Childless by Choice: Comparative Advice on a Sensitive Topic
Years ago, after great introspection, struggle, and denial, I finally said out loud one day that I did not want to have children. Despite what others have tried to confirm, I know that I would not be a good mother. I lack a maternal instinct, and the patience to engage on a deeper level with children. Agreed, little babies are cute, but this was not justification enough for me to bring one to this world.
It took forever to say it out loud, as I feared rejecting society’s expectations and what I’d heard my whole life: “It’s different when it’s your own child”, and “children fulfill you”. And then there was the guilt. I’d watched a few dear friends attempt to conceive, and fail. How could I, perfectly capable of conception, recklessly throw away this gift? All the while, there was my father’s voice echoing in my brain “Once you’re a parent, you’ll understand the joys of parenthood”.
Ah, that guilt.
When I smartly blurted it out one day to my dear friend Kirby Brown, she managed to shock, delight and exorcise all of my guilt away when she reminded me “the question people are asking is ‘why don’t you want to have children?’, when it should be ‘why DO you want to have children?’” In other words, one’s reasons for reproducing are often rooted in instinct and family pressure, while my reasons for abstaining were carefully and logically thought through. I breathed a sigh of relief.
So I now proclaim to the rest of the world: I’m childless by choice! I love the little ones in my life, and I do my best to entertain and inspire them. But I’m contented when I pass them back to their parents at the end of the day. They say you don’t know what you’re missing when you’ve never experienced something. We all make choices in life, and I’m fully comfortable and pleased with one of mine.