When I hear a baby cry while I’m at the store, I don’t feel sympathetic, I feel annoyed. While other people around me may let out an audible “Aww” and peek up to find the little darling who’s having a rough day, often in hopes of letting the baby’s mom cut them so that she can go on about her day, I stay firmly planted and continue to read whatever I happen to have opened on my phone at the time. Sure, having a baby is hard and her time is precious. My time is just as important and becoming a parent is a choice.
I can’t believe it took me so long to realize I don’t want to have kids.
While working at an office in New York, I met a lovely woman who we’ll call Allison. Allison was an amazing mother to her little girl. She had known since she was a little girl herself that she wanted to be a mother. She would talk about how she loved playing with dolls and now as an adult parent to a toddler, it was so much better than she had imagined. In fact, she wanted to have more kids. Allison adored everything about being a mother and did everything to prioritize her daughter and spend time with her. Allison is what I imagine you should feel like if you want to be a parent—knowing without a shadow of a doubt that it’s what you want.
I know for certain that I do not want to be a parent.
Society has a habit of romanticizing children and parenthood. Movies that show children being villainous will also show that all those children really needed was love and attention and that in the end, the sleepless nights and changed lifestyle are all worth it. Most parents are quick to talk about how much they love their children and show you a picture or five of their kin. For many people, being a parent takes over their entire identity, and you can find their social media plastered with a variety of pictures all stating that being a parent is the best thing they’ve ever experienced. However, one quick trip to a subreddit for regretful parents is enough to showcase that this fairytale is not the experience for everyone who chooses to have children.
I think it’s time we started being honest about the fact that being a parent is not for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s also possible that someone would make a great parent, but they simply don’t want that for themselves and that’s okay too! Society needs to stop reviling women who don’t want to be mothers. A woman is not less feminine or less of a woman because she doesn’t want children, and being a mother is not the “end all be all” of choices for every woman. It is not a woman’s responsibility to have kids if she doesn’t want to.
Here are the questions I most often get when my stance on children comes to light along with my answers to said questions:
Why? – I deeply enjoy the peace and quiet, and I value being able to have that any time I please. I value spontaneity, things like waking up on Friday and deciding to go on a weekend trip, driving too early in the morning to go to the beach, staying up late because I got a whim of writing inspiration. These are not things I could have in the same way if I had kids and I simply don’t want to give them up. I can afford to buy myself nice things, to go on holidays, and retire early… because I have no children. While I enjoy working with kids, I’m always glad I don’t have to take them home with me. I get to go home to my cream-colored sofa in my quiet little apartment.
Who will take care of you later in life? – Have you ever been to a nursing home? How many of them have children who only come to visit them on holidays? I would never bring a life into this world with the expectation that they would give of their time later on just to take care of me. Imagine the pressure of feeling like your parent, whom you might not even like as a person, is your responsibility. And because I don’t have children, I’ll have enough money to pay for my own care.
Won’t you get bored? – This, to me, is the saddest question. Is a child a toy? And of all the things to do in life, can you really not think of anything more fun to do than to change diapers, watch Frozen for the tenth time, or help with homework? I love to write poetry, books, and songs. I enjoy playing the occasional game, laughing at shows, dancing, traveling, learning languages, and there is a whole list of things I have yet to learn or experience. In truth, it makes me a little bit sad to think about how many books there are to read and how many corners of the world exist that I simply will not have time for within my lifetime.
How will you find a partner? – This one’s easy. No matter how much I get along with someone, how great they might seem on paper, if they want children, they are not the right person for me. It’s that simple. It’s not something I am ever going to change my mind about or budge on. Plus, the internet exists, and with it a host of childfree communities for people to converge in.
In an age where choices are plentiful and being a parent truly is a choice that most of us are able to make in modern society, it seems silly that we would be looked down on for making it. Sure, maybe I’ll be old and gray, after a long life of traveling the world, learning to play the piano, writing many books, and having countless experiences with people I love, and wish I had had a kid. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy sleeping in on the weekend, meditating without interruptions at any time I want, and only taking five minutes to get ready if I want to run out and buy something. At the end of the day, I would rather regret not having a child than regret having one.