Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

Thankyou to Doubtful for bringing this topic up, and to Amanda and Sarah for their perspectives. I recently turned 40 and have had to make the decision to not to have kids and it hurts still, a lot. Just really appreciate the honesty and care from both Amanda and Sarah to show both sides of the coin. It meant a lot. Thanks

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

My birthed kids are 23 and 12, the first one very unplanned, the second one planned for years. I have 2 stepsons now as well.

I have nothing to add to the amazing, soul-piercing advice above other than this:

You might not like kids. But you’re gonna like YOUR kid. YOUR kid is gonna pick up your mannerisms and speech patterns; your humor and fun. YOUR kid is going to drive you nuts but in ways you recognize. The alchemy of “so like me” and “so much themselves” is a goddamn delight. I was scared to death of preteens. My preteen is fucking awesome. Because it’s still HER.

BLESSINGS on all of us, parents or not, agonizing or at peace. Life is so hard and gorgeous.

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

Thank you to everyone involved. This article is beautiful (and I can't wait to bring it to my therapist tomorrow!)

I'm 4 weeks pregnant with my second child. I did much of this internal battle, but more along the lines of "is it ok to have an only child? do I want another child?" - In the end, I never really decided. I just quit my birth control and left it up to fate. Fate determined that my partner and I are excessively fertile, which I know is a stroke of luck that many would hope to share in.

Am I excited? No, not really. I'm just hoping to get to 10 months from now with a healthy kid, and to not be dead. (maternal mortality in the US, amirite?)

But in my lack of excitement, I know this: we will make it work. I will keep going to therapy. I love my first child. My love is not finite and can grow to include this new person. it will be ok. it will be ok. it will be ok.

it'll be great, really. my first child is 2 years old now, and starting to talk. I've never known a thrill like the one I felt when she started singing 'wheels on the bus' unprompted.

we'll all be ok.

Expand full comment

As a parent who could never figure out why my kids always wanted to be around me (I have 4, now 16-23), I fully understand. My issue wasn't any real trauma, although it may have to do with my parents' divorce? I just never felt the need to spend a lot of time with my parents... They were always there in the background, but we spent more time with friends. I wasn't a clingy kid. Anyway... Mine seemed to want to be attached to me and it often confused me. I love all of them (and now I wish they'd call or stop by more often) but I figured once they were fed and watered and provided with appropriate entertainment venues I shouldn't have to actively engage with them all the time. Especially as they were older kids... Shuffle them off to their rooms or friends houses or outside... But they all wanted mom all the time. So weird. (I told them that too... And they still turned out okay.)

Anyway. My point is that I love all of the kids (and I didn't plan on having ANY). And they love me. And it all worked out. And I've told my kids that I'll be just as happy with grand-kitties as grand-kids, none of them needs to feel the need to have kids if they don't want to. And if they want to foster or adopt, that's cool too. Because the only important thing is to live your life in a way that makes you happy.

Best of luck, love, and pastries on your journey!


Expand full comment

Thank you Doubtful for asking and Amanda for answering this question. It is very lonely being in the undecided camp that much of the world doesn't seem to think exists. I spent many, many years waiting to have some sort of epiphany that would clarify for me that I definitely wanted or definitely did not want to have kids. I think I expected that feeling to emerge from somewhere deep within me, but over time I came to realize that it just isn't there for me.

Eventually, my partner and I just decided. We took a look at our lives and our time and our money and all the things we still wanted to do but were already stretched too thin for and agreed that we didn't want to let those things go in exchange for raising a child. At first that decision was a little bittersweet--letting go of one possible person I could become was hard. But the longer that decision stood, the more comfortable it felt. I also no longer had to carry any anxiety about not being able to both fight depression and be a good parent. I no longer had to plan my interests, ambitions, or future around obligations to a hypothetical future child. When Roe was overturned, my partner and I reexamined our decision and found we had even more reasons to hold to our childless path, so we solidified it medically.

For me, that vision of myself as a mom in 10 years never fully materialized, but the one of me raising livestock, growing gardens, playing music, writing, cooking, creating art of all sorts, spending time outdoors, and spending time with the people I care about was clear and strong.

Whatever you decide and whomever you become, there is no easy path in life, but there are plenty that are meaningful and worth going after. I believe in your ability to figure out what you most want. I hope you pursue that for as long as it feels right to you.

