Jul
18
2011
Melon, Other Fruitlessness (or Why A Childfree Person Thinks About Having Kids)

Coming Out

I haven’t explicitly written about not having kids. I’ve been hesitant for two reasons:

1.) I don’t want to alienate anybody. I think some parents get uncomfortable around me once they know I’m purposely childfree (it’s hard to avoid the conversation now that I’m of an age when “do you have kids?” is the first thing new people ask me) because they think I’m judging their choice. But no. Really. As someone whose preferred number of children is an uncommon zero, I’m very sensitive to reproductive rights. Want 20 kids? Go for it, Duggar, just don’t judge my number.

2.) I get a “she doth protest too much” vibe, even from Dave sometimes, if I bring up this topic. Talking about not wanting children must mean I’m delusional, that I really want kids, but am just afraid to admit it.

Why Analyze Something You’ve Decided Not To Do?

I analyze everything—it’s just my way.

So few people choose this route, I want to reach out for support. While the proportion of women my age who have never had children has increased since 1976 according to the Current Population Survey, it’s still small. About 20 percent of women my age have never had a child (only 13 percent of women my age who have ever been married). It can get pretty lonely up in here.

Perhaps most importantly, I analyze it because I still can. I read somewhere that childfree people think about whether or not to have kids more than parents and it makes sense because we generally have a longer period of time over which to consider it. Parents kind of have to stop considering this question once they have kids. I can still change my mind.

I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind. But the biggest difference between myself as a 25-year-old and now is I’m no longer naïve enough to think it’s impossible. There’s no reason not to touch base on it periodically.

An Analogy

My Mom can’t understand why I don’t like melon. I’ve watched her cut cantaloupe for herself hundreds of times. Every so often she would encourage me to try a bite. “Oh, this is a good one, so sweet. Come on…”

Once I got past the age at which it was my job to stubbornly refuse all her food advances, I would occasionally give it a try. But I hate melon. All kinds. Even watermelon. I realize this is un-American.

1.) The smell: skunky, like it’s already gone bad.

2.) The texture: some might call it juicy, but it’s really just watery. It’s like eating a saturated yet solid sponge.

3.) The taste: it tastes sort of like it smells—off. Dirty dishwatery? Skunky.

But I can understand melon’s appeal. It’s brightly colored and its high water content can be refreshing on a hot summer day. Melon provides an economical fruit salad filler.

So because of Mom’s peer pressure and the ubiquitous overabundance of it in fruit salads, and my own desire not to miss out (if I had never tried new things I’d still be stuck eating a diet of Spaghetti-os, hot dogs, and sweets), I continue to try melon occasionally.

Like yesterday, for example.

 

In short, still no.

And Now I Go There—Comparing Children with Melon

I don’t want kids. None. Ever. I realize this is un-American. I have all kinds of reasons.

1.) The physical pain: I’m certain the pain of childbirth would kill me. When I spoke to the first of my friends to give birth after it was over, she said “there’s no way you could do that.”

2.) The emotional pain: I shudder over the idea of having to watch, helpless, as your children exhibit some of the same characteristics you hate most in yourself.

3.) The loss of freedom: I like my life the way it is and the things I’d most like to change are incompatible with parenting. I want to get more sleep. I’m trying to wrestle more control over how I spend my time.

This might ring hollow to parents, just as parents’ reasons can often sound vague to me. I’ve heard parents say it was just a feeling they always had, they just knew they wanted to have children. It’s the same for me really, just in the reverse. I’ve never had that feeling.

But I can understand the appeal. Creating a new life, having more people with whom you can share love. Giving my Mom more grandchildren, building a relationship with my child like the one I have with my Mom (hopefully). Parenting is an excuse to relive your childhood without seeming childish. And parents have at least one thing in common with most people they meet.

Unlike melon, I can’t simply try it out, decide I still don’t like it, and get left with only a temporary bad taste in my mouth. But like melon, it seems worth investigating, just in case. Even though it’s unlikely I’ll change my mind. So I do what I can do, which is touch base with myself, imagine it, make sure it isn’t just fear making me say no.

I’ve heard the argument that you can’t treat whether to have children as a rational decision because there’s no way to know for sure how you’ll react to it. That even if you don’t like kids, you’ll love your own. While I agree there’s no way to know exactly what it will be like before doing it, the idea this decision shouldn’t be considered rationally is just crazy talk. I have no doubt I’d love my own children. I think I could be a good parent (well, if I managed to survive childbirth that is), I just don’t want to.

Of all the decisions I’ll ever make in my life, this has to be the foremost on my list of things I’d rather regret not doing than doing. Will I ever change my mind? I can’t even imagine it. But occasionally I try. Because I can.

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14 Responses to “Melon, Other Fruitlessness (or Why A Childfree Person Thinks About Having Kids)”

  1. cestlavie22
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Although I am on the total opposite spectrum on this topic I can definitely see your point. For me I have tried to convince myself many times that I don’t want kids for the scary fact that some women just aren’t able to have them…what if that is me?? Hoping and Wanting kids your whole life to find out you cant have them would be devastating and I am not one who takes disappointment well. However, ever since my baby sister was adopted my freshman year of high school I have wanted at least one kid of my own and I dont think Ill be able to shake that feeling.

