There are many reasons to avoid having children. They are expensive. They require a lot of support. They are exhausting. They make spontaniety almost impossible. All are valid, and there are a slew of others that I totally respect.
Then there is fear. For many reasons, people are afraid to have children. They’re afraid they won’t be good parents. They’re afraid to bring kids into a troubled world. They’re afraid of turning out like their parents. They’re afraid they’ll just screw it all up.
To those people, I say, I too was afraid. I was petrified by the thought of having kids. I was never nurturing type. When I was young, I would play with my Barbie dolls like boys played with their G.I. Joes. Babies were strange beings that I avoided at all costs. I had no interest in kids unless they could talk and were potty-trained. I didn’t get why others found babies so adorable. I didn’t know how to change a diaper or even how to hold one properly. Yes, I admit, I dropped a baby. I was young, and nothing bad happened, but, still, I dropped a freaking baby!
I guess you could say I didn’t have the maternal instinct.
That started to change once I hit my late 20s. I was married, and the idea of starting a family was no longer an abstract concept. At the same time, my other friends were having children, and my thoughts on babies began to shift. I was ready for a child of my own.
But, I was still scared. I was scared about making it past the first trimester, then the second, then the third, scared about whether the tests would reveal something wrong, scared about having to decide whether to keep the baby if it had a low chance of survival, scared about labor, scared about breastfeeding, scared about keeping my baby healthy.
I was scared the day my son was born. After a whirlwind labor that left me unable to fully process the birth of my child, I had to quickly adapt to the change in my life. My son’s cries struck such a nerve in me that I hardly put him down. There was barely a moment when he wasn’t snuggled on my chest. I even got scolded by the hospital staff for walking a little to quickly while carrying him in my arms on my way back from a breastfeeding class.
I was scared of everything, and I’m a better mother for it. I’m a better mother, because I realize now that fear might be one of the best reasons to have children. My fear of growing a healthy baby compelled me to make smart food choices and stay physically fit. My fear of labor lead me to learn more about the birth process. My fear of not knowing how to care for a newborn made me take all those parenting and nursing classes.
Fear continued to motivate me every day since my son was born. Nearly every parenting decision I made, from nursing on demand to co-sleeping was in part inspired by my anxiety over raising a happy and healthy baby.
I am now the proud mom of a two-year-old boy, and while a lot of my parenting fears have dissipated, they never go away. I am anxious every time my son goes on the “big” slide. I am anxious when I leave my son in the care of others. I am anxious for my son when he meets new children. I am anxious about his future.
I know I will always be scared of something. That is the reality of parenthood. Instead of letting that fear consume me, I will let it motivate me to be a better mother.
All potential parents should be afraid to have kids. Being afraid means giving serious thought to the idea of bringing a child into this world. Being afraid means caring about the well-being of future generations. Being afraid means wanting to do better than our parents.
But, fear doesn’t have to be paralyzing. The greatest awards often come from facing what scares us. Having children may be the scariest of them all, and the most rewarding.