I came from a very middle-class, nuclear-family town. A town with the mindset that having kids was something you were just supposed to do. Growing up, I cared a lot more about other things: basketball, animals, reading. I didn’t give too much thought to having kids of my own, but I figured it would probably happen one day when I was grown up and had to make those grown up decisions.
Well, I’m grown up now, and I suppose I’ve done a lot of things that make me a “grown up.” I got married, got two dogs and got a house. Next step? Kids, obviously. I had the “never say never” attitude for a while, but that was just my wishy-washy way of not addressing my feelings head on. Luckily, before my husband and I got to that next step of adulthood, we came to our senses and realized we don’t have to do any of this. Just because our families and friends did it doesn’t mean we have to.
Around the time we came to this realization, a number of my friends started to plan their families. It’s a strange enough watching your friends — and yourself — get married. It’s even stranger when they start having kids. That’s when you know you’ve crossed the adulthood threshold and there is no going back.
I knew pregnancy and parenthood are a challenge, but watching my friends have kids exposed me to the ugly, gruesome side of it all — the side I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with. (You are all saints, by the way.)
When a woman has a child, she’s not just dealing with an uncomfortable pregnancy, painful childbirth or the lifelong task of rearing a child, she’s also thrust into the parenthood culture. I think of that culture and wince. We all know it. The competition to have the most creative pregnancy announcement, the race to get birth photos onto Facebook, the DVD shelf held hostage by Disney and the unsolicited comments. Dear god, the unsolicited comments! I would either lose my mind or wind up getting arrested for aggravated assault. Can’t we just trust women to make the right choices for their own bodies? And why is it women who get the brunt of this verbal abuse? Seriously. Everyone, just get some chill and talk about the things that really matter. Like whether or not Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer.
Anyway. Moving on.
My best friend is currently pregnant. While it’s surreal and strange and basically adulthood smacking in hard in the face, it’s also such an exciting time for me. (And her too, I guess.) We constantly talk about all the things we’re going to teach her kid and the influence I’m going to have as “crazy aunt” Lindsay. I can’t wait to introduce my niece or nephew to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, teach them to love and be kind to animals, watch Pee-Wee’s Playhouse with them, introduce them to the magic of storytelling and have a relationship with him or her that’s just as special as the one I have with my best friend.
I could have my own child and do the same thing, but I don’t want to. Seeing the details of pregnancy and childhood through my friends is enough to cement my decision to remain childless. First, pregnancy and childbirth absolutely terrify me. (By the way, I only just found out about the mucus plug. DON’T Google Image that shit.) Second, that kid is stuck to you for a long time. Unlike a pet, you can’t just leave the house without packing up your child and half your belongings. Every decision you make has to involve this tiny human.
Before anyone can point fingers and call me — and any other childless-by-choice woman — selfish, I’m just going to say it: I am. A kid would cramp my style. But like every other big decision in life, choosing the childfree life isn’t black and white. I love my lifestyle and my career, and I don’t want to disrupt the joy and balance I’ve found. Sure, that could be selfish. But it’s also selfish to bring a human into the world that I don’t want. I’m certain I would love my hypothetical child, but I don’t want to create a life without my heart being in it 100 percent. I can only imagine what kind of powder keg that would create for me, my husband, my career and overall happiness.
Really, I think everyone should be allowed to choose the life they want to live. I applaud my friends who have chosen parenthood and completely fulfilled by their choice, and I also thank them for helping me to learn that parenthood is not the choice for me.
Image: Parks & Recreation
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Lindsay Patton-Carson is a Philadelphia-based writer and vice president of customer engagement at PiperWai Natural Deodorant. Her favorite topics to write about are pop culture, feminism and animal rights. In her spare time, you can find her going on a run, looking at memes and avoiding getting peed on by her two dogs. She was born during the same time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series. Because of Lindsay, the Tigers have yet to win another series. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayPatton.