone about my life just fine.

  • You have plenty of time at 27! I’m a complete believer in things taking their natural course.

    I’m 35 and unmarried. In a healthy (albeit new) relationship with a man who’s pretty scarred from past relationships and pretty not into having kids. I’m not NOT into having them, but I’m very ambivalent.

    So yeah, never thought I’d have to choose man or kid, but it looks like that may be what I’m doing in the future.

    Open to other insightful reader thoughts. 🙂

  • No! I didn’t meet my now husband until late in year 27 of life. And I was so unsure about if I wanted kids (full disclosure: I now have a 0 year old) I’ll be honest: I’m glad I did but I also think this has been the hardest year of my life. Enjoy the not having of kids! We did: traveled all over A LOT, enjoyed all that comes with a childless life and I still wish I had like a little longer alone with my husband?! But also it’s true that your obsession for your own child is this insane thing I could never have understood until I met that little human. I wouldn’t trade him for a billion dollars. (Which seems insane! I mean a BILLION dollars? I could probably clone like ten of him for that right?) but it’s true. I’m so happy he exists! But I also think I could have this other version of life where I never had a baby, I just traveled and read and did amazing grown up things my whole life and that I would have been content with that life. I once went to the Isle of Skye in Scotland and it was dreamy and perfect and incredible and I can’t wait to go back… but if I had never gone there and had gone somewhere else, I wouldn’t have that connection with that place and also I might just be obsessed with a completely other place that I visited. By that I mean: if you ever have a child you will be infatuated and in love with that human, but if you never have a child: you’ll have a great life too! Like OPRAH!

  • I’m really happy you wrote this, although I’m not sure it’s helped me at all. And that’s because i don’t think anyone else can help me figure out how to be comfortable in this decision. I’m 29, about to be 30, and have already agreed to start trying to have kids with my husband in the fall. But even making that agreement left my stomach in knots. We were supposed to start trying this summer, but when my husband asked me if I was ready, and I answered honestly – hell no – we agreed to see enjoy the summer to ourselves. My husband is *so ready* to be a father. So ready that I can’t even believe it. He’s literally the only person I know that’s *ready*. And i think it’s because he’s 5 years older. None, I repeat, NONE of my friends want to have kids yet. And they are all around 30. Even the girl in college who was basically our mom doesn’t want kids yet, because she’s not ready to accept the changes they bring. And neither am I. Some of my husband’s friends already have kids (and are older),and they always advise to wait wait wait. My husband brushes this off, because he wants a family. To say that I love kids is an understatement, I’m the one whose hanging out and playing with them at a party or watching a movie with them. But those kids aren’t my responsibility. I guess I am just worried that my life as I know it will be over. And that’s selfish, and I know it. But the last thing I want is to resent my kids.

  • I.feel.this. It freaks me out how one day I’m like never in a million years and then the next I’m literally buying a bbt thermometer because maybe I should at least get a handle on my fertility? The contents of my medicine cabinet are a perfect illustration of my brain: a box of condoms next to a box of ovulation tests. 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🤷🏻‍♀️ ❤️Love you, Liz.

  • I don’t have kids and want them. But I don’t want kids in an “i’m absolutely sure and i’d kill for it” kind of way. Mostly I’m at the point where Im really sick of thinking about myself (i’m 31) and want to see what it’s like to fall deeply into caring for another living thing. I struggle with anxiety and feel like I can’t escape my own swirling thoughts a lot of the time, but I know that a useful way for me to understand the my own experience is to try explaining it to others (ahem: a child!).

    I go back and forth all the time about whether or not I’ll miss my “former life” and whether i’ll suck at it and whether my husband and i will want to kill each other from the stress, but ultimately, the thing that makes me hashtag WANT kids is this challenge of explaining life to them.

    I dunno. It’s so personal! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! it’s so important and comforting and helpful to talk about these things. XO

  • Omg your post was like reading exactly what’s been going through my 12 year married 32 year old brain daily. I was raised you marry and have kids. My mom pushed my career minded sister Into having both of her girls. Yes she loves them dearly as do I but glad when they leave and I have peace again. She has said more than once to me must be nice to have your own time. I wrestle with the imbedded you have to have kids soon or eggs will be old and the I’m happy in my life with husband and dogs that I treat as kids! So I’m right there with y’all!