Childless and Happy

I was recently chatting with an old friend from high school talking about the past and where we are now. She pointed out the high number of girls from our various friend circles who grew up, chose not to have kids and are now happier for it.

I never wanted kids. Ever. When most little girls go through the phase of playing with doll babies, I had monkeys and teddy bears. One year for my birthday, I received a realistic doll baby that moved its head. It gave me nightmares.

As I got older, I was happy to babysit for the little ones of friends and relatives. Kids are fun. The other day at the grocery store, I saw a kid with a bowl-haircut carrying a very long, suggestively-curved English cucumber like a ray gun. Vigilant in his mission, he hid behind a shelf and proceeded to “shoot” everyone who walked past with his phallic weapon of destruction. I laughed for ten whole minutes. It still didn’t make me want kids. The kid’s mother looked exhausted. I went home with a great memory, but none of the stress.

As a young woman, a vision of a future that included motherhood never entered my mind for a single moment. It’s not in my DNA. Speaking of genes, I was never so enamored with my own that I felt the need to pass them on to some poor unsuspecting soul who never asked to be born.

From age 16 I was meticulous regarding birth control. When I was in my early thirties, I had a tubal ligation. My then-partner was showing signs of changing his mind and I wanted no part of it. He spoke of a house in the suburbs and a family. One that looked perfect on the outside. Looked. Nothing is perfect. No one should bring kids into the world to give themselves a sense of accomplishment, to stave off loneliness or to act as window dressing for a false store front called “Perfect Family.” Odds are, if a customer were to enter that shop, they’d find its metaphorical shelves empty save for a few tins of resentment and a Costco-sized bag of dysfunction. “Oh, look! I get a free can of Neglect when I buy a bottle of Genetic Alcoholism! Yippee!” I did not want that life. Not this woman. Not this uterus. So, I had my tubes tied.

On the day of the procedure, the clinician asked me to come through the back gate to avoid the pro-life protesters. When I arrived, I asked, “Don’t they realize there are a lot of other procedures going on in here and abortion is only one of them?” The nurse shook her head, “They don’t care.” There it was. The words slapped me in the face. Any value I possessed was not for what I had or could accomplish, but for whether I could reproduce. What I wanted as an autonomous human being was irrelevant to them.

A few people have called me selfish for choosing a career, an education, and to travel and explore the world unencumbered by children. Ironically, all of them were women. Actually, there is nothing more selfish than the act of reproduction. Especially in the face of the extinction of other species with whom we share the planet. I am much more interested in helping them out rather than adding to the human population.

For those who choose to have kids, great! Be happy!  Just please keep your strollers/prams out of my way when I’m walking to work.

At the end of our online chat my old friend said of all of us childless generation x’ers, “We are living our best lives.” All perfectly content knowing that we’ll never be responsible for someone else’s future therapy sessions.

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