I’m currently at a point in my life where a lot of people I know are having kids. I don’t have any children of my own, but since I’m a woman, it’s assumed that I’ll eventually have at least one. So because of this, I’ve been getting asked one question with increasing frequency: “So, Diantha, when are YOU going to have a baby?”
To which I answer:
I’m not. I don’t want kids.
*Cue the pearl clutching and shocked gasps*
“You’d make SUCH a great mom, though!”
“You’ll change your mind one day, just wait until you meet the right person.”
“Your life becomes so much more worthwhile when you have kids.”
“What a shame! You’ll really be missing out, motherhood is such a gift.”
“Don’t you want to give your parents grandchildren?”
“You’re going to regret this when you’re older and no longer able to get pregnant.”
“But who’s going to take care of you when you’re old? Aren’t you afraid of ending up alone?”
As it turns out, a lot of people seem to be personally offended by my decision to not have kids. I’ve been told that I’m being selfish and immature, and making a huge mistake that I’ll regret for the rest of my life. I was actually surprised at how strongly some people reacted.
The fact is, I put a lot of thought into my decision and it’s not that I don’t like children, but I don’t feel strongly about having one of my own. Becoming a mother is a big deal and it seems irresponsible to bring a new life into this world when it’s not 100% wanted. But this doesn’t seem to be the real heart of issue when people criticize my choice.
All logic aside, what’s really bothering people is my failure to conform to strongly held social norms (conformity has never been something I was ever very good at). Motherhood has long been viewed as a moral imperative and the primary way that women derive meaning from their lives. It also represents the final step into womanhood where we’re expected to assume the responsibility for raising and nurturing the next generation. Deviating from this stereotype is taboo and can be subconsciously interpreted as a refusal to contribute to the greater society as a whole.
Basically, if we don’t want to have kids, people think there’s something wrong with us.
I can assure you though, their judgement is misguided. There’s nothing wrong with deciding not to have kids and there are a lot of legitimate reasons for this choice. Here are a few of mine:
Top 4 Reasons I Don’t Want Kids
1) My biological clock never started ticking.
I’ve never felt like children had to be a part of my future. My mom never accepted this though, and she used to tell me that I would change my mind once I reached a certain age and my “biological clock” started ticking. She made it sound like this was inevitable and I was powerless to stop it, so I figured I’d go about my life and wait for the mommy instinct to kick in.
So, I waited.
And I waited.
Now I’m 35 and nothing has changed: I still have no desire to have kids, so I’m not going to.
2) Pregnancy sounds horrifying.
A woman’s body has the amazing ability to grow another person. It’s an impressive but intensive process that can come with a lot of possible side-effects.
Pregnancy can cause things like morning sickness, hemorrhoids, extreme fatigue, weight gain, stretch marks, swollen feet, acid reflux, labor pains, vaginal tearing, loss of bladder control, pregnancy induced high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and in extreme cases, even death. Many of these conditions are of course temporary, but they can still have long-lasting, permanent effects. None of this is even remotely appealing to me and it doesn’t seem worth it. Plus, the thought of a living thing feeding off of me like a parasite really creeps me out.
3) Kids are really expensive.
In the U.S., regardless of your insurance, the cost to delver a baby vaginally is between $5,000-$11,000., and a C-sections is between $7,500-$14,500. That’s assuming there aren’t any complications which would of course cost extra. This is only step one on the financial journey of parenting.
After you give birth, you get to bring your baby home and raise it. As of 2015, for a middle-class family to raise a non-special needs child through the age of 17, it costs an average of $233,610. That’s almost $14,000 per year for basic essentials like food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, and insurance. Add in the $10,000-$35,000 a year it costs to send them to college, and by the time the kid is 21, you’ve spent around $273,610-$373,610 or more. And that cost will only continue to rise.
That’s a huge amount of money and that’s for just one kid. It amazes me that people with moderate financial means are able to sustain a family of six. Having a kid seems like an easy path to financial insecurity which is something I’d like to avoid.
4) I love being able to do what I want.
I love that I can spend my time and energy on what matters to me. I love having control over my own schedule and being able to set my own hours. I love having time to myself to write or read or stare at the ceiling. I love being able to sleep in and stay up late, or make last minute plans with friends. I love my freedom.
If I had a child, it would become my top priority and everything else would get pushed to the back burners. Raising a kid during it’s formative years is a 24/7, unpaid job that affords you no breaks, vacation days, or time off for good behavior. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of successful women out there who are working hard to have it all and I admire their drive.
I don’t think a woman should have to choose between work and family if they want them both, but the problem is, I never have. I’ve always valued my career over starting a family and I’m afraid I’d end up resenting a child for holding me back in developing my professional potential.
And I’m not the only one.
Those are a few of the big reasons why I don’t want kid. If you want 270 more reasons, check out this article done by Huffington Post and YouGov where they interviewed 124 other women about why they choose to be childfree.
The fact is, my decision to not have kids is becoming more and more common. According to 2014 census data, almost 48% of women between ages of 15–44don’t have children. This is the highest number of childless women ever recorded in this country’s history. In addition, a 2017 report from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that last year yielded the lowest number of births in three decades.
In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’.
In Summary: I don’t give a sh*t if you disapprove.
Some of you reading this may have decided that I’m a selfish person, and you know what?
Maybe I am.
You know what else?
I don’t care what you think of my choice to not have kids. I know myself better than anyone and only I can know what’s going to make me happy. Your opinion of me has no bearing on how I use my reproductive organs and I find it weird that you’re so emotionally invested in the state of my uterus.
I wrote this post today because, the whole reason I even started this blog was to encourage others to be true to themselves, even if it’s unconventional. I don’t feel like my posts have reflected that message so far. I’ve been playing it safe and trying not to be offensive, but it’s not my job to worry about offending people. It’s my job to show up.
So, today I’m showing up for those of you who are struggling with the idea of having kids. I want you to know it’s okay to feel conflicted about this decision but no one should make it for you. The best piece of advice I can give is simply this:
You know what you need to live a fulfilling and happy life, and you have all the answers you’re looking for. They’re just not always easy to accept.
I want to clarify that I’m not advocating against motherhood. Being a mom can be an amazing gift and I encourage women who want children to have them. All I am saying is that there are a lot of meaningful things you can do with your life and having a kid is only one of them.
So whatever future you choose, just make sure you choose it for you.
Written by: Diantha Boardman
Life Coach & Blogger
You can follow @Dianthaboardman