A little back story to this long post: I was seven when I first experienced a baby. I vividly remember sitting at our kitchen table with my mom, sister and brother when we were told the news: my brother and his girlfriend were having a baby. The mood was somber in that kitchen; after all, my brother was only 17 and would need to drop out of school and start working to take care of his child, but all I could think of was the excitement of being an aunt. “I’m going to be an aunt! At seven! This has to be a record!” I remember thinking.
My brother and now sister-in-law lived with us at the time, and it was clear that my mom was not going to let them leave until they could take care of themselves. Mama is like that; when the rest of the family was telling her to kick my brother out for his “mistake”, she told them all to go eff themselves because “he needs me now more than he has ever needed me or ever will need me”. She’s just great like that.
Anyway, so my super amazing nephew was born in April of 1997, and he really was the cutest baby I have ever met (until his little sister was born and now they both hold that title). I adored him, and I still do. I truly can’t imagine my life without my nephew and niece.
Now, having a baby in the house affected my sister and I in two totally different ways; my sister, who is four years older than me and already mothered me, decided that motherhood is what she wanted above all else. I, however, took another route.
Remember, I loved my nephew with every part of my being, but I did not do well with everything baby related. Hearing the screams of my sister-in-law while in delivery traumatized me. I was even more traumatized when she almost bled to death in the hospital while delivering my niece. Those were my first dealings with a baby, and it was then that I decided I would never go through that. The pain, the sleeplessness, the anxiety and fear…I wanted nothing to do with it. And, to this day, that has not changed. I still really don’t like kids, either. (Btw, I think they can sense it, because the feeling seems mutual)
Then, at the age of 18, I worked in a daycare center with ages 1 through 4/5. I worked there for about a month before I had a nervous breakdown and left at lunch one day. Like I said, I didn’t like them and they didn’t like me. It was just one more push toward my choice of no children.
When you Google “childfree by choice”, you’ll find quite a few opinion pieces on the subject, and on those articles, you will find even more comments about it. I like to read comments on articles to see all of the people who say things behind the safety of their computer screen. Some people are cool and non-judgmental, but the majority are super condescending and judgey.
I understand that we are now in an age where everyone has an outlet to vent their feelings, but my problem is this: why is it acceptable to not only ask someone, but then put them down after asking “why don’t you want kids?” “don’t you want some meaning to your life?”? I would never say “why do you want kids?” or “don’t you want an actual life?” to a pregnant person, so why is it okay to say it to me? Another thing, keep in mind when you ask someone why they haven’t had children yet that it could have nothing to do with choice and everything to do with fertility problems. You may be opening up a wound that was finally healing, or making the wound even bigger.
Also, I have heard so many times that people who do not want kids are selfish. Well, yeah, maybe it is a little selfish to not want to lose sleep or go through the agony of childbearing and then birth. But, is it not also selfish to only have kids because you want to carry on your line or want someone to take care of you when you are too old to take care of yourself? I’ve actually seen the latter used as a reason to have kids in almost every comment section I’ve been to on the subject.