I knew if I were to suddenly get pregnant, I’d be a darn good mom.
But did I necessarily want to take on that role at this point in my life? Did the fact that I hate kids matter if it were my own offspring? If I don’t want kids, would this ever change? These were the magic questions.
Considering I doodled baby names on a daily basis, it would seem that I was totally on board with the idea of being maternal to a human — and not just to my precious dog. It seemed, though, that with each passing phase of my life, I kept going back and forth from one extreme to the other: wanting and not wanting children.
Rewinding to the earliest phase of my life, I remember my sister and I pretending our baby dolls were our children. They were girls, of course, because didn’t we all dream of someday having little girls to dress up pretty and frilly?
But as a teenager, I started thinking how hard it’d be to be a mother and that I didn’t really want the headache.
To be fair, that opinion was formed partly because I’m the eldest of five children so I saw first-hand it was no easy task to raise all of us. (My youngest brother was born when I was almost sixteen years old — talk about an age gap!)
Right out of high school, I chose to take a business path rather than go straight to college. I wanted to work to be able to pay for the new car I felt I needed and to try my best to live up to what I’d considered a real adult to be.
Along with a full-time gig in banking, I took babysitting jobs on the side because kids are fun and it was a really great way to make extra money. But I still didn’t have any desire to have any of my own.
Looking back, this was mostly a reflection of the selfish mindset I had at the time. I wanted to work so I could go to parties, go shopping, go to the beach, work out, and pamper myself as much as possible.
I was only worried about numero uno: me. (I give a lot of credit to mothers who had their babies in their late teens and early twenties; you have to be extremely selfless and that’s not easy.)
I continued to take part-time babysitting jobs throughout my early twenties and eventually went back to school part-time at night.
In the blink of an eye, I was 28 years old. Suddenly, I felt my biological clock strongly yearning to get married and have a baby and — gasp — maybe even babies, plural.
Could it have been that a lot of my friends were starting to have kids and it felt like that’s where I should be, too? It’s possible, but I also started to see my nurturing side come out. I actually wanted to take care of people, animals, and, of course, babies.
My selfish stage had seemingly vanished into thin air. My “I hate kids” mentality started to disappear.
That’s why, at 29, I quit my bank job, enrolled in an evening nursing program, and took on a full-time nanny role during the day. Since I had so much experience in the field — and a genuine interest in being a caretaker for children — it was the perfect opportunity.
The next two years didn’t disappoint.
I enjoyed everything that went along with my new job of taking care of other people’s kids. We danced and listened to music, took lots of walks to the park, watched movies, played games, and fed and nurtured the little ones.
About halfway through my nursing program, I had a family emergency thrown into the mix. One of my siblings became deathly ill which lasted for the entire next year.
I was able to hang in there being a nanny because I really loved the kids — and because I knew I could leave at the end of the day. If I had my own children, there wouldn’t be an option to leave.
Due to all the emotional stress and hard work I endured during my nursing program and my family crisis, I had begun to lose my drive for being a caretaker — and even being a mother.
Subconsciously, I hoped my desire to be a mother would come back. I arranged playdates for the kids, made crafts and picnics galore, and basically tried to be the best role model I could be.
Fast-forward two years. I’m 33, single, still a nanny, and planning to get my nursing career back in gear (partly because if by some chance getting married and having my own kids isn’t in the cards for me, at least I still get to experience it vicariously through other people’s kids.)
Being around children helped me grow as a person, kept me feeling youthful, and pulled me out of the depression I’d been in after my family crisis. Kids listen and absorb every word, tone, and action you take. If you really pay attention, you can see what kids are feeling in their hearts through their eyes.
Children are very smart and you can learn a lot about life (and how to be a better person through them) because of the innocence they project. They pick up on and appreciate all the little things most of us fail to see due to the constant chaos of life. Being with children is very good for the soul.
I’ve decided, once and for all, the answer to the question of whether or not I do or don’t want kids. I want to be a good role model; I want to be forced to keep myself, my attitude, and my general demeanor in check while juggling all the hardships of life because little eyes and ears may be watching or hearing me.
I look forward to years ahead filled with joy, laughter, vacations, first-everything, and I’m even okay with tears, tantrums, sick days, sleepless nights, and everything else that comes with being a mother.
Now I just need to find these future kids of mine a father … but that’s another story entirely.
Maria Yvonne is a former contributor to YourTango.