An interesting topic came up on one of the parenting forums, and it got me thinking. We hear often about moms and dads who desperately want kids, and fertility issues make that dream either very challenging or impossible. What about the other side of the coin? The question asked “What’s it like not to want kids but to have one anyway?” There are a lot of unplanned (and sometimes unwanted) pregnancies, not to mention situations where one parent wants a baby and the other obliges but could take it or leave it.
What is it like to become a parent when you didn’t want kids?
The responses to the question have some common themes and fantastic insights that most of us, regardless of our initial desire or lack thereof to be a parent, can relate to.
- You will love your child. There is no prescribed time when you’ll feel it – it may be when you realize you are pregnant (or when your partner tells you that she is), it may be when you hear your baby cry for the first time, or it may be once you bring the baby home from the hospital. You will feel love for that child at some point. Bella Harris’s experience was that of instant love: “Then I heard the cry and true enough what they say; all the pain, the difficult pregnancy, the miserable thoughts of not wanting kids, they just vanished. I fell head over heels over my baby.”
- You will change. Alice S. Hattie shared “once he arrived it unlocked this huge part of who I am that I didn’t know existed, but not like I was lacking or felt like something was missing prior.” You may not be able to fathom it now, but emotions will show up that you never knew you were capable of before.
- You may resent the responsibility thrust upon you. It is hard raising kids. It just is. If you didn’t anticipate or want to have another person fully dependent on your body, time, and money, you will probably have some resentments. Honestly, you may have those resentments even if you did want kids. Several parents’ comments on Quora laid bare the raw emotion that goes along with having a child with special needs or medical challenges. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, it is important to seek help. At the very least, hopefully, you can find a way to “[embrace] the duty evolution gave [you], and [try] to make the best of it while [you] still have time” like Sinto Sinop.
- You will miss your pre-child life. I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and I still have moments where I miss being able to go out to dinner without dealing with a spilled drink and food on the floor. Feeling this way doesn’t make me a bad mom, and it’s not a feeling reserved for those who didn’t initially want kids. Jon Vassa’s comment puts it perfectly: “I can’t imagine my life without my little guy anymore. But there were days I fervently wished for life before him.”
The bottom line is that being a parent, whether that was your plan or not, has incredible highs and gut-wrenching lows. There will be moments when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore, and then, there will be those beautiful moments in which you’ll wonder how you could have had a part in creating someone so wonderful. And those are the moments that will get you through.