I have never regretted not having children. I am not so old that I can’t still have them, but not so young that people assume we have nothing but time. But the truth is, we don’t plan to have them. I have never wanted them, and neither has my husband.
And I am NOT a child-hating monster.
In fact, I love children. I love babies especially, assuming they leave at the end of the day. I can change a diaper one handed, while holding a squirming little guy down at the same time. I know how to test bottles to see if they are too hot and have had my fair share of experience caring for small children. I have a huge family and an adorable nephew who can attest to that.
I was raised to believe that we all are meant to have kids. But when I was in high school, I realized that I love kids! As long as they aren’t mine permanently. I have fabulous maternal instincts, but no desire to practically apply them in an everyday setting. Yet, when I expressed this to my mother, I was informed that not having children was the most selfish way I could spend my life. (Her words, nearly verbatim)
I have never had issue with my childlessness. I have never shied from explaining that we have no plans for children in our life. It’s OUR life after all. But a funny thing happened this year. Very specifically this year.
Suddenly, I became old in the eyes of EVERYONE. Suddenly, our “silly little no kid thing” couldn’t possibly still be how we really intend to live our life! We don’t have time anymore! We aren’t young! Now it’s time to settle down and have that family I am supposed to need with every fiber of my being.
Suddenly, we are too old to be childless.
Suddenly, we are the children. We are immature and not real adults because we have yet to procreate.
But I have known from a very young age that children weren’t on my list of desires. I have also known from a young age (due to a medical exam after an injury) that bearing children naturally would be extremely difficult for me and labor may be nearly impossible. And while the news was a tad disheartening, it was by no means earth shattering to me. I already knew it was unlikely to happen anyway.
And while I don’t usually share that detail with just anyone, I have noticed that suddenly, my lack of a used womb has become a major topic this year as I enter firmly into my 30’s. Without one foot still in my 20’s, the idea that we STILL don’t want to have children seems unfathomable to so many.
The odd questions, the weird reactions to us are as plain as day. We are an oddity because, surely, a normal person would have changed their mind by now. And as more and more of our friends have children, we have become more and more of a museum piece to be gawked at.
Personally, it bothers me. Not because it’s all that offensive, but simple because why is it such a big deal?
It’s OK to be childless, an adult, and even married. And it’s ok if that is all you ever want to be.
My husband and I are not in the habit of excluding people from our lives because they have children. And while we may not have children, we are not idiots. Babies complicate social lives, we get that. But we have spent many a night holding our friends babies, while sitting on their couches, while laughing and having fun. There is no need for this great divide between the childless and the family man/woman.
And yet, we have friends say they weren’t sure if we’d still hang out with them. We have been ogled as something unique and foreign at dinner parties. We have been made to feel like outcasts amongst our own friends and family.
I don’t know why it was ok a year ago or two, but not now. I didn’t even know there was an expiration date on the grace period we had been given. I truly assumed people understood that we were perfectly serious about not having children. And yet, we weren’t taken seriously, and we didn’t even know that.
I am not a child-hating monster. I love children. I simply don’t want my own. And with so many of our friends already on their second child and even third, we are never in want of a baby to hold, a toddler to play with, or even an annoying musical toy to hate. And that fulfills me without needing my own. And my husband loves to play with our friend’s kids for the same reason.
And at the end of the night, we wave goodbye to our surrogate babies and are content with the life we have built. We didn’t know that one day, our friends and family would suddenly, and without warning, no longer accept our answer. Suddenly, we became too old for that to be true anymore. We were supposed to grow out of it. And when we didn’t, when we didn’t change our minds, suddenly, there was a problem with us fundamentally.
I don’t know why this is. I do not really understand societies rule anyway. And being a military family, we are long past our prime as members of an incredibly family centric community. And yet, here we are, no babies, womb unused and likely to never be used. And we are ok with that. So you should be too.
Regardless of how old we are.