Time’s August 2013 article, the Childfree Life, was the first time childless living was given the cover of a respected magazine.
I’ve struggled for most of my twenties with ideas of motherhood, but during my adolescent years it was clear; I was meant to be a mother. My mom is one of those generous, selfless, endlessly maternal beings. Her capacity to love my brother and I both inspires and bewilders. How could I possibly let her legacy down by not having children?
In my early twenties, my childhood goals of being married by 26 and pregnant by 28 were too close for comfort. I decided to put off marriage and motherhood ’til my thirties. Although some of my peers are excellent parents, I didn’t feel ready to spend my time and resources on somebody else…. even if they were my kid.
Then, I learn about the world. I feel uneasy about internet culture, wildlife extinction, carbon pollution and overpopulation… not to mention government corruption, electronic surveillance, and psychographic datamining. I think of the future.
I start to think that the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement isn’t crazy, and I read lists with hundreds of reasons not to have kids. I begin thinking of Otherhood, the persecution of the childness. I realize how deeply the values of motherhood were projected on me by society; how a childless woman brings to mind spinsters, ugliness, and too many cats.
So, I talk to people about why they want kids. The only answer that made sense to me was, “Who else will be there when I’m old?”
But that sounds selfish. I begin to notice that the relationship my grandmother and her friends have with their children isn’t so sound. Their kids live far away, ignore them for months on end, and think a semiannual Skype session is enough to postpone a real visit.
In the Book of Small, Emily Carr recalls childhood in the 1900’s. It’s hard to deny that communities and families deteriorated in somewhere the 20th century. We have more freedom and less rules, but our relationships with those closest to us (in proximity and genetics) have become less cohesive, less crucial, and less complete.
I don’t hate kids! I think babies are cute and I know I’d make a kick-ass mom… but those are terrible reasons to become one. The idea of watching one grow up and stuff doesn’t excite me – at all. Raising a dog is the perfect amount of responsibility for me. Besides, I can still make an impact on a child’s life through the Big Sisters program, volunteering, and spoiling the kids of friends and family.
As I get older I realize I don’t want a kid of my own. If I had a child, I’d always feel like I was missing out on a more fulfilling life. Maybe that’s selfish. The world hates childless women and that’s the only reason it’s a difficult decision.
There’s a reason we’re “Generation Me” – too busy “doing me” that I’ll never make a “little me”.