I don’t have children, and I am not sure if I have wanted them or never wanted them. It’s weird not to be able to decide. Kids are great, and many of my friends now have almost grown up kids, like in their late teens and early twenties, and I see these tall beings who I once held in my arms and I am alarmed, amused and I want to cry, just for the passage of time and how it grows us like plants. I think about how all these years they’ve grown up, I must have grown down. That’s awful to realize.

Korean children get a lot of fuss made over them, I guess because life was tough in the old country, and it was a big deal if you survived. There’s a big party thrown when you are 100 days old, followed by another when you make it to 1 whole year. My parents took a lot of pictures of me at these parties, although I don’t remember a thing as I was really drunk at both. From the pictures I see the cake though – these big multicolored rice cakes, each pastel stripe a steamed layer of pounded and steamed rice flour, not sweet like birthday cake but a delicious treat all the same. It looks like a chewy neopolitan ice cream, or a gay pride flag made of carbs. It’s the best and I want it, but I think wanting that cake isn’t enough reason to have a baby.

My mother goes crazy over babies. Some people just do. They love ‘em! I never have. Babies scare me more than anything. They’re tiny and fragile and impressionable and someone else’s! as much as I hate borrowing stuff – that is how much I hate holding other people’s babies! It’s too much responsibility. Of course they are lovely and warm and adorable and it’s so funny when they decide they like you and hold you back, but I am frightened of doing something wrong that will alter them forever. Give them a weird look and they might be talking to their therapist about you fifty years later. My mom has none of this fear. She loves kids to the degree that she will talk to other moms about their kids – she’s always done this – even white moms! This was so embarrassing when I was growing up. I was like “Mom! Shut up! They’re WHITE!”

When it comes to children, my mom doesn’t believe in borders. She loves all children, and that’s a good example of mothering the world. I need to do that, but I need to get over my fear of kids in the first place.

It might not be a fear of kids themselves, as I usually get along with them in truth. They like my tattoos and my uncomplicated child/adult face. They identify with my orange shoes. I look like I would let them get away with stuff, and I do. My fear of having children is that frankly, I just don’t want to love anyone that much. I have my own problems with love, and I have processed and played the same games for a lifetime, but what if I had to do that with someone I actually MADE?! (or went all the way to China and adopted – this is not a joke – I have long thought that I would adopt one of those baby girls from china, because really, who’s going to know the difference?)

I don’t know if I could stand that kind of commitment, or if I am really honest, I don’t think that I could handle being that vulnerable to someone else. My child would have my heart completely, and having never truly given that over, in all my relationships in my life, starting with myself, I don’t even know where to begin.

22 thoughts on “Kids

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out the whole “do I want kids?-do I not want kids?” thing myself. I’m half-Korean blood-wise but was raised by mom and halmoni and they gave up what little they had to give me and my younger sister the chance at everything. Non-Asians or Latinos might call their love “smothering.” It’s unconditional. And they want a (great)grandbaby. But I don’t think I’m capable of doing what they did. I found out recently that I have a rare lung disease that might wipe me out before I’m 30, and I’m not that much of a jerk to pass that on to a baby then leave helpless baby to tired mom and halmoni. But if tomorrows could be promised I’d consider adoption in 10 years time, given my life partner was going all-in with me.

    I’ve never met you and probably never will but I think you’d be a good mom. Your persona’s always been accessible, honest and fearless, and kids better than any of us can smell bullshit immediately. I think they’d appreciate the honesty (and the fear).

  2. I fell ya on the scared part. I still feel that way. especially newborns. I’m 28, have no desire to have kids of my own. The saying is true: you are afraid of what you don’t know. I have a niece, a nephew and another set to arrive in mid October, and fr the first month of their life, I refuse to have much to with them out of fear I will break them or crush them. Thankfully, my sister doesn’t push them on me. All my friends are child less, for now, but I will love their babies like I love these little rug-rats. I’ve decided I will not be having children of my own, I don’t think I’ve resolved all of my psychological issues, and will not pull what my mother pulled and project that onto my kids. I refuse. I hate that some people think you are not a proper woman if you don’t want kids or get married. Spinster fo life!

  3. I’m 20 and entering my last year of college and even that scares me … I cant get over how time moves so quickly (I want to be a student forever!). My relatives over the summer have been constantly asking about my future: a job?, masters?, career? I have NO idea what I’m going to do with my life and don’t like to think about.

    A group of friends and I, recently in a deep conversation (fuelled by drink) started talking about our futures, finally settling down and children. To my surprise I was the only one disinterested, proclaiming: that’ll I’ll never marry until at least 30 and that kids would just be a burden … maybe I need to grow up? Or just maybe I’m the only sane person around who doesn’t want to plan excessively for the future and to just take life as it comes. (like seriously – how can a person know at 20-23 that they want two kids? and to live out in the countryside?)

