Let's Talk: To have or to not have kids?

Let's Talk: To have or to not have kids? — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Growing up, I pictured that my life would go according to the "perfect" plan: I'd graduate high school, go to college (I don't remember thinking much about grad school, but once I got to high school I knew that was a strong possibility), start a career, find my partner in life, get married, and have kids. I thought that it would all happen for me in that exact order. Fast forward a good 10-20 years, and here I am: done with school after finishing my PhD two years ago, almost two years into my job, closing in on the big “dirty 30” birthday, living with my boyfriend of nearly three years, and trying to save for our future while also paying down debt and living our lives.

For the past couple of years, as I inch closer to turning 30, I’ve thought about whether or not kids are in my future. Even though Korri and I know of multiple people our age that have gotten married and/or had at least one kid, not everyone has had a kid, and we aren’t so sure if we want to have kids of our own. We joke about how one or the other would act if we were a parent in certain situations, but when I ask Korri if he wants kids or when he asks me if I want kids, the answer is always: “I don’t know.”

I’ve already gotten the nudges from my parents about kids. I’m the oldest out of my siblings (besides my step-siblings), so of course I hear the most from my parents about how much they want to be grandparents. (Luckily for me, a couple of my step-siblings have had kids so my mom and step dad are already doing the grandparent thing.) It’s weird to think that at my current age, my parents had two toddlers running around. I couldn’t imagine having any kids right now!

Here’s what’s keeping me from wanting to have kids, in no particular order.

  1. Kids are expensive. Between paying for prenatal care, giving birth (barring no complications), buying necessities, and childcare…it’s unreal how much is spent on kids. We have a decent household income but it still doesn’t seem like we make enough to stay debt-free and also have kids. (We’re not debt-free now but working on paying off our student loans and cars.) I’d also love to be in a position financially for one of us to not have to work.

  2. I don’t have maternity leave. Since the U.S. is so great, there is no guaranteed maternity or paternity leave (/sarcasm). The only way I can be on maternity leave and get paid is to save up all of my sick and vacation leave. I can take up to I think 3, possibly 6 months of unpaid leave after using my paid leave and still keep my job. I’m pretty adamant about wanting to take at least a year off which would require quitting my current job, unless I manage to save enough time off…and that would take years at this rate.

  3. I like being able to do what I want, when I want. Spontaneous trips to watch our favorite teams or attend concerts (see: recent trips to Oregon and Washington)? Yeah, not likely to happen with a kid around. We wouldn’t be traveling as much (if at all), and we wouldn’t have as much (if any) money to spend on things we like.

  4. I like sleep and staying healthy. After watching multiple people go through having their first kid, there seems to be one common theme: lack of sleep. I already have a terrible sleep schedule which would be exacerbated by having a kid. Also, kids get sick. A lot. Especially when they are in daycare and in school around other kids. (On a related note, throwing up is one of my worst fears, and I know I would’t be able to handle it if my kid was throwing up…and Korri is extremely sensitive to smells…so that combination isn’t exactly ideal. Ha.)

  5. I don’t want to bring a life into the world we live in right now. Mostly, it’s hard to want to raise a kid here in the U.S. between the school shootings and the issues women deal with every day (see: #metoo) and the countless other issues plaguing our society. The problem is that the majority of my family is here in the U.S. and likely won’t be moving elsewhere anytime soon. Besides, there’s also the broader conversations about overpopulation and climate change. Do I want to have kids just so they can suffer from the effects of climate change? Not really. My hypothetical kids don’t deserve to inherit our world as it is right now.

My thoughts are echoed in this article via Medium and this article via NPR, and I found many more when doing a quick Google search about the the declining birth rate worldwide.

Is it selfish of me to not want kids? Maybe so, but it’s also my life (and Korri’s life) that’s directly affected if I get pregnant. I want to want to have kids, and right now I’m just not there. I can honestly only think of one pro to having kids: the built-in best friend factor. I think it’d be cool to have kids—if they were adults and you could hang out with them like you would other adults. It’s probably really cool to watch them grow up, but it’s the years 0-18 aspect of it all that I’m not super thrilled about.

It’s weird because after growing up with siblings and helping raise my youngest brothers, I assumed I would eventually have kids. Even though I cried when my youngest brother was born because I wanted a sister, I loved having my brothers around! Of course, if I did happen to get pregnant, we would figure out how to do the parenting thing. And I’m also not totally opposed to adopting, though that comes with its own set of challenges. I’ve even thought about how we could host an exchange student.

Kids are so ingrained in our society that it’s not a topic that’s talked about often besides the common, “So, when are you having kids?” question that every couple hears. I’d love to hear (read) your thoughts on the kids vs. no kids topic, whether or not you currently have kids or if you’re planning to (or not planning to) have kids!