You don't need to have children to be successful, but gender roles and societal expectations are awful.
Just ask any woman you know: Chances are she's been poked and prodded and interrogated over her decision not to have children.
But life goes on and it's full of surprises, as we were so kindly reminded after Redditor Tera711 asked the online community:
"I'm the daughter..."Giphy
I'm the daughter of a mother who didn't really want kids or think she'd have them due to the possibility of an inherited disability. Long story short my parents saw a geneticist who said as long as they had kids before a certain age the risk was lower so they went ahead and had my sister and I as my Dad did want kids (although to be honest he just liked the idea of kids rather than the actual raising & responsibility of them). My mum used to tell me she felt cheated having us as we didn't fit into her plans or have the same interests as her.
I think that people need to realise that the kids have no choice in this matter once they are born and I hate that my relationship with my parents is so poor because we weren't really wanted.
"I didn't want kids..."
I didn't want kids, my ex husband did. We had 2. He asked for a divorce 8 months into my second pregnancy. It's way harder than I ever thought it would be. And I love my kids, I couldn't imagine my life without them now. But I still dream about what I wanted to be doing.. or how I can do something with small humans. It slowed down my career, it put major investment opportunities in hold. The sacrifice is underrepresented, far more than I could ever tell you. It's not the worst, worst thing. But if you don't want kids, don't change your mind for someone else.
"I love them as people..."Giphy
Oh, not good.
I love them as people, they are my family, they will have happy lives and I will protect them to the death...but I don't enjoy being a mother. I don't identify with it. I have to make sure I have a significant sense of self in my life outside of my time with them. I was young, and think I wanted the experience of being pregnant without what came next.
This is compounded by having two children with special needs, no doubt. When circumstances collide... I have to say no to a work trip, childcare falls through, etc, the sense of sadness and panic of the reality of being tethered to this role, forever, is... Overwhelming.
"And I'm so happy..."
Was always very firm I didn't want children. Not maternal at all. Got pregnant at 21 and had a daughter. I love her more than anything and I think I'm a good mum, but I don't think my life is somehow magically better for having her. I think I would have been equally happy without her. And I'm so happy that now she's 11, my time of active parenting is getting less. I will absolutely never have any more... I'm old enough to recognise I'm too selfish now. My views may be skewed because I've done it all alone, and that's not something I'd ever risk again.
"I always said..."
I always said I never wanted kids, but my husband and I decided to have one. I only said yes because he's the only person I could imagine doing that with and I honestly believed if I didn't, I would regret it when I was older.
Our daughter is almost 3 now and I had no idea I could love, and hate someone so much in my life. No matter how hard days have been with her (she's strong willed and hell bent all the time and is pretty much allergic to sleep), I have small moments with her that make my entire soul happy.
I hate having to live so much of my life for her because it can be overwhelming at times, but I never feel like I regret it. I literally cannot imagine what life would be without feeling her fall asleep in my arms, or seeing her face when she wakes up and sees me, or when she just kisses me and tells me she loves me for no reason.
I'm not a helicopter parent, I likely let her get away with too much, but she's a sweet kid who wants to take care of everyone around her, who just happens to have a raging attitude just like me.
10/10 would do again if I went back in time.
"A year later..."Giphy
I originally DID want kids. But then I had a nephew and decided I didn't want to be a mom. Being an aunt better suited me and I was totally in love with being one.
A year later I found myself pregnant unexpectedly. My birth control failed and my boyfriend and I had only been together for a couple of months. It was a whirlwind of emotions. But now we are a very happy little family living under one roof with our nine month old.
She is SOMETHING ELSE sometimes. She was an incredibly difficult baby- nothing like my nephew. I admit, there are times when I resent her and I feel like she's taking too much from me. But I can't imagine life without her now. And my boyfriend, who never wanted kids, is smitten with her. He texted me this morning "she sure grows on ya, doesn't she?"
"I didn't want..."
I didn't want to have kids even after meeting my ex husband. He had a daughter and even though I grew to love her I was terrified of the lifelong responsibility but getting to know my SD made me want a little one on my own. I have two now, 9 and 5 and another one on the way with my new partner.
