To the women who choose not to have kids, I have one thing to say: thank you.
You probably don’t hear it enough. In fact, you probably don’t hear it at all. What you do hear is an array of pro-childbearing responses, such as, “You’ll change your mind someday,” or, “Doesn’t your mother want grandkids?” or, “You’ll never find a husband if you never want to have kids.”
All things considered, “thank you” is probably on the opposite end of what you hear.
But seriously: thank you. Thank you for recognizing that childrearing isn’t for you and being true to who you are. It doesn’t mean you hate kids. It just means that raising one is not part of your path in life.
Thank you for not succumbing to the societal pressures. I’ve known far too many parents who had kids because that’s what was expected of them. Working in childcare, you see more of this type than you wish to see. The resentment is almost palpable. They love their children — at least, they have no choice but to love their children — but every single movement seems to scream, “I wasn’t meant for this.” I’ve known too many people who grew up with at least one parent who harbored that resentment, who let that resentment dictate how they parented. I’ve seen how that influenced the way these former children are now as adults, or even as parents themselves.
Thank you for not trying to compromise who you are in an effort to keep a partner around. Thank you for being honest and open and refusing to apologize for who you are. Everyone has different values. Everyone wants something different in life. It takes a lot of guts and confidence to say, “This is what I want in life. It’s not the orthodox way, but it’s my way.”
Thank you for not trying to silence that feeling in your gut as a means to validate your life. There are too many people in this world who cannot figure out their path — or have stumbled while walking down said path — and decided that maybe having a child could provide that meaning and definition instead. You understand that down this path lies vicarious living and hurt emotions and you recognize that there are so many other ways to find love and meaning and joy in your life.
Raising children is a difficult, onerous, frustrating, and disappointing gig. It’s tough enough for those who want it. It is a rewarding and loving gig as well, but it’s not something one should go into while focusing only on reward and love and societal acceptance. In this day and age, with a booming population in almost every country, it makes no sense to pressure every person to have a baby. But we’re sticklers to tradition, ritualistic to a fault.
So thank you. It’s not easy to stand firm with your belief. Honestly, truly, and genuinely: thank you.