We Don't Want Kids

One weekend stands out in my head for the crystal clear lens through which it showed me how different we are from everyone else.  It started with my high school reunion.  At the first one you are an oddity one step away from cat lady status if you aren't married but at reunion number two you are a freak of nature if you don't have at least one or two kids at home.  I found myself saying we don't have kids, so we travel a lot.  Repeatedly.  They wanted answers and I didn't want to go into it so that was the easiest thing to say. "No kids?" a former classmate said in confusion.  "Wow. Your life is a fairy tale."  And I guess in a way it sort of is, when you consider how rare the childfree choice is. 

The next day was a pool party and it isn't a party in your thirties without at least one child present.  One baby made an appearance at my high school reunion and at the party all married couples present had kids except us.  The following day we attended our very first pony party.  Things like that happen when all of your friends have kids.  We were the only childfree couple which I would totally expect for a pony party considering the weight limit is 100 lbs, but at least we have the kind of friends where you can always expect adult beverages even when the guest of honor is four.  It was a busy weekend, and I was very tired by the end of it.  I came home and took a long hot uninterrupted shower while my husband retreated to his Xbox.  I had no obligations that needed immediate attention so I fell into an exhausted slumber while I imagined our friends hustling home with kids in tow to the non stop marathon that has become their life.  I'm pretty sure there was no nap or leisurely lounging about the couch in their future.  Every single thing we did that weekend, even the nap was reminder that we are the only ones our age without kids. Not on the planet, although it feels like that sometimes, but at least in our social circle and among those around us.

No kids in your thirties is a fairly unpaved and little trodden path it seems.  In your twenties and early thirties, there are rumblings of three kinds among childfree couples not actively trying to conceive.

A.  We definitely want kids but aren't ready yet.
B.  We aren't sure about kids.  Maybe someday. 
C.  We aren't interested in kids and don't want any.

We are in category C, not interested don't want any group, but it was automatically assumed that we would shift up to category B and then ultimately land on category A at some point.  I mean, everybody does because everybody wants kids right?  And even if you don't, you do it anyway because the maternal instincts are so powerful.  If they don't get you, then eventually you succumb to the pressure of the masses.  It's not uncommon for women in their twenties to still be in their so called "selfish" phase where they are not willing to hand over their life to a child, but as you mature and it becomes the norm among your peers it seems like the natural step.  Even if you were against it, you start to see it as something you want.  If everyone else has abandoned their fears, turned their body into an incubator/food source, totally upended their lives, given up sleep, and freedom to move about the world then made it sound like the best thing in the whole wide world it must be the thing to do.  Preferably, before it gets too late because after you have one, chances are you will spawn another even if you don't know it yet because that's what people do.

You are not alone in your twenties, but the thirties separate the ones who were serious about not having kids from the ones who simply weren't ready.  It's been well over a year since the last hold out in our group had their first and they are already speaking about seconds while the ones who took the plunge years before already have.   Unlike most people we haven't shifted up from category C.  Do you know that some people have told me that they didn't even know it was an option NOT to have kids?  They get this dumbfounded look on their face when I tell them.  "Yes, it's true.  You don't have to have kids.  You can if you want to, but you don't have to.”  Mind blown.  When we say we don't have kids we feel the pink elephant sitting in the corner with large round questioning eyes.  If we don't say it first, they inevitably ask because people are very bold about sticking their noses into the reproductive lives of others.  Also, it's just that much of an oddity to come across a stable married couple of our age who have not gotten around to procreation that even if they had the restraint to refrain from asking a newlywed couple in their twenties they are probably going to ask us. "Why not?"  

