I never want kids. Not in an, “Oh, I haven’t found the right guy” kind of way, or a “Just not right now” kind of way. I never want them. Ever.
I pretty much realized I had zero maternal instinct and zero desire to procreate in high school. I clearly remember being 16, riding in a car with my softball coach and a group of teammates. My coach had her baby in the car – it was coming to the game with us, although I can’t really remember why. I say “it” not to diminish the fact that it was an actual tiny person, but because if you’d asked me the next day whether it was a boy or a girl I could not have told you. I was trapped next to the car seat and looked over at this sticky, crying little creature next to me and wished I was anywhere but there.
My coach turned around and asked me if I could hold the kid, or feed it, or something equally objectionable to me and my response was automatically “No thanks, I’d rather not.” In my head, all I was thinking was I’m a fucking 3rd basemen, not a babysitter!! Yes, I cursed like a sailor during my inner monologues as a 16 year old – who didn’t? Every other girl in the car was cooing over the kid and someone jumped at the chance to do it for me. I exhaled an audible sigh of relief. I knew then I would never want to be responsible for one of those.
When I was younger, people would always tell me I might change my mind, or decide I wanted kids if I met the right person. I usually acquiesced, mumbling something along the lines of “Yeah, I guess you never know.” But I’m 30 now, and my feelings haven’t changed. Rarely do I ever get grief from my close friends about not wanting children. Those who really know me know it’s not just a phase, like the time in high school I thought I could pull of dark brown lipstick (spoiler alert: I can’t) or that year in college I was kind of a stoner. And my parents are basically the most supportive people on the planet, and truly just want me to be happy. If that means having pink hair, quitting my job and traveling the world, they’d support my decision. And if it means never having kids, they support that too. I have never ONCE gotten a guilt trip from my mother about not wanting kids (seriously, be jealous, my mom is cool as fuck).
I feel like I did a pretty good job being clear about my feelings, especially as I got closer to 30 and more of my friends were getting married and talking about kids. It’s kind of a running joke actually, because not only do I not want kids, I’m painfully awkward and uncomfortable around them. My friends always threaten to leave their future children with me on date nights, and I promise that if they do, I’ll return them with a new puppy and a belly full of candy and Red Bull after we watch Jaws. It’s good banter, and it’s fun. I never feel judged, and I never feel like my aversion towards having kids is being seen as some defect of personality, or that it’s the all-encompassing trait that defines my identity. Frankly, it’s just a matter of personal taste. Some people don’t like tomatoes. Some people refuse to listen to country music. I don’t want kids.
The reason I bring this up is because I’ve noticed an interesting shift over the last year or so, and I don’t think it’s because I turned 30. No, I think it’s because I finally met the person I want to spend my life with (married or not, who knows… we’ll figure that out later). We want exactly the same things… to travel, to live different places, and to never have kids. I feel so lucky that we are so in tune with each other on so many levels. I think we even talked about some of this stuff on our first date.
But the fact that my position on kids hasn’t changed, and that my feelings haven’t wavered even after finding “the one” makes some people a little uncomfortable. Or maybe confused is a better word. Apparently it’s a difficult concept to grasp – why, now that I am with the person I see myself with for the long haul, I am not considering children with said person. As if everything I ever felt (or didn’t feel for that matter) about children was only due to the fact that I hadn’t found my Prince Charming. And once he rode in on his valiant steed, oozing virility, I’d finally start wanting those things that every girl always secretly dreams of having. (Babies. I’m referring to babies.)
I’m not sure exactly why it’s so hard for some people to accept that my idea of a happy and content life just doesn’t include children. And that I don’t feel in any way that I’m making a sacrifice. Or maybe it’s just that there isn’t a nice, neat package to put me in. Seriously though, I thought we were past all that. I thought as a society we’d gotten to a point where not wanting kids is no longer viewed as an aberration, or even something worthy of much conversation. I mean, there are way more interesting things going on in the world and in my life than my ovaries. But inevitably, people will ask me if I want kids and I’ve noticed they seem to expect me to justify my feelings. “Why DON’T you want kids?” they ask, looking at me expectantly. Well, I have about 584 reasons why, but frankly, they’re none of your business. I don’t say that, but I find myself thinking it more and more.
I recently read there is something called the “child-free by choice” movement. I am child-free. And it is a choice. But I definitely don’t consider myself part of a “movement” in any way, shape or form. Nor do I particularly care to be. There are days when I work from home and can’t be bothered to put on a bra – a movement? Please.
But the idea that people feel the need to defend their life choices in any way is total bullshit, whether they want kids or not. No one asks a mother to justify her reasons for wanting a kid, so why is it OK the other way around? Imagine a world where every time someone announced a pregnancy (usually on Facebook, let’s be honest), they were met with an interrogation: “Why ARE you choosing to have a baby? What was the motivation? How do you know you won’t change your mind about this?” I have a feeling it wouldn’t go over well. And frankly, your reasons might sound crazy to me. You might be having a baby to try save your relationship or because all your friends are having kids and you don’t want to be left out. But you know what? Those are your reasons, and crazy or not, I’m not going to quiz you on them, because it’s none of my business. I don’t have to raise your kid – you do.
And when I’m at your house and your kid is screaming bloody murder and all the furniture is stained and you haven’t had a chance to get to the salon in months (or you know, since before the kid was born) I won’t look at you and ask if you’ve changed your mind yet. I won’t question whether you really thought about your decision. THAT WOULD BE TOTALLY HORRIBLE AND INAPPROPRIATE.
I expect the same courtesy in return. We might not agree with or understand all of each other’s life choices. In fact, I can guarantee that we won’t. But that doesn’t make one greater than the other, or give us the right to pass judgment on each other.
So I have some thoughts to share with all the parents out there. I’m happy for you. I really am. You’re doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world – one that I have chosen not to. We have each chosen what was best for us.
So please, try to remember that just because someone doesn’t want to hold your baby, or prefers expensive furniture and traveling over children in their lives, we aren’t any less happy – so try not to patronize. Try not to make comments about us “coming around” or “changing our minds” or “missing out.” And definitely don’t quiz us on the reasons why we don’t want to squeeze a 9 pound full time job out of our vagina. Because you will open the door for me to start quizzing you too, and then we can ALL be uncomfortable.