As a little girl, I never really played “dolls” or “baby” games. I don’t know why – I do recall HAVING a small baby doll, but I didn’t have much desire to pretend to be a mother or nurturing type of figure. I never wanted (or tried) to be a babysitter during my teen years, instead opting for mowing lawns and cleaning to subsidize my teen money making ventures.
I have found a strange judgement or (almost) stigma around the idea of a woman who doesn’t want to have a child. As a woman in my mid-thirties, I get a lot of questions about IF I want children, then when I say I don’t I almost always get the “WHY NOT?” follow up. Not to say I’m surprised, as my friend circle is more married couples, or friends with children, than not. However, even though the inquiries (I like to believe) are not meant to be steeped in negativity, it can feel like such an interrogation. Like why WOULDN’T I want to do the natural thing that my body CAN do? Don’t I know there are so MANY women who WANT a child and I am lucky to be able to!? It frequently comes across as if I am somehow abandoning or insulting my gender by not wanting to have a child and I don’t mean it to be anything – it’s just my preference.
Now, why don’t I want children?
First, as I have written about in a past post about having been adopted, I know that even if I decided I wanted a child after my child-bearing years have come and gone, I could always adopt one of the millions of children in the world who don’t have a home. I know that I was adopted by a couple at a later age bracket (they were in their mid to late 30s) – and this brought with it a certain clarity (for them) and stability for me. They KNEW they wanted children, it was a decision they made, and planned for together. They prepared for children and were financially stable, thus able to provide more for my sister and I than they might have otherwise. They had planned for our arrival and had a support structure in place. My grandmothers (both sides) were very much integral during my childhood, and they stepped in to help watch my sister and I when my parents worked, chaperoned us to our various swim lessons and outings, or hosted sleepovers when my parents needed a break. I was very fortunate to have such a loving pair of grandmothers who were such a large and joyous part of my childhood.
Second, call me selfish or whatever you want, but I like my life as it is. I completely see/know the beauty in raising a family/children and the joy they can bring, but that’s not for me. It’s not the lifestyle I seek, and none of it seems like a good/fun time (to me!). I want to spend my money however I want, I want to spend my time doing what I want, and I just want to exist for myself…and maybe a spouse, but even that’s not certain. I know that the routines I enjoy, the past times I engage in and the lifestyle I lead is not one that I wish to abandon.
Third, is not necessarily to do with me (or them) – BUT – I have not yet found a partner that I feel is someone I would want to co-mingle my DNA and then spend a lifetime with. I haven’t met a partner I feel secure enough in with each other and our relationship to want to carry their child. I have also experienced relationships that have dissolved because of my adamant stance on the matter of children, and I don’t have any bad feelings toward those men FOR wanting a family, I just can’t be the partner for them in the long run. There’s of course the single parent route/option, but as it stands, I don’t want a child with (or without) a partner.
Kids are precious, pure and innocent, and I truly would fight a stranger to the death to protect one from harm, even if it wasn’t my own. Funny enough, I find very frequently that kids gravitate toward me regularly (at restaurants, theme parks, etc) and I don’t mind it. It is my pleasure to watch my family and friends have their own children, and I enjoy interacting with their kids when the times present themselves, but I just know in my heart it isn’t for me. I don’t believe that my lack of desire to carry/have a biological child reduces my ability to contribute positively to society, lessens my capacity to be a loving and generous person, or diminishes my femininity in any way.
Finally, there are MANY reasons a woman might not have a child, many of them being of a physical, private nature that is likely outside of her control. I would just remind people that the “expectation” (well placed as it might be), can often be hurtful if a woman wants to conceive but cannot, or has lost a child in the past. Encourage a woman to share her thoughts or experiences – but keep in mind that those could still be tinged with grief, loss, guilt or an array of other feelings that she might not want to divulge, now or ever.