Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rantings of a Flakey Blogger

I've been a flakey blogger, reader, and commenter lately. First there was the big move, and before I could even get fully recovered from that, all sorts of other stuff started happening. Once the dust settles I'll fill you in on all the details, but for now just imagine several of the major life events happening simultaneously; that's my life at the moment. For the record though, I am NOT pregnant. And NEVER will be. Yesterday's reader question was most definitely made on behalf of someone other than myself!

Since I'm on that subject, allow me to share something that really gets under my skin*. I'll start by saying that I am child-free by choice, and in fact I've known pretty much since I was a child myself that kids just weren't my thing. For years I've put up with random people, some of whom barely know me, lecturing me on how I'll change my mind. I've put up with new parents insinuating about all the wonderousness I'm missing out on and how a woman really isn't a woman until she's a mother. I've even put up with doctors who flat out refused to consider giving me a tubal ligation, and one who even told me he would require my then-husband's PERMISSION to get one. I wish I were kidding.

What I will NOT put up with, however, is the parents who say things like this: "Oh, it must be nice to be able to go out to dinner" or, "Gee, it must be nice to treat yourself to new clothes and a pedicure." Yes, in fact it IS nice. But it's not like this was some big secret that the rest of the world hid from prospective parents, and frankly it's not my fault that other people made choices in life that required certain sacrifices which perhaps they weren't prepared for.

The implication in statements like these is that I chose my path simply for selfish, frivolous indulgences such as pedicures or a new pair of shoes, and that because I shirked the important job of parenting, I have time for silly pleasures. And that implication really pisses me off. I chose not to have children for a variety of very personal and very well-considered reasons. That I also get to enjoy my free time and indulge in some of the finer things in life is great too, but if I'd had a real drive to have children, none of those things would've mattered; I'd have made the appropriate sacrifices and not whined about it to people who didn't. We all make our own choices in life, and we should be supportive of each other regardless of how those choices might be different from our own. Not having children comes with its own set of sacrifices too, not the least of which is a general lack of understanding from the rest of the world.

Living child-free means living in the minority. And it takes a certain bravery and self-awareness to willingly put yourself there, to be sure. So just as we can admire the women who are loving, committed mothers (and I do!), so should we admire and support the women who choose a different path. Us non-mothers have plenty to offer the world too, besides just buying up its shoes.

Today's outfit:
Top: La Redoute
Jacket: Tulle
Green slip: All Saints
Skirt: LA Made
Shoes: John Fluevog

*Please note, this post is not in any way related to yesterdays' reader question or in fact to anyone who comments on this blog, it was just something that's been on my mind lately and which I was reminded of by all the talk about pregnancy.

148 comments:

kristin said...

Very well said. THANK YOU!!!!

cwhf said...

I am applauding at my keyboard.

I love kids (in fact I am a pediatrician) but I know I do not want to have any of my own. Whereas I have treated more children than I care to count whose parents frankly should not be parents, yet somehow they are considered more noble, mature, fulfilled individuals merely for having contributed to the gene pool.

My reply to the backhanded insult compliment of "how nice you can afford this/go out/enjoy your life" usually is "I am sorry did you not know what you were getting yourself into?" or also "But I imagine your child is so rewarding your great sacrifice is well worth it." Depends on my mood, but it usually shuts folks up quick.

As for my family desperately pining for me to have a child, I finally snapped last family reunion when my 7th aunt asked me for the fourth time about having kids and just said "we've been trying but no luck" and looked really pissed and tearful. Wrong, I know but it shut them up.

Audi said...

cwhf: I used to hate the nosey questions too (now at 40 I get far fewer of them, thankfully!). Sometimes I'd just say, "I can't have kids," which confused people enough that they wouldn't press it further. And technically, it's true!

vibrata said...

Applause from me, too!

I had a similar experience asking for a tubal -- it was downright humiliating, actually, to be told I couldn't have the procedure because apparently this old coot had some kind of inside scoop that I would change my mind and "come crying to him" (those were his words) to reverse the procedure. It wasn't until I went to a woman surgeon that I found some understanding.

Keep the faith! You're an inspiration, and it's more than skin deep :)

Jennie said...

Unfortunately, women just can't be left alone in this society -- especially when it comes to reproduction. There are so many conflicting messages out there:
"have a baby!"
"but don't be a whore"
"work hard to provide for your kids"
"but don't work too hard or away from them or else you're a bad mother"
"don't be on welfare either -- no matter what"
"breastfeed your kids"
"but don't do it in public or let them get all saggy. breasts need to be sexy."
blah blah blah

I could go on and on. It's really enough to make you go crazy. There needs to me more trust and understanding of other people's choices in life instead of all this societal guilt and shame. Just leave people alone!

Nicole said...

You go girl! The world is full of morons - just give them a mental headbutt when they start ranting about the joys of children. I have two, and as much as I love them I certainly don't think I am more womanly because of it. Your life certainly changes when kids come into it, but only if you choose to change it - I go out to dinner with my kids all the time - in fact my 6 year old is the one who suggests it most of the time! Don't let it piss you off as most people don't put their brain into gear before they open their mouths, so who cares what they think! Being married and having kids is not the be all and end all of life, it's about being spiritually and emotionally aware, loving, happy and healthy no matter your size, shape or bank balance! You are unique and one of a kind Audi, and admired by people all over the world for it. Live your life as you wish, as I am sure you are doing right now.

kayron8 said...

w00t! Very well said. I love kids, I work with kids, and I don't want kids. People can be as crazy rude about this as they are inappropriately personal to pregnant ladies. Wouldn't it be wonderful if people could just have some manners all around?

FashionTheorist said...

I follow your blog not only because you're an amazing fashion inspiration, but because you write things like this.

It's amazing how free people feel to criticize - and "oh, it must be nice to be able to..." is criticism, straight up and down, of the snarkiest, nastiest kind.

It's not just about childbearing, either: I, and I'm sure many other fashion-focused people, get that same sort of criticism for caring about my appearance - as if I'm somehow a less complete or worthwhile person, or that I'm somehow devaluing their choices and priorities, because I don't like to look like a slob. We all make choices, and (hopefully) carefully weigh the sacrifices they require. I wish I could communicate to some people, though, that making a certain choice for myself is not in any way a criticism of their choices.

laniza said...

Very well said, and I especially agree with kayron's question "wouldn't it be wonderful if people could just have some manners all around?"

Andrea said...

As someone who has kids and had them young by today's standards (first one at 26), not only do I respect your personal life choice but I can't believe believe have the nerve to stick their noses in your bedroom. It always cracks me up when people ask about kids because they are essentially asking you about your sexlife. FYI, moms get the nosy questions, too. When I was pregnant, at 26, people asked me if I was married yet or why I didn't wait. People even said nasty things like "you know what causes that, don't you". People just don't have bundaries anymore.

Seamyst said...

Oh, I completely agree! I haven't been shy about telling people who ask (or if it just comes up in conversation) that I'm not interested in having kids. Normally they're fine with it, or say that I'd make a great mom (which... thanks? It's a well-meant sentiment, but irrelevant), or something. Only once has anyone said, "Oh, I'll bet it's nice to be able to afford X." (Like my salary's good, yeah right.) I found them so obnoxious, for that and other reasons, that I just put on a shit-eating grin and said, "Yeah, it's awesome!" Shut them right up.

nerines said...

I agree Kayron8, to manners all round!...having said that and perhaps slightly inappropriately but on a lighter note, I can imagine this as a blog 'To Breed or Not To Breed?' or something like that, if it doesn't already exist that is:-)

Kimberly said...

Audi, this is a wonderful post. I am truly honored to be in the minority with you on this one. At 31 and in a serious relationship I get the "when are you going to have kids" question often and absolutely see red when they try telling me I will change my mind. I have felt this way since I was 5 and explained to people that I was just babysitting my dolls because I didn't want to have kids. :-)

Lastly, how awesome are the colors in this outfit. Once again I am amazed at your color selection and layering.

Der General said...

Thank you!!

A-Dubs said...

Well said, Fashionista. So very well said.

Deja Pseu said...

Brava!

I'm a mother of one, but totally agree that this is NOT for everyone, and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with deciding kids aren't for you. In fact, I think not enough people put enough thought into this choice, and just end up having kids because "that's what you do" or because they've been pressured into it or whatever...and the kids are the ones who suffer. People can say some really stupid stuff sometimes, but good for you for knowing your mind and sticking to your guns.

Jenny said...

So happy to see I'm not the only one! I've experienced everything you've said! At age 30, I've found time and time again that I am treated differently, and not in a good way, especially in my professional work life because 1) I'm not married and have no intentions to marry and 2) I have no children with no intentions to reproduce. Its like as soon as I say the word 'boyfriend' I'm suddenly a teenager again, no matter how many years we've been together and no matter how committed we are to one another for the long haul. Remember the phrase "Society loathes a bachelor"? Well Society also loathes an unmarried career woman whose priority isn't finding a husband so that she can have kids.

Run Ramat Aviv said...

Wow!! AMEN! And Thank You!!

Lesa said...

Hi Audi,

I do have kids, three in fact, all adopted. I know what it feels like to WANT to have kids and to have all those busy-bodies asking me when I was going to get pregnant when I was having so much trouble and anguish in my life, actually trying without success. It was none of there business and hurt me more in a very trying situation.

Now I get another group of insensitive people as 2 of my children are biracial and one is Chinese. These idiots come up and ask me very personal questions right in front of my kids, 2 of which are 15 and very aware of what is said.

People are extremely idiotic when you don't make the same life choices as they did. How dare strangers or anyone else question anyone about your life choices!

There are some real idiots walking around out there. You do not have to explain your life choice to anyone especially strangers. Its a sore point with me and I'd love to say none of your F*cking business.

You are choosing what is right for you and for your husband . Good for you!

Lesa
Always Summer

Lemondrop Marie said...

Fabulous post, I agree that people certainly are pushy about trying to force anyone with breasts into the path of motherhood. It's always bothered me too. I don't know what I want to do, but I don't need anyone telling me what I must do. Love your brave discussion of this!
Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

Diana said...

Thank you so much for this post! I feel the same way about having kids. I absolutely adore my nephews and nieces, but having a little one of my own is just not for me.

Kacie said...

I'm a mom of one and pregnant with #2. I know first-hand the kinds of sacrifices you have to make as a parent. And I can totally see why some people would say, "ya know? This isn't for me."

I don't give people a hard time about it, and I don't even bring up the children vs. no. I don't know if they're childfree by choice or by circumstance, you know?

It is PERSONAL and I don't think people should be given crap about it, whether they choose not to have any kids or whether they want to fill up a van full of 'em.

Sorry people give you a hard time.

And I still go out to eat at nice places. Babysitters aren't that hard to find. We also go to family-friendly places. No problem.

Life doesn't have to end because you're a mom, and parents who think so are missing out!

WendyB said...

