As the new year approaches, I have been thinking about my hopes and dreams for the future, and how my decisions in life have given me fulfillment in my career and in my marriage. I have been thinking about why I chose not to have kids in the first place, and what my lifestyle really means to me.
While there are some extremists in every group, most of the people who don’t want to have children are not child haters. Some – and I count myself among this group – are simply uncomfortable around children.
I can’t remember the last time I held a baby, and I have no desire to do so. I just don’t have that “maternal instinct” I keep hearing so much about. It isn’t in me, and you can’t force something like that. And yes, I get annoyed when I want a quiet night out with my husband and I am subjected to a crying baby the entire time. I feel the same way about smokers, but that’s a topic for another time…
Others truly do love children, but they don’t want to have any of their own. Remarkably, many people who have chosen the child free lifestyle have also chosen careers in child-related professions. Several teachers have been featured in the Reader Profiles of the Married No Kids Newsletter. Ironically, it is this daily exposure to children that often leads to the decision not to have any.
My role as “Aunt Kim” has been a lot of fun so far. I love looking at the toy ads and buying gifts for my niece, nephew, and friends’ kids. (I still hate toy stores though – I can never find anything I’m looking for!) Once they can walk and talk, I even enjoy playing with them. But I have never had an urge to make one of my own.
I think my strong desire to pursue my career, my hobbies, and my own interests scares some people. I also think an independent woman freaks people out. Their reaction is a clear feminist backlash. It is sad that in the 21st century, women still can’t be who they want to be without criticism for exploring a world outside society’s “norm.”
To me, being child free means spending more time doing things that I enjoy. It means nurturing my marriage, traveling, and enjoying my freedom. I love to cook things that kids would never eat. My husband and I listen to jazz, eat dinner by candlelight, and take long bubble baths.
I have a friend who is a stay at home mom with two kids. Her email updates are few and far between these days, but when I do hear from her it is all about her husband’s career, who’s teething, and how the potty training is going. When I read them, I think, “How sad! She doesn’t do anything for herself!”
And I promptly write back about my next exhibition, the book I’m writing, and where we spent our anniversary. It occurred to me one day that she’s probably thinking, “How sad! She doesn’t have any family to talk about!”
My choices aren’t for everyone. But theirs aren’t for me either.