Alright, let’s be serious. The other day, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about things I “regret” about being childfree. This was in response to a troll in a childfree group, a grandmother who showed up one day and never left, who insists that childfree people regret our decision and secretly envy her for having bred.
Finding this assertion absurd to the point it doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, I wrote a list of things that I “regret” about being childfree. My list included things like not being woken up at 3am by screaming babies, not having to change diapers, and not suffering the bodily harm caused by pregnancy and birth. Obviously, this list is sarcastic. I don’t actually regret any of what I listed, and that’s exactly the point. Most people who read it, got it. A number of people even wrote their own list of fake regrets.
But it seems some people just didn’t get the point. It flew right over their heads. A few people on Reddit complained that they were hoping for an honest list of pros and cons. Actually, it kind of was, but more on that later.
Childfree people are often told that we will regret being CF. Some of the less secure among us find this possibility a source of doubt. Most of us just dismiss the notion, sure we won’t regret a thing. However, few us us seem to question the notion that there is even anything to regret at all. I feel like I’m explaining a joke here, but that’s the point of my list of fake regrets.
What is it, exactly, that I am supposed to regret about being childfree? Living in too nice of a house? Spending too much quality time with my boyfriend?Am I supposed to regret being too healthy? Too successful? Too financially-stable? Too happy? Too free? Too satisfied? Really, what is there to regret about not having kids? I feel like I’m being told that I will regret running a marathon without a ball and chain shackled to each ankle. The idea is laughable. It doesn’t even make any sense. I am clearly better off without the burden.
The truth, as I see it, is this. For one thing, not only do I not now, nor will I ever, regret being childfree, but I contend that there is nothing at all for me to regret. In the list of pros and cons of being childfree, I can not for the life of me think of one single “con.” Likewise, I see no real “pros” to parenthood.
My second realization, however, relates to those who insist that the childfree will regret being so. None of them can name a single thing that I should regret missing out on. It’s more likely that they claim that I will regret being childfree, not for my sake, but for their own. Maybe they feel insecure about their choice, perhaps even regret becoming parents, and as a result, they think that believing that I am the one who regrets living my own life differently than they makes them feel better. Too bad for them that reality doesn’t play along.
This is what I really regret about being childfree: Absolutely nothing!
Dear Natalist World,
Guys, I need to rant. A friend of mine wrote a post on FaceBook complaining about something unrelated to my rant, but did so while making a comparison along the lines of: “If you were childfree, you wouldn’t tell an infertile person that you envy them.
I commented that yes, I actually would say that. Getting fixed wasn’t easy. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish. Society and the medical establishment at large like to throw up all kind of barriers to permanent sterilization (hell, even just temporary birth control. )I WISH I was naturally infertile. And I’m betting she wouldn’t have had a problem with infertile people have no problem saying that they envy the fertile (CF or not.)
Am I the only one who has no patience for infertility whining? These people aren’t martyrs or victims or anything of the sort. It’s not like anyone needs kids. I mean, what’s the worst real affect of not having kids? No macaroni pictures? Too much money to spend? OH, boo-fuckity-hoo. You know, if someone really wants kids, they could still adopt. What does that tell you if they won’t?
People like to get all dramatic and say that these people are “suffering.” No, no they’re fucking not. People which chronic pain are suffering. People who are starving are suffering. Not getting some petty want in NOT suffering. Who would say that I’m suffering because I can’t have a Ferrari? (at least transportation is actually a practical need.
The way I see it, anyone who bitches about being infertile has some serious growing up to do. They remind me of toddlers throwing tantrums in stores because mommy won’t buy cookies. Seriously, it’s more than just the infertility that I envy. It’s the ease of existence someone would have to have to complain about it. If not being able to breed is really all someone has to complain about in life, then I’d envy them for having no real problems.
And anyone who actually gives these people undeserved sympathy is feeding into the drama. You’re not helping. In fact, you’re making it worse. Stop feeling sorry for people who aren’t actually suffering and maybe they’ll stop feeling sorry for themselves and maybe even realize breeding is not actually as big a deal as our natalism-obsessed culture likes to pretend. Maybe if you stopped pretending that there was anything wrong with being infertile infertile people wouldn’t get so dramatic about it.
I would say this whether I was CF or not, but apparently, saying this while CF makes me the devil.
