Chick(s) without kids

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Today, by chance I listened to the episode “Choosing to live child-free” of the What would a feminist do?-podcast (you can listen to it here); I haven’t thought about that issue for a while, but what the three women – host Jessica Valenti and her two guests, authors Meghan Daum and Danielle Henderson – talked about resonated deeply with me: I never wanted kids and therefore, at 30+, I don’t have kids.* [I will continue to talk about the conscious decision to not have children, NOT about involuntary childlessness. For obvious reasons I’m in no position to talk about the latter, nor do I want talk about something I know nothing about. So let’s continue with the less tragic part of this vast subject.]

Whilst all my female and even male friends are breeding like there’s no tomorrow, I would rather drop dead than seriously think about having a baby. Usually, I’m the sole master of my life, my time, and my priorities which is a privilege I treasure very much, even though this means I have less financial security than someone else my age who leads a ‘traditional’ life. But for me, that’s worth it. I can read a book at any given time, I can stay up and work all night, I can withdraw from the world every time I feel the need to be alone and no human being depends on me. This is exactly how I want it.

On an intellectual level, I can understand why people want children: all these myths and stories about having children as a sort of symbolic immortality, having someone to take care of, humans having a biological urge to breed – I get that.

On an emotional level: no way. Why someone would sacrifice all her time, energy, health, well-being, money and sleep for a being that will not be able to take care of itself for at least 10 to 14 years and at times will treat you like shit and still take all your energy, money, and well-being is a mystery to me. There is nothing lovely about that, it rather reminds me of leeches or tapeworms. Also,  there is nothing sweet about babies or toddlers; they smell, cannot communicate properly, and cry a lot. I can take that for a while concerning my friend’s kids – since I don’t want to lose close friends just because they choose a different path, I am indeed in regular contact with human beings who can stand tall beneath my kitchen table –, but not much more because I don’t want to. Most kids are boring and I don’t know what to say to them; like many people (and as stated in an earlier post) I’m really bad at small talk and this gets worse the younger my conversation partner is.

The most important aspect is one I mentioned before: I don’t want anyone to completely depend on me; this is a sort of responsibility I am NOT seeking. Thanks to some of my issues there are days when I’m glad I can take care of my own most basic affairs – I never felt the need to extend this experience to other human beings. As weird as it may sound, at times I really NEED to be alone because otherwise I know I might get a panic attack or fall into one of my dark holes due to the sensory overload of all the people and the world around me. I would never risk my solitude, ever. Especially not for kids.

My mom once said that when she listens to me explaining why I don’t want kids she gets the impression that having a family is like being in solitary confinement in Alcatraz; I told her that I would choose solitary confinement in Alcatraz over children at any given time.

In the end it all comes down to this: individuals deciding what to do with their lives. It’s as easy as that. But because some of those individuals are biologically female it gets out of hand; religion, society, politics, medicine, and other people want to interfere with decisions that are none of their fucking business. At which point the never-ending cycle of explaining and justifying yourself starts again, again, and again.
Still, let’s wish each other just the best, no matter how we decide to live our lives. 

 

*Yeah I know, what a statement! Groundbreaking, never heard before, and totally trivial! But also still relevant, because as a woman who consciously decides to not procreate, therefor NOT blessing the world with another set of urgently needed no-necked monsters, you do know that at certain points in your life – with your family, friends, in-laws, colleagues, acquaintances, and at times even strangers – you will have to discuss your decision again and again. And again. Because breeding is the ONLY thing that gives the existence of a female human being any sense and fulfillment AT ALL. So your refusal to do so is unacceptable and has to be challenged. [And now the rant is over, I promise.]

 

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6 thoughts on “Chick(s) without kids

  1. My hatred towards has largely decreased. Still, nobody is doing me a favor having me hold their newborn but I must admit that once they start running and thinking a but I love to play the goofy aunt for an hour or so, before happily returning them to their parents. I’ve had friends tell me they were jealous I was able to connect with their kids in such a fun level. The only reason I actually can is because I have none of my own and can happily nurture my own inner child.
    I am also 30+ and childless, all though I must admit that in the Netherlands that’s actually not that uncommon.
    Anyhow, thanks for the post. It made me smile.

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  2. Totally good that you know yourself well enough to say this. From a different life perspective, I never wanted kids when I was younger but later I when I realized I not only wanted kids but was in a good place to do it (with a great partner to boot), I found out I was infertile due to some effed up ovaries, it was devastating. Not only did we go through 6 failed rounds of IVF (with donor eggs), our international adoption program’s country suspended all adoptions the day before the 6th and final IVF round’s failure was announced. I bring this up as your comment about how society makes women seem like failures if they are not mothers (even those who tried and were unsuccessful) is so true, and for the first time in my life, when all the shit hit the fan for my husband and I with the universe seemingly rebuffing our attempts to become parents in multiple ways, it did make me question my purpose going forward if it wasn’t to have a family (even though intellectually I know better). I was surprised at how deeply it’s affected me. We lost that choice to say yes or no to biological parenthood, and it’s a real kick in the gut that doesn’t subside quickly. So when we see people out there who are breeding mercilessly yet have no business being parents (or those assholes who say ‘oh gee all I have to do is LOOK at my husband to get pregnant!), it’s still dumbfounding to watch. The world is shitty enough without having people out there going out and having kids who don’t want them in the first place, you know?

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    • I’m so sorry for you and nothing I say (or write) can make this any better (so I will stop trying to find ‘the right words’ because I’m afraid there are none…). I wish you all the best.

      And even though I may have a different perspective, I do understand what you mean in the last part of your comment–though rather because I’m the result of a magical union between two people who were both too young to have kids and of whom one definitely never wanted kids…so yes, you’re right, the world can be shitty in some/many ways.

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      • Yeah I used to see my mother around kids and it always looked so awkward as you could tell she wasn’t interested (nor is she even slightly parental at 75)… product of the 1950s…

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