Child-free…or Just Free? (An Oldie-But-Goodie)

I am a “woman of a certain age”.  (Love that expression; it says everything…and not much at all).  Never married, no kids.  Spinsterlicious.  And I’ve got a pretty fantastic life.  I’m pretty good at dating and I have a nice career running my own consumer research and strategy company that has brought me a vacation home, an active social life, and travels around the world.

A lot of people still wonder, though, how a “fantastic life” could be possible since I haven’t done what every woman is not only supposed to do, but is apparently driven to do: marry and give birth.  What’s more, I’ve done this by choice.  I’m not anti-husband nor anti-child, but I don’t think they’re for everyone (really, how could anything be for everyone?), and I never felt they were for me.

For what it’s worth, I’m not the only one actively choosing not to have children.  Thirty years ago, only 20% of women in their early 40s had no children; according to the US Census, that number has now doubled.

People assume that if I’m not married it must be because I couldn’t pull it off.  (Not true.)  But not wanting kids?  There’s clearly something wrong with me.  I mean, why was I given a uterus if I wasn’t going to use it?  Just saying I’m not a mother, by choice, is a really good way to slow down a conversation in polite company.  I don’t usually offer the “by choice” part, though, because it really shouldn’t matter.  (Well, I don’t offer it unless someone comments in a way I find annoying, which is usually more of a tone thing.)

Some people –usually women– seem to take offense at my chosen child-free existence.  It’s one thing if I couldn’t have them (“poor thing”), but to not want them?  It’s as if I’m challenging their decision to have them.  I’m not.  I don’t really care about their decision.  (Okay, sometimes I am curious).  Every now and then I come across people who have kids but don’t seem to enjoy it, and I do find myself wondering why they bothered.  Maybe they should have given it more thought.

Anyway, without further ado, I thought I’d share 14 of the 67 reasons why not having kids has worked so well for me:

  • My Yorkie, Danny, whose haircuts cost more than mine, is really about all the additional responsibility I can handle.  When I leave the house at a moment’s notice and stay gone all day without walking him, I call Mike-the-dogwalker and he takes care of it.  People might frown if I treated my kid that way too many times.

  • I can watch all kinds of inappropriate TV shows whenever I feel like it, without worrying about who I’m emotionally scarring (other than myself).

  • I like to cuss.  The F-word and its derivatives are some of my favorite words.  It’s not cute when kids do it, though.  This way, I don’t have to answer for my duplicity.

  • Similarly, I can download the “explicit” version of songs from iTunes and don’t have to censor when I play them.

  • If I have too much to drink, it’s okay.

  • I can laze around the house all Saturday morning with the newspaper, coffee, and the remote control.  No soccer games to go to.

  • When I come home exhausted from work or wherever, nobody’s clamoring at me and wondering what’s for dinner.  (Okay, sometimes the dog is.)

  • I can give my friends on the telephone my undivided attention.  I’m not (“stop it, Billy”) constantly interrupting my conversation (“no, I don’t know where it is”) to talk to others (“tie your shoes”) on my end.

  • I like to walk around the house naked.

  • I am able to hold a conversation without peppering it with constant references to my kids.

  • Travel is one of my passions.  I work hard… so I can fund my next trip.  I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. to major cities and small towns, and around the world.  I want to go everywhere, and I pretty much can, because my time and my money are my own.  I spend my dollars however I want without having to consider if it could be better spent on my child’s braces.

  • Firm-ish boobs.  No stretch marks.

  • I can date whoever I want without worrying about his effect on my kids.  If I had kids, I would have to make more responsible choices in the men I bring home.

  • In 1998, I quit my job because I decided I wanted to work for myself.  (Actually, I didn’t want to work at all, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen).  I thought about it seriously for only a couple of weeks.  Didn’t matter; I was tired of being expected to show up at work every day at 9a.  Suppose I didn’t feel like starting work until 11:30a?  Clearly the answer was to make my own hours.  And so I did. Not having a business plan or client might have been a tad irresponsible if I’d had to consider somebody else’s welfare other than my own.
I have to admit, though, I do miss being able to use my kids as an excuse to get out of stuff I don’t feel like doing.  (“Sorry, Annie’s got a fever/recital/homework”).
Other than that, though, I’m good.  Anybody else want to share?
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29 Responses to Child-free…or Just Free? (An Oldie-But-Goodie)

  1. Love it!!! I agree completely! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ironically, your level of self-knowledge and thoughtfulness about kids and their constant and costly needs suggests you'd make a fine parent. I wish more people who did choose to have kids were paying attention to all the responsibilities children entail!

