Society has been accepting of many things in recent years – women in combat, gays in the military, same-sex marriages, adopting children from other countries – yet the decision for couples not to have children is still something that causes people to visibly crinkle up their faces in disbelief. How could you not want to be a parent? Why wouldn’t you want children? Don’t you want to be a mother/father? Don’t you want feel life inside of you? Don’t you want a little one to call you “mommy/daddy?” Don’t you want someone to carry on your legacy?
The answer to these questions (for me) is NO.
I knew I did not want children when I was in my 20s. While I adored spending time and playing with my little cousins, niece and nephew, motherhood was not something I wanted for my future. When my friends got married and started having children, I was truly happy for them, but could not relate to their yearning to be a parent. As a teacher, I saw the best and the worst of parents. I saw some people who were meant to be parents – they devoted their lives to their children, knew that they were the parent and not their child’s friend, and truly loved being mothers and fathers. And then, I saw those who should have taken classes on how to be a parent before they brought children into the world.
When my husband and I were dating and things started getting serious, I knew I had to tell him that I did not want children. Each time he would bring up a future together, I would get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I loved this man more than anyone in the world and wanted to be with him forever. I lost many hours of sleep wondering how he would react when I told him I did not want children. What if he really wanted kids? Would my feelings change if we got married? I didn’t think so and I knew I had to tell him…and soon. One night, we were driving to our favorite sushi restaurant when I took a deep breath and let it out. To my relief, he felt the same way. He said that if he ever got married, it would be to build a life with his wife and that if kids came, that would be fine, but not something he was planning on or needed for him to be happy. Phew! I knew everything between us would be okay.
It’s a shame that others are not “okay” with our decision. I still get people who question why we are not having children. I now stare at them in wonderment as they stare at me. I wonder why they think it is any of their business and instead of making excuses or jokes, I simply say, “We don’t want to.” I will no longer give a string of reasons or make jokes because I no longer feel I have to justify why we made this decision. When friends and family announce they are pregnant, I never ask why they are having kids, so why do people ask why we are not? I think the worst experience I had was one of my husband’s co-workers said that that there was something “wrong” with a woman who did not want to be a mother (meaning me). That really hurt my feelings. Even though I knew there was nothing wrong with me, I still felt a sting in my heart.
People need to realize that parenting is not for everyone. Some of us are perfectly happy being wives, daughters, friends and aunts. We are fulfilled and joyful and content. So, the next time you think that there is something wrong with a couple that does not want children, know that are doing what is right for them. And their future.