"What I will NOT put up with, however, is the parents who say things like this: "Oh, it must be nice to be able to go out to dinner" or, "Gee, it must be nice to treat yourself to new clothes and a pedicure." " -- that shizz doesn't bother me at all. I'm all like, "It is nice! IN YOUR FACE!!!!"

Chelsea said...

Audi - this is a great post and a topic that should be discussed more often! This is obvious by the outpouring of similar experiences in the comments.

It's crazy what circumstances seemingly allow people to get rudely personal and holier than thou... I agree that better manners all around are in order!

Ana - Toil and Trouble said...

This is a great and very touchy topic, and I admire you both in your well thought-out decision and in your openness about it.

I have been married for three years, and I've had so many people ask why I even bothered if I am not interested in children. I can't say that I'll never want them, but I honestly have a hard time imagining that happening. The older I get, the more I realize how much women who don't want children have to put up with.

Gina said...

Bravo! I've chosen the same path (no marriage, no children), and I am irked when strangers and others insist that 1) I'll change my mind, 2) I'm missing out, 3) whatever other ridiculous thing they say without listening and comprehending one simple fact: I do not want children. Now. Then. Ever.

Why choosing not to procreate is such an issue is beyond me. Let's put that effort into something more meaningful.

Sheila said...

Oh my gosh, YES! I have known since I was a kid playing "fashion show" with my dolls (instead of Mommy) that I was never going to have kids. I just have never wanted them. I've had to defend myself constantly, from my family, from strangers, about my choice!

I am lucky and thankful for two things: 1. That I have a choice in my own reproduction. 2. That I have a partner who doesn't want kids either (he got a vasectomy over 13 years ago).

I salute all those mothers out there - I know it's tough. But, like you, I often feel I have to justify spending my money (my own hard-earned money!) on things like shoes or a fancy dress, or a trip. It's my business and no one else's...and I will not feel guilty about it because of a choice someone else made about their life!

Thank you, Audi, for articulating this so well, and for giving a voice to this.

Someone said...

Me TOO. Well - I'm so SELFISH that one of the reasons I'm not having kids is because I don't want to add to overpopulation. And some parents are SELFISH - they just want mini-mes they can show off and brag about to adoring fans, and to fit into mainstream society. (My sister is like that.)

I also knew VERY early that I wasn't interested in babies - a knowledge reinforced by the successive appearance of my 5 younger siblings. I was around babies and toddlers for 17 years before college. No more thanks!

Fortunately my husband and I are in complete agreement on this, and I didn't get nagged a lot by family since 2 of said siblings have already "provided" 4 grandkids so far. Phew.

The naysayers have got to get it that we've HEARD all the cliches already, and none of them were ever convincing. But our society still insists that women need to be judged and monitored on all our choices. Boy am I tired of THAT.

Kimberley said...

I've been browsing your blog now for some time (came across it when researching a pair of fluevogs) and would like to post on this topic.

For many years I was a fence sitter about having children and like many, comments about when am I having them would fly freely from others. I'd usually reply along the lines of "considering not". One day however, someone actually had a GREAT response to my reply. She said "Ah yes, well the world needs more aunties." I was so honored by what she said & have used that line many times!!

Turns out, I fell off that fence a few years ago and now have two toddlers. I call upon my friends without children often as they love getting to know my kids and I love the times we go out without them and talk about non-mothering things!! Kids need supportive people in their lives besides parents. And as a mother I welcome the support and release my non child barring friends and neighbors provide!

Thank you to all those "aunties" out there helping us out!! Treat yourself today, we all deserve it!

Great site, thank you for sharing!! It has inspired me to be creative with a limited budget and make accent items (such as felt flowers for hats) to give my wardrobe some flair!

Kind Regards! K

janiece said...

Hear, hear! Bravo! Amen! Etc etc. This post made my day! Thank you.

Jenniferocious said...

Very nicely said. I too am not fond of children, and have known for a long time that I don't want to have kids. Not only for that reason, but the thought of being pregnant doesn't fill me with wonder... it horrifies me. I don't want to go through that. Also, I'm quite positive that I'd mess those kids up royally. For those and a variety of other, more personal reasons, neither my boyfriend nor myself wants to have children. He's seriously considering a vasectomy after we eventually get married, because it is a simpler procedure and easier to get a greenlight on than female operations.

At 25, I am still being told that I will "change my mind" someday. That I will like kids better when it is my own child. Really? Are you 100% SURE that I'll love my kid any better than the other brats I see every day? Because that's not something I'm willing to gamble on, personally.

It'll break my mother's heart not to have grandchildren, but it simply isn't her decision to make.

We have a kitten, and that's all we need or want. :)

ardenkatherine said...

Ah, I say I don't want kids but I'm reminded by people that I'm only 19. And at this age I think that's a good point.

This reminds me of a story a higher up told me at an internship (I think she's around 45). When she was in her 30's at her first big office job she was always asked why she didn't have children and when she said she didn't want them she was treated with hostility by men and women. They ignored her, they pulled the "it must be nice to treat yourself so often" line. Finally one day she said to a coworker (who made a snide comment about her difficult childless existence) she just said "Look, I CAN'T have children. Would you like to know anything else about my personal life?" and even though it was a lie, it stopped being a problem. She said the look on her coworkers face was priceless but she immediately regretted the lie.

I guess the point is, women who chose not to have children should be more accepted. When a man is a bachelor he's seen as a career man whereas a woman in the same situation is seen as a failure.

For the mothers who do have kids and accept that other women will choose not to. I applaud you (and will babysit).

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

First, let me compliment your lovely outfit. I love the layering of skirts and the colorful shoes.
Secondly, I also applause your words. I actually wonder, based on very candid conversations I've had with friends who got pregnant younger than they'd planned (and spending a few days and nights in a multi kid households) whether those kinds of statements are said out of jealousy? And also out of regret? I read on the Guardian once about how this French mother wrote a book against having children and interviewed a bunch of women who said that they regretted having children at all, (not even just timing) but they felt too ashamed to be public. Instead, they are reduced to doing the only socially acceptable thing, which is moaning passive-aggressively about their choices to the child free. (Not that I'm excusing the behavior, but I wonder if our child obsessed society even allows us to think about such things?)

Audi said...

I'm just loving the comments from parents who say they're not letting the kids slow them down! I love that attitude; I think the kids and the parents end up happier for it!

Lesa: Wow, thank you for bringing this up; I guess insensitivity is rampant no matter where you are on the reproductive spectrum. The audacity of some people is truly stunning. Thank you for sharing your experience, and you have my utmost respect for bringing those 3 children into your life and giving them a loving home.

WendyB: Hell yeah, love the attitude!

Kimberley: I love the "aunties" comment! I'm certain I'll be a great auntie figure to the kids of friends and perhaps my sisters if they have any; kids always love that cool older person who talks to them like an adult -- that'll be me.

Jenniferocious: Yeah, the pregnancy thing scares me too, but babies -- they just plain freak me the fuck out.

Rad_in_Broolyn: You always have the most insightful comments; I totally agree that there are probably many parents who are in the closet about wishing they wouldn't have had kids, and I agree that it's so taboo here that no one would dare utter it aloud. Saying that you wouldn't have them if you had it to do over again is not the same thing as saying you don't love them! But this country has such a cult of the child mentality that someone would probably be declared an unfit parent for saying such things.

Anonymous said...

I never comment, but I just wanted to say thank you for this. whenever i tell people I don't want kids they always tell me I'll change my mind (I'm 28). sometimes i think i should make a list, so I know who to look up in 15 years and say: "Guess what, I DIDN'T change my mind. Now stop telling other people what they should and will feel".

Esz said...

Thanks for another super intelligent post. Like many others, I've never felt the desire to have children. Babies repulse me and the thought of being pregnant is horrifying!

I'm 26 - still 'young enough' to change my mind, but I'm confident that if I have not even the slightest inkling of cluckiness *now*, then I won't ever.

I hate the assumption that every woman just wants to breed. And that every woman wants to get married. In my eyes it's selfish to want to populate this world further when so many children don't have anywhere to go.
My mum I think struggles with the idea that I don't want kids - she gets upset every time I say so, but I just could never see myself going through the whole rigmarole of raising another human.

St├ęphanie said...

I adore your blog !

jenny elkins said...

I am so glad that I found your blog. I needed to hear your last post. I even stopped going to church recently because I felt I didnt fit in. (childless and 46 married, but he won't attend) I hear things from my married with children friends like it is so hard for us, we are saving for college educations blah blah blah. I even said no one says you have to pay for your children's education. I paid for mine. Anyway something I have struggled with for years but you definately said it better. lOOK forward to every post.

Dr.JessicaHogan said...

Thank you!

Fer said...

"but if I'd had a real drive to have children, none of those things would've mattered; I'd have made the appropriate sacrifices and not whined about it to people who didn't."

exactly!

Audi, I hardly ever comment here, but yours is one of my favorite blogs (I've been following it for quite some time, now). and this post was great, not only because I also don't want to have children, but because it was extremely well written and thought-provoking. thank you very much!

um beijo from Brazil

The Patersons said...

Hi, thanks for your post. I'm sorry that you have had nosy rude people or thoughtless people say and assume things about your choices. From reading your blog, you live a full, creative and rich life so don't let them get to you!

I echo what others have said - everyone needs to just mind their own business and have some manners!

We all need each other to make the choices that are right for us, and to support that. No point forcing people to be something they are not.

I chose to have a child, and it was the best choice for me, my husband and I are better people for it and our lives are richer than before. That's just us.

My only issue in most discussions of this type is when my child-free sisters then call my choice selfish and throw the ol' overpopulating the world at me. =(

We don't need to justify our choices by putting down the choices of others, no matter how legitimate you may think it is.

Sal said...

You know I'm right there with ya, lady.

orchidsinbuttonholes said...

Audi, thank you thank you thank you. My husband and I are also childless-by-choice, so much of what you wrote here resonated with me deeply.

We faced the same, "Are you sure you want to do this" and "I'll have to double check with the doctor if he really is willing to do this" by the staff and nurses when we took care of the surgical end of things. We simply cannot break any sort of good news to family without all eyes in the room turning excitedly toward my stomach.

I'm so tired of the assumption that breeding is inevitable for all couples, that babies are the only reason for marriage, that all women are meant to be mothers. I am pro-child for anyone who chooses parenthood; I do not, yet it seems that same courtesy is rarely paid to me.

But it's your points about sacrifices and rewards and accepting all that either path - childlessness or parenthood - offers and demands that truly resonate with me. You said it far better than I ever could. And I'm so glad someone said this - thank you again, Audi! Your blog is a wonderful, honest place and I admire it - and you - immensely.

Anonymous said...

Audi - I'm hoping to someday visit SF again & just run intio you on the street - only you could wear this outfit (I love the colors & the shoes, but the look is so very not me)!

