"You don't want kids? Don't worry. You'll change your mind."
I've heard those words uttered thousands of times whenever I tell someone I don't want kids, but each time is just as infuriating as the one before. It's true, let me shout it from the rooftops: My husband and I don't want kids. It's one of the first things we discussed on our first date, second only to whether to order wine by the glass or by the bottle.
To be clear: I've never wanted kids. I've never seen the appeal. It's not that I'm selfish. Quite the contrary. I'm a dog lover and our three mutts are the center of my universe. I spend much of my time doing charity work for my favorite animal rescue and my husband and I are quite happy without kids. But for some reason, people don't seem to understand it. As if it's impossibile to be happy without children. As if we're horrible people because we don't want to bring another life into the world.
Normally, I just nod my head and smile when someone tells me I'll change my mind about having children. I don't say what I'm really thinking. Rather, I've let my annoyances slowly simmer over the years — that is, until now. I'm hitting you with a few truths about why telling me — or anyone! — that I'll change my mind about having kids isn't just inappropriate, it's downright offensive.
1. You don't know me. Chances are we met in a social setting and you've known me all of five minutes. You don't know my last name but interestingly, you feel it's appropriate to encourage me to populate the earth. You don't know if I'm an alcoholic or if I have an addiction to pills, yet you somehow DO know that I need to raise a little bundle of joy. NO. Just no.
2. You don't know my marriage situation. For all you know, I could be married to a psychopath who makes me peel grapes and speak only in words that don't contain the letter "a." You assume that simply because I have a wedding ring on my finger, that I'm happily married and would make a mediocre to great parent. Perhaps you should take a glance at the finger next to my wedding ring, I’m flashing it at you now.
3. I might not be able to have kids. You're assuming it's a choice I've made not to have children, but maybe I'm simply not able to. So not only have you offended me, you've hit upon a really sensitive topic. Nice work.
4. You're suggesting I'm wrong. I reaaaaaalllly don't like being told that I'm wrong, mostly because I rarely am. (Kidding.) But by saying I'll change my mind, you're suggesting I'll come around to the "right" way of thinking. WAKE-UP CALL: There is no right of thinking. I'm not wrong. You're not wrong. We just have different life paths.
5. I could be destitute. My outfit might tell you that my clothes are a few seasons old and my purse came from the bargain bin at the thrift store. (Granted, my clothes are old because I'd rather spend my money on travel and my purse came from the bargain bin because it was a great deal.) But regardless, the point stands. You don't know my financial situation or what effect having children would have on it. You wouldn't want me to have a child if it meant I had to raise it on the street, would you? I didn't think so.
6. Are you going to help me raise it? You're quick to tell me about the joys of parenthood, but will you be there at 3:00 in the morning when the baby won't stop crying and I need to be at work at 7 a.m.? Perhaps you could give me your number so I can call you then and have you come over to help me take care of my screaming newborn. No? Not interested? Neither am I, which is why I'm not having children.
7. You're projecting your opinions and values onto me. I have a hard enough time trying to figure out the right decisions in my life without my brain being muddled by the opinions of perfect strangers. (Looking at you, too, close friends.) If you would like to make a decision for me, however, please tell me whether or not to cancel cable; I go back and forth on that one. But I've got my lady parts covered - literally and figuratively.
8. Stop bullying me! Yes, that's exactly what you're doing. You're bullying me into procreating. Is that really a good reason for me to bring a new life into the world — because you're relentless? No. It is, however, a great reason to duck out of this conversation without so much as a goodbye.