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.
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.