My OB/GYN refused to give me a tubal until I turned 40, though I had requested one in my mid-30's when divorced, mom of one already, with no intention of getting remarried at the time. He, too, was afraid I'd meet the right guy & change my mind. The only thing that had changed by my call to their office on my 40th birthday to schedule it was my age. Sheesh!

et

Onibunny said...

Hello
Love you, your blog and especially this post. The other day someone i know blogged about how she would like to get her tattoo extended before her wedding. I responded with a "hell yeah!" as her tattoo is beautiful and would be even more so extended down her arm. Her reply to me was, "Well, we are saving so we can buy a house one day, and we want to have kids so that is way more important to me that some tattoo." Ok, I'm just confused now; she didn't post, "should I get a tattoo or a baby?"!! she is lamenting the loss of her financial freedom already!! (BTW I think buying a house is a reasonable goal with merit, but why say anything in the 1st place?) Why do people insist that having babies is so important to them, and fit themselves into a comfortably martyr like status before a child is even in the picture. "Oh, i'd love to go on vacation, but i need to save money one day for a baby." "I love those fluevogs but one day years from now i will have a... baby!" I, like you, realized that i prefer the company of pets and myself so children aren't a priority. I also love my life! I love working and being creative, traveling with my husband, playing with the dogs, being able to do anything and everything I want. Why would i jeopardize my happiness because of a misplaced sense of biological imperative. I suggest to any couple who really thinks they are ready for children to get a giant dog. I have found most men (and women) will bitch all over the place about picking up poop. Now imagine having to extract that from a tiny human butt-crack. Yes my friends, that is called perspective. Also, if you put a baby in a kennel and go to a movie you are going to jail. I don't begrudge anyone their choices but do not whine because you want tattoos, vacations, track lighting, shoes, etc but can't have them because you decided to breed.

Linda said...

Well, I think people who have made the choice to have kids are still allowed to whine about the sacrifices. They must seem overwhelming at times. Just don't do it with hostility toward me for not sharing them. I mean, sometimes I think "It MUST BE NICE to actually want to do what everyone thinks you 'should' do," but I don't say that to my friends who have kids, at least not in that snarky tone.

Stacy said...

What?? We are responsible for our own choices and have to live with the consequences?? ;)

I think it is great that you have lived the life you have chosen. No one should be giving you crap by their perceptions of how women should procreate.

I get crap because I have kids and work. I know lots of stay at home mom's. I work and get paid well for it. I'm not going to quit, because I know I don't have a good temperment to stay at home all day, every day with my kids. I also grew up poor. Been there, done that, bought the shirt...don't want to go back. I get lots of, "It must be nice to afford blah, blah, blah" Yeah, it kinda is...that's why I paid for my own college education...so I could get a job and make money! Love my kids, but I also love to have opportunities to do things.

No matter what your choices in life...someone will have have an adverse opinion of how you live it. They obviously have too much time on their hands to be obsessing about things that have nothing to do with themselves.

Rita said...

I made the same decision as you at a young age and have had to put up with the same allegedly well meaning comments and whining.

It is sometimes tougher to walk against the norm. Everyone has to make their own life choices and only they know what works with their life. Explanations of why that decision was made should not be required.

tigerteacher said...

Hi! I love your blog and outfit choices - you are an inspiration. I just wanted to say bravo and thank you for this post. I can't have children and and have been on the receiving end of painful and probing questions many times over the 10 years I have been married. I wish I had run into people with enough sense to back off of the topic when answered with a curt "I can't" but I've had people probe further to press me to adopt or ask detailed questions about the medical specifics of why I can't. After years of feeling bad about it, I've come to a point where I'm excited about the future without children and all of the different possibilities that are open to us in our lives that would not be if we had children. There are many different ways for men and women to live and embracing that is a beautiful thing that adds flavor to life! I love clothing and travel and enjoying time doing fun things with my husband and I also get comments from parent friends about how nice it must be to have time/money/freedom to dress up/go out to dinner/actually enjoy some romance in my marriage, etc. and where I used to want to burst into tears I now just answer with a "Yes - it's awesome!" Again, bravo! :-)

Alisha said...

*standing ovation*
Could not have said it better. My husband and I are childfree by choice and the comments we get from others never cease to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a mother of two and although I never really thought that I would have a family I have loved being a mother. I am highly impressed with your well thought out reasons for not adding children to your life and family. I have seen the children of people who had them because "that's what you do" but now feel that they are an inconvenience and a bother. Let me tell you that it is not good for the children.

But as a mother it always bothers me when I hear comments such as "brats" or that women who do have kids are referred to as "breeders". It is hurtful also. I do completely agree however that some kids are brats, but not all.

We all need to have more respect for the choices that others make especially when they so very different from our own.

I have really enjoyed this post and the comments that were made, I love learning about the reasons people have for their life choices. Keep up the outfit posts too, I love them.

Patricia

tinyjunco said...

from the Patersons: 'We don't need to justify our choices by putting down the choices of others, no matter how legitimate you may think it is.' and tigerteacher - those awful, stupid questions 'have you heard of (fill in the blank with trendy medical procedure)?'. the noive!

say it again! i also second the many commenters calling for more manners and less nosiness.

great post. i could write all day long about this issue of people's thoughtless and prejudiced reactions to other people's reproductive situations. but i'll just talk about one aspect for now.

i'm childless kind of by choice - my health has been such that my body would likely collapse under the rigors of pregnancy/birth, and i've spent so many years bed/house bound that i would not be in a position to care for an adopted child. i could do the 'baby against all odds' thing (that is so glorified in our media), but odds are very good that people would end up dead. with different circumstances, i would've loved to have kids. but it didn't happen.

i've had 30+ years to adjust to this idea, so i can cope. but i get the opposite of the 'martyr' comments. i get the 'it's such a shame, she'd be a wonderful mother, it's a tragedy she's been denied life's most precious gift' and getting treated like my life has some huge gaping HOLE in it, that i'll never be truly fulfilled (like whoever's saying this has been). i'm tragically damaged goods.

i understand that for some people being a parent is the pinnacle of their life, everything that they wanted to experience. great! but different people's lives have different pinnacles. frankly, i'm lucky enough that i've grabbed the brass ring that i wanted the most this time around, so there's no way i'm complaining.

but this judging other people's lives by your own experience or prejudices......really annoying.

i've so much enjoyed reading everybody's thoughtful comments! thank you for taking the trouble everyone, especially our gracious hostess! steph

LaShaune said...

From one child-free by choice to another...thank you!

Kelly said...

Audi, you are the greatest.

also I love your shoes.

meegiemoo said...

A big old "Me Too" in response to your post. I'm 39, never wanted kids, and all of my friends are just now deciding to have kids. Makes for a little lonely existence, but I'm more than happy with the decision I've made to be child free.

I have my shoes to keep me company.

Louise said...

I thought I was the only one whose doctor refused to do a tubal ligation when *I* wanted it. Thanks for writing this, and thanks to all the commenters who shouted out a "me, too!" I needed that.

Stacy said...

Well said, Audi! I'm 40 also and have never felt that urge to procreate. I'm excited for my friends when they have babies, because that is what they want. But I've never heard the calling toward motherhood for myself. I have a great husband, pets, friends, extended family, a job I love, hobbies I'm passionate about...I don't feel any kind of gaping hole in my life.

I don't go around asking parents or pregnant women, "So, why did/do you want to have kids? Aren't you afraid you'll regret it later?" So why do so many people think it's okay to ask me the opposite kinds of questions? Sheesh. (One great thing about getting older: I think people finally realize that if I haven't changed my mind by now, I'm not going to!) :)

Cynthia said...

Go you! I thought as a teenager that I never wanted kids, and while I dallied with the idea a time or two later on, I could never see how to make it work, not least because I didn't have partners at the appropriate age who would have supported my need to keep working regardless of kids. For a while my family would spring the "oh you'll change your mind" stuff on me, but actually, I didn't even get too much of that. I think in her heart of hearts my mom might have really not wanted to have kids so much. She has often seemed to resent on some level the effort and the cramping of her style, whatever that might have been had we not come along.

If pressed, I tell people that I enjoy adopting little scientists in their early 20s and raising them to PhD-hood.

Emily Kennedy said...

I hear you lady. This is one of the reasons I waited to have kids. I don't ever want to be one of those crazy ladies who feels like they lost some part of their youth to the choice. I also wanted to have the wisdom to make the somewhat self-immolating choice without jealousy, because welcoming a child really does mean that you and your partner get pushed into the background, and you need to be at a place where you're OK with that.

Ciarra said...

You said all that very well, indeed. Great points you made there. I think it's interesting how some people are hounded by the "why don't you have kids" questions from people and strangers all the time, while others, like me, hardly ever hear a peep about it. Ever. I have a friend who gets questioned constantly. I think I get a question once a year or less. And nobody ever tries to convince me. Oh well. It's just interesting. Maybe I have a motherly look to me since I'm "well padded" and people just assume I probably have kids at home or at the sitters. Who knows.

scicurious said...

First: WORD. Thanks for this post. I am almost 30 and still being told that I'll "change my mind".

Second, I love the top and the lower skirt (and those shoes are AWESOME), but it looks like the upper skirt (is it a dress?) is of a tighter fit than the loose form of the lower skirt. Is this true, do you do this a lot, and does it restrict movement or does it feel fine? Just wondering.

Bahbsie said...

Lovely shoes.
As for the baby talk, I'm so frustrated by people asking me if I'm going to have kids. I'm getting married next month and people are asking if kids are in the future. No. I may change my mind, but there's no way with my finances and where I'm at in life that kids would work for me in any way. I just don't want a kid.
What makes it worse for me is that I'm still in college and I'm a daycare teacher to make ends meet, so people naturally assume I'm going to college to become a teacher. People seemed appalled to find out that I'm a philosophy major and that I don't plan on working with kids in the future.
Honestly, I'm tired of having to defend not only my personal choices, but my education and career choices as well.
Thanks for taking a stand for freedom of choice.

Sara said...

I will never understand why it is socially acceptable to ask me about the state of my uterus or my sex life with my husband.

From the moment I got engaged people were inquiring (of myself and my mother) if I were pregnant, as if they couldn't fathom why someone might get married without a child on the way. For the record, I did not have a "reputation".

Then, when I got married, IMMEDIATELY people began asking me when we were going to have kids.
You do not know if I a)CAN have kids and b)WANT kids so why in the hell do you think that is ok? That is possibly the most personal question you can ask someone!

My fall-back response to any intrusive inquiry is "why do you want to know". This stops the people who are well-intentioned and (mindlessly) just making conversation. If I get "I'm curious" in return, they get a "Well, that's rude" in response. I feel that's fair.
If they're over 70, they get a pass because I do understand that they came from a different time.