From our 2010 wedding

We happily jumped on the home ownership and wedding wagon but the baby train has yet to leave the station and it's kind of a strange place to be right now.  What started with weddings, turned into baby showers, and shifted into birthday parties.  The number of kids at get togethers has multiplied and the dynamic of outings has shifted to accommodate friends with kids.  It used to be that my husband's friends could plan a bike ride or a group dinner with one week notice but the call for social outings are fewer and far between and  group sports have fallen by the wayside.  The social reservoir available to parents juggling life and children seems to have officially run dry.  There is childcare to arrange, time and energy already stretched to the breaking point, and a serious case of chronic sleep deprivation going around.  I'm happy to still have the freedom they don't, but also can't help feeling left out even though it's something that I never wanted in the first place.

I'm not a woman who always wanted a child, but it is really bizarre how you can know one thing and yet your body tells you something entirely different.  The maternal instincts didn't start kicking until my thirties after my nephew was born and after all of my peers had already started doing it. There was a tug of war happening between what I know to be true and instincts beyond my control.  Maternal instincts and the babies of Instagram with their tiny moccasins and gummy grins are an inescapable duo.  Cunning.  Convincing.  Impossible to ignore.  My body ached with the want of it even though it is something I didn't want.  I don't want the physical, emotional and financial strain that goes along with bringing another person into this world and yet maternal instincts threatened to convince me of otherwise.  My mind is objective and calculated but my heart was driven by emotions beyond my control.  I wavered slightly, he did not.  The important thing is that we have always been on the same page regarding this matter, but it should be noted that had he not been so steadfast in his position things could have turned out differently. 

If I see one more bump date, have another baby poop conversation or hear one more person say "it's so worth it," I think I will scream.  Hold on a moment while I stifle that scream with my hands.  Don't worry, it's not you, it's me and it's the same phenomenon that occurs anytime you buck the trend.  I imagine that people who don't believe in home ownership or marriage understand.  Everyone else is on board but you haven't quite bought into the notion that it could make a wonderful difference in your lifeWhen they say how awesome it is you can't relate and grow tired of feeling the need to defend your choices. The entire world is talking about it, dreaming about it, hoping for it, doing it and you are not.  Having it in your face day in day out starts to feel like a tiresome barrage you can't escape.

I may be tired of hearing it, but I believe you when you say it's worth it.  Once you have a person in front of you that you created it's pretty crappy to say oops we changed our mind it's not working out and we don't like you very much.  There is no going back when it comes to parenthood.  Even parents who feel that way are hard pressed to verbalize such thoughts because this is a helpless little person that you have agreed to take care of for a very long time.  They may drive you crazy with their ability to do nothing but poop, eat, cry, yet control everything and spend all the money, but they need you and you love them fiercely if for no other reason than because they are yours.  As ambivalent as I am I'm quite sure I'd feel the same.  The difference is that I'm not willing to accept the end of life as I know it and the ensuing trials and tribulations in exchange for being the one saying those words.  I'm not a monster.  I am not immune to those adorable baby leg rolls, round tummies and tiny dimpled hands.  Babies are indeed precious.  I adore my nephew.  He is the sweetest thing ever.  His hugs and sweet smiles melt my heart.  I admit, I'm torn between wanting to send him home with mom and wanting him for myself but they don't stay little forever and behind every adorable baby is a mountain of struggles that I don't want to have.

The DINK life suits us well.  Dual income no kids, for those who don't know.  I really enjoy the time that we have to ourselves, the vacations we get to take and a life I don't have to try to split between work, finances, self, spouse and child which seems to be an impossible tug of war that nobody wins. It's startlingly sad how little time working parents get to spend with their children and I barely have enough time and energy for myself let alone a kid who wakes up at the crack of dawn and needs to be entertained all day long.  We get to come and go as we please and our life is our own.  Pregnancy and childbirth sound awful. I'm glad I'll never have to do it. And then there is the money.  Money doesn't buy happiness but you are lying to yourself if you say it can't help.  People with less income have multiple children and I don't believe I can afford one.  They say you never believe you have enough and that you figure it out but I am the stubborn sort.  I don't want to just figure it out.  If I can't do it the way I want to then I don't want to do it all.

