When I was 16, my older sister gave birth to my niece, who passed away recently, and I was over joyed to be an auntie. I am from one of the Caribbean Islands so it is not uncommon for families to live close to each other or live together in a large home. In this situation, we lived at the same residence. When my older sister went back to work, I, a recent high school graduate with no job, became the auntie and full-time babysitter for over 1yr of her life. This was my first close encounter of the parenting kind.
The things I discovered was a baby is cute, smells good, and needs to be protected. The other things I discovered was that a baby/toddler is demanding, needs constant supervision and can be extremely annoying and exhausting. As soon as my sister got home each day, I was waiting at the door with her bundle of joy because I needed a long break. Years later, I did the same thing for another sister during my between college take-a-break transition period. So, I have empathy for stay-at-home mothers and fathers.
Being the youngest child, with many siblings and therefore many nieces and nephews of varying ages, I have had a wealth of experience with kids that most parents have yet to encounter. I used to work in a child behavioral health clinic for a number of years which showed me the not so sweet side of children and bad parenting. I seem to have been saturated with all things children for most of my life. I should have been overjoyed at wanting my own little blessing. On the contrary, I decided during my early teens that I never voluntarily wanted to be pregnant and gave birth to anything. At one point in my life, I thought adopting was a good idea because there are so many children who could use a good home and I also knew that I would be a good mother if the opportunity every arises.
However, at the age of 40, I still do not want kids. This was clearly re-enforced a few days ago at a family event in which 3 people I knew had kids under 2y/o. Again, they are cute, they are funny, they are a blessing but they are annoying and exhausting over an extended period of time. I had to briefly watch two of those munchkins while Elmo was playing on the computer screen. After 15 minutes, I was anxious for the parents to come get their little blessings so I could enjoy some adult time.
I am very happy for the families or singles who choose to be parents. It is hard work and one of the most important tasks to choose in life. However, children are not for everyone. Those of us who know what we don’t want are perfectly happy with that choice. Yet, those with kids seem to feel the need to dictate to others about their reproductive rights. I witnessed an uncomfortable conversation in which a friend who has one 2y/o was being told she needs to have another because the child needs a sibling. I know people are not intentionally trying to be rude but there is a prevailing idea that ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander.’
Kids are life altering. Unless you have a 24/7 nanny or you are a bad neglectful parent, then the burden of responsibility is always on the parent to take care of your child/ren. This is not a burden that everyone wants or is suited to handle. Those little buggers demand your attention, energy, sleep time, constant direction and instruction, you as an adult who knows children shows and songs by heart, they can be frustrating, irritating, and aggravating. They are sweet and sour all wrapped up in one cute body. A parent made a bargain to take on the good and cute with the bad and smelly when it comes to parenting. That is your choice! So, while a child is a wonderful blessing, it is a choice that some made and others rejected.