Approximately eight seconds after my husband Dave and I were married, people started asking me why I wasn’t pregnant yet. Prior to the wedding, my aunts had even gotten together to make me a special wedding gift: a baby-focused scrapbook. There were many blank pages just waiting to be filled in with Dave’s and my future children. But I could never pull the trigger.
Reasons to not have children came fast and furious. First, I decided to go to grad school, an easy excuse to delay making a decision about kids. There was no chance I could juggle the stresses of a dissertation while toting a second human inside of me. Then I got a job, working as a researcher for the Chicago Public Schools.
I do not, and will never, understand how parents work full-time and have kids. Dave and I could never imagine having the time for kids. But mostly—kids are fucking expensive. My own Dad’s anxiety and depression often made steady work difficult for him, and I knew from a young age that my family struggled with money. It was a visible stressor for all of us, particularly Mom, and I dreaded that lifestyle in my own adult home. All too vivid were the days when Mom couldn’t pay the bills. She would put her head in her hands and quietly place the electric bill back into our blue and white ceramic bill bowl, hoping she could pay it in the next month before service was shut off.
Babies are a huge threat to financial stability: A cheap daycare in Chicago for one kid costs about $1,000. And that’s just daycare! Apparently, you also have to feed and clothe children. Then there’s the whole pregnancy thing, which many women find magical.
In reality, pregnancy is alien-level creepy, and birth is essentially a Walking Dead battle.
First, there is a tiny Cthulhu growing in your gut. (I personally had enough hypochondriasis, blood-related fainting, panic attacks, and body insecurity to fill two lifetimes without a Cthulhu rooting around in my gynecological regions.) Then the Cthulhu has to come out in a blaze of gore and pain and literal shit.
Vanity certainly played a role in my pregnancy fears. I didn’t want to have my body stretched out and pieced back together like taxidermy. I wanted my perky boobs to remain perky and my ankles to remain un-canked. (Spoiler alert: You’ll grow up to have a Mom-butt even if you don’t become a Mom. Just embrace it.)
While it mystified many of my hometown friends and family, there was just never a good enough reason to get my “tin roof rusted.”
Over time, my husband and I have grown to be rather pretentious about our lack of ankle-biters. Together we are a force to be reckoned with; if we weren’t so lazy, we’d probably clean up at couples competitions—like Warrior Dashes, and cosplay, and Cheetos-eating contests.
(I know that Cheetos-eating contests aren’t a real thing. But a girl can dream.)
Because Dave and I don’t have children, we readily acknowledge that we have a bit of adult arrested development. We can enjoy the luxury of getting too drunk on any given Saturday afternoon without having to worry about, like, forgetting to water our toddlers. While we do have a plethora of needy rescue animals, we can easily toss a dog bone into the living room and leave them alone in the house for up to six hours at a time. Try THAT with your baby.
(Although I bet dog bones are great for teething infants!)
We can travel alone without guilt, we can die poor, and we can make lots of stupid decisions without worrying that it will impact some tiny human. It’s pretty great.
I adore my friends’ children. They are so fun, such delightful little cherubs. I have enjoyed seeing my loved ones blossom into fantastic parents. It’s truly beautiful—but I don’t need it for myself. Dave (and my dumb rescue dogs) are my pack. I can’t ever imagine needing more in my life than those I already have.
A life without parasitic progeny has truly made us blessed.
This essay is an excerpt from Corn-Fed: Cul-de-Sacs, Keg Stands, and Coming of Age in the Midwest, available from Thought Catalog Books.