By Gwendolen Fairfax, DivineCaroline
You know you’re an adult when your friends start acting like stereotypes. A friend confides that she’s only getting married because she’s afraid her sub-optimal fiancé is her last chance. Or your married pal moves away from your hip, fun city to live in the suburbs, where they can have a yard and a laundry room. Or your college roommate, who always swore she’d be a relaxed, stress-free mom, starts obsessing about tutoring her two-year-old for the SATs. Welcome to adulthood, which is more complicated, painful, and confusing than you thought it would be.
Nowhere is the complexity of adulthood more pronounced than in the decision to have a baby, where formerly sane, smart women start saying things that sound like lines from a Lifetime original movie. Whether or not to be parents is a decision that people make in different ways and for different reasons, but let’s be honest—for every good reason to have a baby, there are some spectacularly bad reasons for doing it.
1. “It’s Time”
Perhaps your friends are starting to have kids, or you just got married and you’re beginning to wonder what’s next. If you’re surrounded by people more or less like you who are happily breeding, you may understandably start to suspect that it’s what you should be doing, too, but—this should go without saying—there is no right time to have a baby. Look around: from fourteen-year-olds on MTV to post-menopausal miracle moms, obviously there’s a pretty wide range of what people find acceptable in terms of the right time to reproduce. It’s time to start a 401(k). It’s time to start wearing sunscreen. There is no such universal “time” to start having babies.
2. “I Love Babies”
I hate to break it to you, but babies do not stay babies forever. They’re only babies for a hot, messy, screaming minute; eventually they become toddlers, and before you know it, they’re teenagers. No one has children because they love teenagers. If you have children because you love babies, you stand a very real chance of turning into Octomom.
3. “It’s What People Do”
Generations of feminists fought for today’s women to have the right to control their reproductive destinies. Your life isn’t scripted, and there’s no need to have a family just because of some vague, undefined feeling that you need to check this milestone off a list. Popping out 2.5 kids and living in a four-bedroom house with a dog isn’t a foregone conclusion anymore, and plenty of people are perfectly happy without them.
Related: Myths about Childfree Women