Being Childless by Choice

8 Jun

Disclaimer:  I know that many of my followers are parents.  From what I have read you all seem like loving, committed, and proud parents (thankfully for you and your children).  I think that is wonderful, and I’m glad it is fulfilling for you.  My views are in no way intended to diminish your decision, the sacrifices you have made, or your happiness.  It isn’t a choice that will work for me, though.  I’m going to do my best to explain why I choose to be childless (or childfree as some call it).  I probably won’t do a great job, but here’s my attempt.

Hopefully that little disclaimer didn’t scare all of you away.  It’s just that I don’t want to have kids.  By the reactions I get from some people you would think I just admitted to torturing puppies or declaring war on families.  So let me get a few things out of the way immediately.  I am not going through a phase, and I’m not going to “change my mind.”  I’m not anti-family.  I just think that everyone has the choice to decide whether or not they want children.  I support those who feel called to have children and are fulfilled by the role of mother or father.  I’m just not sure why it seems to be a basic assumption that anyone who is married wants kids.

Family is incredibly important to me.  I don’t think offspring are a requirement to have a family, though.  To me, what makes a family is two or more people tied together with the bonds of love.  Sometimes that is through blood, sometimes it is through marriage, and sometimes it is by something else.  There are many types of families and many ways that we can form lasting connections.  I don’t think my husband and I are any less of a family because we don’t have children.  I also don’t think that people who do have children are any more of a family.  What they are is a bigger family.

My husband definitely knows something about big families.  He is one of 7 children.  His Dad wanted 10, but his Mom put a stop to things before it got to that point.  At the Off Broad Appetit event last Saturday we ran into one of his cousins who he hadn’t seen since they were very young.  We got to talking with one of the chefs, Jennifer Carroll, about how long it had been.  When she asked why his cousin put it perfectly.  She said something to the effect of, “Well, there are hundreds of us so it’s really hard to keep in touch with everybody.”  You heard that right – Mr. Mess has hundreds of cousins.  That’s what happens when your parents both came from large families and all of their brothers and sisters had large families of their own.

My extended family isn’t quite that large, but we aren’t small by anyone’s standards.  My Mom has 3 brothers and my Dad has 2.  They all have multiple children (in the range of 2-4 each) and some of those kids have started having kids of their own.  My family is a constant, very important part of my life.  I grew up spending a lot of time with my cousins.  I saw most of them several times a week in church.  They came over to my house or vice versa all of the time.  We spent every holiday together.  We also regularly saw the family members who didn’t go to church with us.  In fact, for several years we had a weekly dinner at my grandma’s house with my aunts, uncles, cousins, Dad, sister, and various other family members from that side.  My Mom and brother even went so far as to spend some time in Guyana, South America when my uncle and his family were living there as missionaries.

I think of my Mom as my best friend.  She is the most amazing woman I have ever met.  She is smart, beautiful, confident, and incredibly supportive.  She taught me to think through things using reason and logic but also my emotions.  She is courageous.  She is outgoing and sometimes very opinionated.  She is passionate about life and learning.  She is a wonderful musician and piano player.  Most of all, though, she is loving.  I want to be just like her.  Except for the kids part.

I don’t know the best way to explain why, but I will try.  Even as a little girl in my Pink Phase I wasn’t drawn to baby dolls and playing “Mommy.”  I enjoyed my EZ Bake oven (even though that thing makes horrible cupcakes).  I loved Play-Do, drawing, pretending to be a dog or horse, collecting rocks and climbing trees, but I wasn’t interested in feeding or burping a piece of plastic.  Changing diapers never sounded appealing.  I even hated babysitting (something my sister was drawn to and LOVED).  The closest I ever came to a maternal role is when I would play teacher with my friends and brother.  I would have them pretend to sit in desks while I taught them things or asked them questions.  That was really a last resort if it was a rainy day and we were bored with hide and seek.

As I continued to grow up I never felt any attraction to parenting.  I have always thought that puppies are way cuter and more interesting than babies.  Sorry folks!  I think your newborn looks like every other newborn… small, wrinkly, drooling, and unable to support it’s own abnormally large head.  I mean no offense – really.  I just don’t get the draw.  I don’t see any reason to have children.  I know that other people MUST have reasons…  I just don’t understand them.  I have tried.  I have asked.  Most people I have talked to say that it is some innate thing inside that drives them to want children.  I don’t have that thing.

