Some of us choose not to have children—and for good reason. It’s been about 10 years since anyone asked me, “Why don’t you have kids?”
“Just lucky, I guess,” was my response then (it was a kid who asked me), and my friends and colleagues just know it’s a non-issue, like you wouldn’t ask Woody Allen if he’d like to go camping.
The subject has been in my thoughts, though, ever since I realized that I’m about to turn 50, which means that not being a celebrity, my chances of reproducing are now Olsen-twin thin. The realization that my fertility was a closed issue made me feel a bit like I did when they retired the Concorde: It wasn’t likely I’d ever use it, but it was nice to know it was there.
But I didn’t panic. I felt relieved and actually enjoy my friends’ kids more now that the threat of motherhood had passed. I had occasional baby cravings in my 20s and 30s but curbed them like you would a yen for chocolate or cigarettes.
I never wanted kids the way some women do and I decided I wouldn’t have one unless I got really rich, and since I didn’t, I didn’t.
I didn’t want to have this kind of lifestyle
Money plays a part in a lot of women’s decisions. The U.S. birth rate recently dropped by 2 percent, Time magazine says, possibly because women are worried about having kids in this economy; it costs about $221,000 to raise one for 17 years (sadly, though, the story says, the economy is also making some of them skimp on contraception).
So, done. Curtain. And now a moment to stretch my legs before starting the last act.
Wanting kids isn’t just the social norm, it’s said to be a biological imperative, the only supposed “duh” of evolution, so I know my lack of sentiment isn’t especially mainstream. I listen to people rhapsodize about parenthood, that it’s so fulfilling and the greatest job in the world and good for them—the more happiness in the world, the better.
Then I see parents at Target—with one kid screaming in the cart, one screaming in their arms—looking as blissful as a cat in a dryer. And I remember to take my pill.
Maybe because I was raised in the ’70s heyday of feminism, or maybe ambivalence toward breeding is innate (Madelyn Cain’s 2001 book The Childless Revolution: What It Means to be Childless Today, touches on the Mest gene in mice, which seemed to determine their levels of maternal behavior), but I never felt fazed by social pressure in my decision.
This does not look blissful