At almost 37 years-old, people have finally stopped telling me that I’ll never feel complete as a woman if I don’t have kids, or that I’ll change my mind, or that I’ll love my kids and be thrilled to spend my lifetime with them even though I rarely want to spend more than an hour with someone else's kids.
Along the way there have been people who’ve come up to me quietly after watching me endure another “Kids make you complete!” talk and said some version of “Don’t believe that -- I didn’t want kids but had them anyway and it was terrible.” Still, people insisting that I create a human life against my better judgment have been far more common.
I used to ask, “Are you offering to raise the kid if you’re wrong?” Nobody ever was. It felt awful that I had to defend my choice to be childless -- sorry, childfree -- but I feel more horrible thinking about women who want kids but can’t have them and must endure endless, inappropriate, intrusive questions about when they are going to have kids.
I’m not even going to justify the idea that my completeness as a woman is based on becoming part of the stroller and sippy-cup set with a response. What I really want to know is why is this a thing? Why are we so concerned about whether or not other people choose to have children? Is there some sort of baby shortage that I’m not aware of? The cover of Time Magazine this week is devoted to an article called “The Childfree Life”, which spends a lot of inches discussing the whys and hows of choosing not to have kids and the backlash it can cause. This has sparked internet discussions and debates that ask questions like “Is being childfree selfish and narcissistic?”
What? This is just ridiculous. There are any number of reasons that someone might choose not to have children -- maybe they want to throw themselves into a career, or have their free time to themselves, or perhaps they *gasp* don’t enjoy the company of children, or they may believe that the Earth has enough people and they don’t need to add to the population. How is this anyone else’s business? How is it more selfish not to have a kid then to have a kid who is going to take tax dollars to educate and annoy me on my next flight? How is choosing not to have a kid more narcissistic than thinking that your DNA is so rockin’ that it needs to go back into the pool? Why can’t we make choices for ourselves and let others do the same?
Enough already -- there is just no reason for us to speculate or ask about other people’s choices when unless you're invited into the conversation. Let’s spend our energy protecting all of our rights to choose to have kids rather than criticizing the choices that we make.