    I do have kids, but I find it odd that so many people seem to think reproducing is some how a more significant way to contribute to society and the future than dozens of other things. I'll refrain from shaking my finger at your unemployed uterus until underpopulation is actually a problem!

  3. Radish says:

    I appreciated reading this post. I'm never-married-but-not-by-choice, and thus childless (most days I feel like the last woman in America who thinks making fatherless babies is a bad thing…). I'm still trying to view my freedom–including the ability to pick up and move halfway across the country for a new job after a layoff, which most parents won't consider when their kids are in school but which has saved my ass from poverty at least twice–as something more than a consolation prize. I think I can get there eventually, I just need to meet more women who can talk about adventures beyond potty training. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just think: millions of years of evolution stopped with you. You chose to cull yourself from the gene pool.

    Congratulations!

  5. cns says:

    I thought I was the only one that got bored with other peoples children. I love the babies though. Now I know that I am not a weirdo.LOL

  6. Smokie says:

    This was a great read. I have two teens so of course I'm living a hectic life right now and I'd loooove to just be free, but the little snots do bring me joy. LOL I always thought I'd be single and child-free. Always. Then my single aunt and uncle told me that we should build a compound together and live happily ever after. I was married and with child less than 2 years later! I couldn't bear the thought of being AVAILABLE to my needy aunt and uncle. So, life is good, and the kids will be grown and gone be time I'm 43. I have friends who are just now having children and I think THEY are crazy. Babies are cute and I love to play with babies, but rearing another child? HECK NO! I plan to travel the world with my hubby in a couple of years. Can't wait!!

  7. MilanoGirl says:

    10 years ago when I friend told me before her wedding that they weren't going to have kids, I couldn't understand. I've always wanted to be a mom. But I understand now.
    You don't have to have be married or have kids to have a fulfilling life. That's what's great about this choose your own adventure that life is. You get to decide what is meaningful to you and go out and get it.
    Children bring great joy, but also great responsibility. It's sad if you have kids and don't enjoy the experience that it brings to your life journey. I think like with marriage, some people just find themselves having kids because it's the thing to do, the next chapter in life, rather than taking good look at themselves and being aware of what they really want. Of how they want their life to look.

    Great blog–you covered all the angles! Brava!

  8. Papillon says:

    I am 58, unmarried & childfree – both my choice. I grew up when it was the norm to grow up, get married & have kids (in that order).

    I was ambivalent about having kids for a long time.

    I would now like to thank all my married coworkers with kids. They unwittingly helped to crystallize my decision not to have kids. First, there were the women who take GREAT delight in describing all the horrors they went through douring pregnancy and labor. I could feel my tubes tying themselves while I listened. Then there were the parents who delighted in introducing me to the little monsters — oops, small toddlers they had given birth to. After listening to these women and observing their chidlren, it occurred to me that I really DIDN'T want kids. (OK, I'm a slow learner.)

    Now, after all these years, I'm so glad I decided – NO kids. I am proud to say, I have never changed a diaper and I'm intent on retaining this achievement until I die.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Since college I've said that I did not plan to have children & that I didn't need to experience pregnancy, giving birth & parenting to fulfill myself as a woman. I'm now 49, married, no kids, still happy with my choice. Do I think I'll regret it someday? Maybe… but that would have been a pretty selfish & poor reason to do it when I could have!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I'm 45 and child free. I have never wanted kids. I suppose if I had a partner that *really*did, I would have, but I have also been single most of my life. Just recently moved in with my boyfriend, and fortunately he is 50 and doesn't want kids, either. No regrets.

  11. JenA says:

    One thing no one has mentioned is the problem of not being able to have children. I'm 42 and not married. Because of several hereditary conditions I decided not to try to have children. I never really felt I wanted them when I was younger either. I just feel left out at times when my friends go away with their families. I have a smaller group of friends who are all married with children. I love to travel, go to eat by myself, etc…This blog gives me some inspiration!Great to know that there are people out there who wish to stay childless…

  12. Lisa says:

    I'm 55 married and child free by choice. NO REGRETS!

