I love my kids more than anything on earth. They bring me joy every day, joy that takes my breath, swells my heart, gives me reason to get out of bed every morning. My kids have made me smarter, stronger. They have given my life meaning and purpose. But this is just me, and not every woman feels the same way I do, and some women have zero interest in having children. And I totally respect a woman’s decision to never have kids of her own.
The “Childfree by choice” movement is back in the media due to a recent slew of articles on the topic, the first coming from Jen Kirkman on Time.com. Jen writes in her essay:
Why is it okay to impose on women sole responsibility for population growth (or decline — I’m looking at you, China), to label a childfree woman “selfish,” and then to insist that she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about and will eventually come around to a more rational line of thinking? I have never once sidled up to a group of moms watching their sweet little toddlers playing on the swing set, nodded knowingly and announced, “Believe me, you’ll change your mind.” I know enough to know that children are not like hair color, or college majors, or other things you can just “change your mind” about.
And an excerpt from the book “No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood” appeared on Salon.com yesterday, written by Margaret Cho:
My fear of having children is that, frankly, I just don’t want to love anyone that much. I have my own problems with love, and I have processed and played the same games for a lifetime, but what if I had to do that with someone I actually MADE?!
And I love that quote so much. And to me it makes so much sense that it actually makes me want to, you know, return my kids and just forget this whole thing.
I fully understand the other reasons people have for not wanting to breed or adopt, the loss of freedom, the work and stress involved, the loss of identity when you devote so much of your time caring for another human, but it’s this fear of love that I can relate to most, because for me, the love I feel for my children, is a scary, overwhelming, breathless, heart-aching thing. It’s waking up in the middle of the night and checking on them for no reason, it’s analyzing something they have said to make sure I’m not missing some hidden angst or concern they have that is troubling their tiny little minds. It’s the many hours spent stressing about upcoming college tuition costs, if they have lost a mitten on the way to school, if some asshole is calling them ugly on the playground. It’s dusting my bedroom and hearing my daughter down the hall singing some made up stupid song to the cat and my heart just dropping in this pile of meat and blood on the floor, this love that can catch in my throat and feel so overwhelming and huge. Being a mother can strip you bare.
No one should ever feel bad or less than for not having kids. It’s no one else’s business. I fully respect this decision. But I know I have even been guilty of speaking to one of my woman friends and when they have mentioned they “never want to have kids” I know I have replied:
OH no, you have to, there are too many fucking idiots in the world and if the truly smart, amazing people on earth don’t have babies or adopt babies or raise children then pretty soon the world will be overrun with Ed Hardy-clad mouthbreather fuckwits and my own children will have no one to discuss books with.
Yeah, I suck that bad. And I’m sorry. And I do truly respect the decision not to have kids. I don’t see being childfree by choice a selfish decision, any more than I see having kids as being a selfish decision. If anything, I think having kids is even more selfish, when you factor in the whole ecological footprint and overpopulation of the world thingy. I love being a parent, but I totally respect women (and men) who decide not to be.