I got a cat just recently. Did I get to take months off work, without needing any kind of approval from my employer who was legally required to hold my job for me, all while getting paid either by my employer or by the government? After all, cats are a lot of work and bonding time is critical, right?
Yes, I hate maternity and paternity leave, especially when it’s paid, no matter who is paying it. It’s discriminatory against those who won’t be getting that un-earned, paid vacation because they aren’t breeding. More than that, it costs money. I don’t like when tax-payer money funds unnecessary, non-health-related, personal choices which the rest of us have no say in, and I don’t like it when businesses are in a position in which they fear hiring women of reproductive age because of the risk of those women being more of a burden than an asset.
Some childfree have suggested a comparable sort of sabbatical should be offered to those without children, which, presumably, doesn’t count against paid vacation time just like maternity/paternity leave doesn’t. It’s not a bad idea from the perspective of employees, but that creates its own problems, not the least of which being the harm done to a business which might struggle to fund such a policy, especially as most businesses already offer all employees regular paid vacation time. But this just brings me to the worst thing about maternity leave is just how very unnecessary it is.
Paid vacation and at least some paid sick time would be something all employees at a particular job and position already have equally. Use it. Maternity leave could go away entirely and people could just use their vacation time, no matter what reason they have for taking off. If their job offers no paid vacation time, or if they don’t qualify yet, or if the amount of paid vacation time offered just is not enough, then they should act like a responsible adults and WAIT to have children, or accept leave without pay. It’s really and truly just that simple.
I don’t blame any parent who takes advantage of the perks of paid baby leave. If I could get a paid vacation for my cat, despite the fact that me having a cat does not benefit my employer in any way, I’d probably take it. Who turns down free money, honestly? No, I blame society for making people think that giving certain segments of society special, preferential treatment not afforded to others equally somehow constitutes equality, or fairness. It doesn’t.
To put it simply, I do not think that anyone’s right to have children should mean that they are owed anything by anyone, especially since no one else gets any say in the matter.
I often hear of childfree people talk about how they want to be the awesome/cool aunt/uncle. I don’t doubt that many genuinely mean what they say and enjoy the role. Still, I get the sense that many say it in the same apologetic way they say without prompt “I love kids,” as if being childfree was something one had to make up for by being involved with children in other ways, and being of some use to those who do have children. I think many childfree people feel like they have to be this way; it’s what’s expected of them. Conforming to expectation is not really my thing.
My sister had a baby earlier this year. He is my sister’s son. But he is not my nephew. He is my sister’s son. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the baby. How could I? I’ve never met him. That’s just it – I don’t know him. He isn’t a part of my life. He probably never will be. I don’t intend to be involved, even if we ever do meet. I don’t call him my nephew because I refuse to call myself an aunt. I completely reject that label. I am not an aunt.
I remember when my dad broke the news to me. His voice was much like one someone might use to tell you that a puppy just pooped on your new carpet. He said to me, after confirming that I was sitting down, “Well, how do you like to be called “aunt?”" I was instantly repulsed.
A few months ago, my sister had her baby. I won’t go in to all the problems I have with this and how deeply disappointed I am or how much I disapprove, as none of that is really relevant. In fact, there isn’t much about my sister’s life that is relevant to me anymore. Over the last several years, I have only seen her a few times per year while visiting home, and we rarely speak. We haven’t even lived in the same state since 2007. Even before that, due to our age difference and the different circles we ran in, we didn’t really hang out. We sometimes got along. We sometimes didn’t. But mostly, we left each other alone. I have my life and she has hers. Should this have somehow changed because she became a mother?
When she got pregnant, if anything, we’ve only grew farther apart. We had a bit of a falling-out when I voiced my disapproval based on a number of factors. She didn’t take kindly to that, but someone had to tell the truth. Despite our distant relationship, I cared about my sister. I had high hopes for her, once. Was it really so wrong to warn her that she was making a mistake, that she was throwing her future away? Apparently so. The more we spoke/fought, the less I cared about her. I eventually hid her posts on FaceBook so I could forget her and not be reminded of my disappointment and not tempted to comment on it further. It’s her life, after all.
Yes. It’s her life. She had a baby. A son. She’s a mother now. Her life has been forever changed in innumerable and immeasurable ways. Who and what she is has changed. Who and what she can ever be has changed, too. That, there is no denying. She is a mother now. The life she had before is over.