Best of luck. You will be okay.

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

It’s ok to feel the way you do. I felt a lot like it too. I’ve known my husband since I was 19 yo (I’m 39 now) and a year after we met he told me that he dreams of having three daughters. It wasn’t my dream. I could happily imagine myself child free. 10 years went by and we made the decision to try for a child (while thinking it might take time). I was pregnant within three months - and I hated it. I hated the thought of my body changing, if something growing inside me. I wanted to make a first appointment at my op gyn and the woman at the phone congratulated me - I immediately switched doctors. I wanted to - and did scream - at people that I did not want children. I cried a lot during that pregnancy.

I had always avoided being around children because they gave me the creeps. I had never held a Baby before I held my own daughter. Why I followed through? Because I knew that even if I found out I didn’t like being a mother, my husband would love being a father. He would always want to spend time with them and would enjoy staying home while I worked endless hours.

When my daughter was born I was so clueless. The nurses at the hospital would laugh at my naïveté. I stayed at the hospital for a whole week just so I could watch them. And I admit the first 8 months were hell. Because being a mother did not come natural to me as it did to my husband. I had to painfully learn every movement, every way of interacting, playing, comforting a small child.

Do I regret it? Well I really loved my “old” life and I can see the path it would have taken without kids very clearly. It would have been a nice life. But I very much enjoy this life and though I’m far from perfect, I’m not a bad mom and my husband is an extraordinary husband. I’m lying in bed right now, inbetween my daughters (6 and 3), the younger one is running a fever and I can feel her hot hand on my stomach. I found out my second daughter was very different from my first and I loved the baby phase with her. Maybe because I was more experienced but also because every child is unique. You may be in for a surprise and actually enjoy the time when they are little too.

To sum it up, what has helped me was having a back up plan. You will never be able to undo the fact that you’re having a child, but you can shape your life with kids. You can live against the societal norms and carve out a more unusual interpretation of “mother” if you find out the standard role doesn’t suit you. You will find one that is good for you and the child.

Whatever your choice, I wish you the best. I love you. You’ll be fine. ❤️

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

I didn’t know I needed this until today. I’m 33 and have been on the fence about biological children due to the trauma from 10+ years of chronic Lyme disease throughout my 20s and a fair amount of gender queerness. This helped me understand that I’m asking the question from the place of my trauma and I need to side step that and look at some other angles. Much love to you all for your vulnerability.

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

1️⃣ To the larger question, "Should I or shouldn't I?":

I love both of my children deeply; they have become fantastic human beings who love me back (not always a sure bet!), and I'm proud of the parent I am and the people they are.

But if I had it to do over again, I would not have children.

(I hear everyone's gasps. Here's the thing: if I hadn't had them, I wouldn't miss them. It's okay to say this. It's okay to FEEL this.)

Getting pregnant and ultimately marrying someone with deep roots in a semi-rural area has meant giving up on many of my dreams. There are a hundred lives I could have lived, a hundred careers, a hundred paths I didn't take because I spent a full *quarter of a century* putting someone else's needs before my own.

I love them, but I gave up a LOT to be their mother, and I don't always think it was a fair trade. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I seem to be in the minority on this, but I thought it was worth bringing up.

2️⃣ To the trauma issue:

MASSIVE childhood trauma here. Neglect and abuse from a mother with BPD. A broken home at 9. Abandoned by my father after the divorce. Physical, mental, AND sexual abuse from various family members. THREE stepfathers and a dozen "not quite but almost" stepfathers. More than 30 moves (with accompanying school changes) before I was 16.

My childhood was a fucking TRAIN WRECK.

But here's the good news: it made me a better parent.

No joke — I am seriously not kidding — whenever I had to make a decision in my parenting journey, I asked myself "What would my mother have done?" and I pretty much did the opposite (or at least not THAT).

It worked. That's all I can say. It worked.

It's a fucked-up compass, but it got us all through.

So if you DO choose to have a kid, it'll be okay that you don't know what to do with them from 2-10, because at least you'll know what NOT to do with them!

I wish you so much luck and love, and I'm sure you'll do the exact right thing, whatever it is.

