Growing up, I was obsessed with Barbie dolls. Not baby dolls or stuffed animals, but only Barbie dolls. Our home’s playroom was painted pink with a pink carpet to match. The room was filled with Barbie dollhouses and doll clothes and accessories, with those infamous tiny plastic Barbie shoes strewn around the room. My poor brother.
As a little girl, my dolls were doing crazy (and inappropriate) things like living in college dorms, going to frat parties (thanks, 90s television shows), becoming lawyers, and going camping. I wasn’t interested in the typical “family” play, unless I was imagining a rich and famous family of celebrities who lived the life of luxury in their Barbie jacuzzi. My sister, on the other hand, was always “mama” to her dolls and took care of them as her own children. Me? I had no interest in that, because my dolls were too busy planning their next scuba diving adventure.
I look back at that aspect of my life and I feel that it’s a telling sign of a decision I would make as an adult. A decision that many people don’t agree with, a decision that many people think I am a monster for making, a decision that has been looked down on and belittled. I don’t want kids. Yes, you read that right. I am a married woman who has zero desire to give birth and raise a child. Of all the titles I can have, “mom” is not one I want.
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As a teen and young adult in my early 20s, I thought I wanted kids because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Get married, buy a house with a white picket fence, have kids, and live happily ever after. It wasn’t until I met my husband and we began talking about our future that I realized the fact that I just don’t see children fitting into my life.
People are surprised to hear this and when I’m asked when I’m having a child or how many children I want, the conversation gets very awkward. People don’t want to hear you say you don’t want kids. People think it’s okay to pry into your private life and ask such personal, intimate questions. People don’t understand that the woman they are talking to could be going through something traumatic, like a miscarriage, or maybe, she cannot have children but deeply wants them. Or maybe, just maybe, that woman has no interest in having a child of her own.
When people hear I don’t want children, they automatically assume that I hate children, which is something I don’t understand. I mean, I don’t want a puppy either, but that doesn’t mean I hate puppies! I enjoy spending time with the children in my life. I enjoy hearing about them from my friends and family who have children. I enjoy babysitting and being the cool aunt. But what I enjoy more than all of that is coming home to a quiet, clean, and calm home for two. I enjoy sleeping until noon on Sundays and not having to worry about keeping a human alive. I enjoy spur of the moment getaways with my husband. I enjoy spending my money on things that make me happy. I truly love my life as it is and I see no reason to change it. Adding a child to the mix would only make this life more complicated, more stressful, and more difficult.
I believe you must really, really want a child to have one. You shouldn’t have one because you’re looking to “complete” your family or you’re looking for something that’s missing. You shouldn’t have one because it’s the modern day “life script”. You shouldn’t have one unless you really want one, period. I wouldn’t want to be born to parents who didn’t really want me, would you?
People want reasons when you tell them you don’t want children. They want to know why. They make statements like “you’ll change your mind” or “but you love Disney!”. Or my favorite “you’re too young to know”. So, I’m too young to know I don’t want kids but not too young to know that I do want them? Riiiiight. I don’t owe them an explanation. My decision is my own. It is no one’s business but mine and my husband’s. People even go as far as saying “oh, it’s because you had cancer right? Well, you can always get a surrogate or adopt!” Why is it that my choice is unfathomable to some people? Why am I not free to make my choice without judgement? I am a prisoner to society and its pressure to conform.
Some people think that because I don’t want children, I must not agree with those who choose to have children. To me, that is ridiculous. Having children is your choice, just like not having children is my choice. Just because it’s not something I would do doesn’t mean I won’t support you. I support friends who have different careers. I support friends who have different interests. Why wouldn’t I support you for making a different decision? You want kids? Great. I’ll be there to bring you to the diner at 2am when you’re having pregnancy cravings for mozzarella sticks. I’ll come with you to doctor’s appointments if you need someone. I’ll help you decorate the baby’s room. I’ll go shopping and squeal over the cute little clothing with you. I’ll even babysit the little nugget when you need a night off.
But I will not have a child of my own – and that, folks, is a choice that makes me very happy.