Not wanting kids, or, the one thing you’re not supposed to talk about?

24 Jul

11:34 am

(I wrote this last night, and I’m posting it for illustrative purpose: I’ve discovered that as the day goes on, I just get depressed. Not to say that this piece isn’t accurate in representing how I feel right now, but I’m just saying that maybe it’s darker than it “should” be because I was feeling low. When I was drinking, I used to force myself to stay up, of course, and live through it. 2 and 3 am were my usual bedtimes (with the alarm still set for 7 or 8 am). I almost always also drank wine. Could it be the two were connected? Cue the “not exactly rocket science” horns.)

I went to the beach this morning, and it was glorious: crisp white sun, shockingly blue sky, clear water reflecting both. These days, I’m pretty damn grateful all the time. Content. Maybe even happy?

Yet… I’m 39, and some days all I can think about is, why did it take so fucking long? I mean, Jesus. Just NOW I’m starting to feel OK about being a human? What the fuck?

And then, because I’m 39 and I think about having a baby constantly (whether I want one, whether I should want one), how on EARTH could I willingly bring another human being into this world knowing what I know about how difficult this life thing is? I mean, from about 14 until present, life’s been pretty difficult. Exhaustingly so, I might add. I mean, are we really supposed to spend the first 40 years learning how to live, and the next 40 learning how to die? Is that it?

I’ve been reading blogs and watching a lot of “addiction TV” lately, and man, no fucking wonder we all drank. Trauma, lots of it. Big, small, sideways, and in between. Some of it unearthed, a lot of it still buried in unconscious thoughts, unexplained feelings, and reactive behavior. And, imagine how it’s going for the rest of the world, who haven’t gotten sober and started looking at things with a magnifying glass? No wonder there are mass shootings.

I know this is heavy for a blog post, but admit it: we feel LUCKY to be alive. Can we really expect things to go opposite for our kids? Life is hard, and confusing, to say the least. Surreal might be a better word. Finding a sense of purpose, a creative outlet, a way to identify and manage your feelings? Hard as shit. Why do we view procreation through rose-colored glasses? It was hard as shit for you; it’s probably going to be hard as shit for your kids.

I, for one, already feel bad for my unborn child entering her teenage years, feeling as dark, depressed, and overwhelmed as I did. I folded in on myself, spending hours–years–writing in my room, dancing alone, binge eating, and having fits of anger in which I’d alternately weep and slap myself. This was just the beginning. I wish I had had the courage to seek help, as it were, but I didn’t. And I blame myself–as a human, of course, I do!–for all of it. Sigh. How could I do this to little Susie, knowingly?

It’s been a huge part of my recovery process, coming to terms with these convictions–I’ve had to think back on my own tumultuous journey and realize that actually, if I’m dead-fucking honest with myself, the joy might not outweigh the pain. I mean, we live and we love and we appreciate both, but, dude, it was a long-ass haul from 16 to 39 years old. Can I truly expect that my child, who has my genes, won’t experience the same difficulties?

At this point in my thought process, if I was still drinking, I’d probably crack open a bottle of red wine. I’m starting to sense that wind tunnel feeling in my belly, like I’m being sucked into a black hole. THERE ARE NO ANSWERS. THERE ARE NO SALVES. These are truths, no matter how difficult to ponder.

I am grateful, and bemused, and astounded by life. I am also selfish, and I admit to not wanting to pass my youth over to a newborn. Evolution and industrialization have allowed this, for our generations; we don’t have to have kids, and we get to ponder the reality of doing so well into our waning years of fertility! Sometimes I think, being sober now and knowing how exhausted I am of always having been the overachiever, the do-gooder, the people-pleaser–I’d rather let “them” have the kids, let “them” raise the children. I’d rather sit this one out, let others take on that work. Is this bad? Am I a bad person? I don’t know, but it’s the truth (right now, anyway), and it keeps coming up A LOT these days. It seems directly tied to my getting sober, this attitude.

I think for people who have bad kidhoods–like, with serious physical or emotional trauma–they either grow up into people who want to have kids so that they can improve upon their own childhoods, or, like me, don’t ever want to have to relive it! Kids remind me of being a kid, and I didn’t like being a kid! I had a lot of trauma being a kid. I had a lot of joy, sure, but all in all, more pain than joy. I just don’t want a re-do, no matter in what form.