My husband and I are leaning in the direction of having children, but we're not ready yet to take that step. Frankly, we know that we're too selfish yet. We'd still like to travel a bit, and we like our low level of responsibility. Finances are a huge part of it as well. Often I get told that if we keep waiting until the time is right, we'll never have kids. That's probably true; who is ever truly prepared for a complete life upheaval? However, I feel it is extremely selfish to create a life before we feel capable.

Sorry for the tangent, Audi, this just touched a nerve for me. I swear I am asked this at least 3x a week, often by people I barely know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying what I've been thinking for years now!

The Cheap Chick said...

From one child-free-on-purpose woman to another, bless you! This is EXACTLY what I go through on a daily basis. I adore kids, but that doesn't mean I want them for my own. And at the ripe old age of 37, it would not be the safest move for me, health-wise, to have one. Thank you for saying what I feel.

Carmen said...

As a mother, and person who enjoys your blog, I just thought you should know that when people say things like, "It must be nice to..." they aren't intending to put you down, they're just lamenting a little of what they've lost. They will get it back when their kids get older and they realize that they chose to sacrifice those things to have children, but it doesn't change the fact that they miss those freedoms and envy your freedom a little. Its like complaining about a job that you generally like. You realize you chose to be there, you wouldn't want to change things, but today you're bitching a little. Cut them a little slack. They aren't intending to offend you.

Bunny said...

I don't understand those people who say "it must be nice to..." I think that is ridiculous. I am a mother, a single mother in fact, and I still go out for dinner and get a pedicure every now and then and buy shoes. When I travel, I take him with me. What's to sacrifice?

I applaud you for being who you are. Some people want to have children and some don't; it really shouldn't be an issue but unfortunately some people seem to need to aggravate others by being nosy and annoying.

(also, I love your outfit)

Rebecca said...

I've also chosen not to have children, so it is interesting for me to read your thoughts and all of the comments.

I don't usually get comments about money from people, but I do dislike when parents say things like "I must be so nice to have free time!" The ways I choose to spend my time are important to me, and I don't like feeling dismissed. I also don't understand why some people choose to act like their children are a chore. If you've decided to have children, be content with your choice instead of yourself with people who have chosen differently.

Levanah said...

Well said! And Thank You to everyone else who's posted! It's nice to know there's so many of us who chose to be child-free.

I always attempt to point out to the "you'll regret it" people that adoption is always an option, if I "change my mind." There's scores of children out there who want to be wanted!

sara star said...

Another me too! One of the reasons I love reading Audi, Sally's and Sara's blogs is because all of your lives are similar to mine. Childfree, with a partner. Professionals. Confident, creative and stylish!

I don't think being childfree is selfish, I don't think having children is selfish.

After about the age of 27, I started getting sick of anyone telling me I would change my mind to match their opinions when I got older.

I have facts to the contrary. My aunts and uncles are older than me, by a lot. And they don't have children and are happy with their choices.

Heather said...

"But it's not like this was some big secret that the rest of the world hid from prospective parents..." FAVORITE SENTENCE EVER. This was a great post and I totally, completely, 100% agree. Maybe I will have kids one day but OMG not right this minute and until I make up my mind (which last I checked belongs to me) people need to back off. Bravo!

Jalexa2 said...

Bravo! I agree with everyone stating that people need to mind their own business. My husband and I were married five years before we chose to expand our family through adoption. We planned on adopting one child and that's it. Well, first we suffered questions for five years of "aren't you going to have children." then when we adopted, "but don't you want one of your own." What, he is our own. He is a part of our family as much a biological child is for any family. Families are formed in many different ways and are comprised in many different ways: two dads, two moms, one parent with children, couples without children, etc. Additionally, we get, "but you need one more." and have to hear of all the falacies about single children. We also get complete strangers asking us rude questions because our son is not the same race as we are. Honestly, the entitlement some people feel. My life is none of their business!

ReaderRita said...

YES! Thank you, Audi!!! As another childless by choice woman- I thank you! (and I agree with pretty much everything everyone has said in comments...)

I, for one, am really tired of the "selfish" comments I get. I am often so tempted to say "Who is the selfish one, again? She, who chose to have a biological child (because it looks like her!) rather than adopt a child who is already here and needs love? She, who has just gifted an innocent child with the mess (political and ecological) we humans have created? She, who has just added to already massive overpopulation? She, who is just having children because she's "supposed to" ? She, who has not given the parenting role any thought, and can barely take care of herself? She who was screwed up by her own family and wants a baby so it can fulfill some unmet need she has, thus perpetuating the screwed-up-by-your-family problem? Is that the selfish one you mean?"

But then I chicken out, and it wears on my soul.
Why am I made to feel bad because of MY choice, but mothers aren't made to feel bad because of THEIR choices?

Sorry for the rant, but I just was told I was behaving selfishly by not having kids yet again, and I totally hit my limit...

girlbuffalo1 said...

I don't get many comments but most people already know where I stand. I'm vocal about being CF and proud. The decision to have a child should be something you long for in your heart--not just something that is done because you figure that's what happens or "eh it might not be so bad" (I actually did have a friend tell me this! LOL)

The *bingo* that gets me so much is the "Who will take care of you when you're old". My mother is in a nursing home and let me tell you most of the residents have kids that live in the same town or within a 30 mile radius--and they come to visit--oh maybe once a month. I visit my mother every day except Tuesday--I get to hear the older ladies cry about how their kids are too busy to even come to the communal Christmas dinner.....yeah so much for being there when you are old....

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Brava and amen, Audi!

I never thought I wanted kids. A couple of years ago I began to entertain the idea, but honestly the rational side of my brain knows that it's not for me. I'm not particularly fond of children, and working with them briefly made me realize that had not and was not going to change. I doubt my husband and I will ever have kids, though, I will be an aunt soon, and I'm sure that I'll love my niece.

And I echo Rad's sentiments. A few of my friends who are mothers (although certainly not all) say that while they love their children their lives have been completely subsumed by motherhood, that they are bored, and unhappy. But that's not exactly something that's socially acceptable to announce.

Alison said...

Audi, and all the commenter's...

I'm going to have read all of these later and am looking forward to it!

Thank you for this post. I'm also child-free by choice. Hated playing "house" as a kid and always chose to be the baby instead of the mommy.

It is hard to keep answering the same questions over and over. I got married when I was 21 and my hubby had a vasectomy when I was 24. We discussed this before we got married. So, we've known for a long time. Now at 37 (and married for 16 years) I'm still answering the same questions. But, now I can truthfully say I cannot...(I had a hysterectomy in October due to Endometeriosis)

I've never had the tick of a biological clock either. Some of us just don't. It's ok to make the choice. Don't get me wrong though. I just wish more people realized that. I can't imagine feeling that I had to have a kid to fit into the norm, or because that's what you do.

Take care everyone!

Secret Squirrel said...

Thank you Audi, you voiced my thoughts.

What has surprised me are the level of questioning I have got since we got married - why should the two choices go hand on hand? I married him because I love him, not solely to have children. I think my Mum is disappointed, but I cannot do anything about that.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I usually love reading this blog but I have to say the level of judgement being tossed about in the comments section is really offputting. I totally appreciate and support anyone's life choices surrounding whether or not to have a child, and acknowledge that that choice comes with a certain amount of privilege (ie: for the CF among us, we have access to birthcontrol or for those who choose to have children, we have the biological ability to do so and/or the wherewithall to be able to adopt).
But man it gets me down to see so many strong creative women tearing each other apart over how we choose to live our lives. I get what you're saying in your post Audi, I really do, but it seems like many of the commenters are taking your frustrations and expressing them through equally wounding criticisms of the "other". --Nora

Traci said...

I'm happy to see so many other childfree women responding! I just did a blog post about this myself due to seeing an article in the NY Times that irritated me!

It's extremely annoying to have people comment on your lifestyle as if you've given the decision not to have kids no thought whatsoever. Years ago, I was interviewed for an article in the local newspaper, as I was the coordinator of a group for those without kids. Well, every conservative Christian organization on earth came out of the woodwork and reprinted or quoted the article. Of course their focus was that these poor people couldn't see that it was a sin not to reproduce, they loved their material possessions more than having children, they were morally rebelling, blah, blah, blah. I was soooo angry at the fact that when I googled my name after that, the very first results were from these freaks stating that "God hates the childfree" and such. It's none of anyone's business WHY I don't have kids - as someone else stated, I don't go around asking people why they DO have kids.

Julia said...

wow! so many fantastic comments. thanks for posting this - so many people meddle into other people's lives when it is none of their business and doesn't affect them.

I personally want to have children - it's one of the only things I've ever known that I wanted for sure. awesome. but things don't always work out according to what we want - situations change and I don't think we should have to defend our personal decisions that don't affect others.

On a side note, I'm glad we actually have the opportunity to use a birth control method of our choice (in the US at least, which is my only frame of reference) so that we can make our own decisions. I see that there are some comments about doctors refusing permanent methods of birth control, which is unfortunate, but the doctors were likely acting on past experiences. Ok, I can go on and on about availability and cost of birth control, but that wasn't the point of this comment or my side note. I guess my point is, I'm happy that I can choose right now in my life not to have children.

but I have to say, I love the "Auntie" comment. That is one of the best things I've read in a long time.

Courtney said...

Agreed on hating the attitude that whether or not someone is going to procreate is anybody else's business.

I have never, ever been interested in being pregnant. I have a stepson whom I love dearly, and with whom I maintain a relationship even though I am no longer married to his father. While my role in his life is more of an "auntie" role these days, I was actively involved in raising him from the age of 5 until he was 13. (His father had joint custody.) When I married his father, everyone and their dog felt the need to ask if we were going to have kids. The exchange would usually go like this:

Nosey Parker: Are you two going to have kids?

Me: We have a kid.

Nosey Parker: But are you going to have any more?

Me: No. One is enough for us.

Nosey Parker: But don't you want a child of your own?

Me: I have a child of my own.

Nosey Parker: *blank stare*

Me: Just because I share my son with other people doesn't make him any less mine.

*crickets chirping*

Meredith said...

Well said. Really, really well said.

Personally, I plan on having kids, but I completely understand those who don't want to. There's lots of good reasons for both.

I can't believe how many times I hear "When will you have kids?! you've been married for ___ years now! We had kids young, it was great!"

I look them in the eye and say "That's nice, but we really want to finish school and buy a house first."

then the "ohh... yeah, i guess" response.

ReaderRita said...

Anonymous 6/16 @2:22 pm-The reason I ranted about what has been said to me and how I'd like to answer those people, is because I don't know if the women (or men for that matter) who say those things ever think about what they're actually saying, or about the OTHER side of the coin. I know that I think about their side of the equation all of the time- partially by being reminded when I'm asked questions, and partially because I like to take my own pulse on the topic from time to time.
I know I raved out about what I'd like to say to people, and that put me at the same level as those who make comments to me; but I don't rave out frequently (once!), nor would I ever dream of walking up to a woman with children point blank and asking her those questions. (which has happened to me MANY times with ?'s about being child free)
I also said those things because I wonder how many women think about any of it before choosing to have children- many of the women I know do not entertain any of those questions- I have been told by many friends that they are having kids because "that's what you do", or "it was an accident", and those two reasons just fill me with dismay. I think that you should have children because you WANT THEM, not because you feel obligated to, or have an "accident". That's what my rave out was about.
I have no problem with dedicated, mindful parents. Some of my best friends are...

