Why I’m childfree (for now).

An interesting thing happens the moment you get engaged, well-intentioned people start casually inquiring about your reproductive habits and plans. Which is funny when you think about it longer than half a second, but we’re all slightly guilty of this faux pas, aren’t we? First, comes love, then comes marriage; we all know what is supposed to happen next and I think we’ve all asked with an edge of excitement, “soo when are you planning your family?”

I have never given this a second thought until I became friends with a woman in college who at a young age understood her expectations and plans for her future did not include children. At that time I was inspired by her knowing her own mind and it was disheartening to hear people tell her, “you’ll change your mind.” Sure, maybe, but why is that anyone else’s concern? Why is it taboo for a woman to know she doesn’t want to raise a child? Or at least not want to procreate in the near future? Admittedly, her decision wasn’t something I was able to personally relate to at that time but heck it is one I supported!

I have always wanted to experience motherhood; so much so that I have considered adoption options and have worked to ensure my career is molded into one that had the potential for a WAHM situation so I could stay at home for the first few years to soak up all that baby goodness. For the past 10 years, I have volunteered at my local NICU, nannied for three wonderful families (such happy years), and am currently a court advocate for foster children – please understand I believe children are a wonderful gift and bring so much joy, there’s no question. Up to a year ago, honestly less, we were firmly ready to start a family of our own.

That said, now that we’re three months from the wedding, that desire has changed. We’ve assessed our life, our values, and circumstances and coupled with me hitting my 27th-year, realized there are things I still want to do for me. As a woman, as an individual, as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am just settling into a happy and rewarding career. D and I are in a great place and enjoying our little life with our furkids. We’re finally in a position to plan trips we’ve been talking about for years: Iceland, Ireland, Argentina … we have the freedom to spend time with our friends with zero notice, see professional sporting games, schedule vacations. We’re so freaking happy right now and I simply don’t feel the need to add to our family yet. Just, not yet. It is empowering to have this choice.

It’s interesting when you slowly start sharing that you’re not ready to be a parent (because those well-meaning people ask, and ask, and ask) how folks respond. Some react with support, some disappointment, and others are just plain floored – these are all valid emotions. When the time comes, though, we will voluntarily decide to add to our family not to provide grandchildren or playmates, but because there isn’t anything else that we want more.

Just a few responses to common questions and comments I’ve heard:

What are you waiting for?
Personally, I want to want a baby more than other experiences

But you can travel with a child
This is absolutely true – when we’re ready we will be thrilled and humbled to share the world with a Tiny T. See? He or she already has a nickname!

Isn’t your life kind of meaningless or lonely? 
Not at all, we’re tremendously happy and fulfilled with our chosen activities and lifestyle.

You really don’t know what tired is/ I never sleep anymore
Let’s not one-up here: tired is tired, work is work – we are all doing our best.

Isn’t that kind of selfish? 
I’m unclear on which part of waiting until we’re ready is selfish. I suppose arguably that could be the case, but this is our time to be. We’re under no obligations. When we choose to be parents, Tiny T will consume our time and we want to give that time freely and joyfully.

The love between a parent and child is unlike any other!
I understand. One day that will be a wonderful experience for us. Until then, our life is overflowing with love from family, friends and each other. Love runs deep all around.

What about your biological clock?
My clock is ticking just fine, I’m good – thanks!

I can babysit though! / You two will have such pretty babies! 
Sorry, thank you, but neither is a good enough reason for us to have a child right now

Not everyone wants the same life and the reasons someone may choose to live their lives without a child are varied and personal. Let’s be honest too, our social and political systems aren’t exactly set up for all families to raise educated, happy, and healthy children. Let’s not pity, let’s not judge, and let’s not make assumptions for why a woman or a couple may choose to be childfree whether in the interim or permanently. There just shouldn’t be any room for shaming here on either side of the fence.

Just something that has been on my  mind lately,
H

Why I’m childfree (for now).

You should go and love yourself

Something disappointing happened last week and I’ve carried the heaviness of it into this one. I haven’t felt like I have needed to address this topic since my freshman year of high school, and I’m sad to say that with all of the education and awareness available at our fingertips it is an even more pestilent disease today: bullying.

bul*ly; use superior strength to influence or intimidate (someone), typically to force him to do what one wants

Synonyms: persecute, oppress, tyrannize, browbeat, harass, torment, intimidate, strong-arm, dominate, coerce, humiliate

I have thrown my fair share of stones. Everyone looks back at some point and wishes they had made better choices; mature decisions that would have shaped their life more positively or gracefully. This is essential to growing up and it is a right of passage in itself. What has never gone out of style, though, even if momentarily forgotten, is the essentialism of kindness, integrity, and self-respect. Nothing will ever be as classy and timeless as this.

What I saw last week raised serious concerns

it took place on social media
it was shared with the intention to hurt others “for a laugh”
the language was derogatory, crass, & abusive
the content was vulgar mentally, emotionally, & sexually
it targeted both boys & girls (middle school aged children)
it was heavy in ubiquity: spread by children hiding behind electronics

It makes me realize how much time has changed in the last decade and not necessarily for the better. Bullying has warped into something even more sinister at the cyber level and is just as hard to prove as it is relentless. This is worrisome not only because of the frank abuse but because of how personal it is. After having the unfortunate opportunity to see this “story,” shared publicly, I wondered what these kids’ families were doing while their middle schooler tapped out those ugly words, heavy with intention, with their quick thumbs. Just finished family dinner? Discussing weekend plans? Working on a project? Rushing off to practice of some kind? The few seconds it took to perpetrate the content makes me sick. We should all expect better, shouldn’t we?

How would you even begin to monitor online use these days? How do you hold yourself and those around you accountable and responsible for their online footprint? I’m not asking for a friend, I’m asking as a sister of a middle schooler and a woman planning her family. How do you keep children safe online too, not just from the monsters lurking behind fake profiles, but their own classmates? How do you instill in your child the importance of uplifting and supporting others, instead of tearing them down and why does this seem harder today than ever before?

To those sweet babies who had their personalities, behavior, and bodies bashed in a public stoning, if someone hasn’t said it already let me scream it from a rooftop. Do not let a handful of bullies:

alter how you view your reflection
twist how you behave towards yourself or others
compromise your values
belittle who you are

Then, do not be the bully. Do not limit others or label them. Do not put them down. Do not spread more venom in an already difficult world. No matter the excuses you’ll hear about how different, quirky, or odd someone is. Turn your back on the whisperings on the collection of their pigmentation, social class, language, ability, or gender. When someone else spreads hate, do not be the person that laughs or goes along with it. We all, myself included, need to be reminded of this sometimes too.

We can strive each day to leave someone with a smile, a grateful heart, or a stronger spirit. Start small: maybe practice grace, empathy, and forgiveness towards people today. Let’s make 2017 the year to bury bullying. I’ll start right now.

Disclaimer: I have unfollowed the offending accounts which is sad to me, considering these are family friends and children I have had the gracious opportunity to see grow up. The behavior, however, is not something I will subscribe to.  

You should go and love yourself