I spent most of my life vehemently arguing that I didn’t want to be a parent. 1This story is not meant to be used as a “oh you’ll change your mind one-day” argument against anyone who doesn’t want to be a parent. Not wanting to have kids is a perfectly good choice, and people should be respected for that. This is simply *my* story, and is the exception to those who say they don’t want kids, not the rule. It’s a valid point, after all, even if it seems to be extremely discouraged in the church background I grew up in. My parents and family were supportive of this decision, but spent a lot of time questioning me on it as well.
While I had a pretty great childhood/teen life, I also had a really bad childhood/teen life. Reflecting back on the years I spent growing up, it honestly often feels like two different lifetimes–one filled with love, friendship, and excitement, and a second flooded with grief, self-loathing, darkness and loneliness.
There’s a lot to unpack with the latter, including trauma, loss, and everything in between. Lots that I didn’t even start dealing with until well into my adult years.
I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder when I was 23, after years of exhibiting signs that no-one knew, and visits with doctors who didn’t really seem to understand how mental illness presented in children and youth.
For the longest time, I never questioned my opposition to having kids. I would joke about having them some days, but insisted it would never be a thing. It wasn’t until I had been married for a couple of years when I really sat down to dissect it. As a teenager, it seemed to stem from a lot of fear about sex, having someone dependent on me, and pushing another human being out of the vagina I was terrified of admitting I had (thanks, purity culture).
As an adult, some of that continued. I was still terrified of sex, even once married, and I was still terrified of basically all of my body. 2For real… I didn’t get my first pap test until I was 30, and it was only because I was told if I didn’t book an appointment, someone would do it for me and make me go. But with my diagnosis, more came into play. Now, it was no longer me just being afraid of my body and caring for another human being, it was the very real and frightening possibility that my mental illnesses (which appeared to be hereditary), could be passed on to any offspring I might produce.
I barely survived my teenage and early young adult years. With multiple suicide attempts, a history of cutting, and one complete mental break under my belt, I’ve battled the darkness (and still do) all too often. If I had a child who received this curse and didn’t make it? I could never forgive myself.
In 2014, I managed to get past those fears. Some dear friends and family reminded me concerning the mental illness that I was far more prepared to deal with it than my own family had been. Not just because I’ve lived with it since I was six, and with the help I received can identify behaviours and signs from my childhood, but also because there is so much more information out there today. As for the rest, they helped me realize I could take it one step at a time, and so, in 2015, my husband and I decided to start trying for kids.