Kevon said...

I skipped blog visiting yesterday, so I came late to this discussion on one of my favorite topics. Good on everyone who made a conscious decision about whether or not to 'spawn.'

People love to talk about making choices in their lives, but most of the time, if we are honest, we are really just acting on the spur of the moment and making it up as we go along. Unfortunately, this applies too often to having children.

I always assumed I would have children, but never felt a burning desire. My husband was lukewarm on the idea, and for years, such a workaholic that I suspected he wouldn't be much help raising kids. So I waited for the old bio clock to start ticking, and in the meantime, practiced birth control religiously. Around my 35th birthday, when I was wrapping up a long-delayed bachelor's degree (in Anthropology, a connection?), it dawned on me that wanting children is a desire that comes from the gut, not a decision that comes from the head. The fact that I kept trying to reason out my choice meant that I didn't WANT children. Not enough to upend my whole life. Decision made.

Sure, I have endured rude questions from a few prying jerks, but such people can be easily deflected by answering with a question, "Why did you have kids?" Anyway, once you hit 50 or so, the questions stop.

Do I ever wish I had decided differently? Sure, in the same way I wish I could experience so many things I can't fit into one lifetime. Parenthood is somewhere down the list after sleeping with a rock star, living in a foreign country, getting a degree in mechanical engineering and learning to play the fiddle.

My advice to younger women is take your time to decide and leave nothing to chance. Birth control ain't rocket science, ladies. It's a tool to help us responsibly make life's biggest (and irrevocable) choice.

Miss T said...

@ReaderRita - I actually read a really interesting article once in a magazine - and I wish I could recall what magazine it was - but it talked about some of these women who have babies by "accident," who decide on their own that they love their boyfriend/husband/significant other enough that they no longer need birth control, and so they stop taking it without consulting their partner and think that if they get pregnant, it was meant to be. Now you and I and these women know good and damn well that if they keep having sex without BC they're going to get pregnant! And then they're surprised when their partner is upset and, sometimes, when he leaves them over it! "Surprise" my behind!

Julia said...

I am only 18, and accept that I may change my mind... but currently I have no desire to have children. I loved the auntie comment - that is exactly what I hope to be!

I have one hesitation about your post/rant. There are parents who know exactly what they are getting into, and who truly want a child to love and care for. These people may have adopted, may be very socially conscious... but everyone wants a little me time. I don't think having a child removes the right to wish for a treat from time to time. I understand that from a majority, comments like "Oh, it must be nice to be able to go out to dinner" are infuriating - just make sure you don't dismiss kind, sensible people! All kids are frustrating sometimes, and even the best parents need a break.

Fawn said...

Amen, sister.

And for the woman who said she thought she was the only one who had trouble getting a tubal: nope, you're not. Not by a long shot. Here's an article about a few women who were willing to talk to me about it:
http://fawnfitter.com/tubals.html

Brande said...

AMEN, Audi! My husband and I are each 22 and totally of the same mindset. I'm in the process of seeking a tubal litigation and I just can't WAIT to have to fight for it. For me, I don't feel that having children or being a parent needs to be biological. Right now parenthood does not fit into our lifestyle or plans. Not now, not in the next decade. If someday we have the urge to become parents and it's logical and beneficial then we'll ADOPT. I feel (this is my personal conviction, not a blanket statement) that even if I DID want to be a parent *it is not my right* to deny an orphan the chance at a better life just so I can see if my baby laughs like my husband or has my eyes. It feels morally irresponsible and selfish. Kudos for standing up for yourself and what you believe in! (Also, your doctor needs to be punched out for making that request of you)

Erika. said...

Hi Audi,

Great post! I am planning on having children and, like you, I made my choice carefully based on the wants and needs of me and my partner.

It's totally uncalled for that people judge anyone based on whether or not they decide to have children. Like you said, EVERYONE has something to contribute to the world, not just "breeders". ;)

And those people who say, "it must be nice to go out for a nice dinner"...well, they made a choice. What's stopping THEM from going out to a nice dinner? Are they imposing artificial restrictions on themselves just beause of how a parent is "supposed" to act?

I'll close this long comment with a shout out to my fabulous "aunt". She's not a blood relative but she's a love relative...she's been in my life since I was born. She didn't have children (her choice) and she was an amazing example of a strong, giving, entrepreneurial woman.

~ Erika.

Audi said...

Wow, awesome comments everyone. I can definitely sense the frustration of many of you, no matter which side of the fence you're on -- nosey questions about your reproductive choices, condescending attitudes, accusations of selfishness, and all the rest. One thing we need to be careful of is not taking insulting comments and simply hurling them back towards the other side. It does seem that many people do not put enough thought into the question of children, and undoubtedly that does lead to some of the resentment and jealousy that can be directed at people without kids, but it's important to remember that children are responsible for all of our futures, whether we have any kids of our own or not. So there's no one right answer that works for everyone; some people must continue to have kids, and yet with the world population being as large as it is, it's also good if other people opt not to. The important thing is to recognize that both of those choices are equally valid, and no one should be made to feel bad or guilty about the life they chose.

I don't believe that people who make rude or nosey comments about our reproductive choices necessarily mean any harm, they simply aren't aware of the effect their words can have. That's why I chose to bring it to light, and since this is a female-dominated forum, it's as good a place as any to talk about it. I was really happy to see parents chiming in with words of support too; it highlights the fact that the majority of people probably do know better than to judge other people's choices, but the handful of people who don't are the ones that stick out in our minds.

Anonymous said...

You go, girl! I would say, "Live your life and be happy," but you seem to have that all figured out. :)

A couple comments, though. First, growing up I knew I never ever wanted kids. Through college, I knew I never ever wanted kids. But somewhere around the age of 25 or 26, BOOM. It hit me. I desperately wanted kids, so much that I was even willing to brave pregnancy (yuk), delivery TRIPLE YUK, and cleaning poop/vomit QUADRUPLE YUK. And, yeah, I never liked babies/kids much, but loved my own. I felt blindsided by biology, let me tell you. I began to have true respect for the biological clock.

So, it can happen. But if I had ever sought out a doctor for a tubal and he had refused, I would have HIT THE ROOF. How absolutely unprofessional. How demeaning.

Anyway, there is far too much judgment and nosiness these days. When I meet someone with no children, I do not ask them why, or whether they plan to have them. It's a rude question, period.

My kids are close to leaving the nest, and I absolutely have to figure out my life again and, right now, it feels very bleak. Mother Nature must be laughing hard.

Thanks for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Well said! My husband and I are child-free by choice as well.

I've experience similar discussions and looks of pity/dissapointment and I wish people wouldn't push and judge those of us who live child-free.

I've seen too often where parents act like their children are a burden or bothersome. Children should be a joy and a gift!

Maybe more people should rethink the child vs no-child issue and make their own decisions. There's no reason to succumb to other's ideas of what is right for you!

Tara said...

Hear! Hear! Reading this post and all the comments along with it make me feel far less lonely in my decision to remain child-free. I, too, have known since I was young that I never wanted kids of my own and since I am a teacher (who is 33), apparently I must justify this even more to people. It's truly infuriating. Thanks again!

P.S. This outfit really rocks! I love the layering.

Sidewalk Chalk said...

This post really, really resonated with me. As a young newlywed, I get asked a lot whether we're going to make the jump to being parents, when really both of us don't plan on it ever. It gets frustrating to be judged by family members, and women I work with that I barely know. You've insightfully summed up my feelings on the issue: it's so rude to judge people's life choices through a certain lens.

wendyzski said...

coming in late here...I've known since I was 25 that i didn't want kids. I have some serious medical conditions that are likely to be hereditary and I'm just not into passing those along. I have no objection to parenting )if I find a guy who comes with a set) but no actual birthing from me.

My mother wouldn't shut up about it until I turned 40 and even now she fawns on my brother and his family while not having visited me in 10 years.

So yeah - totally get it.

Inder-ific said...

Audi, I love your blog and lurk regularly!

If having a baby has taught me anything, it's that people should never feel pressured to have children! Having a baby is wonderful, but it's also a ton of hard work, and it's not for everyone. If you're not dying to do it, don't do it.

That said, I think some of the comments you are hearing from other parents are not intended as a criticism of your choice. I can understand why you would feel that comments that start with "It must be nice ..." are passive digs, but I imagine that (at least some of the time), you really are just hearing some wistful nostalgia.

Having children is wonderful and hard and massively-life-changing. I don't think it's fair to get down on people for whining a bit. I mean, don't we all whine a little now and then? Yes, we make choices, but even when we are thrilled out of our minds about our choice, that doesn't mean we don't miss some things about our prior life, right?

Is it really so bad to whine? If I whine a little sometimes about how much my life has changed since I had my baby boy, it doesn't mean that I don't love him to little bits. But my life has changed! I wouldn't go back and make a different choice for anything, but there are still some things I miss about pre-baby life (like going out more!).

So, I don't know, I hope you can hear that some of those comments are probably not meant to be critical, but are simply expressing a very normal and very human wistfulness and nostalgia. You feel a pang now and then, and then it passes, and you go back to your life, which you do love. We all feel that way now and then.

(Of course, some of the comments you describe would not fit this definition at all, and are just plain mean and narrow minded! Some folks have a hard time understanding that not all of us have to make the same choices, and that the world is a better place for lots of variety. Sure enough, some of them are parents!)

Inder-ific said...

P.S. I guess "joyful sacrifice" is not my forte. I am better at something more like "joyful sacrifice with a little minor venting on the side"! ;-)

Alli (One Pearl Button) said...

Wow, I love this post and all of the comments. I'm also child free by choice. I've simply never been interested in kids. I had a good childhood, but I didn't enjoy being a child. My husband and I love our life, and that's that. When people give me the "it must be nice" line, I usually reply with a hearty "yup, it is!"

Cowbark said...

WORD. WORDWORDWORDWORDWORD.

For one thing, I have an all around hatred of the phrase "it must be nice..." because you know what? You chose your path, if you're jealous of what's along someone else's path, keep it to yourself instead of letting jealousy rear it's ugly head. Or do something to make that happen for yourself!!

And isn't it funny how the people who make the most comments or have the most questions about your choice to not have kids are always strangers or barely acquaintances who are being the most inappropriate saying anything at all??

Anuja said...

I'm a new reader, and I have 3 words for you: You. PREACH. IT!

I was just going though some of the same. I had condescending "oh, you'll change your mind" lectures. ugh.

