I never wanted children.
They always annoyed me. As a child, I preferred the company of adults. Babies were never cute to me nor did they ever spark any kind of nurturing instinct within me. I never carried around a “dolly”. The idea of getting pregnant was my worst nightmare and I never took any chances. If I had not experienced menstruation, I would have suspected that I was born without ovaries. While my friends daydreamed about baby names, I fantasized about the destinations on my bucket list. Over Japanese teppanyaki during our first date, Dan Kim and I bonded over our mutual desire to never have children.
I used to think that I did not want children because I wanted “more” out of my life. That I wanted to travel and become a CEO of some Fortune 500 company whose car floor was never littered with stale Cheerios. That I wanted to sleep whenever I wanted for however long I wanted. Having children equated none of these things. They meant sacrifice in every aspect of my life. Sacrificing my body for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Sacrificing my time for soccer practice and bath time and story time and and and. Most importantly, I deeply believed that children meant sacrificing my relationship. I believed this because growing up, I subconsciously blamed myself for my parents divorce. After all — it happened only a mere six months after I was born.
I was never convinced that having a baby made relationships stronger but rather that it tore people apart. When I was just 5-years-old, I started to wonder if I ruined my parents’ lives simply by having come into existence. It was then that I made a little promise to myself that I would never bring someone into this world if there was even the smallest possibility of causing them to feel the despair that I did. I felt these enormous and complex emotions at such a young age but did not have the maturity or articulation to express them to anyone. I was hostage to my own fears that, without the maturity to be able to participate in self-reflection, ran wild throughout my childhood and adolescence. The very same fears that almost made me miss out on the greatest experience of my life: motherhood.
It appeared to those I love that my mind changed overnight about becoming a mother but in retrospect it changed slowly over time. I can not pinpoint one singular experience or aha! moment that inspired me to have a baby. Instead, I accredit slowly but consistently falling in love with someone I had been waiting for my entire life — the ‘real’ me. For so many years I had been making fear-based decisions. I gave my heart and body to men who were not right for me. I went to college to appease my family. I held the people around me at an arm’s length. At the time, I thought I was just being a “bad b*tch” but really — I was just being a child who feared not being loved.
My life really started to change for me when I turned 20-years-old. It was not so much a “before and after” ordeal as it was a series of tiny decisions that represented the ‘real’ me. I dropped out of college and started working full-time at a tech startup. I pursued photography more aggressively and without guilt. I stopped dating assholes. I went to bed earlier and took better care of myself. It is no coincidence that I shortly after found an incredible man who I would choose to start a life with. Small successes, both intrinsically and materialistically, began to manifest as I started to acknowledge and approach my deepest fears. Especially the ones from childhood, most specifically the fear of becoming a mother.
Over three years, I traveled far and wide. I worked in pharmaceuticals, technology, healthcare, and real estate. I shot commercial photography, weddings, and events. My appendix and wisdom teeth broke up with me. I worked in an Emergency Department and saw truly beautiful and absolutely awful things. I started losing one of my life’s greatest loves — my grandma — to dementia. I moved 1,000 miles away from everything and everyone I knew to a city I had never been. I reshaped my family. I graduated from EMT school and witnessed first-hand the harsh reality of suicide. I stopped eating meat and dairy. I went back to college. My relationship with my grandfather and my mother blossomed. I made new lifetime friends. I jumped out of an airplane and free-dived in the Indian Ocean. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of this messy beautiful life I now call mine. All while falling in love with the ‘real’ me. And through these ups and downs, I realized that the ‘real’ me wanted to become a mom and maybe always had.
Dan Kim and I decided to start a family together on a warm summer night and just like that — BOOM! I was pregnant. We decided to not because all of my childhood baggage was solved or fixed or even healed but because it was acknowledged. The transparency with which I had to assess myself took me over twenty years to have the courage to tap in to…and it was worth every second for me to realize that I am not my mother. Dan Kim is not my father. We are not my parents. My son is not me. We will shape our own family. We get to decide.