This is a guest post by my friend Piper who has chosen to live a Childfree life. She has a blog www.choosingchildfree.com where she offers “support, information, and some laughs for people who have decided not to have kids or are considering making that choice.”
My Choice Not To Have Children
Years ago I would talk with my boyfriend about having kids. We had very different ideas about little child-rearing things, like the kids’ religion, or who would raise them. But I had moved across the continent and given up a job offer to be with this guy, so I was determined to work it out.
In search of a resolution we could both live with, my brain offered up this strange new thought: what if we just didn’t have children?
I don’t know where I came up with that one. I didn’t know anyone who had chosen not to have children. I had never heard the word “childfree” – I’m not sure it was even around yet. I dismissed the idea because it must be crazy, or else I would have heard of it before.
But before I reasoned it through, my very first gut reaction to the prospect of skipping kids – it was relief.
I married the guy without resolving our tot-related disagreements, and then I got busy with working and going to law school. When a fellow student had a baby during our third year I thought she was nuts. I asked her why she chose to juggle school and raising a child instead of waiting until after graduation. “I’ll always be busy,” she said. “But my schedule will never be this flexible again.”
That actually made sense, so I did a gut check on my own biological clock. I couldn’t find it. There was no alarm sounding, no countdown, not even faint ticking. I lacked the desire for children. When we talked about it, hubby realized that he didn’t have the itch either, so we resolved not to have kids.
18 years of marriage later, with age 40 in the rearview mirror, we know we made the right call, and we remain pleased as punch about it.
When we were deciding whether to skip parenthood I could think of many practical benefits to not raising children, but that wasn’t what made my mind up. I just wasn’t interested in doing it, regardless of the pros and cons. I don’t think the allure of extra me-time and at-will late-night carousing would have put me off parenting if I had a maternal instinct that was hot to trot. Committed though I am to sleeping, I would not have sacrificed mommying because of the predictable interruptions to feed and comfort a baby or the early mornings monitoring a toddler. I would have whined about exhaustion, sure, but if I really wanted a kid I would have had one anyway.
The pitfalls of choosing not to have children didn’t sway me either. Yes, there are those who judge me. I provide common ground where Darwinians and creationists can meet and, together, declare me a failure.
It could be much worse. There are young people in some pockets of our nation and elsewhere who would be ostracized if they turned up with their tubes tied at age 25. And I don’t mean occasionally clucked at – I mean full-on shunned, as in get out of this house, you are dead to us. I mean being told you are unnatural and having everyone you know agree. I mean being alone in the world. People like that don’t have a meaningful choice (unless they are extraordinarily brave and self-sufficient).
Other people have children without realizing they had a choice to make. They have kids because that is what people do, not necessarily because they have an unsquelchable yen to shepherd a few to adulthood. They need to know there is an alternative. Otherwise the ones who deep down don’t want children wind up unhappy after creating new, defenseless people and making them unhappy too.
I’m not recruiting. I am trying to expand the menu of adulthood from one dish — children, no substitutions — to two: with kids or without. I’m all for choices, made deliberately, with information and introspection and without external pressure. We seek out information and spend time poring over our choices when deciding which car to buy. Isn’t two decades of life worth at least as much consideration?