But what has changed about me? What has changed in my life? What has changed in my relationships? I look around me and I can’t see any way that I am affected at all. I live several states away and haven’t really been involved in my sister’s life in years, and I’m not involved in her son’s life either. Why should what I call myself be changed another person’s actions which don’t affect me in the slightest? And why should I put a label a relationship that I don’t have? Why should I be anything to a total stranger? And why should a stranger be anything to me?
So this isn’t about any dislike of the nephew, or of my sister (although I have found that I respect her just a bit less due to her words and actions, but that’s of no relevance here.) She doesn’t even seem to mind, really. And it’s not about making some sort of point either in my disapproval. And it’s certainly not about making some kind of point as a childfree person. It’s just that I don’t feel like being related means that anything is required of me, and I certainly don’t feel like being childfree requires anything extra of me. I don’ t have to be the “cool aunt.”
This is about rejecting a role that comes with a label by refusing the label. I am not changed. I see no reason why I should change. It makes no sense to give me a label. I am not an aunt. Will I ever be? I don’t plan on moving, so I doubt it. I think we’re all OK with that.
Life is good right about now. This post may come off as boastful, but I swear I have a point to make here and it isn’t how great or how lucky or how rich I am (I am actually none of these.) It’s about one single choice that my BF and I each made before we ever even met each other. It’s a choice that has defined who we are individually and together as a couple. It’s a choice that we owe the present state of our lives to. It was and remains to be a good choice, despite how often we have each been told we’ll change our minds.
My family has moved to our new home and we’re just about done unpacking. Our animals, our dear Molly and our recently-adopted Maine coon kitty, have settled in well. Molly loves her new yard, and she’s doing alright with her new family-member. As for our cat, B.C., now that she’s been released from her confinement in the guest room, where she had been staying in order to protect her from the stress of the commotion of moving, she has become comfortable with us, the dog, and her new surroundings. The cat seems to enjoy all the attention she’s getting, as well as toys, exercise, and her kitty-condo, all of which I’m sure is a fair step up from the cage she had been locked away in before we took her.
As for the BF and I, we love our new home. It’s away from all of those gripes I had about the townhome we were renting. It’s quiet and peaceful and all of the neighbors mind their own business. I haven’t heard one single screaming kid, revving motorcycle, or blaring horn since we moved. Not only that, but there’s no C/HOA to tell us what we can or can’t do with our home (I was able to get a proper security system installed – YAY!), the money we pay month to month is actually going towards something, and I can rely on having somewhere to park my car. It’s fantastic.
Our new house is a bi-level on a ¼ acre lot that has: four bedrooms and three bathrooms; a big, two-car garage with plenty of storage; a wood-burning fire place with a blower; central AC (we really appreciate that!); all of the appliances we need in good order; beautiful landscaping with colorful flowers and a lush, green lawn with an in-ground sprinkler system; a big back yard with a nice, high fence; mature trees including two; Golden Delicious apple trees; a large, wood deck, accessible from sliding glass doors in the kitchen and in the master bedroom; and last but not least, a hot tub. We love it. Our cat loves it. Our dog loves it. And I’m sure our guests will love it too.
Last Thanksgiving, when we still lived in the townhome, BF’s parents came to visit. They seemed impressed with how well we had our lives together at our young ages. BF’s mother was impressed that I even had all of the items necessary to serve a proper Thanksgiving dinner, and was able to coordinate dinner prep so as to have everything ready to serve at about the same time. If that impressed them last year, I wonder what they’ll think when they visit again this year. Last Thanksgiving, I told BF’s questioning family that I’d been fixed.
The other night, as my BF and I were enjoying our hot tub, we looked around in amazement at how well life was going for us. We were able to afford to live this well, and without over-extending our pocketbooks or finding ourselves in insurmountable debt, and all at the age of 23 and 24. We are still amazed. Once, we considered living in a small shipping container with one or two other soldiers to be living the good life as it was a step above living in a tent with dozens of people. Once, we considered living in a small room in the barracks good. That was only a few short years ago, but now it seems like another life. We’re amazed at how our lives are now.
