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.
- Why I’ll never be a mother (cnn.com)
- Do We Secretly Envy the Childfree? (slate.com)
- Child-Free by Choice (everydayhealth.com)
- The no-kids-allowed movement is spreading (shine.yahoo.com)