Growing up, I always envisioned having kids someday. But when I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant at 22, my life was forever changed. I had finally found something that touched me on the deepest levels of my soul. Motherhood tempered my fear of vulnerability. Sure, I was still afraid of letting other people in, but not my baby. He was my everything. Three and a half years later, I had my second child and, oh my goodness, was I in for a painful awakening. Being needed by two people, pouring every ounce of my heart, body, and time into two little humans, was exhausting. I spent almost my entire 20s raising infants into toddlers into preschoolers into big kids. Those years took all of me, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
But having the "kids" conversation with my peers has been unexpectedly challenging.
Now, I'm in my early 30s. I have an 8 year old. (How can that be?!) I've also become single again, possibly because when I turned 30, I realized I had no idea who I was, who I wanted to be, or what I enjoyed. So I quit everything to take the time to rediscover myself after giving all of me away for so long. As I navigate singlehood, I'm encountering a situation that I wasn't quite expecting. When I was younger, it seemed that everyone got married and had babies in their early to mid-20s. Now, it seems like no one I know has kids yet and is planning on having them in their 30s. And to be frank, I sure as hell am not one of those people. I completely respect people who choose to wait. In fact, I probably would have waited, too, if back then I was the person that I am today. But having the "kids" conversation with my peers has been unexpectedly challenging.
The reality is, I don't want any more kids. I love the ones I've got so much that it physically hurts at times. But my body has been through two pregnancies. Two recoveries. Two experiences where my life came to a standstill while my kids moved through the beautiful process of growing up. I will never regret those experiences, but I'm going to pass on having them again. I've had potential partners say that I'll change my mind. They insist that because they want kids and want to be with me, I'll eventually be ready to have more . . . what an assumption. No one should feel pressured to have or not have kids because of what someone else thinks they should do.
Navigating relationships with such a deal-breaker type of scenario is such a different experience from dating in my 20s, when having kids in the future just seemed to be a given. Now it's essential to filter through these questions before ever moving beyond a first date with someone. Knowing that I don't want any more kids is so freeing because I can dedicate my time to my own pursuits. I have a chance to show my kids what chasing your dreams and passions and excitements looks like. And while I'm thankful for what the sleepless nights and milk-soaked shirts brought me, I'm also pretty glad I don't have to go back to them. I'd rather cherish the memories I already have.