Children. When the stork delivers them to your door, he also arrives with a two ton shipment of responsibility, with little gift wrapped packages of love, growth, and happiness scattered about. For me, there simply are not enough positives in that shipment that apply to my life to convince me to want children.
That’s right. I simply do not want to have any children. That should be considered a neutral, personal, and logically decided perspective. However, after years of interrogation from those around me–especially other women–I feel like most people who engage in this topic with me consider it a negative, immature, and incorrect choice that I am making for myself.
Somehow, my decision to not have children renders me lower on the totem pole of womanhood in the workplace, school, and sometimes peer relationships. I emphasize decision, because it is not the fact that I do not have children that bares a stigma, but the choice not to. Despite it being a personal decision for my life and no one else’s, and one made out of much thought, research, and internal reasoning, not having children is almost obscene to some.
Here are some situations involving an unemployed womb that women, and sometimes their male partners, run into.
1. “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”
This comment grates my nerves because it is only a possibility that I could change my mind, not a certainty.
2. “You’re missing out on so much!”
So are you. Sleep, personal freedom from responsibilities involving the entire life of another human being, personal time, money, etc. It is my choice to “miss out” on wonderful things like the bond between mother and child, not only because I have no desire for it, but because I have other priorities.
3. “But you’d make such beautiful children! Don’t you want to carry on the family name?”
It is a big deal for a lot of people to have children so that their genetic line continues. This makes perfect sense. Humans have a basic need to survive, and having children helps sustain the human race as well as prolong your lineage. While we are on the subject of passing on our genes to beautiful human larvae, have you ever thought that some people may have good reason not to do that? I am not ashamed of my family or the family I married into, but if I did want children, I would not want them to suffer from the hereditary blood disorder I have. From a less emotional point of view, it is actually better for the human race that the gene, carried in my family, stops here with me.
4. “Wait. You don’t ever want children? Are you like one of those people who hate kids?”
I do not hate kids. I like kids. I like talking to them, entertaining them, and making them laugh. I would even babysit your kids and we’d probably be good buddies. Alas, I do not want my own children. I never actually had the maternal desire, not even as a little girl when I played with my baby dolls. While my little friends got really into the roleplay of being the doll’s mother, I felt bored by it, and really just considered the dolls my “friends” more than my “babies”.
So, tell me, would you really want someone who does not desire children to really have children? Would that not be a little irresponsible on my part? How would that be fair to the child, to have a mother who really just… never wanted him/her? What if I went through with a pregnancy, certain that I’d change my mind about wanting kids like everyone told me I would, only to find out after having the child I have trouble bonding with him/her?
5. When on the subject of something you are struggling with: “Well, I did it, and I was raising a [insert small number here] year old when I did it.”
In my opinion, this is the worst offense against people who do not have children and do not want them. This point of view can easily cross the lines of being just a comment to being a harmful hindrance to progress in someone’s life, especially if the person expressing this view is in a position of authority.
A little under a year ago, I was attending a college as part of an accelerated Veterinary Technology program. It was very challenging for me, but for all the wrong reasons. The actual material was extraordinarily easy for me, initiative was easy, my interest in the subject matter was high, and I never had any problem with my assignments. What I did have problems coping with was a very disorganized academic staff, very limited/broken technology and sources, lack of healthy food choices on campus, irregular and unnecessarily long class hours, extremely inconsistent scheduling of necessary in-class activities, and a plethora of other issues that were promised would not exist when I enrolled.
There I was, a twenty-seven year old, married woman trying to manage a life altering health condition while attending a school that was stuck in the 1980’s. I knew this was an accelerated course going into it, so I was okay with it being my full time job, but my ability to keep up began to wain when I found myself having to transcribe definitions pen-to-paper for four hours for one class while receiving very inefficient communication from my instructors over important matters regarding my attendance and work. I was facing very serious issues that were threatening my progress in the program despite my excellent grades, interest, and initiative. These issues poured into my personal life, affecting my marriage and health.
You would think that when I tried to reason with an instructor that enforced a hand-written only assignment policy, she would understand that narrowing a task down from 4 hours to half an hour would be the best practice for my situation. That is exactly the opposite of what happened. From her perspective, she had “been there, going through a veterinary technology program, while raising her eight year old son” so it was absolutely necessary that I, another human being in a completely different circumstance with a completely different set of life challenges, must spend hours on simple tasks that did not help me learn the content any better or better me as a potential veterinary technician. Because, damnit, she had children! That’s why!
In the end I actually left the program, which was a very emotional and tough decision for me to make. It is very hard to walk away from a program you have put 6 months of continuous, hard work, thousands of dollars, and brilliant grades into. There were plenty of reasons for my departure, but the simple ability to free up time to fix the loads of other problems without compromising my grades due to someone’s experience with their eight year old kid may have actually been my saving grace.
Citing your own parenthood as a reason for someone to perform a certain way is neither supportive or justified.
6. “It’s not that hard raising children. I raised mine alone!”
I have never met one person who claimed raising children to be easy that did not actually have the consistent aid of their family, or another significant outside resource, when raising their young.
The choice to not have children is not a result of immaturity. Making the choice to have children does not make someone more mature, responsible, or righteous. Those are all things that are personal choices on their own, not something an act brings about by default.