July 6th was by far my favorite day of summer. My parents, my sister and I, along with our husbands were all up north for the week of the 4th of July; the sky was blue, the sun was out, and the temperature hovered at a perfect 84 degrees. Expecting storms and a day trapped inside, we threw on our swimsuits and scrambled to the pier as quickly as possible. With our original rainy-day plans dashed, every moment that followed was completely unplanned; what evolved was an epic, spontaneous day dripping with joy.
We water-skied, drank mojitos at the Harbor Bar (our fave restaurant right on the water), and boated to a sandbar where we danced, played, and laughed. I could go on and continue to list each bit of fun that we endured, but allow me to fast forward and say, we played so hard, we didn’t eat dinner until 10pm. Like 6 high schoolers buzzing with energy, we jammed into my husband’s pick-up truck to find dessert and laughed the entire way. This moment, with 4 grown adults squished in the backseat, was so gut wrenchingly precious, that it hurt a little bit. It was one of those moments that is so good you want to re-live it right away; one you know can never be topped.
And in that moment, this thought shot through my mind like an arrow, “What if I don’t want to have kids?”
I’ve always imagined being a mother; I pictured us being a family of four with two littles, at least one child being a girl. But in this moment – all I could think of was this: BABIES CHANGE EVERYTHING. I can’t be spontaneous. My family dynamic of the six of us will be drastically different. I won’t be able to run around on my own schedule. I like being a kid. We most definitely wouldn’t be able to repeat our epic day on the lake! This parade of thoughts obnoxiously marching their way through my mind left me panicking, “Seriously… what if I don’t want kids?”
As soon as I admitted to myself that I had just asked that question, shame poured in. Who in the world asks this question? “Everyone” wants kids – how could I not want kids? What if I figure out that this really is in fact how I feel and not just a fear of change? Is something wrong with me?
Addressing this question made me realize how much pressure we face as women. In my world, 95% of my friends are either pregnant right now, just birthed a child, or are planning to get pregnant in the next 6 months. I’m constantly asked “so… when are you guys thinking of starting a family?” And as innocent as the question may be, right now, it often feels like a side-eye, judgment-filled question. With seemingly everyone heading in this direction, I’ve been struggling with feeling isolated, insignificant, and alone.
Wrestling with all of this over the past couple months has been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, but in it I’ve come to terms with 3 things:
1. I do not have to be a mom to be significant
With every pregnancy announcement and every “why aren’t you guys having kids yet” question, there’s this odd lie that tells me if I’m not a mom or about to be a mom, I am insignificant; that my role in this world doesn’t matter as much as so-and-so’s because I am not taking on this incredibly beautiful role of mother. This lie is brutal – it chips away at my identity and makes me feel small and insignificant. But friends, IT IS NOT TRUE. Kids or no kids, I am significant – my life matters, what I am doing matters because I am a precious daughter of the King.
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God… will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” It doesn’t say, He takes delight in you when you’re finally a mom, it simply says, He will take great delight in you. As you are, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Maybe you can’t quite relate to the motherhood pressure - maybe for you it’s the pressure to start dating, or get engaged, or get married; and the constant question “are you seeing anyone?” makes you feel insignificant. Or maybe it’s something different altogether. Whatever it is that makes you feel less than, let me step in, stare you in the face and proclaim - you are significant right as you are. Kids or no kids, married or single, job or no job - your life matters, what you are doing matters. You are a precious child of the King.
2. We need to start supporting each other.
If I’m struggling with feelings of shame admitting that I even thought the question, “What if I don’t want to have kids?” I can only imagine how isolated women who have chosen not to have kids for one reason or another might feel – and that breaks my heart. Our identity as a woman is not based on our decision to mother children. And we need to stop treating each other like it does.
Our heavenly Father’s love for us is not an if-then statement. Nowhere in scripture does it say if you have kids then He will love you more. And nowhere does it say you must have children. The Lord loves us no matter what. And as followers of Christ it is our job to love others in this same manner.
The single most encouraging thing during this season has been talking with friends and family (and an amazing husband) who sincerely listen and ask me how I’m doing. On one particularly difficult day, I cried out to my best friend from beneath the lie of insignificance. After hearing me out, and asking genuine questions about how I was feeling she spoke much-needed truth into my heart. Even though she couldn’t fully understand where I was, as she herself is expecting, she validated my feelings and with tender, strong words gave me the courage to own this season. She supported me in the best way possible.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.” Even if we don’t understand each other’s decisions, it is our calling to encourage one another. That applies in my situation, in the icky mom shaming “you should be breastfeeding” pressures, and any other scenarios like this where we are tempted to imply our own opinions on others.
3. I don’t know if we’re going to have kids – and that is okay
I don’t know what the Lord has in store for our family, but I do confidently know that the Lord is telling me not yet. This may just be for a season, another year, or maybe it’s in His plan that our family simply consists of Chris and I, I don’t know. But until the Lord communicates that it’s time to join the masses and make a baby, we’re going to stay in the camp of we’re not having kids right now – and that’s okay.
It’s taken me a long time to own this answer to the question “What if I don’t want to have kids?” but I think I am finally okay. I know there will be emotional ups and downs, and that my opinion might soon change. But I’m confident in the Lord and his direction, and I truly trust that He will make it clear in His timing. We’ll just have to wait and see.
This is not an easy subject to write about. But I’m hopeful that by opening this conversation we can talk more about this question together, and do a better job of encouraging and supporting each other no matter what.
My ultimate hope for this series, things we don’t talk about, is to start conversations. So, if you can relate to this topic – I would love to hear from you in the comments below or via email on my contact page.
- If you're a mama - did you experience these feelings pre-babies?
- If you're not a mama – what runs through your mind when you think about motherhood? Can you relate?
- If you’re single – can you resonate with this feeling of pressure?
No matter where you are – cling to these truths. You are not alone; you are significant; you are wholly, and completely loved by a God who loves you exactly as you are.
This post is a part of my series titled "Things we don't talk about"