You Don’t Have To Have Kids

Not long after I got married, one of my friends said to me: “You know… you don’t have to have kids. “ She said it in passing, and she said it lovingly, but when we hung up, I felt a little off balance.

On one hand, I liked that she was giving me permission not to have kids. It almost sounded like she was saying “Eh, you won’t be missing out on all that much if you don’t.”  

On the other hand, I didn’t like that it also sounded like she was saying “It’s OK not to have kids! And by the way, you probably shouldn’t.”

I never asked what she meant because really, what did it matter? She probably didn’t mean anything by it, but what if she did? If she wasn’t into being a mom, I wasn’t interested. No Thanks on those war stories. Or what if she had doubts about me being a mom? I didn’t need to hear that either.

Growing up, I always assumed I’d have the same kind of suburban life I grew up with. My mommy was a very present, very good mommy. She did all the mommy stuff and more. On top of that, my friends’ mommies and my mommy’s friends were all around me. Mommies were everywhere!

When I went to college, I went out of state so the mommy situation subsided quickly. No mommies at college. I spent those years, and the duration of my 20’s, with a very limited mommy presence—and I certainly wasn’t contemplating the idea of becoming one myself. The last (VERY LAST) thing on my mind was becoming a mommy. Trying NOT to be a mommy was more on my mind if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

I had a lot to get out of my system so it wasn’t until I was 34 years old that my husband (Cody) and I decided to adopt a kid. We didn’t decide to become parents. We didn’t decide to start a family. We decided we wanted to adopt a kid.

We were in northern Michigan at the summer camp where Cody is one of the directors. There happened to be a group of foster kids there, and I was in one of my “You can make any kid your kid” moods, so I brought up the idea of adopting a kid. As always, with my husband, I had to make my case: “Look at this place!” (Gesturing around camp) “We can give some kid a really good life.” We discussed and we researched, and it was Game On.

Before that moment though, I swear to you, I don’t ever remember discussing the idea of having kids. I think we knew at some point they were coming, but honestly, we were just having a good time being married. We had lives and careers and each other, and we were having fun. We had a good life.

But there we were. Right in the middle of that very SAME fun, that good life, thinking it might be a good idea to bring someone else in on it.

So, we went through a whole bunch of craziness (craziness I have already written about) until one day at almost 37 years old, there I was in the middle of another moment—a totally surreal moment of “Can someone please tell me what the F*CK I am doing in CHINA in an ORPHANAGE holding a BABY? A baby I’m supposed to take with me? And raise? Anyone??”

There was so much to do for the adoption— paperwork and finance stuff and hoops and hoops and hoops—we were busy. (Well, Cody was. He did pretty much everything. All I really did was come up with the idea. And I decorated.) My husband KILLED IT on his end. He was the rock, he made sure we were on point and prepared. And we were, in every way except one:

I had absolutely no clue how to be a mommy. And make no mistake—having a kid and being a mommy are two very different things.

Stay tuned for the next Dim Sum and Doughnuts post (Cliffhanger)! I’m going to break down some of my Go-To Mommy Tips and Tricks: Things people told me before having kids, and things I wish people told me. Becoming a mommy isn’t natural for everyone (Hi!), and even if you were born to be a mommy, it’s not always so easy.

Biological kids, adopted kids—you pick. When it comes to having kids, you certainly don’t have to, but if you’re thinking you might, we hope you come back for Part II because over the years, I have learned a few things that might help. And I’m ready to share.

Thank you for being here! Hope to see you for Part II!

XO, The DS&D Crew