June 19, 2005
Florence Henderson is not at home right now
I am choosing not to have children. I had someone ask the other day how it was that I knew this was the case. It made me again ask myself that very question.

I have known for some time now, the way that I imagine people know that they are meant to love those of the same gender, hate red onions, or believe in God. You can't prove it; you don't have scientific evidence that it is so; it's even hard to capture in intelligible sentences. I have always just thought it to be something that was what it was.

Until those around me questioned my choice in my early 20s, I didn't think anything was wrong with me.

Don't you want to give your parents grandchildren?
So do you think you'll just have cats?
What did your mom do to you?
Aren't you afraid of dying alone, covered in Ensure and fire ants?


Uh, no. I hadn't really thought of all that. But now that you mention it, I should probably end this conversation and go off myself. And my parents, you know, for good measure. I wouldn't want them to go out and beget any more women who might deny their natural purpose.

My parents raised me in a beautiful and nurturing way. They imparted a love for people and animals, they taught tolerance and respect and modeled the right way to live a life while you are here. My sister and I learned that all people are beautiful. And yes, I played with both plastic dolls as well as human children throughout my formative years.

Yet I am the 30-something woman, and was the 20-something woman and teenager, who will always choose not to hold a co-worker's baby when she is brought in for her first show and tell. My heart jumps at the sight of a neighbor's new puppy leash rather than the new stroller he parks outside. I am at times bursting with love to share, but I feel absolutely no instinct to share that love with a child.

I have known people who wanted to fix me. Who thought that if they could pick up some tools and an infant at the Home Depot, if they could just whip up a baby of my own, things would be different. I would instantly love this child and my life would be changed. I would be doing something that mattered. I would have achieved womanhood.

I smile. And I silently think about questioning anything that this person holds to be fundamental in her world. I think most about questioning her decision to have children in her life. What if I implied that this decision was an improper one? What if I told her that she should never have children? Would this not create frustration, stir anger and defensiveness? Is my decision necessarily a very different one?

So back to the original question: I just know it in my bones. Just as it would nearly end one woman's life to tell her she would never have children, I don't feel the news would greatly impact mine.

I am a firm believer that living a rich existence on this earth takes many forms. If I stop loving those in my world, caring and reaching out to others, and sharing what I can offer to those around me, please let me know. And if, for God's sake, should you find me alone and covered in Ensure and fire ants, please lend a hand.

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23 Comments:

Anonymous oregano said...

It strikes me whenever I meet somebody who knew they would never have children, only to wind up pregnant. A friend of mine is six months pregnant, even though her husband got fixed several years ago. We are assuming the child is his.

I think that you are making a good decision not to have kids. If your heart's not in it, then it's probably smart to not do it. Those people that try to "fix" you are the ones that are wrong. By the way, I now have a mental image of an old lady covered in ensure and fire ants. It's funny and disturbing all at the same time.

Blogger kitkat said...

I have never had that motherly urge either. People always say that you feel differently about kids once you have them, but I'd hate to have them and have that not be true. Once in a while I think it might be nice to try to raise someone like myself (let's face it, we all think our lifestyles are the best, otherwise we wouldn't live that way), but cats are nice and I like being able to pack up and take a trip with little production.

I reserve the right to change my mind, but I just don't think it's in me to have them. I don't fear dying alone. I don't think people should try to force you into a lifestyle that doesn't suit you. There are plenty of unwanted babies, and this planet is overpopulated as it is.

Anonymous erika said...

I sometimes think I feel the same way (granted, I have yet to see what my later 20's will bring me).

If only I could be a father to a child, rather than a mother...

Blogger Jodi said...

I've always wanted children (and now that you mention it, I probably don't know the order I would run, whether it is to the stroller or dog leash first...)

I could never imagine being a person who would try to convince someone to have children. It's not trying a new food, it's raising a child!

You're making a great choice. Better to know you don't want one now than realize you don't want one when it's too late.

Blogger That Dude said...

Chicks that have these thoughts end up as the most overprotective super moms out there lol.

Blogger Carol Danvers said...

I once thought as you do. But then I read something like this post over on Magazine Man's blog, or I babysit for a friend and realize that one you have a child, everything in the world just falls naturally into place - the child is #1, everything else is secondary. Definitely makes me recognize what's really important in the world - life.

But I agree that if you feel so strongly about not having a child, than you most definitely should not! There are so many unwanted kids out there, who are either waiting for adoption or being shipped out to day care without a second thought, that it's best that people who really don't want one, don't have one!

Blogger kimmay said...

i'm with you kris. the other day i was enjoying ice cream on the patio of a local parlor with friends. once it began, it never ended - a stream of endless children, most of whom ended up with ice cream all over their faces and clothes. my friends couldn't stop commenting about how cute and adorable they were. and never once did i think that. i became easily bored with child watching until the saving grace arrived. a beautiful shepard mix! as i reached to pet him, my boredom vanished. when the owner said his name was gus, i exclaimed, "i have a gus too!" he is a handsome black lab mix and i could talk about him for days. but talking about children is not fun for me, and i also know it in my bones.

Anonymous Tamara said...

Stick with your plan. If you know, you know. I never wanted to have children, but due to excitement found myself pregnant. I love my babygirl and wouldn't give her up for anything, but you can bet the farm that hubby is now fixed. Like I said, her I love. Other kids? Keep them away. Far away.

Blogger Mel said...

I feel you girl. It's all good. Don't let the nay-sayers get you down! There are plenty of homeless animals out there looking for a loving home. They need "parents" too!