Piece of advice though, which I noticed a lot of people do, my ex husband urged me to stay together for the kids so they wouldn't have to deal with a broken family, never have and/or stay with a partner because of your kids, with having them you have to sacrifice some parts of yourself but definitely not that. Children are ungrateful and they leave in the end, give to them as much as you can without sacrificing yourself too much. We are important too.
"I am now divorced..."
I know having kids was absolutely not for me. I always said I never wanted kids, but the guy I married did. Everyone told me how I would change my mind and how I would fall absolutely in love once I had one. So I ignored my instincts and trusted everyone else and had a kid.
I am now divorced and share custody of my son. If I'm being honest, the shared custody is what keeps me sane. I could not do this everyday. Being a mom, especially to a baby or toddler, is pure hell. I don't know why anyone would sign up for that, like ever. Don't even get me started on how people have more than one?!
But the silver lining is, it does get better as they get older. It gets easier. And honestly, everything everyone said is true. I love my kid more than life itself. I would do anything to make him happy. I love him more than I love myself. Still doesn't make me love being a mom though.
"I would have been better off..."Giphy
Not good. I had a lot of regret and rage for years. I don't recommend it if you're not 100%, or close to it.
I would have been better off never having had a kid. I dealt with it the best I could, because there's no going back and why make the kid suffer too.
"I met my wife..."
I didn't want any. I now have 5.
I met my wife and she had one. The kid was cool and I figured we could do one more and I liked the idea of pregnancy. Then we adopted two siblings. Then we got a call about another baby in need of a home.
I mostly didn't want kids because I accepted it wasn't going to happen. I'm glad it did.
"I was on the fence..."
I was on the fence, leaning towards not having them.
He's the best part of my life. It's hard and frustrating and exhausting sometimes, but so worth it. He's only 6 months old and I can't imagine not having him, he made our little family complete and I'm so excited for the adventures we're going to have. I am so, so, so glad we had him and have not regretted my decision for a second.
We got really lucky to have a "unicorn baby"- he sleeps well, is perfectly healthy, and very rarely fusses or cries. I think his disposition has gone a long way in helping me enjoy parenthood, but I'd love the shit out of him either way.
But I also don't think I'd have regretted not having kids. I can't imagine life without him now, but I think i could've been perfectly happy and fulfilled being childfree too.
"I did not want kids..."Giphy
I did not want kids, got pregnant at 17. Mother at 18. Stepmother at 38. So, now have two fully grown adult children. One married, one in college. I don't regret it as in, I LOVE both of them.
However, if I had it to do over again, I would make different life choices. That's the thing, right? We have this capacity to find the good and make the best of any situation even if it wasn't our first choice. But knowing what I have, I wouldn't give it up. If I had a do-over and got pregnant/didn't abort, I still would have kept the baby rather than adopt. But, if the do-over allowed me to NOT get pregnant, I'd choose that. It was really difficult for so many reasons.
All of that said, I've never been happier than I am now. My husband and I moved across the country, finally bought a house, and are both where we want to be. It took a lifetime, literally... but I'm finally here and finally at peace.
Having children is difficult under the best of circumstances. I feel that it was made easier for me for a lot of reasons. I had good family support. And having one "kid" at a time made things much easier. I knew my stepchild since birth but did not live w/get married to their father until they were in middle school. So, I didn't have to really do two "babies."
When I got married, my in-laws started in with the "when are you having a baby!?" stuff and I firmly said NO. Only pets from here on out. Truthfully, getting pregnant is one of my biggest fears. At this point in my life, I would be literally DEVASTATED to have to go through it all again. It's sort of up there with being buried alive. But I don't hate kids. I find other people's children to often be a wonderful source of joy. It's just not for me. I'm very happy being an aunt to 8.
"She developed some severe behavior issues..."
Sometimes yes and others not. Kid's dad ended up being basically useless, though I chalk that up to me being young and dumb and making a young dumb choice. She is wonderful. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 11 and it's not fully controlled so that's been hard. Luckily she doesn't have too many of the big kinds of seizures. She developed some severe behavior issues in adolescence and is now 16 and was just diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the all girls residential psychiatric facility (think pool, chef, etc) I checked her in to to get her. I love her so so much. I am also terrified of when she comes home that she will upend my life again. It's finally been a quiet, stable six weeks with no surprises happening except one, and someone else handled that. I don't want her back. Not like this. Only because I can't handle it. I literally cannot work because of the impacts on me and there's no one to support me. I'm fucked, at least for a while. There are many wonderful days I've thought to myself how glad I am I had her, and others (even more recently) where I regret ever having a kid.
