Unlike some of the women in my life, I have never felt that deep primal yearning to be a mother. To give birth, to bring life into the world, to nurture it and love it and raise it to be a competent and good adult human. It has never appealed to me.
As a child and teenager, I would proudly declare to my very amused relatives that I do not want children. They’d laugh, brush it off telling me they felt exactly the same way when they were my age. “Just wait,” they’d say, “You’ll end up having ten of ‘em!”
Unable to clap back to such a comment I would walk away seething on the inside. I found it unfair that my choice of a childless life was disregarded by the people who loved and cared for me the most. It felt as though what I wanted was irrelevant.
Throughout the years I have rigidly stuck to this decision even when acquaintances or friends (who are no longer friends) told me I was being selfish. I have gone so far as letting guys know on our first dates– “If your goal in life is to be a father, you’re with the wrong person”. Might as well be brutally honest from the get-go, right?
I said this to my current boyfriend the first time we went out over fancy gin cocktails served in large bulbous glasses.
Here we are three years later.
The subject of babies has come up quite a bit with his family — mainly his mom. I’m not sure how it keeps coming up but it does. It got to a point where she had to sit down with me and explain that though she fully supports my decision, it is painful to her. As a mom, she just assumed that her kids would one day marry and have kids too. For her eldest to come home with a woman who won’t play that game will take some getting used to.
My number one reason for choosing to be childless is due to climate change. I cannot in good conscious justify bringing new life into the world in which we are currently living. Though change is happening, it’s not happening fast enough. I believe the future my child would have, the way things are currently going, would not be great.
When I give those who seem so confused by my lack of baby-hunger that reason, it usually quiets them down for a sec as it is a valid point.
I have other reasons for wanting to be baby-free but I don’t feel that I should have to justify and fight for my decision. If a man said he didn’t want to be a father, that would be the end of it. But for a woman to say the exact same thing is still, for some reason, taboo.
Driving home on one of my last driving lessons recently, my instructor asked if I had any plans to have children. I nearly ran the car into the hedges. The question threw me for a moment. I told her no. She was baffled.
“Children are everything,” she said, “children are your greatest fulfillment in life, believe me.” She then went on to ask me how I would keep my boyfriend interested — sex can only take you so far and men want sex. If you’re not going to give it up, he’ll look elsewhere.
Again, I nearly ran the car off the road.
I was a bit unsure at how choosing between frequent fucking or birthing a bouncing bundle of joy would keep my man around. If I am to abstain from pregnancy, then I better be giving it up on the regs or risk being alone forever? And of course this led to the inevitable: “If you won’t have children, who will take care of you when you’re old?” question. How about I cross that bridge when I get there, thank you so much.
The controversy over women who choose to be childless is a garbage fire that really needs to be put out. It’s frustrating that after all this time women who do not wish to have kids are still seen as biologically flawed in some way. To the women who chose to be mothers, I salute you and have the utmost respect for you. I could never do what you do. But for the women who make the deliberate choice not to be a mom, there needs to be a lot more respect and understanding.
In letting those who ask know that I don’t want kids, my mission is to spread that respect and understanding. I’m not asking the inquisitor to convert to my belief system, I’m simply putting forward a different way of life, a different form of reasoning in hopes that the response will be (spoiler!) Respect and Understanding. Those things are, after all, what the world needs more of — and not just when it comes to a woman and her right to choose.