Why I Chose To Be Child-Free
Let’s cut right to the chase: I’ve always known I didn’t want kids.
Even more so today, when my biological clock is supposedly going tick-tock-tick-tock, my primal instinct is meant to be kicking in, and all my friends are already proudly sharing sonogram scans and gender reveal photos (don’t even get me started on those) all over social media.
Me? There’s nothing I dread more than the thought of being in their shoes. Because, excitement and all, wanting kids has never been on my radar.
And as I casually scroll through these “event of a lifetime” photos on a quiet evening sitting on my couch - wine glass in one hand, booking a flight to Mexico, and whatever I feel like eating on the stove - I become more and more certain that it’s not the life I want for myself.
And, news flash: that’s totally fine.
NOT YOUR MOMMY
Even as a young girl, with tiny dolls and stuffed teddy bears a-plenty, my maternal instinct was pretty non-existent.
I’d come up with great adventures and fantastic stories of what we were doing and where we were going, dashing around the apartment like mad with a trail of toys left behind. We were pirates, we were scientists, we were secret spies, doctors, and teachers...
And not once did I think of them as my “babies”. They were my adventure buddies, my fearless companions, my friends, my toys...but never my babies.That feeling carried on through my teenage years, when I would see friends of the family waddling around - 9 months pregnant and about to pop - eager to start life as a new mom.
Surrounded by onesies, strollers, picture books, and bassinets at all the baby showers of cousins and aunties I can remember, all I could think of was the sleepless nights, the money spent, and the constant barrage of cries coming from the other room. It made me shudder.
There were no snapshots of first steps, giggles, and tiny knit shoes. And, if there were, they didn’t outweigh the pressure of looking after a tiny human being for the rest of my life.
And so, I’d move on. Happy for them, even offering to babysit, but never wishing it was me instead.
“TO MOM OR NOT TO MOM”
According to studies by the Urban Institute, birth rates among 20-something women have declined 15% between 2007 and 2012.
This means that even more women today are foregoing the idea of motherhood and choosing the child-free lifestyle instead. However, the rise in popularity of not wanting children doesn’t make the subject any less taboo or judged. Most women who are convinced they don’t want children are usually considered self-absorbed and heartless.
“Who wouldn’t want to bring such a sweet little thing into the world? How can you be such a heartless monster?”
Me! I don’t want to! And I don’t necessarily think I’m a “monster” for choosing this path, either.
Others usually utter the words: “Oh, you’ll change your mind. Surely you can’t say that.”
This one hurts more. Mostly because it feels like people are treating me like my choices are wrong. You wouldn’t say that if I was talking about wanting a child, right? So why is it OK to say it about not wanting one?
Others love treating the decision as me being selfish. And to them I say: “Yeah, maybe a little! But what’s wrong with that?”
I love my life. I love my career. I love my dog, my boyfriend, and my free time. I like earning my own money and spending it on myself. I take trips when I want to, sleep in on weekends, and can usually buy the shoes without an ounce of regret. Because there’s NOTHING wrong with being a little selfish.
“But what about the family name?”
“Who’s gonna take care of you when you’re old?”
“What are you going to do when you get lonely?”
I actually think it’s more selfish that the only reason you’re asking me to bring a whole living, breathing human into the world is because “I have to”.
And, to answer your questions: I have a brother who can take care of that, I’ll find a way to survive, and I’ll get a bird to keep me company. All of these are things that I can easily solve without forcing a child into the world for the sole purpose of making sure I don’t feel alone when I’m old.
But here’s the kicker: I actually believe I’d be a shit mom.
I really do.
I don’t have the patience or the drive it takes to raise a kid. I can sit around for about 2 hours with a toddler (and that’s pushing it) before I need to do three laps around the house to cool off and unwind.
That’s why I have so much respect for moms: they’re my absolute heroes.
My mom would run on empty when I was a baby: handling a career as a lawyer, taking care of the house, and making sure I didn’t randomly get hurt on the daily. She still does, even though I’m pushing thirty, haven’t lived at home for over 10 years, and can almost take care of myself alone.
Looking even closer, my friends with kids are badass and my friends who want kids have it all planned out, too. They’re all as sure as I am and, more importantly, we’re both equally as understanding of one another. Because this isn’t about being wrong or being right, no matter how hard some people try to pit us against each other.
But it's not all so black and white. There are days when I do wish I wanted kids. Not for myself, but for my family.
It breaks my heart to know that my mom won’t ever have the opportunity to spoil and love her own daughter’s baby like she’s done so with other friends and family members. Even if I have a brother who will surely fill these shoes in the future, I still, sometimes, wish I could give that to her.
But I can’t.
Because whenever I picture life as a mother, I don’t feel joy. I feel panic. I feel stress. I feel resentment. All things you really don’t want to feel towards a baby - real or not.
And as more, and more, and more women come out to express this sentiment, I’ve started to feel a lot more fearless and a lot less guilty about being so damn sure of one of the very, very few things I’ve ever been so sure of: I don’t want kids.
I’ll just stick to being the eccentric auntie.
Written by Camila Perez