It's such a roll of the dice and you've no control over what you get. I don't think most people ask themselves if they're ready for these kinds of tragic and difficult situations - disease? Disability? Personality disorder? Illness? Something that makes them be a caregiver for the rest of their lives?
"I never wanted kids..."
I never wanted kids, but here I am with a 4 month old. I got pregnant, and everything inside me screamed not to abort. I had a fear of giving birth, it was actually my main reason for not wanting kids of my own, I didn't want to give vaginal birth. But I did. All the midwives and doctors told me it would be ok, my downstairs would return to normal. It might be, but this feeling I'm stuck with. I feel like I'm less worth as a person.
I love my baby, I'm glad I had him, because a world without him would be worse. He is such a happy baby, he constantly smiles and laughs and "talks". But I had him at the cost of being okay with myself.
"I was so sick."Giphy
I didn't want children, and I got pregnant not long after my first year of marriage. I was careful with my birth control, but I learned later that my migraine medication lowered the effectiveness of the pill.
I was so sick. I had to be put on special medication to stop me from throwing up, as I was vomiting upwards of 9 times a day. I couldn't eat anything. I wasn't sleeping, my headaches were awful since I couldn't take my medication. I'm a special education teacher, and someone always had to be covering my room so I could leave and throw up.
About since six months in we learned I had pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was just out of control and some of my organs were starting to struggle. I was put on bed rest for a month and my mom had to come stay with me so my husband could continue working. He was calling every hour to check on me, and I was scared and still getting sick.
I was induced a month early, and I truly don't remember much. They over estimated how much anti-seizure medication I would need and I was confused and disoriented for most of the day.
I absolutely had PPD afterwards. I just shut down. I took care of our son, and that was it. I never neglected him, or was unkind to him, I fed him, changed him, rocked him, even sang and cuddled him, but I didn't care. My body was going through the actions and my mind was somewhere else. I would stand in the shower for hours and cry until the water was cold enough that it hurt to breathe. I would just sit and stare out the window or lay down in bed and look at a book without turning the page. I wasn't existing. I didn't talk to my friends or my husband. I didn't do anything. I scared my husband to death. I thought a lot about how easy it would be to drive my car into a tree or off a bridge. To take too many painkillers or leave the car on in the garage. I didn't want to be here anymore.
We couldn't afford for me to go to a therapist, and I never let anything out to let my husband know how bad I was spiraling. I don't know what got me out of it. Time, I guess. Rhythm, having a pattern that I followed everyday. My son getting older and gaining a personality. The consistency of my husband.
I learned my lesson though. When my son was two, I had had an IUD in since he was born. My husband had a vasectomy scheduled. And I had that same feeling, and I just knew. I took a pregnancy test, and I was pregnant again. I didn't sleep until I had an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
I was only five weeks along, but terminating the pregnancy was the beat decision I could have made. I know in my heart that if I would have kept it, and gone through another 8 months, I would have killed myself before it was over. I just couldn't do it again.
I love my son, he is three, hilarious, smart, and very very kind. He looks like his dad and his best friend is my mom. He loves our cat more than anyone and when he grows up he wants to be Elasti-girl from the Incredibles. He demands cuddles and we read a pile of books every night. He tells me I'm his princess, and I love him with all my heart.
I am a different person than I was before I had him. I miss the life I had before. I'm not going to say that I don't wish I couldn't change things. But that doesn't mean I don't love my son. This isn't the life I wanted or imagined, but it is mine, and it makes me happy.
"I never wanted children..."
I never wanted children because I didn't want the responsibility of taken care of a little person. It scared me more than anything. I got pregnant on accident and had my son and he is by far the best thing that could have happened. I loved being a mom so much we tried for more but sadly I miscarried multiple times. So he's my only one. The pregnancy for him was high risk, it was tough. He's my little miracle. I wouldn't change a thing.
"I wanted to be..."
I never wanted kids. Never wanted to get married. I wanted to be a sociologist in the Congo or something lol. 2 kids and 2 divorces later I've reconciled myself to the fact that I have no dreams anymore and my life and happiness is about the kids. I'm happy now but it took me a long time to be at peace with that.