Then, of course, there are days when I DO want kids, and, realizing that that ship has probably already sailed? That’s an even harder truth to face.

Maybe I need to “let go and let God” in the sense that, I don’t know everything and maybe this entire rant was simply my ego talking, my personality, my fear–underneath it all, I value life, I want children, and I do believe that the joy and wonder definitely outweighs the pain and hardship?


Where’s my Broadway musical? Hello?

13 Responses to “Not wanting kids, or, the one thing you’re not supposed to talk about?”

  1. Belle July 24, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    the choir. me here. you’re preaching to.
    i think i’ve written this on your blog before: there are women for whom gigantic alarm bells ring saying “i need a baby” and it starts ringing early in their lives and it rings continuously until they get a baby, come hell or high water, savings account or not, common sense or not.
    Then there’s the rest of us, and we’re a smaller number. For me (us?), the alarm never really sounds. We think about kids in an abstract way. We like kids, not sure we want to give birth to them, and we don’t go out of our way to arrange that they arrive in our lives. Then we get older and (maybe) we realize that we’ve already made a decision by not taking action.
    I also said to myself, at age 40, that if i woke up at some later point and the baby-alarm started to ring, then i’d arrange to get a child by adoption, fostering, whatever. i’d go to china and “buy” one. but until the alarm rings, i agreed with myself that i was going to do just as you’ve said – sit it out.
    i’m not sure it even matters why the alarm doesn’t ring: crappy kidhood (check), selfish (check), focused on career or my navel (check), didn’t have my own shit together enough (check).
    but let me close by (also) saying that your kid would have you as mom, not YOUR mom. and since you’ve been through stuff, you’d take better care of your kid. she wouldn’t be alone in her room. you’d snuggle her and then drag her out and get her help if she needed it. you’d make mistakes, but you’d make different mistakes than your parents did.
    how’s that for spectacularly unhelpful? hugs from me.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      You, my friend, ROCK. Sigh. It’s hard being slightly ambivalent about it! I mean, I’m totally like you and then, when I get to the part where you call me “Mom,” I start to feel these ridiculous tears pricking to my eyes. It’s bi-zarre. I’m the last person in the world who ever wanted kids, but when I think about not having one of my own? I get this irrational sadness. Oh, well. Everything you just wrote, ditto and thank you and rock on and you are so cool and I can’t wait to be like you when I grow up. Thank you… HUGS.

  2. markwars1972 July 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    My reply probably won’t help, but I’ll give you one anyway.

    I was dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood by my own sperm at age 26. I never planned to have kids, but now at 40 I have two – one almost 14 and the other 8. My childhood seriously sucked. Abusive parents. Total neglect. Sexual abuse. The whole nine yards. When my son was born I vowed to do EVERYTHING different than my parental units had done.

    For the most part I have succeeded. My kids haven’t been abused. They haven’t been neglected. They have been loved and cared for. The only failure that I have to own up to is my example of being an alcoholic for so many years. My kids probably saved me in some ways though. Without them I don’t know that I would have ever given two squats about recovering. Perhaps my attempts at being a decent parent are done out of spite towards my own parents at times, but I know that my love for them also drives me to be a better person. Maybe I am so weak willed that I need outside forces to steer me toward recovery? I dunno, but I’m glad my kids have done that for me.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      Wow, thanks for sharing this story with me! I can relate to the bad childhood and vowing to do things differently… And, I bet your kids did offer you a lot of grace. Sometimes I think of my dog here as my higher power, actually!

      For me, though, it might just not be an option anymore. It’s too bad that it took me this long to get my shit together, to prioritize my health, to get sober long enough to actually see what’s important, but… Not everyone should have kids, I guess. And, I think that’s the point: why them, and not me? I’d be a great parent, I really would!


  3. losedabooze July 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    I have kids and now wish sometimes I didn’t because I am seeing how they are going through some very difficult times. As a parent, I am doing my best in getting them help – and while I don’t like that they spend so much time alone – it’s what they want and if I try to come close, they become irate. My mom always said life began at 40 – now I know why. I’ll be 47 and while I’m over some major hurdles, experiencing some still with single parenting and raising 2 teen girls. I haven’t stopped drinking completely and still revert to it as an escape at times, but always remain alert enough to be able to respond to any crisis that may come up (which is what brings me to drinking when I’m not parenting – so I am fully present for them).

