I despise this question. It isn't the question that I mind. I'd be happy to answer "no", and then do my happy dance. But invariably, when I announce that I don't have children, the other person loses all social skills and behaves badly. A horrified look is followed by a comment indicating pity, shock, sadness, or condescension. On fun days, I get multiple attitudes from the same person. For example:
"You don't have kids?", very long pause, slack-jawed expression
"Well, you'd better get working on that soon!" (I'm almost 37.)
"You don't know what you're missing."
"I think it's great when people recognize that they're selfish so they avoid having kids."
I'm sick of dealing with this. My husband has suggested cutting off all discussion by answering in the following manner:
"Thank the fuck christ, no."
I haven't been able to answer this way yet. Unlike many, it seems, I understand it's rude and inappropriate to say certain things to others. But my temper's on its last nerve, and I may forsake manners soon.
You'll notice that I describe myself as childfree, not childless. I chose not to have children. I am not suffering from the lack of children in my life. As this is my chosen state, I am quite happy about things. Pity is neither needed nor desired.
I can't give a definitive list for why I want to be childfree. I'm not a fan of excessively long posts, so I'll have to give you the top five.
1. I do not like children.
2. I do not want to be a mother.
Now, #s 1 & 2 pretty much make the decision for me, no? I'm sure if I woke up in a parallel universe and I had children, that I would love them more than anything. But for now, childhood is not compulsory in the USA. I don't want children, so I don't have to have them.
3. I have a chronic illness that causes my life to be unbearable when it is active (I'm in remission now). If I passed this illness on to my child, then I would truly be the most hateful, cruel, and thoughtless bag of pus ever.
4. In addition to the illness mentioned above, my parental model is awful. We don't always repeat abuse we experienced in childhood, but I am not willing to risk doing this. I have a variety of behavioral traits that do not fit into a decent parenting environment. These things could be modified, but not eradicated. This is all a long way of saying that I will not subject a child to my childhood.
5. The fate of life (think beyond humans, folks) on our planet it questionable at this point. Between overpopulation and overconsumption, we are poisoning and destroying all areas of the earth. Certain problems, such as global warming, have gone beyond the tipping point. One thing to do is reduce population. Check.
I could go on and on, and I often do. But before I wrap this up, I want to address one final thing that really chaps my ass. There's a common perception that childfree people are selfish, while parents are unselfish. Bullshit. Adopting a child is a truly selfless act, and I tip my hat to anyone who adopts. You are doing a wonderful thing, and you are selfless. But parents? Not by a country mile. People have kids because
THEY WANT TO!
Caring for children requires unselfishness. But deciding to have kids is a fundamentally selfish thing. If you disagree with me, just ask yourself how much selfish reasons play into the desire to have kids. You know, things like:
- I want a child
- having someone to take care of me when I'm old
- having part of me live on when I'm dead
- getting the respect of friends, family, community
- living my dreams through my child
- I want to be in the record books as the oldest father/mother
- etc. etc.
People will still try to tell me that I won't truly be a woman until I've given birth. I haven't worked out the best way to deal with this. My impulse is to throw an uppercut. I'm so glad I've got the hips for it.