I have a good few scars on my body, as I imagine most people do. We all collect scars throughout our lives. Some are very visible and nearly impossible to conceal. Others are so small that even I have to search to find them. Some are fresh, and still tender. Others are older and faded. Some have interesting stories. Others I stare at and find myself at a loss as to how I ever got them.
My most prominent scar runs along my left arm from my wrist to about halfway to my elbow. It’s from the first surgery I ever had, a radial shortening as part of treatment for Keinbock’s disease. I remember that the scar was very sensitive for quite some time. I had to rub and apply gel to the scar to desensitize it. It doesn’t hurt to touch anymore.
The scar with the best story is a small, round scar on my left shoulder. This scar is very pronounced, and is easily visible when I wear clothes without sleeves. Yet it is rarely mentioned by others such that I wonder if people think it’s just a weird mole or something it would be a faux pas to point out. My boyfriend actually thought it was a scar left by a smallpox vaccine, he once told me. It was actually left by a bullet. It’s the entrance wound. The exit is not so visible due to its location in my armpit. Pro tip: getting shot hurts.
I have one set of scars that are much more significant than all the others. They have meaning for who I am and the life I live. I am speaking of my tubal ligation scars. One is just below my belly button and makes it look like I ought to have a piercing. The other rests over my pubic bone and is covered by my underwear.
I have chosen to never have kids. To ensure this, and to show that I really mean it, I had a tubal ligation on July 11, 2011, which also happened to be World Population Day, by a happy coincidence. I am very serious and I put my (medical insurance company’s) money where my mouth is. My scars are my proof.
These scars are a testament to my chosen infertility. They are irrefutable symbols of how serious I am about being childfree. They are marks outward proof of my resolve. They are also evidence to me that I am protected. These scars mean a lot to me. They’re the only scars on me that reflect part of who I am. These are the only scars that I ever gotten because of something that I consciously chose.
The life that I live now is the result of a series of life choices that I’ve made over the years. Some of those choices were good, others were poor, others still I sorely regret, others still I don’t recall ever making. I have looked back with doubt many of my decisions at some time or another. But never this one. I am certain that I never want kids, and choosing not to have kids has as much impact on the path of someone’s life as the choice to have kids. This is a huge deal.
I could never regret my tubal ligation. It was hands down the single best decision I have ever made in my life. And every time I hear stories from the lives of parents, good or bad, I am comforted by my scar that, for wherever else life takes me, my life will never be that of a parent. These scars bring me security. They bring me happiness. And they bring me pride.
I’m proud of my tubal ligation. I don’t want it hidden. I practically want to shout from the rooftops how happy I am to be sterile (I’m betting that’s not a statement you read often.) And how glad that I am that my right to make this choice is protected, unlike how it was for generations before me. And hell, it’s not even easy to have that right protected in this generation.
The tubal ligation scars, however, are not easily visible. Both are very small and thin and are always covered by my clothing. For this, as petty as it might seem to you, I admit to feeling just a little dissatisfied. With all that my tubal ligation scars mean to me, I only wish that they were bigger and more obvious. More dramatic.
Instead, my scars are as discrete as the choice to be childfree itself seems to be, and with the same huge importance and impact on my life.
My tubal ligation is tomorrow!
On Twitter, a childfree person, whose name I shall not share, posted a tweet that caught my attention. “Today I’m reminded what I’m missing out on by not having kids.” I thought that phrasing her feelings that way were an invitation for bingos, but it’s up to her how she feels. Not everyone is childfree for the same reasons, I understand, because not everyone feels the same way about parenting. As she explained later, she definitely doesn’t want to have children, but thinks that certain aspects of parenthood “rock.” She explained that she was choosing one good thing over another.
Hover, in that first tweet, she included the phrase, “Amazes me so many #Childfree claim there’s *nothing* about parenthood to envy.” This was an awkward statement, and is probably what caused so many people in the childfree tag to reply with tweets which she described as defensive. I explained to her that this line is probably the reason. It’s perfectly OK for her to feel however she feels about parenthood, but in that last line, she dragged all childfree people into it like we’re all supposed to envy what she envies.
This blog post isn’t a response to the tweeter. I’m taking the idea of childfree people secretly envying parents or feeling as if we are missing out as a writing prompt, especially since I’ve seen similar ideas in bingos and in outright attacks on CF people. As is the case with the tweeter, some people may feel that way, as they weigh one option against another and decide what’s best for themselves. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, as long as she only speaks for herself.
However, not all childfree people feel as that tweeter does at all. I’d even venture to say that she’s probably a minority. I for one don’t feel as though I’m missing out on anything that I’d ever want, and there’s absolutely noting about parenting that I find even remotely enviable. I’ve never wanted to be a parent, not even a little bit, not even for a moment.
I didn’t even feel like I had to weigh pros and cons, as I already knew what I did and didn’t want. But as a writing project, I did it anyway. I came up with 100 reasons I never want kids, 99 of which were rendered irrelevant as #100, simply having no desire to have kids, was more than enough on its own. I tried making a list of good reasons that I should have kids, pros to parenting. After staring at my screen for ages, I couldn’t think of a single one.
I’ll say it again, I could not, after genuine effort, think of even one single good reason I should have kids. Not one! The only reason I could think of to have kids, wasn’t a reason at all. In fact, it was a downright horrible pressure to have kids and, sadly, one that some people really do buy into. It was because that’s what people say we should do. It’s what’s expected of us, especially us women. That is not a good reason to do anything, let alone create a whole new person.
There is not one thing about parenting that I would like. There is not one thing about parenting that would benefit me or anyone else. Being a parent, I’m sure, would only harm me and ruin the life that I work so hard to establish for myself. Even if parenting wouldn’t be a complete disaster for myself and anyone else involved, as I’m sure it would be, certainly nothing good could come of it.
What I’m missing out on, I’m glad I’m missing out on. Life is difficult and stressful enough without having needy dependents which I would surely resent. There’s nothing about parenthood that I envy, or think “rocks.” In fact, I can’t help but feel pity for parents, even if they do not feel that way themselves. Every time someone I know happily announces she’s pregnant, I’m made to feel obligated to congratulate her, but even as I do, I feel very sorry for her. Maybe someone reading this will think that unkind, but I really can not help but see parenting as a very sad thing.
Sufficed to say, I want absolutely no part in such a life. I have no doubt in my mind that having my tubal ligation tomorrow is the best decision I’ve ever made, and one I could never regret in the slightest.