Expand full comment


This song is what I wrote when I realized that having kids was waaaaaaaay harder than anyone ever frigging mentioned. It’s a mixed message song and doesn’t get to the depth that these pages do. Thank you, Amanda. This is such a heart deep subject. Hard to be honest. Important to try. Thank you.

Expand full comment

Thank you Amanda! Thank you Doubtful! Thank you Sarah!

This letter struck home, as I find myself on a similar fence in a different neighbourhood. I lost my second child, Raphael, at the age of sixteen months just over a year ago. The trauma, horror and shock of our loss has taken a long time to heal, and yet our family has grown more loving and mutually supportive through the process of recovering from our loss. So should we have another baby?

If the journey of becoming a mother shredded my ego and destroyed my ambition, then the process of bereavement revealed a strength of self that has transformed my experience of life forever. Everything seems easy compared to what I have already been through. I never thought I would survive the ordeal of grief, the hell of despair, but somehow our family pulled through everything and we remain the funny joyful creative lovers that we always have been.

But here's where the fence sprouts up: as a family we have passed through the impossible, so what next? Would another baby be a blessing to us, alleviating the pain of Raphael's absence from our lives, renewing the opportunity that we lost to watch him grow? Would another child live in our son's shadow, or could growing our family help us to understand ourselves more deeply? Are we missing out on something beautiful just because we are afraid?

The predicament lends itself to overthinking: motherhood is the terrain of mixed feelings, the space in which we continuously negotiate the impossible as part of our daily reality. I love that you have chosen this question, Amanda, and I love that you haven't left us fence-sitters with any clear resolution.

I've written quite a bit about love, bereavement and surrender below:





Expand full comment

What an important discussion.

I am childless not by choice, and it's been quite a journey. Societies around the world are brutal to women for different reasons around fertility.

Children are wondrous and beautiful, but so is life without children. It's such a personal journey for each individual that I don't have much to add other than you are whole with or without a child. Sending light and love in this difficulty.

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

Thank you, we love you, we hear you and we get you, sweet and powerful Doubtful.

This entire piece- the question and both answers- forced me to ask myself some really harrowing questions. I have always said and felt it was honest and authentic and true to me to say, "I am stoked and excited to be a mom, 100%, because I had a wonderful childhood riddled with lessons on how I will NOT be a mother. I know what not to do now."

And, naturally. It's not.. wonderful childhood with caring parent, it's a childhood founded and based on weird guilt and a condom she poked a hole in. He didn't stay. She still kept me. And she made sure I never forgot that I didn't do my only job.. Even when she married a wildly abusive man, when I begged her to please leave, to look in the basement just once, just look at what is down there and where I go in in afternoons you're at work . Please.

I also just like to say as a sidebar whenever I speak of this, I never knew my dad. My step-dad would feck me up and then remind me I wasn't his kid. He told me before I knew. My dad was an artist. A poet. A writer. I saw him for the first time at his wake- doll eyes like mine, lips too big for face., wide nose. My face. We spoke once on the phone after the divorce of step dad and mum. We liked the same music. We liked the same things. He was fecked up. He sounded drunk. He apologized a thousand times. And then he died unexpected when I was 15. I knew for sure I had a real dad who was like me for two and a half years

He died. My mom hates me for every reason under the sun. Her and I are not the same.

I don't fear I'll be a bad mom. I fear I'll never feel good enough to be one. I had no one to teach me. I just wrote a thing on my own patreon about my grandmother raising me, and she's gone. And I want to hear her opinion, her voice, so, painfully, so badly. I just want to know. Can I do it? Will I really put that stuff aside and follow said lessons and be the mom I swear I'll be?

Man. I'm almost 32. I've never even had a healthy pregnancy, either one. Both accidents. I'm not even sure I can have kids based on those experiences (one ectopic. one forced MVA). My fiance passed away in 2016 and I swore if I wasn't in a committed relationship by 30. I'd adopt. Now I am in a committed relationship, past my own deadline, and my partner certainly isn't ready for the age and timing discussion because I'm 32 going on 50 and he is 32 going on 30, maybe. If I'm generous. It's not his fault in the same way it's not mine, I think. But what about the thought process of if you deserve to bring a child into the world at all?

