There is an issue that is brought up on a very regular basis in my life that causes a lot of discomfort and guilt on my part, even though I have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s the issue of kids, and it’s been a constant point of contention in my life for as long as I can remember.
Here’s the simple facts: I don’t want children. I never have. Not for one moment in thirty two years have I wanted any. Period. End of story. Should be pretty straightforward, right? But I’m in my thirties, married, with no kids. This fact is brought up almost daily and not only brought up, but questioned. And then my choice is disregarded and insulted. I should add, this is not only how I feel, my husband wholeheartedly agrees. Yet, anywhere from family to random strangers on the street will criticize us on this. I’m told, “oh, you’ll change your mind,” and no one seems to think how rude that is, especially to someone you don’t know!
These days I get more frustrated by these conversations than hurt, but my situation is not just one of personal choice. Since I was young I knew I physically couldn’t have children, I have a hormone disorder that requires I stay on birth control, not to mention the fibro medications that are all feto-toxic. When I find myself in these situations, being berated in Waffle House parking lots for my decision, I use my health reasons as my excuse. But that doesn’t make it better. First of all, I shouldn’t need an excuse! It’s my body, my marriage, my life, why is this anyone else’s business in any way? And second of all, even telling complete strangers that I physically cannot have kids, they start rattling off all the other options…there’s adoption, surrogacy, all sorts of fertilization procedures. My response has always been to point out that yes, these are all options, but you need money, a surrogate, and, you know, an urge to have a child in the first place! It’s not a matter of not having options, it’s a matter of not wanting any in the first place. And for some complete strangers to feel that they are not being rude in telling me that my choice is wrong is just ridiculous.
I’ve come up with snappy comebacks, ways to laugh it off and change the subject, my favorite being, “Well, there’s a ten year difference between me and my husband, so by the time he’ll be old enough to want them I’ll be too old to have them!” I find it makes people super uncomfortable and they start talking about something else immediately. But it’s insane, that I need an explanation at all, that I need a joke, a distraction, anything other than to say simply that my reproductive choices are my own.
It’s not that I don’t like any children, there are some pretty cool ones out there. Our niece and nephew are, in my completely unbiased opinion, two of the coolest, most adorable kids that have ever existed. If I can spend time with those two and still not want kids I think it’s a pretty sure thing. To be fair, most kids can be pretty sucky. Some, if not most, of the time. But there are some people out there that were meant to be parents, who have always wanted kids and are happiest in a parental role. More power to those people, I say. I’m just not one of them. I’m one of those selfish people who just wants to do what she wants to do, without having to worry about a tiny person’s well-being all the time. And it is selfish, I make no excuses for that. I love the bejesus out of my husband, and I love the relationship we have. I have no interest in completely disrupting the fabric of our relationship for a tiny human that neither of us want in the first place! I don’t see having kids as having a family. For me, for us, we are all we need. Admittedly, we’re happier when we have cats as well, but just the two of us is what we signed up for and it’s what we choose to continue.
I admire those, like my parents, like my sister, like many of my friends, who choose to have kids. Who choose to put their own wants and needs after those of a child. Because it is something admirable, and it takes an incredible strength of character to raise kids, especially to raise them well. When I look at what our lives could be like with children it’s always an unfair scenario, either to the kid or to us. Our dreams are to live all over the world, to buy a boat and live on that for years at a time. That isn’t fair to a kid. And having a kid that we don’t want instead of a boat we do isn’t fair to us. Even beyond that silly dream of ours, our lifestyle plans are based on the two of us. On being able to up and move if and when we so choose. That isn’t healthy for a child, and restricting our dreams for an unwanted child would just lead to resentment.
So, for oh so many reasons, I will never have children. And, after so many years of feeling like I was somehow failing womankind because of my lack of maternal instinct, I have finally come to terms with it. It is and always was, my choice. And whatever my or any other woman’s reasons and choices, it is never for anyone else to question. So next time you meet some young couple with no children, maybe instead of assuming it’s your place to “correct” their life choices, just high five them and say something that highlights the positive of their situation. Something like, “Awesome! Now you’ll be able to afford a house with a pool!” Or, “Man, lucky you, never having to deal with dirty diapers!” Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.