Sometimes, I imagine what people must think about the fact that I'm 43, my hubby is 39 and we've never had kids. Or that we live in a five bedroom house and there's only two of us. Just two adults and two dogs and a lot of space.
I am sure reasons range from infertility to selfishness.
Recently my sister had a baby and it seems everyone around me has a small child these days, so it made me reflect on my reasons and blog about it once and for all to quell the curious masses.
First and foremost, the idea of children was never something I dreamed about as a little girl. Barbie was never, ever going to settle down and get married in my mind. She was a career woman, with a shopping addiction and a lame boyfriend named Ken who she may have cheated on with my Han Solo doll, because, come on, Han was adventurous and cool. The closest thing to a child in Barbie's life was her younger sister Skipper, and even Skipper was in a rush to grow up. The 1975 version of the doll would grow boobs and an inch taller with the twist of her arm. The idea of Barbie having a kid, having to stay home and take care of it, give up her dreams of becoming a journalist or whatever career I decided for her on that day, seemed like such a downer, putting a halt to my playtime. A child was never in the cards for Barbie or myself.
When I started playing The Sims on the Mac and Playstation, and the housemates fell in love and had a baby, taking care of it was exhausting. One of the adults would constantly be in a state of "sad face" next to hunger, comfort, bladder, energy and fun. The baby would sometimes be "taken away" in the game and if it made it to child state, it would add to the list of digital people I'd have to care for constantly. Of course, I'm the same person that would stick one of my Sims in the pool, pause the game, and take the ladder away just so they'd "go away" and the grim reaper would come and create a tombstone where the pool used to be. This saved on time and energy cleaning the pool and got rid of any annoying characters in my game. ;-)
Okay, I know that's just a video game, and there are several working women out there who also have children and a fulfilling career. And I am in awe of these women. That is a hard-wired dedication I definitely do not possess. I also know myself enough that I would put aside all my personal interests if I had a child and that eventually I would implode. I can't make it through a day without watching an episode of Family Guy and achieving my minimum daily word count. Two things I struggle to find the time to do because I have a full time job, a house to clean, food to cook, and a hubby and doggies that need and deserve my attention.
There is a myth that people without children have endless freedom. To this, I say, bullshit. We have responsibilities that hinder us from staying up all night, going out to clubs or movies, eating whatever and whenever we want: it's called a job, age, and acid reflux. We don't have the luxury of "spur of the moment" trips around the world. We are dedicated to our careers and spend our free time working. I also care for my dad, who relies on me for meals a couple times a week, a twice-daily call to remind him to take his pills; I'm his maid, his landscaper, and in essence, his mother. Our roles have reversed and I'm now kindly known as the "fun police" making sure he isn't getting himself into too much trouble. In that aspect, I feel like I have a child already.
I was never pushed by my parents to have kids, although my mother-in-law still thinks there's hope for me. My two biggest feminine influences - my grandmother and mother - never once said anything about it. My grandmother died in the early nineties and my mom died in 2000, so there really hasn't been a female force in my life asking me "when" or "why not". I like to think my grandmother would be proud of my choice, because she was a career woman, working at Marshall Fields for decades and then part-time at a clothing store in Oak Brook after she retired. She was my biggest supporter in college and when I got my first job as an executive assistant.
I am a firm believer that children should be a choice. Not an accessory to your marriage. I don't think people are assessing their lives and asking themselves if they are ready, if they really want to have kids, can they afford them and are willing to sacrifice their little luxuries to financially provide, will their marriage suffer, and are they doing it because "it's what you do". I see so many people who can't wait to get away from their kids, can't wait for school to start, and I think why the hell did you have them if all you want to do is get rid of them? Parents who relish the time they can dump their kids at another kid's house so they can have a little "me time", obviously didn't get the memo that when you have children, it shouldn't be about you!
The hubby and I giggle when we think about what people say to one another about our lifestyle. But our life couldn't be more fulfilling...okay I could stand to have two more doggies in the house but even that is a huge responsibility.
I have no doubt that a parent/child relationship can be one of the most wondrous things in the world. And again, I applaud the people who do it right (and say shame on you who don't control your kids in the grocery store, because you are just another example of why I'm glad I don't have kids that have to grow up with your idiot spawn).
I have never felt it was my social responsibility to populate the world. I do feel it is my responsibility to creatively populate the world with writing. So instead of going to baseball practice and helping with biology homework, I'll be up in my room, with my Vampire Diaries autographed photos on my wall and my music blasting, revising my novel.