I realize that there are things we might miss out on.  I say might because nothing is a given when you have a child.  It is 100% fueled by hope, and just doing your best.  I won't ever know what our child might have looked like, what they would have done with their life or what joys they might have brought to ours.  I won't ever know what it's like for someone to call me mom or experience that parent child bond.  We are a family of two.  We won't have anyone to take care of us when we are old, because you know, having children definitely guarantees that.  

The childfree choice can be a lonely path.  The gap widens between yourself and everyone else. Children present their own set of challenges to relationships but so does not having them.    Our first few years together were a whirlwind with the house hunting, the wedding and everything that goes into early stages of building a life together.  Then it all stopped, and it hit me that this is it.  It is just us and this is how it will be for the foreseeable future. Without bath time, story time and car pools there are no distractions and no kids to shake things up.  Our relationship is what we make it just the two of us, for better or for worse now and ten years from now.  We have to be okay with that.  Part of me wishes I wanted kids just so I can be like everyone else, but I can't do it because everybody else is doing it.  I can't do it because babies are so cute and I certainly can't do it out of fear of future regret that may or may not ever occur.  Some call it selfish.  Some call it lazy.  Others just call it weird.  I call it making a rational, informed, practical decision that is right for us.  We decided the cons outweighed the pros.  We decided we are enough for each other.   

We don't want kids, so we aren't having any.


Ashley said...

I really loved this post. I'm about to be 29, my husband is nearing 31, and we get the "why aren't y'all having kids" question all the time. People love to ask, offer opinions, and critique, but really it's a personal decision for us. I was completely in category C as well until probably 3 or 4 months ago and now i'm just not sure where I fall, maybe somewhere between B-C if possible. All i know is it a HUGE decision and I want to do it for the right reasons if that is a path we decide to go down. I find it really courageous when a couple makes a decision to do what's right for them, go you! Thanks for sharing this.

Tia @ HoPo said...

As shocking as this is going to sound....we didn't either. Not for a really....REALLY long time. It's nice having friends that both have them and don't, because you know SOMEONE is always available to hang out. I like bouncing back and forth between both worlds right now...since we are in limbo. I like my last minute get togethers with non-kid friends, and I like our pool parties filled with wobbly babies bobbing in the water. The decision for us to move forward with kids was never influenced by other people. It was the passing of my grandfather. It fueled that maternal fire so intensely that I couldn't imagine being on my death bed without my child at my side, knowing damn well not many other people my age or older would be present. It was the weirdest point in my life, that's for sure. Because it was only a couple years earlier, we even brought up the word abortion should we ever have an oops....My have times changed.
Do whatever makes the two of you happy. My answer to those prying questions was always....good for you, not for me.

Shannon Q. said...

This was really interesting to read. Naturally because I have a child, I couldn't imagine not having him in m my world, despite the work and shenanigans that go into raising him. But, I think it's awesome that you and your husband are doing what feels right for you, and not allowing the world to waiver you from what you know is best for you. That's really awesome and I applaud you for doing that. When I got divorced I was crushed that the possibility of having more kids might not happen now. As time has gone on, a small part of me is saddened it probably won't, but now, I like the vision of what the rest of my life will look like without more kids. I like knowing there is going to be a large chunk of time that I get for just ME. Glad you shared your perspective 💜

Renae said...

I loved reading this post, each line got more intriguing to me as you wrote..of course this is me speaking as a mom of 2 daughters, and there is no way I can imagine how my life would be without them in it for so many reasons. But, I for sure admire you and your husbands stance on the issue and why its best for you. I most certainty think that most should take the time to outweigh having children before they decide to have them, when they do..I love being a mom and what that means personally to me and how it has enriched my life in so many ways. But, I can also understand why a couple would choose a different path for their life.

Kurlylicious said...

I was happy to see this post! My husband and I will be married 7 years in May and we too do not want kids. I'm of the age now that if you come at me sideways about my reproductive status, my give a damns have decreased and my mouth is very slick, so please be advised to not try me! Unfortunately, I had to get a family member together this past weekend, but rest assured, I bet they won't inquire EVER again!

