“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love.
Being childfree is a state that is even more fraught than being husband-free. A woman who has never been married is (still) considered a bit of an oddity in our society. A woman without kids is pitied. A woman who chose not to have kids is…well, there’s probably something really wrong with her. Lots of people think that, though I say “is there”?
Though this blog –The Spinsterlicious Life– is mostly about women who don’t have husbands, its all-time favorite, most popular, most commented on blog post is one about, not just not having kids, but not particularly liking them! (Click here, if you want to read it).
The “I don’t like kids” blog post is strong, and even stronger than I actually feel…but it’s close enough. It clearly touched a nerve with lots of people who mostly acknowledge that this is a sentiment they know better than to express out loud.
I was warned by many people that I would regret my decision to be childfree once I passed my childbearing years. No regrets, so far. Unlike many women, I never fantasized about perfect little children with perfect days and nights. I always acknowledged that my kid (anybody’s kid, really) could grow up to be a jerk…which is a much less interesting fantasy.
And I’m a mediocre auntie, at best. I’m fortunate that my nieces, nephews, and my friends’ kids seem to love me anyway. And I love them; I just want them to go home.
So I was intrigued when I was asked to review a new book called Kid Me Not, edited by Aralyn Hughes. It’s an anthology of stories by women in their 60s who don’t have children. Some made an active decision not to have them; for others, life just kind of got in the way and then it was too late. They seem fine.
I was struck by one story by a women who lost a dear friend who felt they no longer had anything in common because one was a mother and one was not. The woman without kids was sad about this. I said ‘good riddance’ because her friend-now-a-mother sounds pretty shallow to me, which doesn’t make for an interesting friend, anyway.
It’s interesting that women still have to explain a decision not to have children. Kids aren’t for everyone. How come everybody doesn’t know that?