I read an article online at Daily Mail London last night. It was about women who were married who chose not to have children. A woman had written a book about being fulfilled by just being a wife and had interviewed about 170 couples. From what I gathered from the article, men and women are chastised and questioned about their choice to be child free.
This debate has been going for awhile now, a women’s message board that I frequent will have heated debates when non parents impart opinions to those who are parents. It has become common for those of us that do not have children to preface our posts with “I don’t have children/am a parent but. . .” We are often ridiculed that we have no clue about children and should therefore not impart any wisdom we may have gleaned from our experiences.
Do I want children? Yes I do but for all the unconventional ways that I have chosen to live my life (not settling for just any guy with a pulse to name one) I may never have that option. This is the one thing I did promise my parents I would be decidedly traditional about.
BUT I have dealt with children from birth on for many years, be it babysitting or my friends’ children. I do know some things about kids. I also know that each child reacts differently when they are being reprimanded for being naughty. So sometimes, that whole whisper, “Mommy will spank or Mommy will take the Playstation DS away” doesn’t work. Also, I was raised by two parents that imparted some wisdom on me about how to behave in public. So I think I can share some of my stories as an “outsider” to the group.
I have a coworker who has been married for 23 years and decided early on that since she and her husband did not live near family, they would not have children. She has not regretted it and sees it as “trade-offs.” While she and her hubby have traveled all over the world, taking several vacations a year, buy nice things and have a nice home, she also sees her sister, with three kids making sacrifices in order to provide for her kids. Both lives have trade-offs and while some may think it is a sad life to be childless, I see it more as a way to live your life to the fullest, concentrating on your marriage and friendships.
My coworker loves children, dotes on her nieces and nephews but also relishes her time with her husband. She doesn’t look at me as if I have a disease for wanting to get married and have children, she respects my wants and I respect hers.
I know that if I get married and have children, those days of lounging by the pool, buying what I want and doing whatever I want will no longer be my first priority. Sometimes that scares me because let’s face it, I have been on my own for a long time and I am set in my ways. I like the fact that I can sit and read a book or if I don’t feel like cleaning, it is no big deal. I can think about me, me, me all day long. I can stay late at work or bring work home with me whenever because who is going to complain? The cat? Maybe but seriously, I have spent my adult life doing what I want, planning trips and blowing money on what I want without a care in the world.
The article was disconcerting in the aspect that if this is my life, people, particularly women, will look at me with pity or question me, saying I am selfish. I can think of many other topics that need to be discussed and fixed over whether or not I am a selfish person. I find it appalling that others can look at my coworker and other women out there who chose the marriage but no the children. They don’t have the desire to procreate and why should they be forced to?
My father has always joked that once I was born my mother lost all maternal instincts. Partly true. She is a very loving mom but being raised by her mom, who wasn’t the type to gush and be all lovey dovey, made her the type of mom who wasn’t lovey dovey. Children make her nervous now and while it can sometimes be funny, I get that her personality wasn’t about having a ton of kids and squeezing into bed with all of them. She would get jumpy when I would take out several kids to McDonalds or the park. To me, it was always natural, easy to pile the kids I kept into a car and traipse to the park. I even wanted to be a teacher until I realized I couldn’t afford me if I was a teacher.
My aunt is childfree, she married an older man and never had children. She adores children and worked at a Boys Club for years but never had the opportunity to have them. Does this make her a bad person? No. There are many reasons why married couples don’t have children and I think it is about time that each group appreciates and respects what the other brings to the table. Tearing people apart due to their choices doesn’t help matters and can only cause more of a rift.