You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni

Motherhood: I love this choice

When my sisters and I sat down and decided to honor motherhood this week, I have to admit I experienced a fair amount of anxiety about my post.

I didn’t know if I should write about what motherhood means to me because of the amazing examples in my life, if I should write about the part of me that as a woman, I’m not quite sure I have what it takes to be a mother, or if I should draw from my experience as a step-mama.

I decided to write from my heart.

Motherhood to me is a choice. It’s not a must-have right of passage because society deems it to be the way it is supposed to be, it is a choice. It is the conscious and sub-conscious choosing, every day from the day you decide to create life, until your last breath, to often put another’s needs, wants and desires before your own. It is a choice I wish more women would be more conscious of making. It is a choice I wish some women would realize they are allowed to choose not to make without fear or judgement – at least they should be. I love this choice.

Sometimes the children you choose to mother are not yours by birth-right, but are brought into your life because little did you know just how much you needed them. And sometimes you get to be the person they need. That’s the choice I made. It’s not to say that I won’t one day have a baby of my own, but for now, helping to raise Michael’s children is the right choice for me. Hearing M introduce me to her new host-family via Skype as her “mere”, the “I love you” I get unprompted from J when we’re dropping him off after our weekend together, lets me know that while I am not a necessity in their lives, I am wanted, loved and appreciated by them. I love this choice.

M, myself and J ♥

M, myself and J ♥

Sometimes the mothering we choose to do is for our siblings or our sibling’s children. These past few months I have caught myself on a few occasions mothering my big sister – standing up for her when she couldn’t do it herself, sending her for naps and time outs when I could see on her face she so desperately needed one, making sure she said “no” to people when she could not handle another responsibility being put on her and sometimes even refusing to let her handle the tough stuff on any given day. I love this choice.

Sometimes the only comfort good enough in the world is that of our own maternal mama. To this day, telling my mother about something that is hurting me, something I’m facing that is hard or even telling her I got a speeding ticket, can be the biggest release of emotion of all – even a week later when the wounds are not as fresh. There is something about the way my mom comforts me that gives my must-always-have-your-shit-together-self the permission I need to let go and let it all out. Sometimes I even choose not to be fully open about my heartaches to anyone but my mama. I love this choice.

Sometimes the mother we choose is our sisters. Recently, I received some news that personally reminded me of my own heartache I had been facing. Thankfully, my sisters were not far away. In minutes I found myself on Julia’s couch with a tissue box in my lap, earnestly being reminded that what I was feeling was not, as I had repeatedly referred to it, “stupid”, but completely relevant, real and appropriate. A tea, some more tears and a piece of Julia-baked cake later and my heart was reminded why God had chosen these beautiful women as my siblings and why life chose them as my best friends. I love this choice.

I love this choice!

I love this choice!

To all of the mamas out there: I choose to admire you, honor you (not just on the second Sunday of May), and be in awe of you. Your courage, strength, grace and wisdom are breathtaking. I love this choice.

~ Toni