March 11, 2021

Childless by Choice—& I’m not a Horrible Person.

I’m childless by choice—I’ve never wanted kids. That doesn’t make me a horrible person.

But others like me—couples or singles who are childless by choice—can be made to feel like they are.

It’s done though the judging or surprised looks from strangers, or the casual “Oh, don’t worry, there’s still time!” or “Your clock must be ticking!” What if my clock isn’t ticking?

We’re made to feel like not wanting children is a bad thing; that, by default, it’s something we need to rectify ASAP in order to fit into society’s mold.

Thankfully, there are more and more women choosing to be child free, so I don’t feel so much like a weirdo.

I’ve never been pestered by people asking me if I have kids or when am I planning to have kids—I’m 41 now, and the answer is never, thank you very much—mainly because I get it out there first that I don’t have any and have no desire to. It’s just never been on my agenda. Or maybe my maternal gene just decided to crap out.

Whatever the case, I’ve just never been a kid person. I’m not a fan. I’m uncomfortable around them (though, my husband says I’m good with them when I do interact with them—go figure). They just aren’t my jam, as the kids say. (Do they say that? Not having them, I’m out of touch with the lingo of the younger generation these days.) And, there are lots of reasons why women aren’t having children—and larger numbers around the world are choosing not to.

So far, I haven’t had any awkward conversations—if I do get the “There’s still time!” I just politely smile and nod. I’ve never had to explain myself, although I’ve heard of when others have had to, and I cringe with sympathy. I’ve never had to explain that I’ve never felt the urge to have kids, that it’s never been part of my life plan. I’ve never yet been told that maybe it’s because I haven’t found the one. (Um, I’ve been married for 19 years, so…find a different argument, please.)

I’ve just never had that maternal instinct, for which personally I’m happy.

Does it make me selfish—that I am happy to live my life, just me, my husband, and my fur babies? Because it shouldn’t. I like my life. I don’t feel like anything is “missing” or that I’m missing out on some big secret to life.

So far, I don’t regret not having a mini me to live on after me—maybe that’ll change on my deathbed, but I doubt it. I don’t regret not having someone to take care of me when I grow old—and is there any guarantee of that anyway?

Before my mom passed, she said to me that she was glad I didn’t have kids, that I didn’t have to bring them up in this world because the world is an awful place, and this was before Trump, and before the pandemic. I often wonder what she would have thought about 2016 and onward (she died at the end of 2015).

I think my mom probably would have liked grandchildren, but then after hearing that last revelation from her, maybe not. But maybe that was just her mindset at the time—fatalistic.

I asked my dad once if he cared if he had grandkids, since he wouldn’t be getting any from me and my husband. (There’s still always my brother, but he’s currently not in a relationship, so who knows.) He said he wasn’t bothered one way or the other—but also that he’s too old now, being in his early 70s, to help take care of a bunch of rug rats. He likes his freedom, and he sees his sister who has six (I think?) grandkids, and he doesn’t want to be in her shoes.

Just because I’m a woman and I don’t want kids, that doesn’t make me a horrible person.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Our biology shouldn’t define us.

And I’m relieved that there are more people my age (early 40s) and younger making the conscious choice not to, and going against societal expectations. The tides are slowly turning. Soon, maybe, it will be more of the norm for women not to have kids, and if asked and answered in the negative, they won’t get a shocked reply back: “Really? Why not?!”

Not to mention, that question, “do you have any kids?” is hugely inappropriate, because what if someone can’t, or has lost them? That poor person then feels obligated to explain, leaving the nosey nelly feeling ashamed and uncomfortable (and so they should). This goes hand in hand with asking a woman, “When are you due?” When, um, maybe they aren’t actually expecting—awkward.

Mother earth, Gaia, will probably be happier with more of us choosing to have fewer people crawling around on her surface, filling every nook and cranny until we end up living in a version of Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld.”

So if you have kids, great. If you don’t have kids (by choice), also great. Let’s not define people by their biology, not as a role society has thrust upon them, and instead define them by who they are as a person.

Read 83 Comments and Reply

Read 83 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Caitlin McColl  |  Contribution: 78,345

author: Caitlin McColl

Image: Alonso Reyes/Unsplash

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Relephant Reads:

See relevant Elephant Video