I recently went to a new hair stylist, and over the three hours that we spent together while she colored and cut my hair, she never asked me about kids. We discovered that we are the same age and had great conversations about shows and bands we like, things we like to do in the town we live in, and the names of our pets. She did eventually mention something about having a child in passing, but very much in passing (we were talking about the MTV show Daria and she commented that she was excited to share the show with her daughter when she’s older, then moved immediately transitioned to saying which character she liked best), which just made me like her more because a lot of the time when someone has kids they use the question to transition to talking about their own offspring, either not knowing or simply not caring that I have nothing to contribute to kid talk.
When I made the decision to become more outspoken about my choice to be childfree, it actually wasn’t initially about the responses that I thought I would get if I told people I didn’t want kids. Admittedly, I spent my early twenties dodging the question of kids and giving non-answers to the invasive questions I would get about when I would be “growing my family”. I didn’t tell these people asking me questions that my then-relationship was rocky at best most of the time and that I had probably been crazy to even add cats to our household, nor did I mention that I had been confident since I was a teenager that the last role I ever wanted in life was that of a mom. I figured it was easier not to engage.
What finally drove me to speak out was actually a close friend’s infertility struggle. The same questions that were a mild annoyance to me were absolutely devastating to her. I watched her face fall when people asked her when she and her new husband would be adding children to the family, how they would be oblivious to the way her face fell and would press her for details into her plans for reproduction. It killed me, and so I decided that I had to do something to be an advocate for her. That something was to start speaking out about how inappropriate these questions were, while proclaiming myself happily childfree.
Once I started being more forthcoming about not wanting kids, I found myself being subjected to a lot of random ideas and opinions about what that decision meant to people who occupied little to no space in my life. A coworker I barely knew and did not particularly like delivered a heartfelt and tearful monologue one morning while making coffee about how sad it made her that I would never know the joy of parenting, which I somewhat gleefully reminded her of a couple of days later when she discovered that one of her five children had logged into her Amazon account and ordered himself several hundred dollars’ worth of stuff (snarky, I know).
Even though I now am extremely open about being childfree by choice, I do notice that one part of the topic that the movement as a whole seems to stay away from is how awesome it is to NOT have kids. We are forever explaining our reasons, backing ourselves up with both science and our own emotions, but how often do we just take a moment to shout from the rooftops about how cool our lives are? Parents certainly don’t have this same issue – they’re forever on social media gushing about how they are #blessed by their kids and raving about what a gift parenting is (and I admit that sometimes I suspect that they aren’t being genuine at all and they’re just trying to lure us into their cult because misery loves company, but that’s me being #cynical I suppose).
It’s totally cool for people to love being parents, and I actually really really WANT them to love it because people who have kids and then realize they hate parenting are probably not going to be doing their kids any favors. But it’s also okay for those of us without kids to love being childfree! We don’t have to downplay our happiness in our own lives just because there are people out there with kids who may take offense. My life isn’t perfect of course, but it is pretty rad. I have a job I love and a great marriage and a nice house in a town that I love and am able to choose to live in even though it’s expensive. I get to spend time traveling to cool places, or having fun adventures with my husband and our friends, because we have no children which equates to more time and more money for fun things. I have bills to pay like anyone else, but I’m also happily saving for retirement and not for braces and first cars and college.
I think it’s important that we keep talking about being childfree. I believe in breaking the stigma and normalizing the idea that opting out of having kids is a valid and awesome decision. And I think I would like to spend more time being open about just how amazing the childfree lifestyle is, because after all, that’s why I chose it to begin with!
Connect with Veronica on Insta & Twitter @vinthenw