  13. Flaming_star says:

    Hey I love this, I'm a newly wed myself. I was married before, didn't want kids, married again don't want kids. I'm almost 40 and I love the life I have minus children. I have lots of nieces and nephews that's as close as I want to be with responsibility of children. Them I can always send home. It's nice that my husband and I are able to get up and do whatever we want, whenever we want and I can spend all my money on me. Ppl keep telling him that we'll change our mind. I haven't changed it in all these years why would I now. I'm 40, what do I look like trying to have a baby. Yea right. Enjoy your child free, ehem I mean FREE life.

  14. Sandy says:

    When I was an innkeeper, I met a lot of couples whose entire lives revolved around their children. Mostly the women, who couldn't carry on a conversation about anything except their children – which I found very boring. Always have, no matter my age. I don't coo over babies (but I do with puppies). I fear that too many people are having children with less thought than they give to buying a car! I'm not anti-kid or anti-male either, but I always wanted more out of my life than just breeding future generations. But, the world will definnitely try to guilt you – still. Thanks for the posts, you all seem to think like I do!

  15. MLMR says:

    Great post!

    I've gone back and forth with the whole idea of marriage and babies. Sometimes i want it and sometimes i don't. I told myself at the age of 13 that i was never getting married. There was something about marriage that just didn't appeal to me. Maybe that was the real ME talking. The ME typing this now feels like she's ready for that responsibility, but who knows. If i have so many doubts then maybe i should rather not, right?:-)

  16. Samantha says:

    Thank you for this post!!!! I am 32yrs old and I've known for a long time that I do not want children. Most people I know support my decision and respect that I know my own mind. Occasionally though I get the “what happened with you?” comment from a “friend”. I pay it no mind and concentrate on all the freedom I have, to do whatever I want with my life while they are responsible for their child.

  17. Stella says:

    I think people often have kids without thinking, you get married, then you have kids. But, I could be wrong. I never wanted kids, assumed at some point I would but just never wanted them. So that was all good. Wasn't with a partner who wanted kids so there was never any pressure.
    Friends these days are having kids and I find it changes the dynamics of our relationship- well, it would wouldn't it. Some other friends, who are also childless, but not by choice- love to hang out with the friends with new kids and ooh and ahh over them. . . I get bored.
    And, the thing is I'm a teacher- secondary school- I actually like kids just never wanted them.
    And now, in my 40's it's great. I love the freedom of not having kids. Fabulous!
    Thanks for posting this one, eleanore.

  18. BreakinLove says:

    Thank you for this! I am a newly wed and EVERY wife around me is either trying or already pregnant. UGH!!! I really am completely on the fence about the idea. I'm happy we got married, I have a companion who enjoys drinking, loving ;), and having the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. I look at these women around me and really struggle with the choices they've made. You're twenty-three/two/five and all you can think about is babies?! I feel like maybe I'm not equipped with the same ideas about what life is as they are. I don't see anything wrong with staying free and enjoying life. If you can't say you really know who you are how can you bring someone else into this world that is completely dependent on you?

  19. Rhona says:

    Hello! You are my mentor…seriously. Your life is my ideal and what I am working toward right now.

  20. shopinchic says:

    I love this post! I'm a single woman in my late 20s and I'm completely comfortable with not being married or having kids. Its so odd that almost everyone I know is either married and/or has kids, but I don't feel the pressure to. Luckily for me, my parents never pressured me about it either. I just have no desire to waste away my weekends nights looking for “the one” who may not even exist just so I can have a bun in the oven before I'm 30. I have dreams and goals in life but changing diapers is not one of them! If marriage and a family is truly what a woman wants in life, then I say “Good for you!. But I don't think that anyone should pressure anyone to start a life that may not be what they want.

  21. SkyRocketOcelot says:

    I'm on the cusp of thirty and my girlfriends and I are in the same boat: no one's currently married or has kids; everyone digs our pseudo-party-girl-but-we've-grown-up-and-are-not-as-crazy-anymore lifestyle… right now. The rest of my girlfriends are just waiting for “THE ONE” to come along and sweep them off to the land of Kids and Honey. They date. And date. And date. And get more and more cynical as each potential guy fails them. Me… I don't like feeling bummed when a guy stops calling for no apparent reason. I don't like sharing my space. I don't like wondering when we’ll run into each other's defenses or get bored or be disappointed or find a deal-breaker. I hate letting my parents down (they, like all parents, are dying for my bro and I to have kids) but I just don't want all the crap that comes along with the American/Disney Relationship Dream. I have my days where I wish I had someone to come home to and curl up with on the couch with… but I'm pretty much alright with being “alone” for the rest of my life. I don't want to spend so much time and emotional energy yearning for what I don't have. Life is short. And I am so glad that there are other women out there like me who also (usually!) embrace who they are and where they are in their lives and I’m really looking forward to keeping up with this blog! Hooray Us!!