I want to be an individual person who travels, can be spontaneous, reads books in the quiet, gets massages, and spends money on me and the things I like.  I want alone time.  I want to sleep for at least 8 hours a night, every night.  I like going to the bathroom all by myself (which apparently is a luxury once you have kids according to several people I know).  I want to be able to go to a nice restaurant without worrying about a babysitter.  I also want to be able to enjoy said restaurant without being disturbed by your screaming, food-throwing kid (yes, I support the no-kids-allowed movement).  That probably makes me self-centered – but at least I’m honest with myself and I know who I am.

Probably the most important thing I want to say today is this: People who choose not to have children should be accepted as just as normal as those who do have children.  I would like people to think twice before they ask things like, “So when you are two planning on having kids?”  Why should I be expected to have a child just because you did or my Mom did or America is overflowing with children?  I want to challenge the notion that you have to have children in order to “leave your mark on the world.”  I believe I can leave a legacy without creating another human being.  I can contribute to the world in other ways.  I know that I’m missing out on an “experience,” but I can live with that because I will have a lot of other ones.

I have also heard that studies show that a child-free marriages can be more satisfying.  I know for a fact that is true in my marriage.  Not only because of all the things I listed above, but also because I can’t imagine bringing the chaos and responsibility of a child into our already-complicated situation.  If I’m 100% honest, I would never want to raise children with a sex addict.  Besides, we need to be focusing on just us and our marriage.  We need to be able to connect with each other without distractions.  We need to just enjoy life and all it has to offer without kids.  There are perks.  Dual income not stretched thin by more mouths to feed.  The freedom to explore, travel on a whim, and move around.  The ability to sleep in on a Saturday morning, cuddle up, and not worry about how much noise we make if things go farther.

There are so many other reasons I have made this decision and so many other benefits of being childless that I could list, but I’m not going to.  The truth of the matter is that I don’t have to justify my choice not to have children anymore than people with children have to justify theirs.  I did want to offer my perspective, though.  I wanted to put it out there.  It has been something on my mind, especially as we go through healing our marriage.  I have so much respect for those of you that are doing it with multiple kids involved (or even just one for that matter).  I am also eternally grateful that I don’t have that added layer of complication to handle right now.

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19 Responses to “Being Childless by Choice”

  1. buckwheatsrisk October 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    i understand this totally. Hubby and i can’t have children and although we went through IVF three times and lost 7 babies. i have to admit i’m not sure i wanted to be a mother. i don’t know that i would make a very good one. i more so tried because Hubby wanted them so badly. i’m sure if i had one, i would have loved it dearly…there must be a small part of me that wanted one somewhere as every so often when some announces their pregnancy, i find myself in tears but i’m fairly content not being a mother. 🙂

    • beautifulmess7 October 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      There are all sorts of reasons that people can’t have children. My heart hurts for those that want them, but can’t. I have thought about being a surrogate or donating my eggs. As far as I know, I can have children… I just don’t want to.

      I considered having children with my husband early on. I knew that he has always wanted a child, at least partially. I almost caved in for him. I was seriously considering it when I discovered he is a sex addict. That changed everything for me.

      First of all, it shored up the belief I have always had that I do not want to be a mother. Secondly, it made me really consider what I would be bringing that child into. I don’t think having a sex addict father is healthy, especially one in early recovery who still acts immaturely and lies. I’m glad I made that choice.

      • buckwheatsrisk October 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

        i really respect you making that choice. i get really upset at those that have no earthly business having children, having them. i see it so much, it makes me sad. at least you know where you stand in your heart and you are being true to yourself. i’m so glad you didn’t cave with your present situation. xo

  2. Lee Kaplanian August 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    When I got married in 1969 – yes, I’m that old – I kept hearing questions about having children. We were married in Australia and one answer was – “If we have kids, we won’t be able to go back to the States”. I worked in a small department store in a very small farming town out in the boondocks of New South Wales. One customer used to come in and we would talk – she has one son about 8 or so. People kept asking her when they were going to have another, she had a great answer for them. “We haven’t found the recipe yet”.
    When we came back to the States, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, so when people would ask if we had kids, it was fine to say we didn’t. but when they started asking why, I made them sorry they asked. I told them “It was choice between kids and RA, I have RA”. Now 43 years later, people are horrified when I say I don’t really like kids. But that is because I disliked babysitting among other things. The idea of pregnancy has no charms for me and as for child birth – no way Jose!! Then I would be stuck with this squalling piece of humanity that comes out both ends and can’t tell me what it needs.
    The funny thing is, my husband and I never really talked about children, I just assumed one day we would have one. About 10 years into our marriage we talking about something and my husband told me her didn’t want children. Boy, did that bring me up short! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I said one day we will have one, I was actually saying – one day I might actually want one. What a relief. I did wonder if my biological clock would start bugging me, but it never did. I had my tubes tied so I couldn’t have children.