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

We're trying at the moment. This is my second marriage -- I had stepkids the first time round, and it was a nightmare. It took a lot of work to get past the point where I stopped blaming myself for everything that went wrong, was able to take responsibility for my real failings, and could handle the notion of having kids. I wanted kids, but I thought I was a fuck up. And given the troubled relationship with my mother, who has mostly taken every opportunity she can to dismantle my sense of self, I was worried I might not be the best parent material. Also, I am 15 years older than my partner so we had to have a very real conversation about the notion that I might shuffle off the mortal coil a while before her, this with my own fear of dying at the relatively young age of 66 like my dad riding along. I'm in a much better place than I was when I switched from being a single person in the UK to being a stepdad to 3 in the US, but I also know that having my own is likely an entirely different prospect.

Really nice to see a discussion of this kind of thing. Most of the people I work with are either my age or younger, so I get some people looking at me and going "Why are you leaving it so late?" or people so much younger they can't even see the existence of the set of problems I'm facing.

Thank you, Amanda.

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

I do not want children and do not think it is a good idea to have children. So much is so completely wrong in the world and nothing is getting better. Climate change, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, increased risk of cancer due to things in our food and water, global economy crashing, hyperinflation, global water shortages, monoculture food supply at risk of failing, 60% of the worlds wildlife dying off in the last 50 years, increased need for mental medicine to cope with daily life- like antidepressants anti-anxiety medication and antipsychotics, lower paying jobs and higher rents and unaffordable houses, increased wars for scarcer resources, pollution, corruption in governance, rising hatred, burning rainforests and commercial deforestation, extreme poverty of 90% of the worlds population, cyber bullying, cyber fraud putting your information at risk, world pandemics, rising sea levels. I can go on and on and on and on . To bring a new life that will last about 100 years into the most volatile and failing system that ever was is cruel and immoral. It is selfish and most importantly it is ignorant of the state of the world. The way your parents never understood you due to their differences in upbringing, the newest generation have lives so extremely different to us and we will never be capable of supporting or understanding them. Children get depressed at age 8 these days just from understanding more than us. There is also a Facebook page I follow called “I regret having children”. It’s a great one to read before not only creating a life that will suffer endlessly but severely affecting your own. https://www.facebook.com/IRegretHavingChildren/

Expand full comment
Sep 30, 2022Liked by Amanda Palmer

I agree with everything both of you have said. My two pregnancies were unplanned and I worried that I would be a terrible mother. My sons, now grown, say they had a happy childhood - I remember their beauty but also horrible days when I screamed at them. When the younger one was mad at me one day, he went to my desk with a permanent marker and, while staring at me, reached up and scribbled as hard as he could. I was afraid to go near him for fear I would hurt him. When I finally looked at the desk, he had missed the almost-finished art by an inch. So I recommend a separate studio if at all possible! We were poor and I did my work in the middle of the front room where the natural light was good. Dear Doubtful, whatever decision you make will be a good one. Embrace it and don’t second-guess yourself. I wish you all possible good luck.

Expand full comment

I am? was? in Doubtful‘s position for a long time. When I was a teenager, I was sure that I would have kids at the age of 25. When I was 25, I was sure to have at least one child (the plan was two kids) before my 30st birthday. My partner whom I met with 21 wanted kids when we met, just wait a bit until our mid-twenties - just to tell me that his opinion changed and he didn’t see himself as a parent when I was 27. I agreed. He wouldn’t have made a good father. And we both told ourselves that it was irresponsible to bring children in this world full of crisis. Still, I saw myself as a mother, even as a grandmother in the long-term future, although I was and still am fucking frightened by the reality of having little ones that I see in stressed colleagues. By the age of 32, my relationship broke and I found a new partner with whom I can definitely imagine to have kids. We talk about it, even in time schedules („34 would be a good age to have kids, wouldn’t it? Just after you finished your Masters“). I am looking forward to be 34. I am also scared, this time more of „what if you‘re not fertile?“ and at the same time of „what if I end up in this house of him that doesn’t belong to me and I sacrificed my career to a baby and I will be dependent and maybe our relationship will break and this would be the shitty situation my mom was in when she wanted to leave our dad?“. I am scared. But I also have this partner who said, when I did a pregnancy test because my period was late and told him „congratulations, we‘re not pregnant“: „another result would also be a reason to congratulate“ and I am really happy to have him and I think, we will manage it somehow.

Expand full comment