Newlyweds on a Budget said...

love this! I actually find that more people are choosing not to have kids these days--at least the smart people are anyway. I always wished, like REALLY wished that I didnt want kids, because I loved my life as a family of just two. so much disposable income, naps whenever i wanted, spa days to myself. Now, i am tired. SO tired. and I'm constantly questioning myself. In fact I am typing this with one hand as my 3 month old naps in the other. yes i love my child more than words could express but hot damn i am so jealous of your life right now ; )

Nylse Esahc said...

I don't think you need to justify your choice of not having children, but you did. I can appreciate some of your angst around your joint decision, as this is the case for big decision. The important thing is that you're at peace with this decision and that's great for you; it doesn't mean everyone will understand but at least you are good with your decision. This was interesting in a weird way.

Tomes Edition said...

I loved the honesty of this post. I don't have kids yet but i do want a family someday. Its good to know you don't feel pressured and is doing what feels right for both of you. AFter all its you and him against the world, atleast thats how we think.

Law_Fal said...

I guess because I'm not married yet, the idea of having children seems so impossible or far away. I mean I get I can definitely have a child without a marriage but they just seem to go hand and hand. For me I've been all I want for so long that I feel like a kid would be a new adventure, but the thought of physically having one and giving up the independence is scary. It's hard enough w a puppy. But I know my heart does long for a son. Maybe the man I end up marrying will already have one so I don't have to go through the hassle lmao or maybe just maybe one day if it's meant to be it'll just occur. I have friends who say they didn't want kids and tried not to have them and still ended up w them. Do they love them, yes, are they sometimes wishing they didn't have them. Yes! This was a great post and I appreciate yalls honesty. Most people are too scared of judgment to speak their truth. Enjoy that freedom. You have a nephew so you are good ;)

Gabby said...

This must have been a difficult post to write and publish, because of the judgment that could come your way. It sounds like you've absolutely made the right and thoughtful choice for yourselves. Kudos on putting it out there. I completely agree there's a kind of social stigma about choosing to remain childless and everyone that speaks up helps make it more normal!

Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage said...

So well written CeCe!! Would you like to be added to my childfree page? I've certainly had some very similar conversations. Just the other day, someone I talked to was almost speechless over the fact that a married couple would decide (like make the decision/declaration) they are not having kids. She wasn't rude about it, it was really like it was something entirely new to her. We also don't really plan on buying a house either...which people do find a bit odd too. Also my choice to get married at the courthouse was also in the "oh really" category, though plenty of people said if they did it over they would go that route too. :) Great post!

jackie jade said...

I think everyone has to do what is right for them, so good for you and I'm sure it was scary to put a post like this out into the world. We want kids but I do think the "sooooo when are you gonna have a BABY?" comments are so weird - it's so personal so it's bizarre that people are cool with asking you. So I can only imagine the comments if I said we didn't want kids. Glad you know what is right for you guys and not giving in to the peer pressure. And if you don't have a baby, that means you just need to get lots of puppies :) haha.

Pegster said...

Wow, this is a powerful post and so well written. I really enjoyed reading it because you were so honest about your position and all the tribulations that it comes with. I think it's natural in this day and age for people to judge no matter what you do. If you are not doing the mainstream thing then something must be wrong. If you have more than the prescribed 2 kids, a house and a minivan then you will be berated for your choice.

I love people like you, who make their decision, embrace it and don't give a F what other people think. I don't think you will regret your choice. You've clearly thought it through and realized that there are positive and negative aspects of your choice. Knowing that it's your choice is the most important.

We've experience the same questioning because we decided to have (somewhat of) a big family. People tell us all the time how selfish it is, our kids won't get the attention they deserve because we have too many, so on and so forth. Mind your own business people. Everybody is different and do things differently based on what they want from life. Butt out already. People can't believe that we tried for all of our kids and actually wanted to be pregnant. When we told them about baby #4 they kept saying, must be an accident. No crazy, it was planned thank you very much.

