Parenting: Another Box I Don’t Fit

I worry that the way I speak about parenting makes me sound like a cold, selfish ass.

My husband benefits from being a parent.

I do not.

A need you don’t have can’t be fulfilled.

I knew from a young age that I didn’t want children. I just didn’t like or enjoy being around them. My little brother was 12 years younger than me, and I loved him, but helping take care of a child I loved didn’t change my mind about wanting children.

I knew I didn’t want kids the way I knew I didn’t like to cook, or bake, or clean, or be a domestic homebody.

Parenting is stressful. In a healthy situation, the stress of parenting is offset with the rewards of parenting. People feel a need for progeny and are happier, more fulfilled, satisfied by their relationship with their children. When the balance is weighed, parenting adds more to their life than it takes away.

It just doesn’t work that way for me. Parenting has been hellishly stressful for me and the stress has far outweighed rewards. I don’t hate my kids, but I do hate pretty much everything involved in raising them.

I would never pick a career in child care, teaching, counseling, etc. Nothing that involves extensive interaction with other people’s bodily fluids and other people’s feelings.

I’ve done my best to do right by them, though. I’ve tried to be accepting and encouraging, while establishing boundaries with how they treat people and what kind of treatment they accept for themselves. I’ve tried to teach them kindness, to lean first towards mercy and then to adjust as needed. I’ve refrained from shaming them.

I’ve tried to answer their questions honestly when I have an answer. I haven’t tried to insist that I know the truth about how life should work. I’ve said I don’t know, or we should look this up, or that other people have a different opinion than I do. That they will have to decide for themselves. I’ve tried to get them to think not just about how something is, but how it got to be that way.

I enjoy getting hugs from them now and then but sometimes I want to scream when my daughters are both affectionately draped against my sides. It’s not something that feeds my brain happy chemicals, or if it does, it’s not feeding high enough amounts to offset the stress of feeling like I don’t have personal space.

They needed so much attention, at such random times, that I couldn’t focus. Trying to complete a project and being interrupted every 2-5 minutes would drive me up the wall.

Parenting also put my anxiety through the roof.

Everyone would talk about how you’d love your kids more than you ever thought possible, but they didn’t talk about how you’d fear for them more than you ever thought possible, too.

Here’s something I never wanted, but now that I have them, I love them, and fear nothing as much as having some tragedy befall them.

It got to the point that if I left the house to try and spend time by myself, I’d just worry about what might happen to them while I was gone.

That’s really it. Parenting gives me a lot of stress, anxiety and bad feels, and only a small amount of good feels by comparison.

It’s really hard to sound warm and caring and positive and glad about something that has been a major source of suffering.

I still fully intend to be present in my children’s lives, even if I’m no longer living with them, but I know between the two of us, my husband is better at parenting, isn’t as stressed by it, and definitely gets oodles of warm fuzzies from it. If he enjoys it, and I’m stressed out by it, there’s only one future custody arrangement that makes sense.

I wish people were supportive of others when they say they don’t want children. That they wouldn’t say ‘you’ll change your mind’ or act like it means that person is a horrible, selfish person. It’s not selfish to realize you’re not well suited to something, and that engaging will do more harm than good.

It does no one any favors – not the parents, not the children – to be forced into a role they’re not suited for.

I know for a fact that I’d have been happier without children, and there’s nothing I can do about that. It is what it is.

I would never say that to my children, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be any point lying about it on an anonymous public journal read by strangers.

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