Furthermore, I can think of few selfLESS reasons FOR having kids.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying I do not want children since I was 15 years old. I am now 30. Seriously, it's been 15 years. Do NOT tell me I'm going to change my mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a long-term lurker on your blog, and I followed the link from Sal at Already Pretty. :)

I like both your blogs.

I wanted to comment on this child-free post.

First off, I think it's perfectly OK for a woman to choose NOT to have kids or to have kids. But not too many, and not too soon. I'm a big believer in establishing one's life first, and having some sort of career and experiencing life, whether that be travel, charity, schooling, whatever suits the individual best.

I'm a parent myself, but I came to parenthood late, by circumstance but also by choice.

As a mother, I have to agree with you that I HATE when women insinuate or flat out suggest you aren't a woman until you've given birth!

Let me tell you...I feel no more womanly or feminine having had a child. I'm the same woman I was before.

I never felt any more womanly or feminine when pregnant, either. Nope. It's not something everyone has to or should experience to understand what it is to be woman or feminine.

As for the comments about "must be nice"...perhaps it really isn't a backhanded compliment.

I know that if I were to say that to a non-parent, I would mean it genuinely and would probably be saying it with a wistful, longing tinge...longing for my pre-child self.

Maybe they are expressing self-doubt or exhaustion or constriction in their freedom to be themselves.

Parenting is hard, and takes a huge toll. Sure, there are some joys, but it can be easy to lose one's identity a bit when you have a baby because newborns and toddlers are so intensely in need of care 24/7.

So you are very right that I think it would be nice to have the time and quiet and freedom that I did before I had a baby. I long for that time, I miss that time, and I do envy parentless people their peace and quiet. I could very well see myself as parentless and nearly was so I would never say that phrase in a condescending or naiive way.

I agonized while pregnant, and after having a baby with all that I had to give up - yes, it's a choice, but sometimes it's a hard choice, and let's face it, I think women end up sacrificing more, generally, when it comes to having children, and I certainly didn't realize the full scope of everything that would have to be sacrificed and how fully that impacts every facet of one's life.

I love being a parent, but if I had remained childless, I would not have regrets about it. Nor would I be less of a woman, and neither are you! :)

Nadine said...

I'm a mother, and this post was a real eye-opener. I would NEVER ask anyone why they didn't have kids, since I think it is far too sensitive a question. I really appreciate hearing your perspective, Audi. Thank you.

Rachael said...

Brilliant post! I'm in my thirties now and still get told (rather smugly) that I'll change my mind about not wanting children. It's infuriating.

st4rrgrrl said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Didi said...

Thanks for this very well-written post. I have known since the day my younger brother came home from the hospital when I was 4 years old that I did not want any children.

I had been dating my husband for less than one year when his mother asked me why I hadn't married him already to give her a grandchild. I was 18 and a freshman in college, planning to go to law school.

My husband and I got married when I was 24, and the questions from his family and perfect strangers have never stopped. He and I discussed our mutual disinterest in having children long before we were even engaged, and have never wavered from our decision, much to his mother's dismay.

I am now 37 and an attorney who primarily practices in the area of child abuse and neglect, so I see first-hand what happens when people should not have children, and sometimes joke that I would be in the "hot seat" in court if I had ever had children (though that is not true; I am sure I would have loved and properly cared for a child if I had one but I just did not want to do so).

I know myself, my husband, my personality, my lifestyle, our work hours, and know that we do not want to have children for many, many reasons. I have four dogs. They are my children. I have two nieces, and enjoy them because I see them on a weekly but not constant basis.

The beauty of our nation is the freedom to choose whether to be parents, but also affords the opportunity to be rude, obnoxious or ill-informed. Just as morality cannot be legislated, common courtesy cannot be enforced.

I have been told for years that I would change my mind someday, that I would love my own child, that I will be missing out on life, and that I will have no one to care for me when I am old. None of those opinions have meant anything to me because those people had no idea why I chose not to have any children. Now I just respond that my husband and I practiced on the dogs, they are really spoiled, and I would not want to inflict such horribly spoiled children on the world. That works to stop the conversation for now, but I cannot wait until I am perceived to be too old to have children so that the rude commenting will come to a close.

liz said...

i am a little late on the comment train, but i loved this post. as an engineer i am surrounded by men, all telling me how much i want children. i am 24 and hear "dont worry you'll change your mind" at least every 2 weeks.

the truth is, i do not like children. i never baby-sat because of this, and i have never in my wildest dreams considered wanting children. i have had yelling matches in my office with coworkers [usually those from or raising the most dysfunctional families] about this topic. the conversation usually ends with me walking out of my own office to avoid bodily shaking the perpetrator and yelling "MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS". apparently that is not office-appropriate...

and i have been doing some digging lately, and realize it all comes down to responsibility. i do not want the responsibility of shaping my offspring into successful positively contributing members of society. i do not want the responsibility of caring for another being that is totally and utterly dependent on me for 18+ years. i also do not want the responsibility of bringing something into this world that could be a detriment to it. serial killers, racists, and the housewives of new jersey all have mothers.

and on top of it all... oh yea. i still don't like kids. but thanks for letting me rant in agreement.

Carolyn said...

I agree that people should not ask these question about whether or not you're going to have children. People doing that are just being nosy and rude and I am upset every time I'm around people who start probing with questions like this.

I read all the comments and felt a lot of anger towards people who decide to have children. I am a mother of 3 children my husband and I wanted to have and love very much. I think both the women who want children and those who don't need to try to understand and accept each other. I felt a lot of anger coming from commenters who called women with children "breeders", accused us of overpopulating the earth, and called us irresponsible and selfish. We get those comments face to face sometimes and it feels terrible. It's fine if you don't want children, but please don't direct your anger over the insensitive questions back at people who have children.

B said...

Nora's comment (Anonymous, 6/16, 2:22) captures my reaction. A number of the comments here seem mean-spirited or excessively judgmental to me.

I have a particularly negative reaction when people say they don't like children. What other group of people would anyone ever say that about? Children do irritating things, it's true. But that is also true of people with Downs Syndrome or dementia or, for that matter, people who are just really different from us. I remember finding these sorts of comments hurtful as a child (admittedly, a precocious and overly sensitive child) and they still seem unnecessarily hostile.

OTOH, I have to admit that although I am 30 and childless I have not had to put up with any inquiries or snide remarks. Maybe I give off an unfertile vibe...

Scholar Style Guide said...

I intend to have children, but I am equally bothered by tendency of others to apply their own standards to my relationship, so I can empathize with how frustrating it is for people to act as if they know better than you do about what you do/will want.

There's a lot of discussion that comes out of the field of queer theory that I think anyone who doesn't want children would find empowering. Edelman's "No Future" comes to mind as one book that interrogates the fundamental assumption that what's important about our lives is the future, and thus, he challenges the widespread assumption that having children is the most important thing one can do.

Why DO we, in US culture, act as though sacrifice "for the good of the child" is best for everyone, anyway? Edelman's book really helped me think intelligently about the limitations of that attitude.

-Liz

Cherilyn said...

Amen sister!! You should check out this blog, it gives a lot of good perspective on the choice of being child free: http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/. I may change my mind in the future, but I'm pretty sure I won't. My 19 year unwed sister just found out shes pregnant,and all her dreams for the moment are out the window. The situation made me realize even more I do not want to be that much responsible for another human being. There are so many things I want to do in my life, and for me, children don't fit into that equation.

Faith J. said...

Hi there, I found this post through the Already Pretty blog.

I can't add much more to what anyone else has commented, except that I agree with you, support you, and am encouraged by you. I have never desired to have children, though I am married, and I appreciate and respect your position.

Anonymous said...

my thoughts exactly. i am now 37 and have been married 9 years, have heard "when are you having kids", "you'll change your mind" so many times, and still hear it! and yes, it's great to have the free time and financial freedom! my husband and i have always known we never wanted to have children. and even though i am an only child, my mom is totally cool with our decision. thanks audi, for starting this conversation.
kelly

gina said...

Great post. Thank you. I'm 32, child free by choice. From reading about experiences like yours on the internet in my early 20's, I expected to encounter much of the same, but fortunately I haven't. Family members have occasionally inquired about children (my family members, my ex-husband's, my current boyfriend's), but not persistently. I had a couple guys in college say the condescending "you'll change your mind when you meet the right guy" and that's about it. So I consider myself pretty lucky.

Incidentally, I really do love your shoes.

Anonymous said...

I support anyone's right to have kids or not have kids.
Before having my own kids, I don't remember getting a lot of comments or questions about it. However, if you think people are all up in your grill about not having kids, please be assured that parents hear plenty of unwanted opinions too.
When my kids were babies, complete strangers in the grocery store would ask me if I was breastfeeding. Over the years, plenty of people have commented on my kids and offered unsolicited parenting advice.
I assumed there was something about being a parent that made other people want to tell me things I didn't want/need to hear. I'm sorry to learn that people without kids also get annoying unwanted opinions!

Jilliebeanie said...

GREAT post. I'm not a frequent commenter on your blog, but really enjoy your unique style and great writing. I really struggle with the whole parenthood thing. Do I really want to be a mother (someday), or is that just what is expected of me (and it is)? I admire women who can stand up and say 'I'm not less of a woman because I don't have children'. And depending on the context, it grates on me a little too when parents compare their lives to mine in a complaining sort of way...it's awkward...and a little rude.

angeline said...

Very well said and brava to you. This attitude annoys me to no end, and I'm glad you are getting the message out there. I do want to have kids someday, but I fully support my friends who know they don't want to have children (even one that knew when we met at age 7). I just tell them they can play with my kids if they want. Oh, and I think more mothers should treat themselves to dinners and pedicures and shoes. They're good for the soul. :)

Debbie said...

I've looked at your blog a few times in the past, but I'm so glad I visited tonight and read this post. We are kindred spirits and you've expressed SO WELL what I've felt for so long.

I am 43, have been married 9 years, and am child-free by choice. I feel SO misunderstood by so many people, including many members of my own family. I'm glad that there are people like you who understand how I feel.

I want to copy what you've written into a Word document so I have it at the ready for the next time people try to tell me how much I'll regret not having kids or look at me with pity for not having experienced the "great joy of giving birth and raising children." Thanks for having the courage to say what so many of us are thinking so much of the time! I will definitely continue to visit your blog (love you style, too!).

jungleworldcitizen said...

Im glad Sal from "Already Pretty" linked to your post!
=)
Have a great Sunday!

Heather said...

You're right!

And I feel much the same about other moms who pity me for working full-time instead of staying home, or make comments about the house we bought (which we bought because I decided to work), etc.

We were married 10 years before getting pregnant. Most folks just didn't get it, including our parents. I myself never understood why it was anyone else's business whether or when we had kids.

Birth control is a wonderful thing, but there are still a lot of people threatened by the way that changes society and woman's place in it.