    • logyexpress
      Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I don’t know what happened with your baby sister, but I do think at least some of my feelings about this stem from being the baby in my family. I never had much exposure to babies/younger kids. Never babysat. So I must admit, kids kind of scare the crap out of me. I have no rapport with them until they are pretty old. If I could skip right to the charming adult children who visit at holidays part, I might do it. I hope things work out the way you want.

  2. Erin
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 1:32 am #

    Tracy, I never liked melon for the EXACT same reasons you listed. I’m glad somebody else finally understands. However, my mother-in-law has been trying to convert me – picking up exotic varieties at Whole Foods sure she will hit on a winner – and last summer she hit paydirt. Orange flesh honeydew. Wow.

    Here are a couple descriptions:
    http://www.backinskinnyjeans.com/2007/07/breakfast-idea-.html
    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-orange-flesh-honeydew.htm

    That reminds me that I need to start looking for them again.

    That is not meant as a veiled attempt to convert you to kids. In fact I am banking on you NOT having kids, because in high school you pledged not to have kids and thus I was free to have 2 kids while still working toward population reduction goals.

    Ooh, I just came across this one you might like:
    Butterscotch Melons – These buttery rich melons are becoming increasing popular at local farmers markets and specialty grocery stores around the country. These small melons have a pale green skin and a two-toned green and orange flesh. The green flesh nearest the rind is edible, and very sweet. Many people think the flesh tastes like butterscotch candy, which is where the name comes from. Ripe melons are paler in color with a sweet sugary aroma.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 1:43 am #

      Hmm, why did WordPress make me approve this comment? That’s irritating.

      Thanks for the melon suggestions. I am skeptical, but as I pointed out, I like to keep an open mind.

      Maybe I can start a whole photo series of me making disgusted faces while trying different types of melon. I walked by a street vendor this morning while he was still stocking up, and he had a bunch of little plastic containers of all melon fruit salad in a cooler. I actually caught a whiff of melon as I walked by and it made me shudder.

  3. May
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    I like that you use the word childfree rather than childless. It asserts your choice in the matter. If at some point in the future you do change your mind (and I am not saying you should or will), your baby would be extra lucky to come into a home where the parents waited until they were clearly ready and anxious to parent. If you don’t change your mind, it will simply affirm what you already know. Sounds like a win/win.

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 12:57 am #

      Thanks, I think you’re right about win/win, although choosing a path different from the one most women take can be isolating. Having kids is a pretty universal activity and a substantial component of the lives of parents. And I can’t really relate since I haven’t done it. Certainly not a reason to change my mind, but it is what it is.

  4. Sara
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Tracy, thank you for sharing this post. One of my mother’s best friends shared your views and was open and frank about it. I really respected her and somehow understood her choice at a very young age. She told me (as a child) that she just did want to be a Mommy which made me understand that this was a choice and that you should have to want it. It’s definitely not for everyone and I truly respect your decision.
    I’m sorry that this decision can feel so isolating. I do know that you are not alone in your decision and I hope that via this wonderful thing called the internet you connect with some other truly amazing women.
    Sara

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      Hi Sara, I love your blog and appreciate your visiting here! Thanks for the kind words. This decision didn’t seem like such a big deal until I turned 35…then all of the sudden I looked around and saw almost nobody left, you know? I’ve been really lucky in that I don’t get a lot of the judgment that some childfree people talk about and can become bitter about and can lead to a not at all helpful us vs them mentality. For the most part no one bugs me about it. But it still makes connecting with people (sorry for the Bachelor terminology) more difficult.

  5. Lisa E
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    I am 100% in support of being child-free. At 39, I have never been stricken with the internal momma clock and enjoy my life as it is. I am in a little bit of a different ball park than you because I have never been married. Although I used to also oppose marriage for myself, I am willing to jump into that game if the opportunity presents. I always thought it would be best to meet a nice elderly gentlman of 85 when I was about 80 and then pledge, “Till death do us part.” It seems so much easier when you know you might not have too much longer.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Hey Lisa, thanks for the comment! Always good to be reminded that I’m not totally alone in this.

      I was always adamant about not wanting kids. As I inched closer to 35, I wondered if something beyond my control might rear its head. But not so much. Although I did start giving it more explicit thought then, because it’s one thing to say you don’t want to do something that you still have plenty of time to do, and it’s another when time is running out. I guess it’s still possible I’ll regret it when I’m older, but at 37, I don’t think it’s very likely!

      I never thought I’d get married either…pre-Dave. I guess he was the one, since it seems to have worked out pretty well! Although it took years before I was willing to merge our bank accounts. He hasn’t cleaned me out and run off yet, so far so good!

  6. Jennifer
    Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    My sister isn’t interested in having children either. She has said many times that she is very content in being an Aunt. She spoils my children and loves them very much but admits that she’s more than happy to give them back at the end of the day. It was very hard for my Mother to hear and has only recently accepted that my children will be the only grandchildren she will have. I think that Kristen is honest and I couldn’t see her as a Mom…. but then again some people couldn’t see me as a Mom either.

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