  22. KD says:

    Yay! Love to hear of other women who feel the same way as I do. I am 34 and kids are not on my radar. I like my lifestyle too much and the freedom that comes with it. Motherhood is just not for me plain and simple!

  23. eleanore says:

    @Jen: Can you leave a room in that house for me? It's a fab idea!

  24. Jen via Sheality says:

    Thank you!!! I never liked kids when I was one. And less now. But I am very close with my nieces and nephews and they all want to grow up to be like me – traveling, financially stable and having a great life, unlike their poor mom who is stressed all the time. I think that making new people in a world where we are about to have 7 billion – on a planet that is rapidly losing its resources is about as selfish as you can get.

    I think that people fear death and fear getting old and being alone and that is why they have kids. I just plan on living with my other childless friends in a big house with staff to take care of us.

    -Jen
    Sheality

  25. Erin says:

    I'm only 26 and the whole “get married and have kids” bit is already pretty old. I grew up in a large Mormon community where I was expected, though not by my own family, to be someone's misses. That was too predictable and scary though. I had college on the agenda and then who know. Yeah, it'd be nice to find someone at some point to age with, but if I want kids I'll go teach. My view is that people don't take kids seriously enough in the respect that they should. My view is, you're raising a person whose subsequent actions in their life can make a big impact. Some of those are bound to be good, and others bad, so until I have the time/will/desire to make sure I raise the best person I can, I'm not going to “wing it” like some sick experiment.
    I got a dog when I was 18 and sometimes that responsibility is too much. At 22 I was offered a full-time salaried position that kept me away from my home often and with no regular hours. For a while, I wasn’t even fit as a dog mom. That was just a few years ago. A kid isn’t just a commitment of 18 years. Sure, the legal commitment is 18 years, but how many of us seek parental support past that magic year. I’m 26 and I still rely heavily on my parents, though more in a friendship way as opposed to needing money. But there’s still a time commitment they give me that they wouldn’t have otherwise. So 18 years is if something goes amiss and the child is estranged from the parent. No, thanks, I’ll stay single, play with my friend’s kids and enjoy making decisions and only considering myself in the outcome. By the way, my latest adventure in single and free was moving to Waikiki, not easy if I had a kid in tow.

  26. Well, I'm living a solo life now and have been for quite a while. I would love to hear your tips on dating at this certain age. As for kids, I must confess, I have two but they're fully grown now and pretty much on their own, so all the things you talk about I'm able to do now, too. And while I loved my kids when they were young, and still do, I have no tolerance or interest when co-workers bring their babies to the office. Everyone is supposed to run to their side and coo over them, but I really don't care and would rather just keep working because I have so much to do. Does that make me bad or selfish? I don't know. But now that I no longer have little kids around, I don't want to be around other peoples little ones and that's the truth.

  27. CareyN says:

    Thank You!! Too few of us out there. I'm 35 and have never wanted kids, mostly because I just don't like kids or babies. And yes, I too love walking around the house naked. When people do ask me about kids, I tell them I'm too selfish to have kids, and they mostly agree that I am. Not that I'm selfish in a bad/mean way, just that I have my own thing and it works. No room in there for a kid just for the “sake of having one”.

    Also, I have an amazing relationship with my mom. She is my best friend and travel companion and just an awesome woman. If I had a kid, and didn't have that closeness with my own kid, I know I'd be disappointed…and really, what are the odds of that kind of lightening striking twice?

    Thanks for the blog!

  28. silvergirl3 says:

    I don't want to work either! I would love to drop everything and work for myself. But sadly, my parents have instilled this fear of lack in my heart so that even though I don't have debt, have a bit of savings and no dependents (not even a dog to feed!), I feel like I still have to work even though it's making me miserable and provoking my anxiety disorder. *sigh* Clearly, I need to figure some stuff out…

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