As someone who has actively made the choice to not have kids I’m a sucker for reading things about why people don’t have kids. I suppose as someone who is in the minority I like to try and feel like my decision is justified in some way. I still have yet to find one of these essays that I really identify with though. They usually wind up being about how someone has chosen something else instead of having children, feeling they’re too selfish, or feel like they would not be a good mother because they had a bad childhood or current mental/physical issues.
None of these reasons resonate with me. I haven’t chosen my career over children. I like my job, but I don’t feel like I would have to give it up if I had kids. If I had a desire to procreate I would do it without a second thought about my job. I had a great childhood with excellent parental role models, and while I have some medical issues they’re not so severe as to prevent me from taking care of a child. I’ll get to the selfishness issue in a minute.
For much of my life if you had told me I would actively make the choice to not have children I wouldn’t have believed you. For my entire life up until the point I went away to college I remember loving kids. I babysat all the time and would gravitate towards small children if they were in the room. I didn’t have many opportunities to interact with children after I left home for college, and then by the time I did again I somehow didn’t feel the same way about it.
At first I thought oh I’m young and I’m not ready to have kids yet. I always thought that maybe one day that feeling would kick in and I would want them. Most of my friends didn’t start having kids until pretty late. By that point I was pretty sure kids weren’t something I wanted for myself, but I thought maybe once all my friends have kids then things will change. They didn’t. I’m now rapidly entering the point in my life where if I did feel the need to procreate I would need to get on it. Aside from the understandable feeling that happens every once in awhile of what if I don’t and then I regret it, I don’t really feel like my biological clock is ticking and saying you need to do this. I’m much more afraid of accidentally winding up pregnant. I would deal with it, but I don’t want it.
I see my friends and family with their kids and know how they made the decision to have them. They wanted to create their families. They planned it. Some of them had to go to great lengths through fertility treatments, adoption, and/or the pain of struggling through miscarriages to make ti happen. I don’t have that desire. I don’t feel that want, and I feel like I should have that feeling if I choose to bring a life into the world.
One of the things I hear the most about people choosing not to have kids is that they are selfish. I understand in a way where it comes from, but I also think it’s crap. I get that if you’re any kind of decent parent you have to become selfless and put your children’s needs above yours. I don’t think that automatically makes anyone who doesn’t have kids selfish. I feel like it would be more selfish to have kids despite having at best ambivalent feelings about it and then possibly resenting that child. No kid wants to feel like they’re unwanted. And is it selfish for people who want kids to fulfill that desire by having them? I think the idea of selfishness in regards to having kids or not having kids is a poor one.
I feel like we’re at a point where people are defensive on both sides and trying to justify their decisions by saying their decision is the right or wrong way. I think whatever works for you is the right way. There are sacrifices on both sides. I know I’m missing out on some amazing joys by not having kids. I realize there is a kind of love that I will never experience that I hear parents talk about and I know has to be true because otherwise why would anyone ever put up with all the crap that goes along with being a parent? I get a freedom that parents don’t have to do what I want with my life, and most importantly I get sleep. Lots and lots of glorious sleep.
Although I don’t think I get it nearly as bad as many people, I still get asked about when I’m planning on having kids. Every time I hold a baby I swear someone says doesn’t it make you want one. No it really doesn’t. Quite the opposite in fact. I love my nieces and nephew and all my friends’ kids are suitably adorable, but hanging around with them and watching their parents I’m really glad I get to go home to my nice quiet house at the end of the night. I’m happy with my life and my choice to remain childless. I’m also happy for my friends and the wonderful families they are raising and that I get to be a part of their kids’ lives. No way is the right way as long as you’re doing what’s right for you.