If you were to ask me what I am thankful for this year, I’d say something stupid because basically I’m a huge ingrate and I don’t deserve the flood of wonderful things and people in my life. But if I were forced (by you, apparently) to think about what I’m thankful for, I’d have to ask you to carve out about six hours of your day because I somehow am lucky enough to be surrounded by wonderful friends, to have a boyfriend who still gives me wild high school crush jitters, to be healthy, and to live a life that I’m generally happy with. But aside from all that dumb crap, this year I am especially thankful that I am childfree.
Earlier this year, I had a prolonged pregnancy scare that made me consider what my life would look like if I were to become a parent at 24. Spoiler alert: it turned out I wasn’t pregnant, and I went on living my cares-be-damned life. But aside from the relief of not having to give up alcohol and sushi, being child-free defines a huge part of my life, and right now, I’m eternally thankful. Sometimes I stop and think “there could be a child inside me right now if I hadn’t played my cards right,” and then I freak out because that would be a total shit show. Then I remember that there’s no baby in me, just massive amounts of coffee and the ice cream I had for breakfast.
There’s a lot of reasons that I’m happy to be childfree this year; for one thing, not having a child allows me the freedom to be an idiot, make sudden life changes, and fuck up. This year, I moved across the country and made a career change, which would have been significantly harder if I had had children to support. Of course, parents are more than capable of those types of changes, but I had the luxury of only thinking about myself when making that decision. If my bright idea to move to New York and become a writer hadn’t worked out, the consequences would have been relatively unimportant (aside from getting some shitty job and living on Top Ramen). And I am an irresponsible nightmare: this year alone, I got into two bar fights and had six breakfast sandwiches last week, and I feel fantastic about it (these were only verbal altercations – the last time I punched someone was in the fourth grade when a boy called me a “loud bitch,” and I stand by that act of aggression). My freedom to be a big idiot is a huge luxury that I’m grateful to have, because I’m basically the biggest idiot I know.
While getting drunk and living off of breakfast sandwiches is great, there’s a much more important reason why I’m grateful that I don’t have a child. I’m grateful because I am not at all ready to have one. I couldn’t provide for it adequately, and I’m not yet close to the type of person I want to be before I become a parent. Hopefully, before I have a child, I will have figured out at least some of the big questions in my life, so I can better focus on my spawn’s well-being.
Right now I feel closer to childhood than adulthood, and I’m not sure what kind of adult I want to become. I don’t know what my future career looks like, or if I want to live in a city or small town, or in a house or houseboat or weird haunted attic in a serial killer’s summer home. Will I continue to be an insufferable hipster who owns not one, but two typewriters? Will I feed my infants from mason jars instead of bottles? Will their first words be “artisanal” or “meta,” and their baby clothes skinny jeans and beanies? These are the big questions, and only time has the answers.
I also need time with my boyfriend to figure out what kind of relationship we want to have as grown ups, as opposed to the two-dumb-kids-in-love-who-happen-to-pay-bills-together routine we’ve been doing. We already have transparent conversations about money and responsibilities, but at some point we need to translate that into a conversation about parenting. I’m excited about that possibility, but right now I don’t want to talk about the future. I want to watch SVU until six in the morning or wake him up at 3AM to suggest that we make macaroni and cheese, and then go make it.
It all boils down to this: I don’t want kids right now because I don’t want kids right now. I’m eternally grateful that I have shit like birth control and freedom of choice so that I can keep it that way until I decide I’m ready to grow a human in me. My life right now gives me the opportunity to try to set my place in the world while the stakes are low, and make informed decisions about my future before involving a little person who would depend on me. And to get into a few more bar fights.
Photo: Shutterstock, MemeGenerator