When I was little, I assumed that when I grew up, I’d marry the man of my dreams, live in a perfect house surrounded by an equally perfect white picket fence, with a two-car garage and two adorable, perfectly behaved kids. They would be daughters, of course, born close in age, as my sister and I were, and in that life I would live a happily ever after fairytale. This idyllic world lasted for quite some time in my head, at least into my teens, then things changed: I realized that Kurt Cobain, perhaps, wasn’t my soulmate after all, a white picket fence is overrated, and kids are, honestly, just a pain in the ass. Instead, I was going to shoot for something else: a life less conventional.
By the time I reached my mid-20s, I was living in New York City, was single, actually being paid to write and marriage and kids were as far from my brain as they possibly could be. I was happy; really happy. No one pried into my love life, well, except for my aunt during Thanksgiving dinner, because she’s long believed I’m a lesbian, but besides her, my decisions were my own, and no one took issue with them.
But then, as I approached my 30s, the questions started coming in: “When are you going to settle down and have kids? You realize you’re running out of time, right?” I didn’t realize that, at 29, I was “running out of time,” but thanks Grammy. I did my best to ignore them, and laugh about it instead. “Me? A mom? Bahaha!” Because sometimes that’s all you can do so you don’t flip the closest table and start throwing punches at the sky.
I’ve always been fairly vocal about the fact that I’m not a kid person. When my sister had my nephews, what followed was the whole, “You’re next, Amanda,” but I didn’t want to be next. I love my nephews, but I think I love them so much because I can walk away whenever I want. They throw a fit and I go to the closest bar and have a couple glasses of wine. I’m happy that I have the luxury, and wince at the fact that my sister has to stay put and deal with them. While others may see kids as this wonderful thing that they, too, hope to have someday, I see them as a burden. And I make no apologies for that thinking.
I know, I know; it’s only a terrible, wicked witch who would think such a thing, because kids are a gift and all that, but seriously, if one were to look at their life before they had kids and after they have kids, can they not see the difference? It’s goodbye to traveling, goodbye to late nights, goodbye to weekends away and goodbye to selfish purchases like shoes, because baby needs more diapers and a new onesie, because he puked all over the last dozen of them. I am not ready for that; I may never be ready for that, and apparently, according to some, that makes me a bad person.
A few years ago, I was interviewed for the New York Post about my disinterest in having kids. I was straightforward about how my career and life in New York was paramount, and I just saw kids as something that would stand in the way of all that, because, um, yeah, they would. The feedback, mostly from men mind you, was that the other women who were profiled and myself were pretty much the worst and didn’t “deserve” to have kids. There were also other comments about how selfish we were to not want to bring children into this world, like, who the hell did we think we were, wanting to have a life instead of a family? It wasn’t just upsetting that these people felt they had any right to dictate to me what I should be doing with my uterus, but it made me stand even stronger in my claim that kids just might not be for me. If people are so concerned about the fact that I’m not procreating, then why don’t they step up to the plate and have some extra babies on my behalf? No? Now who’s selfish?
Having been married for less than a year, I’m once again, more than ever, fending off questions about whether or not my husband and I will be having children. Even my dentist, of all people, told me just a few weeks ago I should get started right away on having children and that, when I told him I had other things to do with my life, I could do whatever I want with kids. According to him, I can travel the world with rugrats in tow; however, I beg to differ. I can’t imagine experiencing the world based on the feeding or sleeping schedule of a child, nor does that even sound remotely fun. To me, kids are the anchors that keep you in the harbor, although all you want to do is sail away. It may be an unpopular opinion, but it’s my opinion and I’m allowed to have it. I don’t see any pluses in having children, and am just as confused as to why someone would want to have one, just as baby-crazy people are confused by my thoughts on thinking kids aren’t for me.
Admittedly, since getting married I have flirted with the idea of having kids, but the urge still isn’t there. I have picked out names and swooned over the cute outfits at J. Crew’s Crewcuts, but that’s where it ends. When I see a child, I do not want to pick it up and coddle it, nor do I cry when the friends around me get pregnant, because I want to be there, too. If I’m doing any crying at all, it’s because I see their life as being over, done, finished.
We are living in a time where women not having children is becoming more and more common. Cameron Diaz has been adamant about the fact that kids aren’t for her, and just like so many other women who have expressed a similar belief, she, too, has been targeted for it. As my Grammy said recently, for the 100th time, “What kind of woman doesn’t want to have children?” I don’t know, Grammy, maybe one who doesn’t want to feel the shackles of motherhood around her ankles?
But contrary to the fact that more women are speaking up about the fact that they don’t want kids and why, it still doesn’t stop it from being an anomaly for some. Articles are continually written about the subject as if it’s this novel idea, and each time, there’s about 50+ commenters condemning women for it. Like, why are you concerned about what someone else does with their life? Why do you care if I think kids are a burden? How does that affect you in the slightest?
Since April, I have traveled to 13 different countries, I married the love of my life in a small ceremony in Paris, and spent three weeks in Italy for our honeymoon. Before 2014 is over, I will have traveled to four more countries, and lived my life on my terms, for me, every single second of every single day. That’s my idea of living; that’s how I want things to go for me. I love the children I have in my life, my nephews and the kids of my friends, and I’m completely in awe of how all the mothers in my life do it day in and day out. I have nothing but respect for them. But that’s their life, and I have mine, and mine is more about feeling free, rather than feeling trapped. To me, children are something of a bear trap, and simply, I just don’t believe in trapping of any kind.