Someone recently shared an article with me. Its title surmises it well, “Why your choice to not have kids is awesome”. If you’re interested in reading it you can find it here.
One line that really struck a chord with me was, “You want to open yourself up to a huge stinking pile of judgment? Just be a childless female over 30. Even worse, a married childless female over 30 — a woman who chooses not to have a child.” Over the years I’ve encountered many who question my life choices and others who are much more concerned about my fertility than I am. I’ve had people question me, wondering what I’m going to do when I’m old and don’t have children to take care of me or what I’ll do if I change my mind one day. Besides being completely inappropriate questions to ask someone you barely know, these aren’t the things that I struggle with in my choice to be childless.
The judgement is something I’ve always been prepared to deal with. Yes, sometimes it’s exhausting, but I’ve learned to just brush it off and keep doing my thing. What I was never prepared for was how lonely being a childless woman in her 30s would be. And that, is why I’m writing this.
My husband and I are very much in agreement about our decision, but I don’t feel like he can relate to being a 30+ year old woman in my position. When his friends call him to get together, they go for beer, play music, go to concerts, and play hockey. Their children, aren’t involved in these activities. When my friends ask me to get together it’s usually at a park, so the kids can play, or for a walk, while the kids sleep in the stroller, or to a first birthday party for someone’s child, a party I’m positive my ‘kids’ aren’t invited to as they would likely eat the cake single-handedly and destroy the bouncy castle in mere seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate children. Not even a little bit. I’m just at a point in my life where all of my female friends have children, so a relationship with them usually means a relationship with their children too. My friends have some pretty incredible minions, but every once in awhile I just want to drink wine and talk about cats (am I right, Jenny and Haley!?).
When I was newly married and in my 20’s, telling people we had made the decision to not have children read a bit like a joke. Most people chuckled when I told them (I’m not sure why it’s an amusing statement, but that was a common response). I feel like many people didn’t take my statement seriously and were silently thinking that we were still young and had plenty of time to change out minds.
My husband and I have had a lot of very serious conversations about having a child. I often wondered if maybe we had made a mistake, maybe we should have a baby? Everyone else was, maybe we were missing out on something we didn’t even realize we might love? Maybe we would love being parents? The logical part of me stops there though and realizes that the fact that I MIGHT love it, doesn’t even come close to resembling a good idea. In fact, that’s probably the worst reason to have a kid – because it might be ok. What if I hated every second of it, it’s not like I can just give a baby back. I’m stuck with that person for the rest of my life, and there’s still a 50/50 chance it might hate me and not take care of me when I’m old. It’s basically a recipe for disaster.
While I struggled with this back and forth battle, making pros and cons lists, pretending this is a situation where that might be an appropriate response, I sunk deeper and deeper into a lonely darkness. Social media constantly reminding me that my four-legged children will never dance in competitions, sing in Christmas concerts, or graduate from high school. I’ve always struggled with feeling like an outsider and not quite fitting in, but now it couldn’t be more obvious that there is a very big part of life that looks nothing like that of so many of my peers.
I know that I’m just at that stage in my life where women my age are having babies and focusing on their families and I’m so happy for each and every one of them. I love that they’re all doing what makes their hearts happy. And, while I’ve struggled a lot with the loneliness this time in my life has brought, I’ve decided it’s time I embrace it and find the things that make my heart happy and work toward that too.
The decision to have children or not have children should never be taken lightly. It’s a life altering decision, either way. I just hope that the few people who have scoffed at my decision over the years or who have called me selfish, understand that this decision, the decision to be childless, was not an easy one. And just like those who have chosen an alternate path from mine, there are days when I question if I made the right choice. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul searching, but I’m finally coming around to a place where I’m confident in my choices and living the life I need to live to make my heart happy.