Sure, I’ll smile and play with your baby. But I’d honestly prefer not to.
I hate kids.
There. I said it. And God…it feels good.
I’m positively pooped from acting as though my biological clock aches with every small face I see. Of the inevitable pressure to fake-coo and make a fuss over every spit bubble and murmur of monosyllables; grinning through gritted teeth as a baby is thrust into my arms with the expectation I’ll enwrap it in maternal love.
Why must people persist with the idea that, because I’m in possession of a uterus, I’m simply overflowing with a nurturing instinct that compels me to clutch at every chubby little arm I see, and gush in a rush of oxytocin-induced euphoria at each cry or giggle?
And why is it I constantly feel cornered into talking in a sing-song voice and awkwardly accepting a contrived cuddle when a friend shows up with a little person in tow, rather than following instinct and saying “Thanks, but no thanks”, for fear of being branded “cold”, selfish” and “heartless”?
Is there no in between?
I like being an adult. And doing adult things. With other adults.
I don’t like Windexing sticky handprints off my Noguchi coffee table. Or having to maintain a peripheral to ensure curious feet aren’t climbing where they shouldn’t. Or holding conversations that revolve around cartoons and candy.
I hate it.
…You’re already thinking it, aren’t you? That only a truly soulless individual would use the H-word to describe how they feel about children. A surely disturbed woman.
Because it’s not overkill to say you hate pickles or ketchup, or getting sand in the crevices of your bathing suit at the beach? I can’t say I hate spending time around small people to whom I feel no nurturing urge, no blooming of my ovaries?
Just as certain people prefer to avoid exposure to unwelcome condiments on their cheeseburgers, I favor enjoying my own existence without a helping of diapers and swaddling sandwiched in. So sue me.
Do I have friends and family with children? Yes.
Do I hate those children? No. They are an exception to the rule.
I see the way their parents’ cheeks light up with crimson pride in their presence, and I feel a rush of joy in my heart at that. Not at their children, but at the sense of completion they bring to my loved ones’ lives.
Does that mean I need to squeeze them in gooey cuddles peppered with dozens of frenetic wet kisses? No.
And that doesn’t have to make me a bad person. (As unconscionable as that may sound.)
I don’t wish to spend any additional time I absolutely don’t have to around children.
They don’t set off the spark inside me I see in the eyes of others in the presence of large, curious eyes and tiny fingers and toes. It’s merely awkward and tedious – for all involved.
If I have to be around kids? Sure, I can grin and bear it.
Just so long as no one thrusts a squidgy body toward my chest with that look of maternal expectation, or shoots me that expression that says they’re waiting for me to crouch down and strike up a pantomime conversation.
Sorry, it’s just not my scene.
And I know it’s some sort of a slur against my happily child-free community, who’ve spent decades trying to make people believe their not wanting to bear children doesn’t make them haters of little ones.
I know some of my best child-free friends love nothing more than to have tickle-fights with their nieces and nephews, and read fairytales to them at bedtime. Their choice not to have children of their own doesn’t make them child haters. And they shouldn’t be tarnished with that black-and-white brush.
So maybe ‘hate’ is a strong word when I talk about my own feelings about kids…
But if given the choice between a life of unpalatable pickled gherkins on my cheeseburger, or a life without every having to fake-smile at a child again as they playfully paw at my coffee table?
I’ll take the pickles, thanks.
Image via shutterstock.com.
Comment: Do you like children? Do you think it’s acceptable for a woman to admit they don’t?