I have… not one regret about not having children because I believe that it is the way it’s supposed to be. – Oprah
During my annual mammogram this year the two imaging nurses and I got to chatting about DINKs: DOUBLE INCOME, NO KIDS. One of the nurses was already a grandmother and the other was about to become one for the first time in a few short months. I shared my congratulations and asked what she wanted to be called. Good ol’ “Grandma” is so overrated now. These days we’ve got GiGi, MiMi, YaYa, Nonni, LaLa and even GLAMMA. So of course after finding out their life stories and perceived nic names the inevitable next question was for them to ask ME if I had kids. I knew it was coming. You can always feel the do you have kids question floating in the air. I said NO which then only left the inevitable NEXT question: whether I will have kids in the future. I again said NO and the good nurse gasped, “OH … I’M SOOOO SORRY.” Now that was one I’d never heard. I’m not sure why she was sorry. Was she assuming I had tried and was unsuccessful? Is it so far fetched to think someone wouldn’t want to have kids?
I did what I always do. I made light of it stating, “Oh I’m an Auntie and I just love my little niece and nephew to pieces!” These seemed to appease the Grandmas. I know this can be a sensitive and sometimes controversial topic that can create an awkward and uncomfortable conversation as the world is filled with women and couples who go to great lengths to get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. To be honest, having kids is something I always thought would just naturally happen. You know, you get older and the universe is like here’s a life including a boo, a baby, and some homeowner’s insurance. That didn’t happen. What I mean is, I found out over time I didn’t want kids and as a result I had to face the gasps and shame of society.
NEWSFLASH … being a mom is not something every woman fantasizes about. Now that I’m mentally, emotionally and financially secure, the last thing I want to do is spend the rest of my life raising tiny humans and I’m not afraid to say that out loud. I believe all of you when you tell me that having children is the best thing that ever happened to you. That it changed everything and that the sleep deprivation, years of complete exhaustion, and selflessness paid it forward 10-fold with joy and fulfillment, la la la. But that doesn’t change my mind. What I’ve come to understand is that it’s a very personal choice we all have to make for ourselves, and as I recently read in a Washington Post Article about the decline in women having children… it’s not child-less it’s child-FREE (see below for link).
What I have found astounding are the things people say to try to convince you your choice is wrong and there is something wrong with you for not wanting kids. Here are a few examples:
When you meet the right man you’ll want kids … I ALREADY DID, AND I DON’T.
Who will take care of you when your older?… MY BOO AND MY RETIREMENT FUND
Do you think you’ll be in your 60’s with regret?…I THINK I’LL BE ON A YACHT IN CAICOS
My 40th birthday present to myself this year was a 10 day yoga retreat in Bali. My roommate during the retreat was an amazing designer from Dallas in her early 50’s who also chose to be #childfree. It was amazing to connect with a like-minded individual and see someone who was older to prove it didn’t make her miserable like everyone says. She told me she was exactly where she was supposed to be doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing. Amen to that sister. I’d rather feel square in my purpose than less then for not keeping up with the Joneses.
I absolutely respect women who are mothers and I can empathize with the amount of time and effort that goes into bringing a child into this world. I also know, it’s just not for me, and that should be respected too. Below I leave you with a treat, an excerpt from the great Liz GIlbert on not having kids and what she calls “The Auntie Brigade”.
Lashes, Love, and Lipstick,
Childless women – let’s call them the “Auntie Brigade” – have never been very well honored by history, I’m afraid. They are called selfish, frigid, pathetic. Here’s one particularly nasty bit of conventional wisdom circulating out there about childless women that I need to dispel here, and that is this: that women who have no children may lead liberated and happy and wealthy lives when they are young, but they will ultimately regret that choice when they reach old age, for they shall all die alone and depressed and full of bitterness. Perhaps you’ve heard this old chestnut? Just to set the record straight: There is zero sociological evidence to back this up. In fact, recent studies of American nursing homes comparing happiness levels of elderly childless women against happiness levels of women who did have children show no pattern of special misery or joy in one group or the other. But here’s what the researchers did discover makes elderly women miserable across the board: poverty and poor health. Whether you have children or not, then, the prescription seems clear: Save your money, floss your teeth, wear your seatbelt, and keep fit – and you’ll be a perfectly happy old bird someday, I guarantee you.
Just a little free advice there, from your Auntie Liz.