    Although some people are bent on planning families, organising the year ahead or whatever. Take life slowly, enjoy what is happening or improve on it if it is unpleasant. I love my life as it is and although childishly, I may, now at 20 think I don’t want a family, if I meet the right woman, who is both a friend and a lover – I’ll let her decide for me!

    sometimes things cant be planned but if you really want something – it’ll happen. As long as you are happy, there is no problem 🙂

  4. Having kids is the ultimate in letting go. Loving somebody enough to marry them isn’t the same, I think, as the sort of unconditional, genetic programming love that you have for kids. Even when you want to beat the shit out of them. (Which you will. Often.) Because if you think about all of the stuff that go wrong, and how fragile humans are, and how quickly it can happen … it’s an extreme fear. But if you were to ask me if it’s worth it I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. It’s a helpful zen-like exercise, really, or maybe Taoist or Christian if you prefer, whatever, to realize you can have that sort of feeling and not be in any kind of control over the universe to prevent bad things from happening. You just have to trust and let go. Sometimes it will keep you awake at night, though.

  5. This post really resonates with me. I felt the same way for most of my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. I’m Korean, but raised in an African American family. I have so many issues with my mother, with love, and abandonment. I questioned whether I even had a maternal instinct at all since I did not have a maternal presence in my life. Then I was married and after 10 years, I took a leap of faith. First time out the gate and I had TWINS. I was mortified that I was inadequate and ill-equipped to care for one baby, let alone two. Fast forward 3 1//2 years and another baby later. I have 3 toddlers under the age of 4. I’m not the best mom, but I’m the best mom I can be, and having them has opened parts of my heart that I did not know existed. Loving them so completely has reconciled open wounds that never healed in my heart. Loving them gives me the chance to be the mother to them that I so longed for when I was a young child. I still feel like the “me” before I was a mother but I am so much more now. The responsibility of raising children is overwhelming and scary at times, but it gives me a reason to really care about the future. Becoming a mother didn’t make me whole. It made me heal.

  6. Dear Margaret, there was a time in my life when I agonized over this – should I have a child or not? I was approaching 40 and was feeling that if I didn’t then, that was it. Everybody around me was telling me that I should do it, what a great mother I’d be etc. After weeks of “staring at the ceiling” thinking about it, it hit me: if I really-really wanted a child, I wouldn’t have to think about it. So I guess the rule “when in doubt, better not” applies here too.

  7. this is a great post. I laughed and I teared up. Being a Mom is terrifying and it is exhilarating. I sometimes feel like the accidental mother. And I loved what you said about your Mom.

  8. I fully understand and relate to your feelings about kids and the fear of altering them in some way with some small look or exclamation. I regret that I’ve felt that way for so long that I’ve allowed it to become a habit and now I’m a complete and often negative mess around kids. God, don’t let that happen to you!

  9. Yet further proof we may be long lost twins. This post resonates with every bone in my 36-year-old body, but… I just can’t stop thinking about that yummy rice cake, or as you call it, a gay pride flag made of carbs. You kill me, lady. In all sorts of amazing ways.

  10. This was a very brave and revealing thing to write.

    By the way, people like you should have a baby. You’d be a great mom. The world needs more moms like you.

  11. Hi, Margaret~it’s no secret that you and I are twins, and have been for some time. We spent our 20s and 30s in the same places and with the same people. I turned 40 with you, I am your same age now. I have had the same questions. I have agonized over the decision and your thoughts in this blog resonate heavily with me. Once again, you have acknowledged my lone struggle and helped me put those cards out on the table, since no one else ever wants to discuss the possibility of making the decision to NOT have children. Here’s my thoughts on the matter. When I get down to the crux of my thinking, I have worked very hard on myself thru the years. I’ve come to a point where I like myself finally. The way I am. So, to make a decision to try and change that makes me hesitant. My first inclination, and first answer to the question, has always been: No. Not just any “no,” but a resounding one. I don’t want kids. I’ve never craved them. I have always known that, even though everyone is telling me that I’m precisely the sort of enlightened person who SHOULD have kids! and that I would make an excellent mother! But that’s b/c I’m a careful person who doesn’t believe in biting off more than she can chew. I’m a super sensitive soul and, although I have finally won the right attitude, I have to struggle through this world and the other people in it. Having children would connect me with a lot of those other people I don’t want to deal with, and many processes within the SYSTEM that I would have to deal with, and that definitely factors into my decision, personally. I am also the sort of person who follows my dreams no matter what people tell me~ and, if I ever wanted kids, I would have had them before now. I am only even considering it now for more than 5 seconds, because I feel like it’s come to the end where I HAVE to make an OFFICIAL decision. Honestly, I like being in the land of Peter Pan, where things are finally under control for me. Halfway thru life, I frankly don’t know if I want to play the struggling game anymore. Maybe I’ll just continue being the kid myself? That’s something I know I can do. However, I know that you could be a wonderful parent, just like me, so I’ll be waiting to see what you decide. Whatever decision you make will be the right one. I love you!! See you in Cleveland, OH on 10/5/12!! xo ~Mara p.s. I hope my thoughts didn’t confuse you even more~just wanted to add them into your cachet…

Have something to add?