In honour of International Childfree Day today (August 1), I thought I would share my childfree story.
I haven’t shared this story before, not because it’s a difficult story to share or because I had to overcome a lot to get to this decision, but because it feels like there really isn’t much of a story here! Nothing big and notable happened. No single event stands out in my mind as being the defining moment for choosing to be childfree. But then I thought about it and realized perhaps that’s exactly why I should share about it. Not every childfree individual will have struggled with fertility. Not every childfree individual will have had a difficult childhood that they didn’t want to risk repeating with their own kids. Not every childfree individual will have some big, defining reason for being childfree. Some childfree people, like me, will choose to be childfree for a number of “smaller” reasons and because it is just the right path for them. And that is reason enough.
When we got married ten years ago (ten!? how?!) I had told my husband that I wanted four kids (the number of kids in my family). Over time, this number got decreased to two as the realities of work, life and finances really hit home. For whatever reason, we had started a tradition of discussing kids on each of our anniversaries and each year we decided it wasn’t the right time and we would reconsider the next year. At about seven years in, we were seriously discussing kids and had sort of earmarked our ten year anniversary as being when we’d talk seriously about starting to try for kids (we had a big trip planned for our ten year anniversary in 2020 – joke’s on us, right?). Somewhere in those few years though, we sort of looked at each other and realized how happy we were, just us. How we had the freedom (and cash) to travel, to go back to school, to adopt our menagerie of pets…to do what we wanted.
So here are my big reasons for remaining childfree.
Kids are noisy, stressful, unpredictable little creatures. I didn’t realize exactly what it was about the idea of kids that stressed me out until I realized I was a Highly Sensitive Person. My quiet time isn’t just a nice to have, it is essential for my mental health and wellbeing. I know this sounds like an exaggeration or an indulgence, but it really isn’t. When I get overstimulated from noise, lights, people or just plain busyness, it is similar to the experience of intense hanger and I just need to get away from it all for a bit. I’m not saying that having kids is impossible for Highly Sensitive People, but I am conscious of how I’ve really had to prioritize things in my life and remove things that don’t rank high on that list so that I have time for rest – and kids don’t rank high on my list. Honestly, the thought of having to play with and entertain kids in addition to (or instead of) participating in my own activities (work, school, whatever) just makes me feel a little nauseous.
I decided to go back to school. In 2018 I decided to go back to school to get a bachelor’s degree and I’m planning to continue to my masters and an eventual PhD. I know this is theoretically possible to do with children, but I also know it would be exponentially more difficult. I already have a difficult time finding room to study some days, I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to find pockets of time around children and their schedules, not to mention how much more difficult it would be to absorb information while sleep deprived!
Speaking of, I love sleep. Not only do I love it, I need it. To think of giving it up for the next…however many years…it just makes me want to take a nap.
The world is kind of on fire. This wasn’t an early reason for the decision, but now as I look at the state of the world, my decision is just reinforced even further. I’d be terrified of what kind of future I’d be leaving my kids. Instead, I’m working hard to become more informed in ways that I can make a difference – one being not contributing to overpopulation.
We can pour our love and money into our (rescue) animals. My husband and I share our home with two dogs, a red eared slider, a hedgehog and two poison dart frogs. Only the frogs were purchased, the rest were all rescues who needed a place to call home. We are so grateful to be able to afford our senior dog’s heart medication (which is several hundred dollars a month) and to give a safe and comfortable home to our anxious little chihuahua, crazy turtle and grumpy little hedgehog (who was surrendered after biting the kids in his previous home).
We love to travel and go on adventures. Present circumstances excluded, my husband and I love having the freedom to travel and see the world and we are so excited to be able to return to this someday. For now we are exploring our local areas and thoroughly enjoying those as well! We bought kayaks a couple of years ago and are fortunate to live in a beautiful area surrounded by so many lakes and rivers and we love the freedom of being able to take the kayaks out wherever and whenever we want. We don’t have to add kids into the equation and juggle their wants and needs with our own.
Children are the biggest commitment of your life and you should really want them. I don’t think it’s right to have kids because you’re “supposed” to or because it felt like it was the “next step” or because you’re scared of missing out on something. I believe that if you’re going to have kids, you have to really want them and be committed to making the life changes that you’re inevitably going to have to make. And I just don’t have that burning desire to have kids. The thought of them doesn’t fill me with hope and excitement.
So those are my big reasons for being childfree! I think it’s important that those of us who have made this decision and feel comfortable sharing it take the time to do so – not to discourage people from having children (because I really do think it is wonderful when people who want children have them and love and cherish them), but to remind people and normalize the fact that there is another option. No longer is it that old silly school rhyme we used to sing, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”. There are so many more options for what life can look like. It’s your life – curate it into what you want!
If you’ve chosen to be childfree, can you relate to any of the reasons I shared? Do you have different reasons? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!