I knew when I was 12 that I didn't want children. My mother says that she distinctly remembers me storming into the house after babysitting the neighbors' kids and announcing angrily, "I'm never getting married and I'm never having kids."
Only once has my decision not to have children wavered ever-so-slightly, but know it wasn't one babysitting incident gone awry that has kept me fairly steadfast in my resolve.
There is also my brother, who had "issues" as a child. I babysat him most days because both my parents worked, and once—when I was 12 and he was 8—he chased me down the hall to my bedroom brandishing five knives in his hand. When he wasn't flying into a daily rage over one thing or another, he was at my heels like a puppy dog begging for my attention—not exactly behavior that would encourage me to want a child of my own. Confession: I Was A Reluctant Mother
As for marriage, I've been a little more ambivalent in my thoughts. When I was 19 and madly in love with my first boyfriend, I told my parents I was going to marry him. Wisely, they said nothing. I came to my senses, and decided that marrying a drug addict was not in my best interests.
My next brush with marriage occurred in my mid-20s, with my Brazilian boyfriend. We had met in the U.S. and, when he went home, I followed. Upon my arrival, he presented me with a wedding ring. We were to be "married" sans the ceremony and legal entanglements.
A few months later, the subject of a real marriage—and kids—came up.
"I want six," he said.
I wanted none but told him I'd compromise on two if we could have a nanny raise them.
"Ok," he said, "but we have to raise them Catholic." I was mortified.
"I'm Jewish, so by Jewish law, my children are Jewish too. They will be raised Jewish. Anyway, you don't even practice your religion."
"But my mother will insist that they be raised Catholic." Needless to say, I didn't marry Marcelo—or have his children.