This article originally appeared on VICE Australia
I was lying in bed scrolling through my Instagram feed last week when I noticed not one, but two birth announcements.
The first was a classic baby bump, posted alongside a caption that said "part of me wants to stay pregnant forever!" The other was of a (very cute) baby boy I've never met, yet, due to his mother's incessant updates, I'm aware he's currently having potty training issues and is going through a weird biting phase—his mom, a former classmate of mine whose Insta bio reads "wifey and proud mommy," says he likes clamping down on her thigh the most.
The baby was wearing a little shirt that said, "I am going to be a big brother September 2016," and splayed across his lap was a series of sonograms.
Instinctively, I rolled my eyes.
Honestly, how could you want to be pregnant forever? You get sick, gain weight, your hormones are out of control, and drinking is VERY frowned upon. And then after the baby is born (through an excruciating process), you just literally never sleep properly, and have to worry about another human being for like... ever.
(Is it really necessary to take a photo of your bump every other week? We get it—you are still knocked up!) While I am happy for people who are stoked about having kids, I also wonder if, once it happens, something switches in their brain where all of a sudden moments that are objectively boring as hell—look, a tiny human just splattered a bunch of mushy fruit everywhere—become truly life-affirming entertainment. And I don't know if I want to be the kind of person that looks at a tiny human with mushy fruit on their face and it's the highlight of my day, reinforced online by 100 likes (and loves and wows, now) from obliging/enabling friends.
At first I thought maybe the Facebook algorithm was fucking with me, but it seems for a lot of people my age, this is real life.
I'm 28, single, and obsessed with my job, so I admit having babies is low on my list of priorities. I still have to Google how to brown ground beef every time I cook pasta sauce and only just started making my bed. I have a crew of similarly career-minded girlfriends who are also single, and when we're together, I never feel the need to defend my life choices. We've agreed to kill each other if any of us ever updates our public profiles to include the words "wifey" or "mommy."
But a growing number of people from back home are getting married, moving to the suburbs, and not using birth control—on purpose. And while I know they know I'm happy, I definitely feel like the odd one when I go back there, guaranteed to field at least a few questions about why I don't have a boyfriend, and occasionally, how I feel about having a family. These questions bring on a sort of hidden anxiety that my day-to-day life never forces me to confront.
Just last week, I had dinner with a former colleague, who turned the conversation to who does and doesn't have children. She lamented the fact that a couple we know in their 40s wasn't able to get pregnant—"that's so sad"—even though that couple seems to be one of the happiest I know. Then, of course, she asked if I ever planned on having kids. "When you hit 35, your fertility goes down like this," she said, using her forearm to make a downward slant. I answered honestly, saying that I didn't know.
I'm not particularly maternal. I've never even had to babysit, so I speak to kids like they're adults because I don't know what else to do.
Growing up, my mom, who had an arranged marriage with my dad, would tell me, "Don't have kids unless you really feel like you're missing out." I know she loves me—we are super close. But she missed out on a lot of good shit. Travelling, getting ahead in her career faster (she is still a boss, but it took a lot longer), having a real romance. Also, I don't think raising my brother and I was a particularly good time. He was constantly in trouble and I was attention-starved and oscillated between throwing tantrums and, as I got older, not really giving a shit about anything other than getting fucked up with my friends. My dad was checked out for much of that time period, so he wasn't much help, save for the fact that he would inadvertently fund my booze and pot.
So yeah, I guess when I see couples on Facebook happily eating placenta or whatever, I'm pretty skeptical. I wonder if they ever have sex anymore, or about how exhausted they are, or if they're jealous of their single friends who can still spend an entire day in bed when they're hungover without having to tend to a wailing infant. I don't really envy them, but sometimes I do wonder what it'd be like to have a greater purpose in life—something that might motivate me to not be immobilized, binge watching Netflix every Sunday.
Then my delivery pizza arrives and I'm like, "nah."
When one my my best friends came to me for advice as she debated having an abortion, I told her, "Nobody ever says they regret having kids but some people probably do." Maybe not in a big-picture sense, but there must be moments where they wonder how much easier/happier/richer their lives could have been if they weren't spending them chasing a couple little shits around the house.
If only people were a bit more honest, like Snapchatted their screaming kids with the words "I WISH MURDER WAS LEGAL" once in a while, perhaps we'd all make decisions more based in reality.
Then again, I haven't had sex since December, so maybe this will never be an issue for me.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.