I love babies. Wrapped up like soft, cottony burritos, wriggling and smiling and just being all-around adorable – poop, throw-up, and incessant crying be damned.
And I believe that parenting probably is one of the most amazing and fulfilling experiences anyone can have in his or her life. Seeing your own flesh and blood grow into fascinating, independent creatures must be something breathtakingly special, and I am very happy for the people who get to enjoy that.
But I am never having a baby. And – conservatives, clutch your pearls – I think that’s perfectly okay. Here's why:
1. I have no money
Children are expensive. Not fancy meal-expensive. Not Rolls-Royce-expensive. Not even first-class trip-around-the-world-expensive. If you want to have a child, make sure you have a lot – a lot – of money for the next couple of decades. To give you an idea of how much a child costs, check out Ana Santos’s eye-opening piece, which would make anyone with a bank account jittery.
Years upon years of housing, clothing, food, utilities, medicines, hospital bills, transportation, and schooling (not to mention whatever technological doohickeys will be begged from you at regular intervals, if you are so inclined to indulge them) are all going to make a sizeable dent in your wallet if you want to provide your child with a safe and comfortable life.
But at 28, an age where I am considered ripe for baby-making, my salary is just enough for myself. My partner also makes just enough for himself. Pool our resources together and it still won’t be enough to raise a child properly. The both of us are on a budget as it is; minus the rent and bills (split among other housemates) and groceries (all low- to mid-priced), our savings trickle in slower than glycerine.
And if we take on a child, we will seriously scrimp on both the quality of their childhood necessities and our own basic needs, not to mention have no savings for emergencies like serious illnesses. No child deserves to brought into this world and not be properly assured of their needs.
Some would argue that we should just look for higher-paying jobs, but the fact is, we both love our current jobs. We are fulfilled by the work we do, and in this world of soulless, mechanical employment, this is a rare opportunity we wouldn’t dare squander. We are happily employed and live just right, and we intend to keep it that way. If we get higher salaries in the future, well and good, but right now this is what our bank accounts look like, and we will have to make sound decisions according to our present finances, as we aim to be responsible adults.
2. I have issues
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder coupled with social anxiety. I honestly find it difficult enough to take care of my own mental and emotional wellbeing, let alone another person’s. While I do take medication for my conditions, exercise regularly, and eat relatively healthy to keep myself in check, I remain, admittedly, a mess. I’m just ridiculously lucky to have a partner and friends who support me even during the times when I morph into a full-on banshee.
This is not to say that people with conditions like my own can’t be parents. If you are diagnosed with something but still want to be a parent, you can likely still do so with the help of psychiatric professionals and your loved ones. I suppose it really depends on what you set your mind to and how well you prepare yourself with others’ help. It’s going to be a risk, but if you’re a high-functioning depressive and willing to take responsibility, then it’s your choice to make.
I, however, am just not comfortable with the idea of raising another human being and not being 100 percent certain that I won’t break down, illogically lose my temper, or who-knows-what in front of them. I am a very firm believer in focusing on a child’s psychological development alongside the physical and mental, and I do not want to be one of those mothers who impose their insecurities and other issues on their offspring.
Granted that no person – let alone parent – is perfect, but I happen to have conditions that further lessen my probability of being a decent baby-raiser, and that makes me personally unwilling to take on the task of motherhood. I feel guilty enough being a psycho girlfriend, what more a psycho mother.
3. I want to help the planet
Our planet is suffering from a smorgasbord of issues: global warming, dying oceans, endangered wildlife, high pollution, poor sustainability, etc. With the population at 7 billion individuals and counting, reining in these issues and implementing solutions has become, to put it mildly, a Promethean task. Not only am I very hesitant to bring a child into a world where super typhoons and polar vortices just up and happen, but I’d also like to do my bit part in trying to make the population manageable.
The Philippine population alone is heading towards 100 million this year, and we already have a lot of trouble trying to provide for everyone’s basic needs. Every day, we hear about classrooms crammed beyond capacity; and mothers with way, way too many mouths to feed (and clothe, and educate), among others.
If our country is already so ill-equipped to handle its present number of citizens, I would much rather focus my energies elsewhere than add another person to the wobbling pyramid.
Do note that I’m not trying to antagonize people who want to be parents. I’m just saying that if you plan to have a baby, do your part in helping the planet at the same time. Raise your children to have the utmost respect for their environment, and instill earth-friendly habits that will last their entire lives, and which they can easily share with others.
Humanity has tons of staggeringly difficult problems to deal with, and you have to be fully aware of what kind of world your child is getting into before even, well, conceiving them.
“But your life won’t be complete without children.”
“But who will carry on the family name?”
“But don’t you want a little version of you and your loved one?”
“But who will take care of you when you’re old?”
Believe it or not, these arguments don’t have to hold water if you don’t want them to. You shouldn’t be letting others impose their own desires and values upon you in the first place.
Seriously, you don’t have to have a child. You certainly can, if you wanted to and carefully thought it through, but nothing and nobody’s forcing you.
After all, this is a human being we’re talking about, and the last thing they deserve are: a) parents that only kinda-maybe-sorta wanted them because it was the norm; b) parents that are financially or psychologically unprepared for them; or c) a heart-crushing mix of both.
I don’t want to be that kind of parent, but there’s a very good chance I will be. I am never having children, and society should find nothing wrong with that.
Marguerite de Leon is a Social Media Producer for Rappler and editor-in-chief of the Filipino Freethinkers’ website.
*This article was first published by Rappler.com, a Manila-based social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change.
**Illustration by Eugenia Loli