I was 22 years old — my mother had recently passed away and my 19-year-old brother was going to become a father. I stopped by the family home to chat with my dad.
“ I don’t want to have children” I blurted out.
There it was, the moment I realized I had a choice in the matter.
I never enjoyed being a child. My soul felt trapped in a little body. I didn’t connect with my parents or their religion-based lifestyle choices. We weren’t allowed to have a TV or celebrate any holiday. A nameless church based in Christianity that said I had to wear a skirt, even in gym class.
My life is very free nowadays. I don’t belong to any religion. Publicly, I’m single. Privately, I have a lover/companion. I live alone and travel alone but enjoy companionship on occasion.
Up until I began blogging about being childfree, I battled with myself on how to respond to common social interactions.
Attending my best friend’s 35th birthday party “So where’s your husband and children?”
Running into someone who knew my parents through church: “How many children do you have now?”
Random conversation with a stranger in a lineup “Do you have any children?”
Family reunions-“When are you having kids?”
Society, in general, circling me whenever I set foot out my front door. “How come you don’t have any children?” “Who’s going to look after you when you’re older?” “Won’t you regret your decision?”
“Trust me, your time will come!”
I don’t have the personality that shies away from giving answers. Over the years, I built up an arsenal of comebacks.
“Zero husband, zero kids, lots of sleep and money” I’d reply.
“Oprah never had kids. If it’s good enough for her…”
“I’ll have kids when I can be the sperm donor.” — That was my personal favorite.
In discussing this situation with other non parents, I learned that some of them lie and say they cannot have children. This response comes with its own problems.
No matter the answer I gave to people, I never felt satisfied. I didn’t need to justify anything, to myself, to my family or strangers. What I only realize just now, is that I was feeling compelled to take this conversation further.
So tell me, why exactly did you want to have children?
Childfree by choice people are often accused of being selfish.
“ Oh, you want to make your life all about you.”
I’ve asked dozens of people why they wanted to have kids. Every answer is a selfish one, really.
- I want my family name to continue
- Our family traditions must be passed down
- I want someone to visit me when I’m old
- I want to be a grandparent one day
- Someone needs to take over the family business
- I will have something to do for the next 20 years
- Government pays me more if I have more children
- I want to be a stay at home mom
- All my friends have kids so I should too
People have kids to further their own life experience. My father told me that.
My own parents married young.
They met in college. My father, a black man and my mother, a white woman. Both Canadian. Their interracial relationship was not without its challenges. My mother’s father didn’t attend the wedding. I grew up in white communities, had white friends and very little knowledge of black culture.
My parents joined the nameless religion because they found in it, a level of peace they wished to bring to their new family.
And then they had a firstborn daughter named LeNora, who was anything but peaceful.
I fought against my parents for 18 years.
I can’t imagine that was fun-being a parent to me. Eventually, they put me in therapy. The therapist said I was just fine. All I wanted was to dye my hair red, go to the school dance and see a movie at the theater.
Said therapist also told my parents to let me stop attending church.
For the record, my mother died before I knew for sure I didn’t want children, but my father, brother and two nephews are 100% supportive of my choice.
I’ve never viewed motherhood as a goal.
My ambition to be a working Violinist and music teacher created a path to independence. I began paying my own way at 15 and worked nonstop for the next 10 years.
I didn’t get into a physical relationship until I was 26. After a handful of flings with both men and women, I got into my first and currently only dating relationship. That lasted 5 years. We lived together, vacationed together, did “couples” things.
After a while, I wanted my own life again. Relationships are hard. Pretending to like someone else’s friends and family is even worse. I make a lousy girlfriend. Even when I meet a person who piques my interest, I make it clear that I don’t want children.
Many first dates don’t happen and that’s OK. My life has always been my own and I have no problem stating my intentions upfront.
I’m about to turn 36, so I feel like I have some authority to say this:
Something happens at 30. A lot of bullshit falls away. Not all of it, but enough that you feel a sense of clarity in who you want to be. At 26, I knew I didn’t want to be a mother. At 36, I understand why.
It’s nobody’s business why I or anyone else doesn’t want to have children. People are curious, however. Or appalled. We see the outpouring of support for mental illness stories, abuse survivor stories, and mothers who share the behind the scenes madness of motherhood.