Plus, once you drink the parental kool-aid, you want to convert everyone you know so that you're not the only one suffering from extreme sleep-deprivation. :^)

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO MUCH. And I thought I couldn't love you any more than I already did! I am right now struggling to find a doctor who will give me a tubal and I am going through all the same humiliating bullshit. I found out the CDC has found that incidents of tubal "regret" are actually LOWER by a HUGE statistical margin among women who've never had children than among women who had a tubal after giving birth. Whoa! And yet still no one will realize that I Don't. Want. Kids and yes I get the "you're just selfish" thing too and it drives me insane.

I've got a goal: essure, or a tubal if not that, by April of next year. Wish me luck :)

Kaija said...

I'll just add a huge AMEN, SISTER! to your rant. I agree with everything you said and have had about the same rant, almost word for word, on many occasions. There are LOTS of ways to live your life and we all get to choose for ourselves. I have never wanted children and will never have them (I have other plans), but I am an awesome aunt to my sibs and friends' kids. Hooray for child-free and boo to nosy people who don't know well enough to butt out!

Fia said...

Kudos to you! Up until 2 years ago, I thought I'd be child-free and while I personally changed my mind I don't for a minute fault any woman who chooses not to have children. It's not some flippant casual thing and I think too many people enter into parenthood lightly. I find most child-free women more in tune with the sacrifices a child brings to one's life. Children are great and important for our future, but that doesn't mean everyone has to become a parent or should even have the desire to be a parent. And childless women are no less women because they don't experience motherhood. Motherhood is only one aspect of being a woman, not the end all be all.

Don't get me wrong. I love being a mother now and I fall in love with my daughter every day, but it doesn't make me more of a woman because of her. Though the word isn't used as much the concept of a spinster is still alive and well at the disservice of all women.

Maura said...

How timely; this and other child/family topics have been on my mind lately. I wholeheartedly agree that we should respect each other's reproductive decisions. Is there a more personal and important life decision than creating the shape and size of your family? That is not the business of acquaintances and passers-by.

It took getting married and having three children for me to truly understand the level of expectation society places on women to make the choices I made, and the amount of blatant sexism that supports those expectations.

I do love my children dearly, and I am glad I made the choices I did (maybe if I knew then what I know now, it would have been harder for me to take the plunge?) but I often feel burdened by the things I am supposed to know and do "naturally", because I am a woman, regarding parenting. I am definitely not a "natural" organizer, multitasker, housekeeper, or even nurturer. I do not "naturally" remember doctor's appointments and field trip permission slips. I sometimes feel ripped off that I don't get to play absent-minded professor and let someone else take care of my sh!t.

I do what is required, because someone has to. In the end, I don't object to the work, because I believe it is making me a better person, and I am happy to have the family I really did want, independent of outside pressures. What I *DO* object to is the near-total lack of similar pressures on men who choose to have a family (wow, you don't cheat on your wife? You "helped" fold the towels? You "babysat" your kids? Here's your medal!!), and the unquestioned assumption that all women "naturally" want to live within the same system (meaning if you don't want it, there must be something wrong with you).

And denying adult women tubal ligations?? What the?? If you ask them to permanently alter your face or breasts, they are only happy to oblige...

Healthy and Homemade said...

Wow Audi, well said!!!!!

I actually do want to have children, but my husband is so set on our fricken "plan" that it wont happen anytime soon. It's also very painful when people lecture yme day and night about how I'm married and should be pregnant. That there must be something wrong with me, or that my life isn't figured out. It's so frustrating.

We need to let each other live our lives and be happy while we do it! Not having kids doesn't mean not being a woman, or a strong individual, or someone who wont have a loving and fulfilling life!! You're happy now and loving life, and that's all that matters <3

Thank you for doing this post ^_^

Kristen said...

Sing it, Audi! I am a long-time reader and an infrequent commenter, and also childfree by choice.

What I have found is that the "oh it must be nice" comments come with different meanings depending on the person and my relationship with them. With my friends who are harried with kids, it's meant as a wistful or teasing line, and I respond with the same. But acquaintances or strangers are harder to read, and I tend to take that as being nosy or rude.

I am completely amazed and impressed by how many commenters are also childfree. It often feels like I am the only one in an ocean of parents!

The Raisin Girl said...

To me, there's only one reason required to not have children: not wanting them. Because seriously, how good of a mother could I be expected to be if I didn't want my kids? I seriously doubt the people who seem to think that the fuss, muss, pain, and annoyance of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth is somehow magical and will create a desire for children where there isn't already one.

You have my understanding and applause. No one should have children who doesn't want them. And just between you and me and the internet, a ton of the people who have them find out pretty quick that they're not ready for them.

Elissa said...

Great post! The kids/no kids question bothers me immensely, both my husband and I are on the fence. From time to time, we're all about it, most of the time we're not. I do feel pressure, mostly from parents to do so, and I've told them all under no uncertain terms until I'm at least 33, but honestly if it never happened I think we'd be fine with that too. Not choosing to have children is as difficult a choice (if not more) than choosing to have them. People who get their panties in a twist are probably jealous that they didn't feel strong enough to say no to kids too!

PS love Kimberley's comment.

Steph said...

Whew! What an outpouring of support! It's so great to read all the responses to this wonderful post, Audi. I have to second pretty much everything that every child-free poster has said, as I've had pretty much all the same thoughts and feelings my whole life. It's not a decision I've made lightly to not have kids of my own, and it's not because I hate kids (at least not all of them). I adore being a fun auntie to my friends' kids--but I adore handing them back and going home to my nice, quiet house where I can do what I want, whenever I want without having to consider some tiny person's needs. Bravo to everyone for standing up to the nosy child-pushers of the world and saying it's none of your f-ing business (as politely as possible)!

Gloria said...

Right on, Girlfriend! If everyone really examined their feelings about parenthood and really took the time to understand the sacrifices that go into such a choice I believe that there would be fewer children in the world but those children would be far better off. Just because one has the ability to procreate does not mean that they should. The fact that you have owned up to your feelings and are living your life accordingly is an example for us all. There IS more to life than having kids. Yes, it is a wonderful miracle but I mean come on...haven't we been fighting for years and years to be able to be more than just mothers? We are humans and valuable members of society in whatever maternal capacity we chose to operate in.

myedit said...

What a post... I am 26 and a little unsure of the whole children situation, so while I am unsure, I just keep living my life. ALL my friends had babies at the same time last year and I do get constant pressure. If I hold a baby I always get that clever person who says 'looks great on you!'. Thankfully I am even more clever and always respond 'this dress looks great on me too but that doesn't mean I will wear again it tomorrow.'

Esz said...

Oh and just in case anyone has any second thoughts about wanting kids - this site may be helpful in making up your mind ;-)
http://shitmykidsruined.tumblr.com/

So many lols! :-D

Rebecca said...

Hello Audi--I recently discovered your blog and am hooked. This post resonated with me on several levels.

Though I haven't had any problems requesting procedures, at my last checkup, the nurse handed me my prescription for birth control pills, and added that I should also be taking prenatal vitamins. After I asked "Excuse me?" thinking she was looking at the wrong chart, she told me that since I was in my childbearing years, I needed to prepare for a child. I politely told her that a child wasn't even a consideration at that point, but that I would keep her suggestion in mind when it became an issue. Nosey Nurse went on about folic acid, and all the necessary things prenatal vites provide, and again, I tried to politely put her off by saying that I wasn't married in a relationship, but thank you anyway. Nosey Nurse looked at me and said "But honey, you don't need to be in a committed relationship to become pregnant."...I replied "No, but you do need to have unprotected sex with someone." I've since found a new doctor.

In regards to children in general, I find that I'm on the fence, which is a hard place to be. I'm one of the rare under-30 divorcees, and my friends are all starting down the baby road, while I'm stuck somewhere back just beyond "Go", looking for first dates. I'm getting a variation of "you'll change your mind" from my family, which is "You'll find that guy and will have your family and all will be right with the world." The grass is always greener, eh? In fact, I'm not even sure I want them for myself, even though I like children in general, I think I'm good with them, and I'm not scared of crying or bodily functions. I know I don't want to be pregnant. It depresses me--I wouldn't want to get out of bed and I become bone-sad at the thought of it. Why on earth should I subject myself to feeling like that?

Fortunately, I can be an auntie. :)

mh said...

I've been following the comments on this post since it came out and finally decided to put my own out there. While I don't remember the circumstances that led to this conversation, I have a very vivid memory of being 20 yrs old and having someone tell me for the first time that I DIDN'T HAVE TO HAVE KIDS. It was like a freaking revelation. While I hope that at some point I would have put more thought into it, at that point in my life I was on the college, job, marriage, kids track... I thought that was what I was supposed to do, so I was trying to do it.

It was such a relief, b/c it allowed me to acknowledge that I am not a kid person. I'm an only child, quiet, and never really had much exposure to young children and babies. I don't seem to have a biological imperative. This is who I am, and while I have lots of other reasons not to have kids, I think the biggest one is that - I would not like being a mother, and having kids would be wrong for those childrens' sakes.

I've been a bit of a late bloomer in many ways, and while I have had comments about changing my mind, I've been pretty vocal with my immediate family for about 8 years now, so I think they know I'm serious. I've been dating a man for a few months now and one of the things I love most about him is that he doesn't want kids either... I was seriously despairing that I'd ever meet someone with the same feelings as myself.

It is amazing though, that as much as I hate the comments, can't believe people make them, and get totally defensive when the topic of having kids comes up... I find myself thinking, when are you going to have kids already? about some of my friends. I wish I could tell you where it comes from... I assume that even though I've made my choice, the societal "right" choice is so deeply ingrained in me that I too judge people. Luckily, it is not in my nature to say crap like that to people's faces. I know having close friends who I love dearly scoff at my choice is hurtful. I would not like to be responsible for adding pressure to another person I care about.

KrissyBell said...

I am 33 and child free by choice. Luckily, I grew up living next door to an aunt that was also CFBC, so when I came to my decision my family was less than shocked. I do get the comments from strangers, especially the 'You'll change your mind', but I usually respond with 'No, I really won't, not that it's any of your concern'. The thing that I get really bothered by, though, is men. I am currently single and feel as if every time I go out with a man I have to tell him up front that I will remain CFBC, so that he can decide not to date me early on. I was dating a guy for several months who thought that he could change my mind, and the relationship ended up hurting both of us.

As for other women, I love my friends with kids, I love their kids, and I love that I get to leave when I can not take the kids anymore. Recently two of my dear friends have been having trouble getting pregnant, this is where the relationships can get really tricky. I sometimes feel as if these friends resent my decision to not get pregnant. I feel bad that they are in this situation, and have even offered to be a surrogate for my best friend, but their choices and mine are not connected. I will rejoice with them when their pregnancies are successful, cry with them when they are not, but I won't have a child because they feel like I should.

Daytime Night Owl said...

