Children aren’t the “next step” for everyone.

I’ve reached the age where a lot of people I know are getting married and having kids.

Many people believe that the ideal way to live your life is to follow the American dream. Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Settle in the suburbs. Have kids. Your life path has a trajectory that you can’t change, nor should you want to based on societal norms. I fully support those who actually wants to do this, but I don’t think that everyone should.

Three of my coworkers are married men under 40. Until last week, only one of them was a dad. However, another became a dad to a little baby girl. During his wife’s pregnancy, the dads in the office joked with him about the “joys” of fatherhood.

“You won’t sleep for two years.”

“Baby spit-up will stain all of your favorite shirts.”

“Pray that you don’t drop the baby first, or you’ll hear about it for the rest of your life.”

I’ve seen too many people have kids because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. My friend Angela is my only close friend who’s a mom. (She’s the only one who should be a mom at this point in our lives.) Between everything Ange has told me and Dean’s blog, it’s evident that parenthood is rewarding, yet hard work. Ange is a nurturing person who has always been great with kids. Dean’s blog showcases the highs, lows, and magical moments with her toddler. Ange and Dean make raising their daughters seem easier than it is.

None of my male coworkers have said that they had kids because they wanted to — most of them indicated that they were going along with what their wives wanted. According to them, their wives wanted to have kids once their friends started having kids. I cringe at the thought of babies as accessories — “I want one because my friends have one.”

There are also the parents who hate how “expensive” kids are. There are the parents who complain that they have to go to Little League games and dance recitals. My boss will stay at the office until he knows that his kids are in bed, so he won’t have to play with them.

Why do those people have children? Their kids grow up knowing that their parents resent them. Those parents feel unfulfilled because they consider their children to be shackles. These people should have figured out that their ideal life didn’t include milestones that society determined.

If (when) the day comes that I get to be a mom, I’m going to remember this list — the promises I made to my future daughter. I want to have kids someday. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the childless life. I’m not racing to the “next steps.” Those will come when the time is right — when we’re ready.

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