Does not having a child make you any less of a woman? No, and here's why.
I am a woman. I have all the biological requirements to have a child. Yet, I do not have the instincts or rational desire to do so. Does that make me less of a woman to not want to have a child either by using my body, my eggs, or my money to adopt?
My parents are the only people who, when I said I didn't want to have kids, responded with, "Sounds like a good idea." They married because I was on the way and had two more after me. They know how hard it is to raise kids, but they also love us very much. They wouldn't change what had happened, but they wouldn't force their want for a grandchild on me. Besides they have two already (I’m off the hook!)
How many times have I heard after saying that I don't want children.
- "Oh, I'm sorry." Sorry for what? I've made a conscious choice and I'm proud to have the courage (because that's what it takes in this society) to say no.
- "Don't you like kids?" LOVE 'EM! They're cute, huggable, sweet smelling, curious, and all that. I just don't want one in my home relying on me.
- "You'll change your mind." Isn't it possible that as an adult, I've learned how to make a decision and stick to it?
My husband and I talked about kids before marriage. We both agreed we didn't want any and the forward in our future rested on that.
He had a bad first marriage and I had little instinct or physical and mental desire to invest. Subsequently we have prepared responses for those who invade our personal lives with the question, "Do you have kids?" as if that is the only characteristic about us that makes us worthy to get to know. How about, "Do you travel?" "Have you been to ... ?" "What's the last movie you saw?"
Why choose to be child-free? Well there are the selfish reasons (that's what you tell me, I'm selfish) such as wanting a clean house, peace and quiet, financial and personal freedom, as well as an identity that isn't bound to someone much younger than you. Then there is the "carbon footprint," impact on society, society's impact on the child, and overpopulation. Those are real concerns, but for our primary ones.
We're very free people and enjoyed fulfilling single lives before marrying. It's been a journey to merge those lives alone that adding another wouldn't give us the opportunity to learn about one another. Sure, after eighteen years the kids move away (but that's not so sure anymore) and then you have time, but until they move out it's all about the kids. I want it to be all about my husband; my happy, funny, loving, appreciative, and adorable husband. I want his life to be all about me, too.
If I re-read this I would agree that I'm selfish.
I'd rather be selfish, know it and not have a child than to do otherwise. Don't you? I've read your stories about resenting moms that have (or make) time to spend on themselves. "They should be taking care of their kids!" you say. "How dare they improve themselves? I can't!"
But shouldn't you be happy that people, who know they don't want to have kids, don't have them? How many people have children, don't appreciate it, end up on Nanny 911 because they don’t have a clue as to what they're doing and ruin a child's life? No parent really looks happy in the grocery store or mall. Few look happy when they’re in the park with their kids. Why would I follow in those footsteps?
I see having a child as a status symbol. It's like that huge one day event we call a wedding (didn't have one of those either.) The months of preparation, cute little clothes and toys, the parties and such that results in a day of labor and boom ... reality—marriage and/or child.
I could be mad at my uterus for placing me in a caste of women who aren't worthy to be part of the in crowd dominated by mommies.
I could be mad that I endure criticism for making a choice that is right for me (other than following the crowd.) Instead I embrace my uterus (and praise God for the IUD) as the logical partner to my brain that said to me, "I'm not going to define you. You define yourself. Forget I'm here."
This article was originally published at Divine Caroline. Reprinted with permission from the author.