I must say you and MJ are some hot potatoes. People can't help but think how extremely attractive your kids would be :). Maybe that's why they keep asking ;)

Tricia Coniglio said...

It is SO true!!! People really DO judge about not having or wanting kids. Most people get completely appalled by hearing another person say they don't wants kids. When I was younger I used to feel sorry for people without kids and now, I don't have kids but there is no reason to feel sorry for me :) I LOVE kids, just don't have any of my own and I am single. I am at an age where most guys already have kids so it isn't a big deal if I have my own or not.

TiffanyInHouston said...

This was honest and brave. I have been following your blog since you got married, since I got married a few months after you did. We have decided not to have children either, after trying for a while, then deciding not to adopt, and then realizing we REALLY liked the DINK lifestyle. If it actually happened then I wouldn't be upset, but I'm almost 43 so it's unlikely to happen.

Brass Honey said...

Fabulous Cece and I have to say good for you and MJ for going to pony parties and such. Over the years Dar and I have let our relationships with almost all of our friends with children dwindle. Honestly, there's not enough booze in the world to make a 4 year olds birthday party fun {relatives excluded).

I do have some good news! We are still definitely the minority but our numbers are growing. Before blogging I thought I was alone in my choice. We definitely are not.

Also, and maybe it's just me but now in our late 30's/early 40's people seem to have either: 1. finally given up on getting us to come over to the darkside. 2. realized that we were being serious when we told them we were NEVER having children or 3. are bogged down raising kids and are openly admitting to being jealous of our freedom (while swearing they love there kids, which I completely believe).

Anyways, bravo and well said!

Bailie Hemborg said...

Thank you for this post! My husband and I have been together 7 years and just now after hitting 30 I finally feel comfortable saying out loud to people we do not plan on having children. It is such a hard topic as people either want to ask questions that are extremely personal or say things like "well you never know" with a smug look that makes me want to scream!

Lindsay said...

You absolutely, perfectly nailed this post! My husband is 31 and I'm 27 and we've been together 7 years (married 2.5). We are absolutely certain we don't want kids, and yet it is blasphemy to say this to anyone and everyone in our circle. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and views, it's nice to know there are others out there like us.

Miriam said...

Beautifully written Cece!I know the loneliness that comes with childfree living well. For about 2 years I really struggled, not really wanting any children but being so surrounded by them that I thought it would be easier to give in and juts join the herd. Our situation is a bit different, since my husband was married before and has 4 daughters from his first marriage. They are all grown up now, which gave me the opportunity to see the other end of raising children: What if they don't turn out how you hoped? What if they make decisions you can't understand, shut you out or talk to you only when they need money?
These are all scenarios that have happened to people we know with grown children.
Parents of young kids smugly think they can shape their kids into the people they want them to be, when in truth every person comes into this world with their own set of characteristics already. Parents have much less influence than they think they do, and the real problems may start when they grow up.
I'm very grateful that we decided not to have children together, and feel finally fine to say so out loud! "Meeting" other women who made the same choice helps tremendously, so thank you so much for sharing!!

Catherine Gacad said...

i always tell anyone without kids, "if you like your independence, don't have kids!" i love my son, but (most people don't know this)...i could have gone either way. my husband really wanted kids, so that's the reason we tried. but i would have been fine being childless too. i never had that itch of really wanting kids. when i got pregnant, that all changed, but there is nothing wrong with not wanting kids. to me, that's just as natural. i will also say that people i know who don't have kids, are having a grand time!

Faith said...

This was such a powerful read! I honestly don't have much more to add besides that. I like the way you laid it out and I completely get it.

Joyce Campbell said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I am so afraid that I will not fid a husband that does not want kids! Thank you so much for your honesty!! Marriage is down the long road for me since I'm 22 and figuring life out, but I know for sure that I don't want children.