Society can make choosing not to have children feel like the mother of all mistakes. Whether it’s your gal pals or your parents, it seems like someone’s always asking you when you’re planning on producing some offspring. Well, news flash, people: some of us just don’t want kids and it’s perfectly OK to admit it.
So we’re changing the narrative from childless to child-free, because not bringing up a baby doesn’t make you lesser than. Too often, women are seen as selfish or spinsters if they don’t want kids, and that is absolute B-f*cking-S. In fact, the number of babies born in the U.S. hit a record 32-year low in 2017 and badass babes, like Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and Helen Mirren have opened up about their decision to pass on procreating.
To end the stigma that surrounds choosing no children, SuperShe is sharing stories from ladies who decided to ditch diapers and do life their way in this ongoing series. If you’re one of them, we want to hear about your experience!
Child-Free Confession #4: “My Hubby and I Are Happy On Our Own”
“I actually grew up assuming that I’d be a mother one day. I even socialized myself toward that role. When I was 11, I enrolled in and passed a babysitters certification course. And from junior high through high school, I babysat many weekends because I enjoyed the role. I was the head of my church nursery in high school. I even nannied throughout college and nannied my nephew when I was a grad student. So everything I did set me up to be a mother in the future.
I married my high school sweetheart right after college, and together we assumed we’d have kids at some point, but we agreed we were too young at the time. People started asking us about kids right after we tied the knot, and we always responded, ‘We’re too young.’
By the time I hit my mid-30s, I realized that when I’m telling people I’m too young for kids, maybe there’s something else going on. Maybe I don’t want them. That was at a time in my life when several friendships changed. I had three friends, one after another, tell me they were pregnant with their first child. I was happy for them, but also mourning the possible loss of those friendships and thinking there must be something wrong with me that I’m not feeling this pull toward motherhood that they’re talking about.
So I did what I do as a sociologist when I have a question about how the world works; I did research. I investigated motherhood and what drives people like me—folks who don’t have or want kids—to defer parenthood. I learned that there’s nothing wrong with me, and that the idea of maternal instinct is a myth. There’s no scientific evidence to support that it’s a real thing. There’s a lot of evidence that our socialization is what drives us to want to become mothers, so that helps me feel more normal.
Here we are today, just over 10 years after realizing having kids isn’t for me. I can’t tell you how many times I take the bus home from work and think, ‘All I want to do is crawl into bed right now because I’m so exhausted.’ And I feel gratitude that I’m not about to embark on my second shift where I’m making dinner for a bunch of little people and doing a bedtime routine and things like that. The freedom in terms of time is wonderful.
One of the other benefits for me is just the knowledge that I’m getting to live a life that I’ve chosen for myself. I’m so grateful for that; it’s really an amazing feeling. It’s hard to put into words, honestly.
Another benefit is having the time to nurture my marriage. My husband and I have been married for 25 years. And just like every marriage, we’ve had highs and lows. To be able to dig in during those lows and work through it together — to have the time to do it — is a gift. And to celebrate the highs in a way we might not be able to if we were taking care of others has been extraordinary. For me, the word ‘child-free’ symbolizes something positive; we’ve made a conscious, positive choice for ourselves.”
— Amy from Maine