I was selfish, and didn’t want to gamble

Why I chose not to have children

I was selfish, and didn’t want to gamble

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

9:22 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I opened my eyes for the second time that morning, having decided three hours earlier that I was going back to sleep. That’s one of the reasons I knew I could not have had children, despite loving being around them. I was selfish about my time, and I also certainly didn’t want to gamble. Now in my 52nd year, I am still happy with that decision.

Back in secondary school, the thinking was that we would grow up, go to university, get married and have children. I clearly remember a conversation with my school friends one day during lunch. Out of my mouth came the words, “I am going to have more than one child, in case one dies.” What if I didn’t keep the child safe and was responsible for their mortality? I don’t know where those thoughts came from, but I own them. My friends were astonished. How could you think that way, Michelle? Perhaps, I knew early in my life that procreation was a gamble. Some parents win, while others lose, and I do commiserate with those who have had to bury their children.

In my 20s, I found out that I have the sickle cell trait and I learned that if I had had a child with someone who also had the trait, there was a 25% chance that the baby would have full-blown sickle cell disease. I’d seen a relative struggle with that terrible illness all her life. It eventually killed her, much too soon. Would I have had to ask everyone on the first date, “Do you have the Sickle cell trait? Oh, you don’t know? Let’s get tested first.”

For the selfish part, once you have children, your life is (mostly) no longer your own. Any decision would have had to consider my children, like the decision to move to Grenada in 1997. I only wanted to have to consider one person during the chase for happiness.

What about the pregnancy itself? Your body undergoes changes for nine months. Sometimes there are complications. Life is threatened. Let’s not forget the delivery! That clip in the movie “Look Who’s Talking” further confirmed what I was thinking. How could something the size of a watermelon be squeezed out of a hole the size of a lemon? I was not convinced.

Some readers may be thinking “she doesn’t know what she is missing.” Well, I do. I have helped to look after my nephew and niece, who I could enjoy for a few hours then hand back to my sister. I love children. If I enter a room and there are both adults and kids, I will head over to talk to the kids. I find that their minds are curious, especially when they are young, and they do say the darndest things.

There was only one very fleeting moment after I had turned 40 when I wondered if I had made the right decision. Then, I quickly came back to reality after I asked myself “would I have been able to do all of the things I have done so far in my life?” No. You can try and convince me otherwise, but I know that many persons with children have had to press the pause button on their desires, their wants, their dreams. Sure, it’s a huge sacrifice to make and hopefully, their kids will be eternally grateful and show it.

For all the adults who have more than one child, I say they are having the ones I chose not to have. I have no doubt that I would have made a good… no…an excellent mother. I have been blessed with the patience of Job, which I consider to be a prerequisite. Like Oprah, I do feel that being a parent is the most important job in the world. I lift my hats to all the gamblers and selfless mothers.

By Michelle McDonald


Michelle L. McDonald has been writing since her teenage years, when she started posting entries in her diary. Since then, she has developed this hobby into becoming a Features writer and Blogger. Since 2003, her work has been published in the Jamaica Gleaner, SHE Caribbean and on www.caribbeancricket.com profiling International cricketers and writing “off the field” features from the Caribbean overseas cricket tours.

On her personal blog, Michelle posts candid stories about lifestyle and travel. Professionally, she is a freelance Service/HR Advisor and Trainer and is based in Grenada and Jamaica, although she considers all of the Caribbean her home.

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