I’m amazed by our happy family of four. I’m amazed by our well-paying, low-stress jobs. I’m amazed by our three nice cars together. I’m amazed at the quality, beauty, size, and comfort of our new home and all that comes with. And I’m amazed by our happy, healthy relationship together.
As my BF and I soaked in the hot water, remarking on how pleased we are with how things are turning out even at our young ages, I cuddled closer to my BF and told him something that I have told him many times before. I feel like we’ve gone over this point countless times, but it continues to be just as true and relevant. The reason that we live the lives that we do, the reason that we have the home, cars, and other material possessions that we have, the reason that we have this wonderful relationship together all comes down to one deciding factor: we don’t have kids. He agreed.
It might seem awkward that one single choice in a person’s life can mean so much, but this one particular choice (to breed or not to breed) is, I believe, the biggest factor in who a person is, what they have, and what they do in life. My life would be so different, were I a mother, that I can barely fathom it. I don’t think I’d be able to recognize myself. We’d have to give up a lot of ourselves, a lot of our things, and a lot of our happiness were we parents. We just could not afford our current lives.
We couldn’t afford to live in such a large, nice house in such a nice, low-crime area so close to work. We couldn’t have our two sports cars (one of which being a two-seater) and our Pathfinder for offroading. We couldn’t have the status as being such reliable workers, able to come in on short notice and stay after if needed. We couldn’t have a dedicated movie theater in our home. We couldn’t have an office each and a guest bedroom for company. We couldn’t be relatively easily able to go to school. We wouldn’t be able to spend lazy days watching movies, enjoying our hot tub, playing video games, or sleeping in. We wouldn’t be able to pick up and visit friends and relatives, or go on vacations to B&Bs just whenever we found a day off. We wouldn’t have a quiet, peaceful home life. We couldn’t go skiing/snowboarding, off-roading, or hiking with ease. We couldn’t eat at restaurants on a regular basis. We couldn’t have such a large yard. We couldn’t’ have a hot tub. We couldn’t’ have our beautiful collection of books on display. I couldn’t have the same level of heath or the same body. And our relationship? If my BF and I were together at all, our relationship would be strained and would have lost the intimacy that comes with privacy and exclusive attention. Worst of all, we would not have the same opportunities for our future. Our lives would be irrevocably changed, should we have kids, and not for the better. Not only we would not have our current lives, but the lives that we would live wouldn’t even be entirely our own any more. It’s a sad, scary thought.
And we wouldn’t even be satisfied with the trade-off, this “gift” I’m told, as a woman, that motherhood must be. I don’t buy the hype. It isn’t for me. No, the truth is that we’d be miserable. Our animals, if we were even able to rescue them at all, wouldn’t be as happy either as they would no doubt lose the love and attention that they deserve, that being replaced, no doubt, with screaming, tail pulling, and privacy invasion. No one in the whole family would be happy, were children ever brought into it. The hypothetical children would no doubt be unhappy in such an environment as well, so what’s the point?
When I think about having children, even if I somehow had the best children in the world, all I can think of is how much I would lose. And I would, indeed, lose. We all would.
As the human with the uterus, I feel the weight of responsibility for such an outcome upon me. Were this childed life to come to pass, all the problems that would follow would all be my fault. I have it in my power to ruin so much, my life, his life, the lives of our pets, and who knows what else. And yet I’m daily bombarded with messages that I should do just that – have a baby. Have a baby despite all of hardship doing so would bring. Have a baby for no other reason than simply because that’s what is expected of everyone. “Its just what you do,” I’m told. Even on the day of my tubal ligation, over a year ago, the day I took control of my life and underwent a surgery that protected more futures than just my own, there were people doubting my choice. I, however, have no doubts.
If, when BF’s family comes to visit this year, the topic of children comes up again just as it did last Thanksgiving, or if anyone else ever asks, we need only answer the question “why don’t you want kids?” by inviting the questioner to simply look around, to see my life. We’re very happy with our lives. Why should we ever want to change that? I laugh at the idea that I will one day change my mind. I laugh because the very notion is ridiculous to me. Why would I go and do a crazy thing like that?
Why don’t I want kids? Nevermind that. Why don’t you, hypothetical bingoer, want a hot tub? (They cost significantly less than children.) It turns out that a hot tub, by the way, is an excellent location from which to do some laughing at natalist expectations and bingos.