    • beautifulmess7 August 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks for your honest feedback. I also really appreciate the reassurance that I probably will not, as others have told me, “change my mind” later. They really have a hard time fathoming that I could have self-worth and purpose outside the creation of more humans. Every now and then I meet a kindred spirit, and it is very refreshing.

  3. kamiekirk July 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Love this post!

  4. NZ Cate June 9, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    I love this perspective and really appreciate your honesty. I think every time someone speaks out about this it is great for all of us who choose child-free lives. I also wish that (in general) people would think this much before they bring children into this world. So many people have kids without thinking about what that means and what they can or can’t offer that child. Thanks for writing this. It’s something I have had in the back of my mind as something I want to write about. Just haven’t quite got there yet.

    • beautifulmess7 June 9, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      I think you are very right. I know several people who didn’t really think about the decision to have children. It “just happened.” They weren’t thinking about their financial situation, their ability to take care of them properly, or all of the sacrifices it really takes. I have heard other people say that the primary reason they wanted children was to “pass on the family name.” I really hope that isn’t true for the kid’s sake.

      • NZ Cate June 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

        I agree and yes, I’m heard that once too and it is so scary because I’m sure for some it is true. Ahhhhh!

  5. Silverfox June 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Beautifulmess7 I love your honest perspective. I believe that society is too traditional in certain aspects. Society believes that the woman’s role is to take care of the man and his children. If a woman decides to have a full time career and is not married, people in society will say that something is “wrong” with her because at a certain age, women are expected to be married and have children. Very archaic way of thinking if you ask me! Excellent post!

  6. Samantha Baker June 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    As a mom of five, shockingly, I totally support you. Frankly I don’t htink my own mother should have had a child. But alas, here I am (one and only). She was not the mothering type, and I suffered for it.

    Me, I always did feel that draw, um, obviously, or I wouldn’t have the litter (ha ha yeah people and their comments!!) that i do. (No really someone once asked me if I needed a cattle prod, LOL) But I can completely understand why someone WOULDN’T feel the draw. It’s a personal decision, one that should be made between a couple. One that other people should keep their damn noses out of.

    Now that ine are getting a bit older, I RELISH our nights out without them (don’t tell them, HA HA!) so I totally get the no-kids allowed movement. Man, if I can find someone to watch my kids and I go out to a nice restaurant, I certainly don’t want to hear somoene else’s kid crying, because I don’t want to be reminded of what’s waiting for me at home! I want to forget they exist for a few hours!!!! (I’m a horrible mother).

    For years, we put our kids first, and it hurt our marriage. Now we’re learning to strike a balance, and at times put our SELVES and our marriage first. And wouldn’t you know, thekdis aren’t sufffering, and are actually thriving. Huh. Wonder if this means they can fend for themselves soon?? Kidding…sorta.

    • beautifulmess7 June 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      You are NOT a horrible mother! It’s not horrible to want one night to yourself – and not even a whole night at that! I think a lot of time mothers feel guilt for wanting to be a little selfish or for spending time and energy on themselves. You are not your Mom. You obviously love and cherish your children! It’s okay to treat yourself a bit! 🙂

  7. A Dog With Fleas June 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    This blog is me to a tee!! And I totally agree with all of your decisions. As women, I think society sometimes tend to look down on us or think it strange that we made the choice not to have kids. As a child, I too never saw myself as a mother, or wanted children of my own. And actually we should be applauded for knowing ourselves enough to not bring another child into this world when it is not the best decision for us.

    I made the decision because I just don’t think I would be a good mother. I lack patience, love my independence and the ability to do things at the drop of a hat. And I have the utmost respect for all the mothers out there who do a fabulous job nuturing and loving their children. It is the toughest job out there. Just not one for me either!!

    • beautifulmess7 June 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      I know exactly what you mean. I love my independence, too. I also think it is better to know that you don’t want to be a parent and choose not to bring a child into the world for that reason. I’m glad I’m not alone!

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