I have no stories in those categories to share. I’ve been to therapy, I recommend it, but I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety. I have been lucky as hell not to have been abused. I live a good life and work to make it even better for the future.
In July, I decided I wanted to give blogging a try. I read a very helpful article and decided on three topics.
Money-not how to make it, but rather my own personal experiences with money. Like my horrid spending habits in my 20’s and how I live debt-free now.
Celebrities-a motivational take on the rise of certain famous people. Joan Rivers, anyone? Love her, miss her.
The Childfree Lifestyle-the first two topics were easy to choose but this one came out of nowhere. I asked myself what it was that I really wanted to say to my fellow man. “You don’t need to procreate to have a rewarding life” was my reply.
Very quickly, it became clear that the topic of being childfree would dominate. I began to explore online for more childless groups, writers, artists, whatever I could find. There are so many different points of view within the childless/childfree community that I never considered.
Women who tried to have children and now are thankful it didn’t work out. Women who are heartbroken they couldn’t conceive and feel guilty for not pursuing adoption or not having the funds for fertility treatments. There are so many perspectives, I spend a lot of time reading.
I clearly fall into the childfree by choice category. I don’t want children. I don’t want a partner who has children, of any age. No foster children, no thinking about having children. Zero children.
I mentioned earlier that my brother became a father at 19. He works full time and has his boys living with him full time. My oldest nephew turns 13 on my 36th birthday. The youngest is 8.
Becoming an aunt on my 23rd birthday was fun. I’d help out and take my baby nephew to work with me when his parents were working late and couldn’t get to the daycare before close.
My nephews stay at my place one weekend every month. I’m very close to both boys. We have silly conversations and very serious conversations about money, being mixed race and trying to find a way to get through life without being super bored.
My brother has never traveled, he lived on his own for a whole six months after he split with his baby mama before his sons moved in with him. He has been a caregiver his entire adult life. He has a generous heart and finds it easier to put the needs of others before his own.
I am not that way.
I’ve always felt like I was on my own. Since marriage didn’t interest me, I knew it was up to me to take care of my needs. Therefore, my needs came first. And still do. When I am rested and fed and have had plenty of time and space to express myself, I’m a nicer person.
I like people who make an effort to help themselves. I’m best friends with self-reliant people. I have no interest in having pets because pets need care.
We can get what we asked for and then discover that it’s not what we want.
Life is funny that way. I’ve been there. I’m kind of there right now. I got what I asked for. The townhouse, the car, the time off to write, the money to pay my bills…
Now, I actually have to write. I am writing. So now what?
Make a connection.
A lovely thing has occurred as I write. I’m meeting new people. Childfree people. Parents who agree with my decision to remain childless. Older women who read my blog and contact me with their own personal stories of being a parent and what they have learned over the years.
Of course, parents love their children. Most of them had no idea what was all involved in raising humans. Some have had to set aside their retirement plans to look after injured or ill adult children.
Others have lost their child. Some have grown children who do not have kids and therefore will never be grandparents.
The business side of writing is also interesting. At least I have my niche market. As tiny as it is right now, more people are starting to feel the need to speak out. Most likely tired of being inundated with social media photos of babies.
How To Be Childfree-Medium Article Style
- Don’t have kids
- Oh, that’s how to get a numbered list going. I find the formatting is weird on this site. Ha.
- Enjoy life to the fullest, spend your money on yourself and worthwhile causes.
- Text your friends with kids how lovely it is to sleep in on a Sunday morning.
- Unfollow everyone who has children on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and the first day of school. Once their children become unruly teenagers, re-follow and you will see fewer and less posts about being a parent.
Perhaps some of my peers aren’t so enthusiastic about me spreading my message of childfree hope to their young, impressionable kids. I get that.
But I know I would have benefited from having someone say, even in passing — “LeNora, you don’t have to be a mother.”
I believe in my life path. I believe in the peaceful home life I create for myself. That is the reason why it’s important that I don’t have children.
Now, when someone says to me “ You will change your mind one day”, I just smile and hand them my business card and tell them to go read my blog.