The majority of millennials have more important things to do than settle down with kids.
I can’t say I know everything about motherhood, but I’ve learnt and witnessed enough to say that I will pass on it. Many other components constitute my decision: mental health, financial situation, fear of responsibility and incapability. You might say that fear is a result of cowardice, which is fine. Just give me the chance to tell you the whole story first.
I love my mother more than anything else in the world. She had always stood by me throughout my life and ignored all the terrible things that I said and did to her (especially when I was younger). Somehow my sister and I have become the purpose of her life.
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, my mum felt lost in Hong Kong. She had quite a terrible break-up after seven years of seeing that person. And when she got to know my dad, it was a miracle. She emigrated to Germany for him to start a new life. It’s funny to note that she doesn’t like children. Nonetheless, she taught at a kindergarten in Hong Kong. I believe that when she accepted my dad’s proposal and moved to Germany, she still didn’t like children, and then, she was pregnant with me when she was twenty-six.
What do millennials do at this age nowadays? You will probably meet a lot of them who have finished college and decided to go travelling. Or, they didn’t bother going to college yet. Instead, they work, save money and see the world first. This trip usually determines what they choose for their future. Back in the days, people didn’t have this option, not to mention the mindset for opportunities, unless they get married before thirty and have kids. Why would they do that? Because they considered it as normal? Because marriage and reproduction are a part of the Bible?
But then again, if you look closely at your parents’ lives and the choices that they made, do you see how secure they are? You can’t judge them for what they chose because they are financially ok, have a home and a life, and they did their best to raise you.
What is going to happen to those who chose not to settle down early? Can you say that they have lived and seen more than their parents? This is tricky because of the different perceptions between parents and their children. Their children are millennials who choose to experience the world at a young age. Still, the parents will always say, “Kiddo, settle down, get married, buy a house. As long as you have security, you can always go on holiday and see the world!” Here’s what the kid says, “Going on a two-week holiday isn’t seeing the world. You go to places to experience them, and that’s more than seeing.” If any of this sounds familiar to millennials, then hands up. This is what the majority of us did, and now what? You might have settled somewhere temporarily to see how things would turn out for you. You met lots of people along the way, and you made friends with people who were younger than you and were self-employed and married with kids. They were happy, if anything, happier than you. And you suddenly think to yourself…
You are already in your mid-thirties, gathered a lot of experience. Plus, you’ve seen things your parents can’t even imagine. You have to consider that it’s not important to them what you’ve seen; all they want is you to be safe and happy.
When she was younger, my mother wanted to be a model or a high-end stewardess flying to lovely places. She had dreams. I want to say they fell apart when she got married with kids because her life turned miserable decade after decade. There were no big opportunities that came her way, and all she has been doing is take care of us and fall victim to routine and OCD. My cousin witnessed similar things in her mum, except that my aunt is more spiteful because she was the second-to-last child that didn’t get much love from the parents. My mum is the youngest and, therefore, the parents’ favourite.
I remember how my cousin and I promised each other that we wouldn’t become like our mothers. We always thought it had something to do with how they were brought up. My grandma had five children. Apparently, she’d made them all clean regularly; if not, she was the one that did the cleaning. So, my aunts became who my grandma was merely through observing.
There was a time I asked my mum why she decided to have children if she didn’t like them? Her answer was to have someone take care of her in the future. For some time, I was wondering if that was a selfish answer or not…And then I flashbacked and looked at all those years she’d been raising my sister and me. I remember her being a little bit distant when we were younger, as though hoping for a better life because raising socially awkward kids wasn’t what she’d wanted. Now and then, she would smoke a cigarette. “It helps me blow away all my worries,” she used to say. Years later, I realised how unhappy she must’ve been. Now she is more than just unhappy.