If it wasn't for my hubby, I would have about 20 cats, 10 dogs, rabbits, pygmy goats, and a duck living in my bathtub.

I, like you, can't say "no" to those cute faces.

And, I would lend a hand when it came to the fire ants, but I'm sure that it's a fate you won't have to worry about.

Blogger lizzyjane said...

Unfortunately, many women who have children, ALREADY made the improper choice.
SO MANY PEOPLE just have kids because they think they're "supposed to", or to fill a void, or just want someone to love them (take Britney for instance...a prime example of all 3 cases)
Then they don't know what to do with the kid. Or resent the kid. Or abuse the kid.
So congratulations on choosing NOT to make your own life miserable, or the life of a child...just because someone ELSE thinks you should.

Blogger Kris said...

Oregano, should you put one of those crazy Ohio pregnancy hexes on me, I will track you down via your ISP.

DB, I giggle a little at the image too. Until my face is on it.

Thanks Jodi, Kimmay, Lizzy, Mel, Tamara, and tatooed one!!!

Blogger Poppy Cede said...

You'd think with overpopulation people would THANK you when you say you're not having kids. My aunt never had kids and I grew up thinking I would copy her example. Now that all my friends have kids I don't feel pressure from them, I just realized that I love kids and want to have them. So, I probably will. I agree with what Jodi said - it makes NO sense for you to have kids just because of family pressure, because YOU are the one who has to be there 24/7 and raise a human being to be a productive member of society. That is a HUGE responsibility...

Anonymous Cali said...

This was a very interesting topic! I'm 29 and married, and my husband and I have 5 cats and DON'T WANT KIDS! We've gotten alot of negative comments from friends and family (and strangers, as if it's their business) because we don't want kids. They ask what's wrong with us and who's going to take care of us when we're old. Have you ever noticed people assume you're flawed just because you don't want kids? I think society programs you into thinking you HAVE to have kids. I'm the first one to say that I don't want kids because I'm too selfish with my free time. I like doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. I like to travel and read and not be bothered, and all that would go away in a puff of smoke if I had kids. Kids just don't do it for me, but I'd love to have about 10 more cats. My husband and I delight in going to Disney World and seeing all of the bratty kids and the miserable and tired parents. It really makes us wonder why anyone would willingly put themselves in that position, unless they really really wanted kids.

Blogger portuguesa nova said...

I applaud you. It seems like we're going through some sort of hyper-domesticity in society right now or a domestic renaissance. It is creepy and makes it even more difficult for women to make the choice you have.

Blogger mojoala said...

If you don't have children, then who is going to care for you when you are old?

Believe me, old age is not happy without children, I visit nursing homes a lot to read the bible to the residents.

The ones that don't have children are very, very, very lonely....

Blogger Jeff said...

I see it too - the haggard, miserable parents who long since lost all life of their own, and I think "why would anyone willingly do that to themselves?".

But then again. There's two things we pass on to our kids: genetics and teachings. I would like to think that in both cases what I have to pass on is better than average. So aren't I making the world weaker and dumber by not having kids? Isn't deliberate childlessness tantamount to genetic suicide?

Maybe. But I am a separate being from my genes. I and them don't necessarily have the same goals.

Our genes thought they had us hooked, they gave us an irrepressible desire for sex, and it used to guarantee their survival. Unfortunately for the earth, the smart genes are too smart for their own good. Now we've invented birth control, and broken the chains. We're free.

Anonymous Jorge said...

But fire ants tickle you so!

Good for you in making your choice.
I think it's great that people can decide this kind of thing. It's a brave decision. Brave because a great majority are insensitive fools.

There are too many people breeding already that shouldn't be. Like those people who invented Spam.

WTF?

Anonymous oregano said...

This will take your mind off of things, Kris.

http://www.cafeoregano.com/archives/000050.php

Blogger Jason said...

It's tougher for women because theere's that comparitively short window to decide if they want kids(at least via childbirth). I never particularly wanted kids (and I was very happy with four cats), but it was pretty much a concession to my wife, and now I believe being a father is the best thing I ever did. You shouldn't have kids if you don't want them, but if you wonder why you don't want them, I can share my perspective on how I was, but I won't spout unsolicited philosophy.

Blogger Angela said...

Blah there are also many older people in nursing homes whose children forget them and never visit so what about that? Having or not having children is a personal choice. If she wants them good for her if she doesn't, good for her. It is all up to her and her partner.

Anonymous Vermont Neighbor said...

this thread is basically required Internet reading for anyone who just feels a closer bond with cats (or cats and dogs) than kids.

It says it all for me. Although, I was open to the idea of starting a family, it was also something I could live without. I definitely would like a full house- like cali writes- and a spouse who loves the cats as much as I do. At the same time, I wouldn't avoid the idea of hooking up with someone who has kids. But I've already given up my cats in the past for a non-cat husband. Thank god, the cats and I are reunited. The husband is currently a mess of unwelcome paperwork on my desk.

I too love hearing all about your cat, their personality, how they express themselves, where they were born. I zone out with babies around. The dozens of visits at the office where you had to put down your work and start oohing over some generic-looking kid.

Or at the in-laws, after a boatload of Christmas dishes and a day of stressful visiting, baby takes a bath in the sink. Well, this was the equivalent of graduating from Harvard, apparantly. People thought it was just so incredible. I was always so happy when the cousin's cat walked in the room... finally something precious, sweet and interesting! The cat really was cuter than the baby.

I guess the non-moms have ventured out and we've all found solace in this thread. Thanks Kris.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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