It happened again today. I was at a new salon getting a super cute summer do, enjoying a glass of white wine, when the stylist asked me if I had kids. “Nope”, I said. And I politely changed the subject.
Like many, many women the world over, I won’t be having kids. I thought about it here and there, but it never seemed like the type of commitment I was willing to make. It costs a lot of money, time, and energy to raise an upstanding human. I choose to spend my time, energy and money differently. That’s my choice. Don’t get me wrong – I love kids. We get along great! I have been teaching preschool (infants – six years) for a while now and I’m a very popular teacher. I’m strict but fair, and I’m one of the only teachers who plays with the kids. I like coloring with them, drawing with them, sliding, swinging, talking about Star Wars and dinosaurs, or correcting misinformation they might have picked up along the way. I love kids. I just don’t need one at home.
I am 39 years old and I can’t tell you how often complete strangers, parents of the kids I care for, or people who actually know me ask me why I don’t want kids. First off, it’s none of your business! If you have ever asked that question, please stop. It’s rude. So is saying “It’s not too late” or “Why waste that DNA?” Second, when I say “I don’t want kids” It has nothing to do with you or your choice to become a parent. Don’t get so offended, and don’t take it personally. I’m not abstaining from parenthood in order to prove a point, or to say parents are bad. It really, really has nothing to do with you or anyone else. It’s a personal choice. Lastly, please stop with the condescending looks. And stop telling me I’ll regret it. I won’t. It’s pretty simple: I don’t want to sacrifice the things necessary in order to raise proper humans.
I got pretty used to being interrogated while living in Prague because most Czech women are very old-fashioned when it comes to gender roles. If you aren’t on your third kid by the time you are 25, you are doing something wrong. Honestly, one Czech woman told me that no Czech man would want me if I didn’t “give to him a child”. I told her I was cool with that since there was no Czech man who I would be willing to have sex with. Many childfree, American women have experienced this in Prague. One of my Czech bosses told me I had better “hurry up” and have a baby before I run out of time and get old and fat. No joke. MY BOSS.
But it’s not just Czech women. It happens here too. A few months back I posted something to FB about what a great day I was having… doing something… (I don’t remember what) and how happy I was doing it. A “friend” (who just happens to be a mom) said, “Must be nice to have all that time to yourself! Wish I could just run off and do what I want. Oh responsibility!” Not only is this just rude and disrespectful, it is also ignorant. To assume that women who don’t have kids are riddled with free time is just ridiculous. Most of us who made a choice not to procreate made that choice so that we could have more time. More time to spend the way we want. I spend 40 hours a week with kids and I get paid for it. That’s the way I like it. Taking care of kids for free isn’t my idea of fun.
Not every little girl dreams of growing up and being a Mommie. And that’s ok. I didn’t. When I was little I dreamed of living a grand life, full of adventure and costume changes. I wanted to be an actress or a singer. I dreamed of dancing on a midnight cruise in a huge ball gown like Ginger Rogers. I dreamed of having a Penthouse in a high-rise overlooking Central Park. I even dreamed of joining the circus… or the army. I had a vivid imagination and I wasn’t going to limit myself to a house, a husband, children and yearly holidays. No sir. I
wanted want more. I guess I always aspired to be like the role models of my youth: Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey, Auntie Mame, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Child and Harper Lee. All great women, all smart and funny, all great thinkers, great dressers, and great humans. And not one of them a great mom.