    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Thanks for this! I’d love to hear more about your experience with kids… Maybe I just want to feel better about my “choice” not to have them…

      I can’t imagine having the stress of kids and not drinking…but, I also wonder how I’d manage AND be hungover? It sounds as though you’re trying to figure out what’s going to work and how drinking fits into that…?

      If you want to email me more about the kids thing (I wouldn’t mind!), I’m at


  4. Thirsty July 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Your post really rings true to me. I’m 47 now, and I was always the person who didn’t want to have kids, for reasons that are similar to yours. I didn’t like being a kid all that much. Mary Karr, in her fantastic memoir “The Liar’s Club,” describes childhood as a miserable time of being unemployed and broke, at the mercy of people who seem to be running the show just because they are a lot bigger. (If I had the book at hand I’d quote her exactly, she’s so spot on!) Anyway, now that it’s too late, I do have an occasional pang about not having kids, but mostly I am glad that’s what I decided, or how I landed. It sounds like you’re on the right road, and there’s not going to be a wrong decision either way it works out. I like what you you say about joy and wonder outweighing pain and hardship. I think it applies to life, kids or no.

    I also am sunnier in the morning and moodier in the evening, and I’m trying to make room for both in my days. Thanks for writing about the deep and dark things.


    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Thank you for this, Thirsty! I loved that book, and I love Mary Karr. Did she have kids?

      Yeah, I don’t necessarily feel like I’ll be missing out on anything if I don’t get to raise a kid; in fact, I’ve never really liked babies and/or kids! I do, however, feel sad that I won’t be able to give what’s good about me (I’m smart; I have some decent physical traits, like strong legs; I have a lot of empathy) to other little humans. Like, I think I’d be a really good person to be a mom, is what all my friends have always told me. I believe I’d be a fun, patient mom.

      Might not be in the cards, and at the end of the day, we make our choices and move on. I can always adopt, right?

      If you want to further chat, I’d love to. My email is


  5. Sober Life July 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Thanks you for this post! I didn’t think I would ever have kids and for a long time I didn’t even want kids. Then i got sober and I ended up having kids late, I am 42 and my youngest is 1. I still have some of the thoughts that you have shared and I get scared. But it has turned out that I actually get to re-do my childhood thru them, I get to actually mix it up, I change what I didn’t like and do more of what I liked. It’s healing and my kids love the time spent together. That said I also admire people who can make a decision that maybe it’s just not for them to be a parent. That takes courage, I think especially for a women, since society/family expects us to have children. But really you’re definitely not alone in these thoughts. And I hope that what is meant to be for you will happen. Let go and let god 🙂

    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      Oh, thank you, Sober Life! Yeah… I just turned 39, and I guess if I want them, I’m going to have to make some serious choices NOW. Then again, maybe it’s simply not a healthy risk for the kid, to get preggers at (it’s looking earliest) 40? I don’t know, I’ve never really tried. Maybe it’s just not possible for me anyway, now?

      Would love to chat more about this, if you’re willing. My email is


  6. Sarah July 25, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    My kids were more accident than design but I am so glad that they are here.
    Obama said (on the boy) that this gen are better than us. I agree. There are no simple answers.
    I do so admire your journey and I always look forward to your posts. This is one of your best.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl July 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Aww, thank you, Sarah! There are no simple answers, you are right. For me, I might have to just simply accept the person I was, and the choices I made–I don’t necessarily regret them. They are what they are. And, at the end of the day, not everyone is meant to (or should) have kids. I guess. Sigh…still makes me feel sad that maybe, at 39, that ship has so definitely sailed.

      If you want to chat more about this (I do!), you can email me at


  7. brandyshocktreatment August 1, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    “Yet… I’m 39, and some days all I can think about is, why did it take so fucking long? I mean, Jesus. Just NOW I’m starting to feel OK about being a human? What the fuck?”

    I’m 40 and I used to think this all the time. *sigh* I guess all you can do is live for the day and try to let the past go. Sometimes the thought still pops in my head and I just try to push it out and focus on the moment.

    I’ve never had children, and that is another thing I think about as well. We seem to have some things in common.

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