the "living childfree" series is about learning about the experiences, motivations and opinions of childfree women and couples - whether it is by choice, by circumstance, or still undecided. if you are interested in sharing your thoughts, please contact me at yael.santo(at)gmail.com.
photo by youngtoymaker via flickr creative commons
tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Marilyn, I'm 36 years old and I live with my boyfriend of 11 years. By day I work in Human Resources in a large Public Relations company but my passion is my handmade jewelry business and blog.
when did you first know you weren’t interested in having children? what was your reasoning for choosing a childfree life?
I can't recall an actual moment. Even at young age I didn't think about becoming a mother. In my late teens/early twenties I was really forcing myself to get into that mode of finding a husband and having one or two kids but it just never felt genuine. I was more interested in going out, travelling, seeing bands, photography, and men! I wasn't around younger kids growing up, just friends in school. No younger siblings or cousins. I have one older brother who is now married with two girls.
When I met my boyfriend and we were still getting to know each other, he asked me if I wanted to have kids and it just came out, "I don't think so. I'm not that good with kids." When I asked him, he also said he wasn't sure. I'm super awkward around kids sometimes. Not always, I like my nieces and my boyfriend's nephews, but after an hour of being around them, I'm ready to leave. I don't think I have a maternal instinct for kids - dogs and other animals yes, but not kids. As my boyfriend and I got closer and learned more about each other and what we want out of life, it became more apparent that children did not fit in that picture. Eleven years later and we still feel this way.
what were your family and friends reactions like when they first found out? did they take you seriously?
It was always the same response: "You'll change your mind." A few years would pass and no baby, no talk of any baby, we're still saying we don't want no baby and everyone kind of gave up and realized "holy crap, they're serious!!" Thankfully that was the worst of it. None of my friends or relatives who have kids have ever made me feel like I'm less of a woman because of it. Only once did my sister-in-law say kinda jokingly (but I know there was truth to it), "Too bad she's not going to have any cousins to play with..." - meaning my nieces - to which I responded, "OH WELLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!"
did you face any other kind of opposition regarding your choice?
Not really, and I think it's the same for my boyfriend too. We both have older brothers who got married and each have two kids so our parents have grandchildren to spoil and we just get to be the cool aunt anduncle they see from time to time.
do you see your choice changing at all in the future?
No way. Like I said, I'm 36 years old. I'm not trying to be a new mother in my 40s. Others can do it, but not me. I also had an aortic aneuysm back in 2010, which required open-heart surgery to repair. My body is pretty strong but I don't want to risk the changes pregnancy does to you physically. Overall, I am happy with my decision. This was the best decision for me, although it may not work for someone else.
childfree women and couples are often described as “missing out” or “being selfish” – do you feel this way at all?
We're not missing out on anything. There are still many things we wish to accomplish and having children will just get in the way. I feel like once you have a kid, your life is pretty much over and now it's all about your child. I do not wish to have a life like that. I like living for me and want to continue doing that. I admit that I am not Mother-material so if anything, I'm doing the rest of society a favor by not raising a kid half-ass and resentful. It doesn't seem like enough people evaluate if they are cut out for being parents or not - they are too programmed in thinking it is the next step in life, and unfortunately some bad results come from it.
what do you enjoy the most about your childfree life? what do you enjoy the least?
I enjoy sleep, the weekends, the money I'm saving, being able to go out to dinner on a whim and not having to make arrangements with anyone. Not to be subjected to kids television programs.
What's tough is not seeing friends as much as I used to because they're parents and they are not as flexible in their schedules anymore. Also calling myself "Child-Free" gives others the false impression that I hate children. Most of my friends are parents and I still think they're great - they're actually really cool parents. It's like this: you have Dog People, Cat People, and Child-Free People.
what would you tell someone wanting to live childfree, but under pressure to have children?
Do not listen to anything but what's in your heart and in your head. Don't live your life by others' expectations. Are they going to help raise your kid? Are they going to help fund medical bills, food, education, etc? Probably not and if that's something you don't care for then stick to your guns! You only have one life, so do what you feel is best for you. Find where that fulfillment is and go after it. It could be in becoming a parent or travelling the world by yourself on a motorcycle.