In our entire family (relatives included), I’ve been the most adventurous of the children. I’ve lived in three countries, but my cousins have probably visited more countries on a holiday basis, or took a gap year, work & holiday of some sort. What fundamentally distinguishes me from them is that they all went back home to settle down, and I didn’t. They ended up with stable jobs and/or marriage. I never asked them why they wanted children. I guess they had the same way of thinking as my parents, or their parents – stability, security, etc. And knowing about the female biological clock ticking away, like mine. You’re not supposed to compare yourself to others, but I do that because I care about what my mother says and what she thinks because I know secretly, she wishes a similar life for me, except that I don’t want the same life as my relatives.
They want motherhood because they’re more capable than I am and more responsible – more selfless, more intelligent. I want to think of myself as stronger than them in choosing a different path where security is an open book, and anything can happen. I decided to take random turns in my life because I wanted to explore more and tackle my inner conflicts (which are never-ending battles) and pursue my writing. Even though I am not advancing fast, I don’t think I can stop until I succeed – succeed in releasing my mind and the self-loathe inside my chest. If this makes me a selfish person, then I believe I am one. But keep in mind that I don’t have a child. And I don’t judge any mothers; in fact, I admire them all. I don’t tell people that I am not ready to become a mother. Because the question will be if you’re not ready now, then when will you be ready? No, this is not the case. I do not want to become a mother because I yell at dogs when they misbehave. I do not have any patience for crying babies or kids. They make me feel claustrophobic in a way that my mind escapes my head, and I am no longer 100% present. The balance of my body and mind falls apart, and people wonder what is wrong with me. Then they accuse me of not being able to find the right words. The idea of full-time motherhood scares me, as I don’t have the mental capacity for it. You can’t call me a psychopath, thinking that I lack empathy. If I really didn’t empathize, I wouldn’t feel guilty. I do not want to become a mother because it’s inevitable that you become your parents in one way or another. It doesn’t help if neither of them is happy, even if you set a goal that you will be different. You probably want to do what they missed out on. Does this make me a cynic? Does it make me selfish? If you look at the world’s current condition, how safe is it for your kid to be on earth? The music is shit; the people are shit. We’re in a capitalist society ruled by the Matthew Effect. Global warming-driven natural disasters and extinction of unique animals… It’s different if someone from the future returns to the past to tell you that your kid is John Connor – destined to save the world. Though, there is nothing wrong if you believe that your child will do good to the world or if you’re convinced to navigate your child toward something worthwhile. This is what you believe in, and I respect it as long as you respect my belief, and that’s a life of no children.
I’m not a mother. I was not made to be one. Maybe I got this puppy to prove myself wrong. I’m doing ok, I know I will grow very attached, and I’ll love him more as I raise him. It’s ok to decide out of selfishness because you will grow attached to them as you take responsibility for someone. They quickly become the purpose of your existence. So, you have to forgive people that got kids by accident. I wasn’t an accident – by no means. I was totally planned. My parents wanted a rat baby, followed by a dragon baby. And I hate to disappoint them that I don’t think I made it to anything. I’m a Saturday child with two water signs and five planets in retrograde, and I’m unable to express how I feel. Unfortunately, this won’t ever change. This was the reason why I never spoke as a child – the fear of being misunderstood. Then, as a teenager, I had the courage to at least try. Now I’m reverting to who I used to be – someone who struggles to be mentally present. And I don’t know what to do about it.
I remember a story a close friend once told me. He was out in public and witnessed a scene of an emergency. A person was literally dying on the pavement surrounded by other people trying to help; call 999. And all he did was try to squeeze past the crowd and get the hell away from the scene. Later he asked himself if what he did was even human. Should he have done something to help? I told him he was human, that everything was already being taken care of. He walked away because he was aware of it; he merely chose not to be a bystander. It’s all about perceptions and perspectives. He was the one telling me that I had to view things from all angles and not be one-dimensional. He taught me a lot for someone who didn’t socialize. I understand how people feel, but this understanding was never reciprocal. Why? -I’m unable to express how I feel. And when I try, I need the right music in the right key to spark that particular feeling so that I can find at least a few words to describe it. And this is my purpose: fix my mental and emotional incapability to stay healthily alive and present. It’s not motherhood.