By Jillian Altizer, Community Organizer
I don’t want kids. I never have. I vaguely remember playing with baby dolls when I was younger and being told, “When you have kids…” as a given life path for all people. But I cannot recall ever having a strong desire to have children of my own. Over the years I have compiled a list of responses to justify my choice when people meet me with surprise, condescension, or hostility. Here are a few:
Parenting looks really hard. I know the world is becoming more progressive but for most heterosexual couples I’ve observed, the burden of childcare and household chores falls on the woman. My mom is absolutely amazing and I see the energy she put into raising three kids while grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, managing schedules, driving us around to different events, helping us solve our problems, and making sure we had all the essentials in life. And she did all that with a smile and declarations about how much she loves being a mom. I cannot begin to express my gratitude, but could I perform the same labors with an impossibly cheery attitude? I doubt it.
2. It takes a village
I could be a mother, but I’d rather swoop in and be the Cool Aunt that gives the amazing and exhausted parent(s) a chance to shower and get out of the house. As much as I don’t want kids of my own, I really do enjoy them. I love the way babies stare right into your eyes, how young kids find absolute delight in ordinary things like fallen leaves, and the unique perspective adolescents bring when they start thinking critically. I look forward to enjoying all these beautiful moments with the children of my friends and siblings without losing sleep, changing diapers, dealing with tantrums, etc.
The cost of raising a child today is over a quarter million dollars and we all know that most parents continue to support their offspring into adulthood. I could pour that cash onto a child but I’d rather see that compound nicely in my Roth IRA and 401K retirement accounts. Which brings me to…
4. Who Will Take Care of Me?
One hard look at our ageist society will show that most old people are sent to elder care homes rather than cared for by their children. I plan to live a long, relaxing life filled with family, friends, and the kind of good health that is possible, but harder to maintain, as a mother. Think lots of sleep, exercise and a healthy diet. When my body finally fails me in impossibly old age, I hope to have accumulated enough money to afford the quality care I might need.
I have so many plans to try different careers, travel, volunteer, and make a difference in the world. Having children might not limit my greatest aspirations but it would certainly postpone them.These are just some of my personal reasons to be childfree, but ultimately the reasons shouldn’t matter. Yes, perhaps I’ll change my mind someday, but telling me I will isn’t going to bring that possibility any closer to reality. I find it unfortunate how society deems it acceptable for people to weigh in with commentary on a woman’s reproductive choices. It’s my body. It’s my choice. End of story.