March 25, 2013

living childfree: live with purpose and love

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 drop me a line at yael.santo(at)gmail.com.

give a big internet hello to krystal! you can read more from her at her blog, seattle trash, where, as she describes it, she writes about all the crap she tries not to put into landfills.

photo by mysi via compfight

tell me a little bit about yourself.
I'm 30 years old, and I live in Seattle, WA. Married, 1 dog, 1 cat. My husband and I both work and we are passionate about food, travel, and soccer.

when did you first know you weren’t interested in having children? what was your reasoning for choosing a childfree life?
I always thought, probably until my college graduation around 22, that I would be married with a couple of children by the age of 30. As I started to travel, live in a few different places, learn about a world outside of my own, my attitude toward a "traditional" life began to change. I don't remember making the firm choice until a couple years ago, but through my mid- and late-20's, I became less passionate about becoming a parent. I couldn't see children in my future, and I didn't have the desire to make decisions based on starting a family. I about half of my closest friends have children, and I enjoy my time with them. Some of the people who mean the most in my life are the children I babysat when I lived in San Francisco. The entire family are our best friends. I love spending time with them, but I have no desire to have my own children. I don't believe I will be at my best with as a mother, and I can give more to the people that matter the most in my life without having kids.

what were your family and friends reactions like when they first found out? did they take you seriously?
My parents don't say much about me not wanting kids, although I know they would love to be grandparents. My parents have always given me enough freedom to make my own decisions and respected me when I do so. In fact, I cannot recall them ever asking if we were planning on having children or not. My mother-in-law is in another league. You can definitely tell she is quite disappointed in us for not wanting children. My husband's extended family is the same way. However, they make it out to be a duty than a choice. The question often is not about if we are going to have children, it's when we are going to give my mother (in-law) a grandchild. I'm always baffled when I'm asked this question--don't we have something to do with it? In his family, it's just what you do. There are a lot of co-dependent relationships and parents who are enablers in that family, which unfortunately has amounted to a lot of poor parent/child relationships. They seem to think it's pretty normal however, but they don't understand why we aren't jumping on that train.

Our friends have been pretty supportive. Half of our friends are without children, some who are older than us. We also have a lot of friends who are parents as well. I wouldn't be able to take someone seriously as a friend for always chastising my choice not to have children, so I haven't had much lip from those who matter most. My friends with kids know that I love to make fun of helicopter parents and social media oversharers and that my husband swears by Unbaby.me for Facebook. They also know how much I love them and would be there to help anytime they needed me.

did you face any other kind of opposition regarding your choice?
I still face a guilt trip from my mother-in-law and husband's family. We don't spend a lot of time with them, for several reasons, but when we do, I feel that they take pity on us because we don't want children. His family is from a traditional Christian background where it would be considered odd or inappropriate to have an alternative lifestyle, and that includes not having children, in their book. I also get the casual "really? are you sure?" when it comes up in casual conversation, but most people move on quickly when they realize you are serious.

do you see your choice changing at all in the future?
I don't. I wouldn't rule out adopting if a friend or family member needed us to, but I don't plan on seeking it out. We have very close friends who have told us if anything should happen to them, they want us to help guide their children's lives, and if that means we serve as guardians, it would be an honor. The sheer thought of labor seems like absolute hell, and I personally believe we have more than enough people on the planet already.

Another thing comes to mind, and sometimes it seems legitimate, sometimes it seems like an excuse to shush up child-pushers. I am the oldest child of 3, and both of my younger brothers have autism. Currently they live in group homes, but the truth of it is my parents won't be around forever, and they are not in any way wealthy. I don't trust the state to take care of my brothers properly, so there is a chance I would have to step up. I never intend to have either of my brothers live with us, but I am pretty dedicated to make their lives the best they can be with my resources. If they require more of my attention or money to make their lives more enjoyable, I want to provide that for them. I know there are quite a few adult siblings with brother or sisters with special needs and they have families of their own, so you could easily say this is an excuse. However, I am honest with myself and know that I don't have what it takes to be an awesome sister, wife, friend and mother. I could take some of my time with my friends, with following my passions, and devote it to my children. But to be blunt, that sounds pretty awful.

childfree women and couples are often described as “missing out” or “being selfish” – do you feel this way at all?
I agree wholeheartedly with both, and I also agree that having children is also selfish and you also miss out on a lot. Anytime you make a decision in your own self-interest, it's selfish. I'm not saying that's bad, but that's what selfishness is--considering your own pleasure above others. We are at a point in our world history where the argument cannot be made that having children is perpetuating the human race, the earth's population is currently around 7 billion. 7 BILLION! There is no need to have several children due to rampant disease shortening life expectancies or for farm labor. Conversely, I might be selfish for only wanting to worry about myself and my husband at the end of the day. I'm completely fine with that.

I'm definitely missing out on something by not having children. And those who have children are definitely missing out on something as well. You can't do it all, you just have to figure out what is most important for you.

what do you enjoy the most about your childfree life? what do you enjoy the least?
I'm not sure what specifically I enjoy the most about my childfree life, but I think most if comes down to working to live vs. living to work. I am not inclined to make a ton of money so I can have the biggest house on the block, and provide for my family and childrens' college fund. I never want to feel like I have to work to survive. I think that's an awful way to live, and incredibly unhealthy. We all have basic needs and then we have our wants. We don't make a ton of money, but we could always have our need covered by one income. Because of our simple approach (and debt-free lifestyle), I was able to take nearly 5 months off the year to find a job that I LOVE after realizing I was stuck in one that I used to enjoy but fell outta love with. I want that freedom. If my husband decides to start his own design company, I want him to have the flexibility to do so. I don't know many people who can afford their lifestyles with their children, and it seems that many are lacking that piece of mind that comes with stability. For me, I cannot currently afford children, nor do I have the desire to do so. I want to travel, I want to give to others, I want to enjoy my time here on Earth. In my world, there is no price on a piece of mind. Oh, and the flexibility is amazing! Wanna go away for the weekend? Drop the dog off at the dog-walkers, give the cat some extra kibble, and GO! I have friends who are trying to get "all out of their system" before having kids, I don't want to be in a race with myself to see the world before I feel tied down for a couple decades.

what would you tell someone wanting to live childfree, but under pressure to have children?
Having a child is quite permanent. They hopefully go off to college, or at least leave home by the time they are 27, but there are no guarantees. You never stop being a parent, regardless of age. In my family, I see the pressure to have a child for someone else's enjoyment. If you have similar pressures, you need to think about what is pulling at you to become a parent. If it's what you have always wanted, by all means, prepare yourself and do it! If it's just what you believe is expected, or what others expect of you, put it on ice. Talk to someone, join a group, meet with a confidant. You can't change your mind on this one, and there are plenty of parents out there who regret their choice--it isn't always a happy ending.

any last thoughts?
I don't think that living childfree is without finding purpose and love. There are so many ways to give yourself to friendship, to family and in service to others. A child shouldn't be the only way we go about finding that purpose. Just writing this has reminded me of that--I have a lot going through my mind right now on this, and cannot wait to focus my energy on giving more.


thanks again for taking part, krystal! has anything she shared struck a chord with you?

1 comments:

Kristin said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Amazing! Thank you Krystal for being so honest and brave.

" I want to travel, I want to give to others, I want to enjoy my time here on Earth."

I totally agree with this. Sometimes being the best version of yourself is just that simple... see the world, be good to others, and enjoy life!

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