Childless by Choice

“You might change your mind…”

In one week today I turn 41. And a week tomorrow, Tom Brady, who is a year younger than me, will win his 6th Super Bowl. At 40, Tom is breaking norms and rules all over the NFL and the sports world. Despite being told he’s too old. Despite every commentator, after a rare bad play, asking if that will be the last throw TB 12 will make in the NFL and calling his career over. He has persevered and shows no signs of slowing down. I applaud him thumbing his nose at the norms and continuing to play as the best QB ever. Even on the eve of turning 41, I am often told that “it’s not too late” and I could still have some kids as “you know, women are having them later and later now.” I used to pause and wonder how to answer that comment, just the same way as when I was faced with the “you might change your mind” or “you just haven’t met the right person yet”. Now I just smile and nod, the path of least resistance and think, I’m tired and I’m not an All Star QB in the NFL.

I’ve never wanted to have kids. Despite the societal norms telling me that I should, that I’m not a woman without getting pregnant and having babies, that my life will never be fulfilled without this rite of passage. It’s just never been for me. I love kids. Well….Ok, I’m not going to lie, I like kids, sometimes. In small doses. Mostly I tolerate them, and sometimes I don’t. If I can’t reason with someone then I find the interaction to be difficult. My brother had kids early, and his kids have kids now and my friends also have children, so there is no lack of children around me. I enjoy my time with them and around them, but I also enjoy my time away from them. I watch one of my favorite people in the world raise her toddler. Her and her husband are chill, laid back, relaxed parents. And the little one is a ladies man, through and through, with a sweet smile and gorgeous blond hair. But he’s also 3 and everything that brings with it. She loves her son, she’s a born mom, but she’s tired. I mean really tired. I thought I was tired. One of my other favourite people in the world has twins with her husband. They moved to a farm with lots of land to let the kiddos run free, and they are, without a doubt, well-adjusted, happy kids. Who, by the way, keep each other company, an added bonus of having two. I hear it’s the same with cats, always get two. She said to me not long ago, that she is finally, after 3 years, feeling like her body is starting to be hers again.

My decision, my choice, to not have children has affected the way people interact or react to me. When I was in my twenties and thirties it was met with the standard, “you’ll change your mind.”. I never really knew how to answer that…I would never say to a pregnant friend or a new mom, “well you might change your mind.” But for the childless it’s a fair comment to field. Now as I’ve gotten older, it has turned to looks of pity, and even the occasional, “it’s not too late” or “you’ll meet the right one.” As if my decision was based on not having the appropriate partner. That has not been the case. In truth, my decision to not have children, my desire to not want them, has ended relationships, and given others moments of pause.

I have recently starting reading “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision NOT to Have Kids” compiled and edited by Meghan Daum. These stories, essays, point to many of the reasons I did not want to have children, but has also shown me that the reasons not to have kids, are as varied, sometimes selfish and always deeply personal, as the reasons to have them. I initially was going to discuss my reasons for not wanting to have children, but I have moved past the need to rationalize; I no longer feel the need to justify my decision. I am more disturbed by the feeling that I need to validate my decision; that the question hangs in the air in the first place. In a time where we are easily connected to a vast array of cultures, of ways of being; where families, and marriages, and societal “norms” are being challenged and stretched and outright broken every day, we still cling to so many social constructions. As a female, the desire to not have children breaks all the social norms, and makes many feel uncomfortable. We are not as “liberal” as we believe we are. Whenever there is an outlier, someone or something that goes against the grain, it’s perplexing, uncomfortable and confusing.

One of my colleagues was pregnant with her sixth child. I said to her, “congratulations! You must be so excited!” She told me that many of her friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances have made comments about how many children she has, as though she was “strange” or “weird” or doing something wrong. It was not that long ago when having many, many children was the “norm”. I supported her decision to have as many kids as she wants! Heck, if she can afford it ,and I know she has so much love to give them, she can have my 2.2 child allotment! It’s time we started to challenge these so-called “norms” and support people in their desires and wishes. To be inquisitive and wonder about other decisions, alternate options and different potentials. To push the limits and the boundaries, that’s how we grow, that’s how we change. Afterall, next weekend, a 40 year old QB will win his sixth Super bowl Ring…who expected that!?

15 thoughts on “Childless by Choice

  1. Yes!! Well said!
    Go Tom! And Roger Federer (an ‘old man’ in the tennis world) will hopefully win his 20th major tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s something I’ve been mulling for a while 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post.I am a bit older then you and have two kids that I had latish because true is I didn’t want kids initially.then I changed my mind but I m still more an adult person then a kids person .I have many friends with no kids and many others with too many kids .Weather you decide to have kids or not is a personal decision.Due to my personal experience I don’t particularly believe in blood bond and I never identify the essence of being a woman with maternity ,personally it also infuriates me when they call family only a unit with offspring….my self and my husband have been in two for so any years and never felt less of a family.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! In nursing school we were taught that family is how we define it, not on blood lines or marriage. I believe we should all be supported in our decisions 💚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely.But once we are happy with our decision that is the main thing….feck the rest😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. I am a mom and love my kids (now adults) and had them by choice and technology. I would not change that, ever. But I reject the “motherhood as a religion” way of thinking that perpetuates that all women are the same, want the same things, and are as fulfilled by as I was motherhood. Welcome to the 21st century in the First World, where motherhood is largely a choice and so is a decision NOT to be a mother. Or to adopt. Or be a single mother by choice. Or to be a mentor to kids who need a strong female in their lives. I applaud moms who are honest enough to talk about the tribulations of motherhood (sometimes it is very hard, tiring, heartbreaking, takes a physical and emotional toll, it costs a lot of money, it takes up all your time…) I love being a mom. I have friends who are childless by choice. I am thankful to live in a country and a time that women have these choices. Because that was not always the case, and because it is still not the case many places in the world. Women need to be respectful and open and understanding and supportive of all other women and their choices.

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    1. Well said Tansey! Thank you for sharing your story. I completely agree, we are all in this together and the best part is we get to make our own decisions and choices. My hope is we can embrace and support them rather than question their validity 💚

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  4. I relate to this 100% and have had the same experiences. I’ve never wanted kids. When I was a kid, I thought about how I didn’t want kids and I dreaded being an adult because i thought I HAD to to have them! People still tell my hubs and I ALL THE TIME that we will change our minds. It used to bug me a lot but I’ve made peace with it now. I just wish everyone else would understand that my lack of desire for children is not a commentary on their decisions! Live and let live!
    Mostly, I’m just glad that I’ve lived and matured in a way that’s allowed me to stick to my guns and do me. I think there are so many women who feel the way we do and have kids anyway because of all the pressure society and family put on them. That makes me sad. Everyone has their own destiny and I wish we would give people the space and even the help to fulfill it.
    Also appreciate what @Ortensia said above. I resent that people do not consider my husband and I a family because we do not have kids. HE is my family, I am his! That’s all we need–so I am not sure why society insists on more!
    Great post Jane! x

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I completely understand and am hopeful through this type of discourse we can change perceptions. And show that there are options and decisions and they are personal. Not a judgement just a choice. Thank you! 💚

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  5. Absolutely! The missus and I took the same path, and we’re happy about it. We have the furry kind!

    You know me, you know I think that each person should be themselves, follow their own path, fulfill their personal potential, and not worry about tradition, societal norms, or familial pressures. Be yourself; judge no other; do no harm!

    Loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t tolerate kids even in small doses. I love my kid and that’s it.
    That’s a perfectly legitimate decision. Do what pleases you, don’t live to please others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I have found that with my friends too, they only like their own 🙂 Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Welcome. It was my pleasure.

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