September 2, 2013

On Being A Woman Who Doesn’t Want Children

I’m going to say something that might just shock the world, but it’s not a woman’s sole purpose in life to bear and raise children. Some women, like myself, just don’t want to have kids. There, I said it. And newsflash: that doesn’t make me some sort of magical unicorn or freak of nature. It makes me a woman who understands her own personal priorities that may or may not be different from your own, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And no, I don’t hate children (it’s actually quite the opposite!) But I will be totally honest with you – I think babies look like gross little aliens and/or potatoes. #sorrynotsorry

I was 12 years old when I told my mom I didn’t want to have children. She completely agreed with my decision and she, knowing me better than anyone, knew even then that I was not and probably never would be the kind of gal who totes around burping babies and could calmly put up with toddler tantrums. I’m 23 now and my feelings still haven’t changed. And yet somehow, I still have random people of all genders and ages telling me the same old thing: “You’ll change your mind some day; you watch!” This is frustrating because I haven’t changed my mind in half my life and I’m really not holding my breath for the day when I have this miraculous epiphany about my womanly childbearing duties that everyone expects me to have. It’s not. Going. To happen. (At least not physically.) Here’s why:

I’d rather be the cool aunt.

Don’t mistake my lack of desire for kids as a dislike for children in general. I actually really love kids (just not babies.) I am totally down to play dress up and tea parties and play catch and all that. I think little kids are adorable with their little hands and their big, curious eyes. I think the crazy “little drunk person” comments that they make are hilarious and precious. But, I like children who go home at the end of the day. That doesn’t make me a bad person – but it does make me the cool aunt who will watch your kid while you go out on a romantic date night or take them to the beach while you relax at home and take a break. (See? This benefits you, too.)

I’d rather have a dog (for several valid reasons).

A dog’s love is unconditional, and that’s the best kind of love. There’s no denying that. And yes, dogs require just about as much care as a child does, but with certain perks. You can take a dog out for a walk or a run (and while you CAN put your child on a leash, you CANNOT take them out for a run. Big difference, people.) Other pros of having a dog: they don’t go to expensive liberal arts colleges, they don’t require clothes or shoes, and they don’t refuse to eat their vegetables. And there’s the whole idea that they can be trained, they don’t throw temper tantrums, they don’t refuse nap-time, etc. etc. I could go on all day.

I want to travel the world.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like some of my reasons aren’t a little selfish. I know that they are, but I’d rather admit to being a little selfish than have kids that I don’t want and resent myself for not following my heart. I want to travel all over the world, meet new people, and learn their stories. And if I had a child tomorrow, I’d have to wait at least 18 years to really do that and have the experience that I’ve been dreaming of my whole life. The thought of that just makes me really sad.

I like my privacy and independence. A lot.

I’ve always been extremely independent. I like to cook what I want when I want, organize things the way I want, and go places I like to go. I’m down to compromise and I’m very easygoing, but I’m not the kind of person who is willing to put their entire life on hold for a baby. I’m just not. I value quiet time and long showers and uninterrupted hours of reading and movie-watching. I like being able to spontaneously go out and do fun things with my friends/family/significant other. These are things that seem to vanish into thin air when children come into play. Not really my style.

I’d rather adopt (if anything).

Here’s the kicker. If, and that’s a big IF, I decide that something’s missing in my life and I want a child, I want to adopt. Props to people who want to have their own children – I totally get it. It’s beautiful to watch a child grow up and see how the qualities of their mother and father have somehow molded into one perfect little being. It really is. I personally don’t want to physically have a child for a few reasons, including but not limited to all of those listed above plus a concern for my own health and the health of whatever child I would be bringing into the world. People criticize me for this too – I don’t understand why I get so much flack for not wanting to be pregnant and give birth. It’s my body and it’s my prerogative. If it came down to it and I decided I wanted to raise a child, I would adopt one who was in need of a loving home.

And if I do adopt a beautiful little girl or boy some day, and they read this when they get older, they’ll know that I loved them so much that I changed my whole life around for them.

And if I don’t, well, I’ll send you a postcard or something.

Either way, I think I’ll be just fine. TC mark

image – uhansonin

Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich is a native Connecticut gal and graduate of Drew University who loves antiques, Cold War …