Childless by Choice

If you send up a weather vane or put your thumb up in the air every time you want to do something different, to find out what people are going to think about it, you’re going to limit yourself.  That’s a very strange way to live. – Jessye Norman

In the past while, I’ve been somewhat flooding my Facebook timeline with articles about being childless (by choice).  I find that at this stage of my life – in my 30’s where people are “supposed” to be settled.  In a job, in a relationship, and in a family.  More and more, society seems to be allowing people to be outside this norm, but there are still aspects of a life that people think they’re okay to comment on.

I should define what childless by choice means, because I firmly believe there are two sides of this choice. The first choice, is one that’s thought through.  “I don’t want kids because it’s not something I’ve ever wanted”, “I’d rather be the cool aunt/uncle”, etc.  Then there’s the choice made by women and couples to remain childless because all other options have run out.  I almost think of that as a forced choice. Perhaps they’re making the choice because hearts can’t take leaving that option open and never having it fulfilled.  I’m speaking only from the first choice.

I’ve known from a very young age that I didn’t want kids.  I didn’t know how to eloquently say it, but when I would read books and the heroine would get married and have kids, a part of me waffled.  I was okay with marriage, because there’s some part of me deep inside that is a hopeless romantic.  The girl gets the guy and vice versa.  It was the kids that gave me pause.  I felt like that was it for the woman.  No more fun adventures.  She couldn’t just leave on a moment’s notice and do fun and crazy things.  Before you get indignant and say having kids is not “it” for a woman, I know that.  I do.  Kids are an adventure in and of itself.  Just not for me.  In fact, I can recall only two times in my life where I was considering kids.  One, when I was still a teen (I was NOT considering teen pregnancy).  My best friend had died when we were 12, and I remember she had picked out a name for her hopefully future daughter.  She died, before that came into realization.  I thought I should have a kid, for her, and name it what she would have named her daughter.  Even though I hated the name she chose.  Even though I didn’t really want kids.  It didn’t take me too long to realize having kids out of a sense of duty isn’t the right reason.  After all, it’s not like I’m royal or anything.  The other time was when I was seeing a guy.  I’m almost ashamed to write this, but in the interest of full discloser, I was tired of being single.  I think I would have done anything or agreed to anything to make sure I would not be the only one left single.  So there was talk of children.  I cringed every time I smiled brightly and said, “kids would be great!”  Luckily that relationship didn’t last, and I gave my head a shake.  There are some things a couple needs to compromise on in order to have a healthy relationship, but for me, kids vs. no kids is not a compromise.

As I grew older, I realized that as much as we say having kids is none of people’s business, and you should be able to choose whatever you want, people can ask all they like, “so, when are you having kids?”, without fear of reprisal.  I have been told the reason I keep talking about it is because there’s some deep seeded issue I haven’t yet addressed.  (Not true.  I keep talking about it, because people still don’t understand.  That’s why we keep talking about issues.)  There’s even a small part of me who keeps talking about it so if there’s ever a potential guy, he’ll know from the outset what he’s getting from me, and there won’t be any surprises later on when we’re deeply in love and one of us gives in just so we don’t have to part, which leads to problems later on, but I digress.

So, just so we’re clear, I don’t have any deep-seeded issues about being childless.  I’m not trying to convince myself.  (Although, in part, I am trying to convince you I AM FINE WITH THIS, SO PLEASE TAKE THE HINT).

The other day, after hours of “should I or shouldn’t I”, I posted this link on Facebook.  As I said earlier, eloquence about this subject is hard to come by for some reason.  I found this post not only summed up what I feel, but I had been told (either word for word, or in some variation) over half of the “what not to say to childless women” found on the list.  Later on that night, my name was tagged in another post.  This post.  Now since there was no preamble or explanation as to why I was tagged, I assume the person tagging wanted me to read it, so I can only assume she still believes that when I say I’m okay being childless, I’m like the author and sometimes feel bereft and alone.  Of course that frustrates me.  That implies I don’t know my own mind.  It is becasue of responses like that I feel more discussion on the topic needs to be had.  Please don’t create drama in my life.  I don’t feel empty, or bereft.  Like I said, this choice was option number 1.  I came about this logically and on my own. It was not forced upon me.  And just because I don’t and won’t have children of my own does not mean I can’t or won’t impact the next generation, and that suits me just fine.   When people ask me when I’m next going to have kids, I don’t panic, freeze up, or think, “OMG I’m defective!”  I smile and say “never”.  And move on to the next topic – usually.  I feel perfectly adequate.  I am doing just about everything I ever wanted in life, surrounded by some of the best people in the world.   I have reached the point in my life where I am happy with myself, and where I am in life, and instead of trying to diminish that, perhaps people should be lauding it.  It is sometimes hard to get to where I am.

Have you ever made a decision about something – big or small, and once the decision is made, you feel peaceful?  I’ve felt that about a lot of decisions in my life.  Quitting a job, or moving, or switching schools.  And not having kids.

Is that enough?  Have I convinced you?  Do I even need to convince you?  Can you please accept my decision and respect it?

Being childless by choice (number 1) is not a knee-jerk reaction to my current situation in life.  Yes, there are people who say they don’t want kids, but later on they’ve got little gaffers to take care of.  That doesn’t negate other people’s (or my) argument.  Just as we’re allowed to change our mind, we’re allowed to stand firm in our decision.

I feel at peace with my decision.  If you don’t feel peace, perhaps it’s not my decision causing the problem.  Glass houses, friends.


1 Comment

  1. Well said. I feel like the question, “So when are you going to have kids?” should be banned. Nothing good comes from it. I remember people asking me that when I was trying to get pregnant (and was told I might not be able to get pregnant) and the question always cut like a knife.

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