Today’s guest essay is from anonymous writer, “Nancy Isaacson.”
I’m not a bad, evil, soul-less person. I’m not heartless. I’m not strange, or bitter. I’m not unnatural. I am just like any other warm-blooded, passionate, loving, happy, fulfilled, slightly eccentric 30-year-old woman. Except I don’t want children.
Apparently, broader society finds it impossible to reconcile these things: a “normal” woman in a stable, long-term, heterosexual relationship who chooses to be childless.
But there is nothing wrong with me or my life. I have a job I like, hobbies, friends I adore, and parents and a brother I’m absolutely nuts about. I’m in a warm, stable, live-in, long-term relationship with a wonderful man who also does not want to have children. We intend to marry in a few years and have a long, full, exciting life together that does not include strollers and Lamaze classes or diapers and preschool or teenagers and college tuitions. I applaud and admire those who are procreating – I think giving life and raising a child is a wonderful, noble thing that requires endless love and troves of patience. I think people who do it well are incredible. But that doesn’t mean that it’s for me.
It’s been difficult voicing this fundamental part of who I am to family and friends. It was hardest telling my parents that they won’t be getting grandchildren from me, especially since they just told me that they love me, support me in whatever I do, and wanted to remind me that my life is mine to live, not theirs (I mentioned I was nuts about my parents, right?). They defend me to their friends and family who judge… and oh, how they judge…
I’ve been told that I’ll change my mind because, well, what woman doesn’t want a child? I’ve been scolded by aunts and uncles saying I’m a selfish daughter because I’m not giving my parents grandchildren. I was asked by a (now former) close friend “what my parents did to me that was so horrible I wouldn’t want children?” This man has three beautiful kids who are his world, and he can’t fathom that my boyfriend and I will have “anything to hold our relationship together if we don’t have kids” and he thinks that my “life will be empty.” I’ve been told that I’ll always be judged as cold and career-focused if I don’t have a child. I’ve been reminded that I’ll end up in a home when I’m old, because I’ll have no one to take care of me. I’ve been asked why I care about getting married since my marriage won’t “count” and we won’t be a “real” family. I’ve been told that as a successful, smart, educated, good person, it’s my “duty to society” to procreate. Perhaps the most painful is those people who have insinuated that I am less of a woman, less of a person, because I lack the biological imperative to have a child.
At 30, my friends are only just starting to have babies. Life is certainly about to change — I know that years from now when all (most?) of my friends are raising children that there is a good chance we will have less in common and may grow apart. They won’t have the time for a girls’ trip to Napa, or a couples’ cruise to the Greek Isles. I won’t have children to attend play-dates or “family events” with. I won’t be able to participate in conversations about diaper genies, bugaboo strollers, colic, the best preschools, college funds, or how to have the sex talk with an adolescent. I fully expect that my parents will travel more to see my brother when he has children, and that it will be his kids who dominate family events for years to come. But I also know that even on days when I am questioning this decision, that I’ve thought it through, discussed it with my partner, and together we’ve made the best decision for us.
Perhaps I’ll change my mind. Perhaps I’ll only want kids after it’s too late and I’ll look back on these days and wonder how I could have been so wrong about my choices. But regardless of my life years from now, I know that it will be full – of love, friends, interesting work, good food and exotic travel. I know that children, or a lack thereof, will never define me.
There are many people out there who will judge and pity me, I know — who will think less of me because of my choices — but to them I can only say: “This is the path I’ve chosen in life and I’m excited about where it’s headed.”