Thank you Audi for bringing this subject to light. This is a subject I've considered posting on myself.

For years, I listened to my (ex)boyfriend's mother tell me that I had to have children. That that was what women were supposed to do…according to her. She tried to convince me to trick my bf and just get pregnant. At the time, I thought I wanted children. But if I were to have children, I wanted to know that they would have two loving, caring, giving parents who would take the time to be parents and be unselfish, good examples. The ex was not that man. But, still, his mother insisted that he would become that man if I would just get pregnant.

I know, now, that this was her desire, her need to have someone to take care of, someone to look after. It was the upbringing and generation she came from. Her inability to mature emotionally from the abuses she suffered as a child. But, at the time, the pressure was great.

Now that I understand and know what I want, and don't want, in life in regard to children, I often receive remarks from friends and co-workers about how nice it must be to be able to up and go and do the things that I want. I have literally had to cease contact with a friend because she will never understand that we (she and I) made different choices. She was adamant that her then boyfriend marry her within such and such time and they have a baby. She felt that was what she was supposed to do. Now this friend is openly resentful of my life and choices. It's disheartening as I was happy for her to have the things that her heart desired, but that happiness was not reciprocated.

I also had to see several OBGYNs before I found someone who would oblige my request for an IUD as many doctors will not grant one to someone who has never had children before. For me, the choice was to eliminate as much human error as possible.

I also have a friend whose mom was denied a tubal ligation after already having four children. She was told by her doctor that she should not have any more children at risk of her health, yet they wouldn’t grant her the ligation. Long story short, she had five children in total (three times pregnant while using some form of birth control) and today suffers the negative consequences of that. It’s sickening and saddening to see such a creative, wonderful woman live in such pain because a doctor wouldn’t allow her to make her own decision.

Anyway, I’ve gotten long-winded. I appreciate you bringing this topic to the surface. It’s also nice to know that, at 31, I am not alone in this decision or in the encounters of inappropriate comments or questions. I will add, however, that having made this decision consciously for myself has made me more aware of what I say to others. I would agree that people most likely don’t mean to be harmful, hurtful or spiteful with their remarks, but that that they don’t realize really what they are saying or what their own meaning is behind what they say.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Thank you, Audi (and *most* commenters) for being so reasonable about this.

I don't care for children - I didn't like children even when I was a child - though I'm confident that if I had my own I'd at least love them, regardless of how else I felt about it.

But I've always been careful not to say, "I know for certain that I will never, ever want to have kids, end of story," even though that's how I feel, because I'm not comfortable making such an unequivocal statement about such a complicated life issue. I don't object to others who do make that sort of claim, but I know that *some* (not all!) of them will eventually have eat their words, and I don't want to be among them. (Frankly, other than regards the most clear-cut of moral issues, I generally think always/never predictions are something to steer clear of, especially when you're under 30. Too much of a setup to be wrong and/or look silly.)

What I generally say instead is that some women have a fundamental and/or lifelong desire for motherhood, but that's something I've never really had, which I think is ok (some would disagree that it's ok, but I think they're wrong). This doesn't guarantee that I'll never want to, but it's an honest, measured assessment of my status to date. If at some point I do feel the desire to bear my own children, it will most likely be a desire God (or the universe, if you prefer) gives me for a particular season of my life.

If I had to decide right this instant whether I'd ever have children or not, I'd have to go with "no" - it would be the right answer based on the body of knowledge of myself and my life that I have to go on - but that's not the sort of decision most of us ever have to make, thankfully.

And, actually, I'm glad *not* to desire motherhood at this point in my life, because it's really not an option right now, and may never be - I don't have any relationship prospects at the moment, and have some health issues that make me wary of trying to gestate much past my current age.

But people's idiotic comments can definitely be wearying. When pressed, I try to just say, "I'm allergic to kids," with a deliberately artificial smile and change the subject. And to be thankful that I'm not in the position of so many women, including many friends, who have to field the same horrible insensitivity while fighting private fertility issues.

Jenny said...

Such a great post. I knew since I was in high school that I didn't want to have kids or get married. And I looked into the tubal sterilization at a "young" age - 19 or 20. I was told the same lines that the article you linked to brought up. What a load. I wish that I had been more persistent about it.

Fast forward about 10 years and now I have an 8 year old. (due to carelessness and a whoops!) I knew I never wanted to have any more kids so I went through with the Essure procedure about two years ago. Maybe times and sentiments have changed since then, but my gyno was open to it, and I didn't have to go through any type of psych eval. The procedure was pretty painless, and is far less riskly than the tubal procedure. I recommend it to any woman who is considering going through a "sterilization" procedure (what a name - could it make us sound any less human, I mean really!). I'm constantly being asked by relatives, etc when we are having another child. If not that, it's questions about when my partner and I are getting married. Wake up people - just because two people have a child together does not mean they need to get married too. What matters is that they are committed to the healthy upbringing of their child! Everyone needs to live their life how it's best for them.

Jen said...

I love this post. I'm 28 and when I tell people I don't want to get married anytime soon and I definitely don't want to have children, they look at me like I'm some kind of terrible alien. It used to annoy me, but now I just think of this quote from The Simpsons:

Bart: "Mom, Maggie puked in your purse again!"

Lindsay Naegle: "That's too bad Marge, the only thing my purse is filled with is disposable income. now if you'll excuse me, i'm late for a skydiving-massage."

I'm happy for other people when they get the things they want out of life and I'm happy with the sort of non-traditional life I've chosen for myself.

rb said...

I'm late to the discussion but wanted to add some thoughts. I'm a mom of two kids, but most of my best girlfriends are childfree. I guess I'd rather be judged by the childfree women I've met than many of my fellow moms. However, I'm really glad I've never met many of your commenters! There are some really mean-spirited sentiments being expressed here. Hey, if you want the moms of the world to respect your choices, then let's not start the conversation with name-calling.

With respect to your issue with people making comments about your free time, I agree with a few of the other respondents that these remarks are probably not made in any judgmental way about you, but more reflect the longings of the commenter. I understand what it is to wish for a day to myself now and then. I can get one if I organize myself to make it happen, but I do envy my childless friends' ability to be spontaneous about such things. And to the extent I've made these comments to my friends, none of them have ever taken offense. Just because I miss certain aspects of my pre-child life doesn't mean I think I made the wrong choice having children.

Lastly, I LOVE the auntie comment. My kids are lucky to have such great aunties in their lives.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm currently child-free but not entirely by choice. When I was younger, I had an abortion after getting pregnant with a sweet but utterly helpless boyfriend. And now I'm utterly single, trying to get pregnant via "turkey baster" and some $600 sperm selected by reading descriptions of donor online ("Donor 964 has dreamy brown eyes and says he loves Italian food...")

I tell no one (well, besides some online communities, and always anonymously) about these choices, not because I'm ashamed but because I don't feel like having to defend then to nosy parkers. It saddens me in this day and age, that women still have to justify their reproductive choices to, well, anyone.

But if it makes anyone here feel better, I know quite a few child-free guys who get shade thrown their way: is he gay? is he shooting blanks? what kind of MAN wouldn't want to SIRE an offspring? The criticism and suspicions are not only for women.

Kate said...

Wow, I just discovered this blog and LOVE it, and feels kind of weird that this is the first post I'm commenting on, but like some other commenters said, it really resonated with me.

My husband and I kept putting off having kids, and when I hit 35, I told him (he's almost four years younger) that we needed to decide what we were going to do. After much discussion and reflection, we chose to remain childfree. We were so certain of our choice, that when I had the only accidental pregancy of my life a year later, we chose abortion. A decision about which neither of has any regrets.

I was going to put off tubal ligation until 40, but I was so tired of being on birth control. I badly wanted to get off the pill, the diaphram had failed me, and I did not want an IUD. So right before I turned 39, I told my gynecologist I wanted a tubal. She asked me some thoughtful questions, then referred me to an OBGYN surgeon who she said was more open to doing tubals on childless women. Turns out, she's one of the best surgeons in Seattle, so that was a bonus. She asked me similar questions, including whether my husband was in agreement, but never once did anyone suggest that I needed his permission. Very refreshing.

What did bug me was how casually it was suggested more than once that I have a pregnancy test. Here I was, fully committing to being childless forever...the mere suggestion that I might be pregnant was very distressing. While I did not regret having an abortion, I didn't want to have to undergo a second one! Also, I got asked by just about everyone involved in prepping me for surgery how many kids I had. They just assumed that I'd had "my share" and had had enough.

It's been more than 2 years since the surgery, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. My sister has three young children (4, 2.5 and newborn) and I love them to bits, but I do not want my own. I never feel any kind of longing, or pull, or twinge of regret.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I am young, and think maybe ONE child is enough for me, IF THAT. People ALWAYS tell me (lecture me, really) about how I need to have at least 2! whatever! people are too damn nosy. Lord!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I am young, and think maybe ONE child is enough for me, IF THAT. People ALWAYS tell me (lecture me, really) about how I need to have at least 2! whatever! people are too damn nosy. Lord!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful post! I am currently 25 and single and have already been bombarded with the marriage/baby comments. I am not opposed to marriage or having children, but that is not something I want right now. I still want to go to grad school and work on my career. I don't know where my life may take me, but its not up to other people to decide. One of my ex co-workers (she's 23) got pregnant in high school and now has another child as well. She would always make comments that would really bother me about my "freedom" and the fact that I could go out with my friends on a friday night instead of taking care of my children. Well I am not going to apologize for the fact that I do not have a child to take care of. You cannot make people feel guilty about the fact that you got pregnant at such a young age. It had to come down to me not telling her about my plans anymore just dodge the "oh it must be nice to go to the movies" or "it must be nice to go out shopping with your friends" comments.

Sewing Pixie said...

THANK YOU for this post. I'm only 24 and I have a decent job, pay my bills on time, thinking about what to do as far as college goes and even with all this, everyone in my parent's town acts like I'm not something until I'm spawning. I get subjected to well this ex boyfriend has a baby with a girl and this ex friend has a baby with some guy and these two got married and are expecting- and I just want to scream! What, I'm not good enough just because I haven't had a baby! And sometimes it depresses me, this mentality. So I thank you for posting this because it eased my mind. I might be selfish but until I see more of the world, buy more pretty dresses and maybe learn to drive, I'm not spawning voluntarily. Your post really made me smile. Thank you!

Jodie said...

Moved to stop being a lurker by this post. So fed up of people saying I will change my mind when my nesting instinct kicks in - nope had the 20s hormonal upsurge and still kids seem like an idea for others. I never tell them they'll change their mind about having kids along the way, why do they feel the need to question my life choices?

And as another wonderful fashion blogger said the 'surely you want kids' talk can break some peoples hearts, because sometimes those 20 year olds without kids do, desperately want kids they just can't have them. Best for people to keep their noses out.

priscilla said...

Thank you. Just....thank you.