This is a guest article written by a woman who would like to protect her privacy and remain anonymous. It’s an honest look at her reasons for choosing not to have children, and is a wonderful reminder that life can be full and meaningful no matter how we live it, as long as we’re doing it authentically, like this author has chosen to do. I’m honored to publish this article here at Big Deal:
Somewhere in my early teens, I started to feel that I did not want children. I was an only child, but grew up with lots of cousins and friends. I played with dolls and I babysat. But, I did not spend time dreaming of having my own baby…or even, of getting married. I really can’t give you an answer why I felt this way. However, this belief was strongly held, never wavered, and has never caused me any regrets. I am now sixty. I have regrets about some things (dropping out of college and choosing some “wrong” men along the way are two examples)…but, not about kids.
I have no idea how I developed this deep feeling. But, I always did believe, as I got older, that I should never have a child unless I really wanted to. I enjoy being around children and have had many wonderful times in my life with the children of friends and family. However, when the interaction is over, I am content to not be with the children, too. Perhaps this is a factor of being an only child, but most all the only children I have known decided to have children of their own.
After a bit of reading on the web, I discovered that I am a person who is “childfree.” Childfree individuals are usually more educated, have a professional occupation with a higher salary, live in an urban area, are less religious and conventional, and believe in less traditional gender roles. All true for me, except for the job and money party. There is also a judgment by many that childfree individuals are selfish, because having a child is the most meaningful contribution an individual can make to the world. Childfree people believe they can contribute to the world in other ways.
I married at the age of forty and have been happily married for twenty years. This is the second marriage for my husband (my first) and we got married when his son was in college. I am happy being a stepmother and we have a great relationship. I have always had pets, mostly cats. I feel fulfilled as a woman and as a human being.
The only problem along the way has been other mothers. My mother’s fiancé was killed in World War II and she did not marry my father until she was 27 years old. She graduated from high school and worked full-time until she got married and then part-time when I was born. She was not able to have any more children after I was born. So, her life was unconventional for a woman born in 1922. She had some single, female friends from work – and these women were always included in our family gatherings. My mother did not disassociate from them because they did not have children. There were also aunts and cousins in our family who were single and without children. They were a part of my childhood, too. This is what I thought was normal.
When I got married (and, thus, should have had a child versus being single without one), married women with children definitely treated me as an odd duck. I would often be left out in conversations about their children. (Hey, I was a child myself and I know children and I am intelligent. Can’t I have part in this conversation, too?) I would certainly not be invited to an event with children and adults – of my own friends – because I did not have children myself. That’s interesting, I would think to myself; I enjoyed spending time with my mother’s “old maid” friend, Jane or my Great Aunt Betty. Aunt Betty had quite a career and was always fun to talk to…and, she loved me a lot. She did not have to have her own child to love me. But, this has been the only drawback to my choice.
OK, here is what I did. I was a geeky, nerdy, bookish child who did not date at all in high school. I arrived at the University of Colorado in 1969 – what a wild time that was!! Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Lived with one man, had three long-term boyfriends, and in between, I did a lot of dating. Given my thoughts on children, I used the most protective birth control I could. Then, around age 24, I started working on my gynecologist to give me a tubal ligation at age 30. The doctor was appropriately horrified. (I thought I should wait until that age in case I met that “special man who would change my mind about having babies.” Also, I personally did not want to have a child, if I did change my mind, after the age of 30.) At every yearly appointment, I would bring it up again. I never wavered in this strong feeling to not have children, though I did fall in love. When I turned 30 and went in for my appointment, my doctor said, “When do you want to schedule the surgery?” I got it done and thus stopped the worry of getting pregnant by mistake. And, in the end, my love has gone to my husband, my stepson and other family, friends, and cats – Simba will be 14 soon. Since I doubted the capability to love my own child fully, carrying out this decision has been one of my greatest achievements.