In thinking of the next topic to write about here, I realized that to date I have not shared my personal story with you. So sit back and relax and I will tell you all about how I came to be a happily childfree woman.
First of all, it is relevant to point out that I have always been an independent thinker and never one to automatically follow the crowd and be a conformist. As a child, I found it more fun to create my own board game than to play a manufactured game. As a teen, I chose not to "party" and was quite scornful of the majority my peers who abused their bodies and brains that way. Needless to say, this resulted in my being something of a loner - not by choice, mind you (because I am very outgoing and sociable person), but because it's hard to make friends when you're taking the opposite path of 95% of your peers and refusing to be a herd-following sheep. At any rate, it has always been more important to me to be true to myself than to be false just so I can fit in.
I've also always been a person who does not like to be "tied down". I never fared well with possessive or controlling men. I've never been a person who can tolerate being stuck in a situation where I am not in control of my own happiness and destiny. I've always seen life as something that I fully create, not something that happens to me.
As for the childfree decision, growing up, I looked at my parents' life and it didn't seem at all appealing to me -in fact, it repulsed me. They were very unhappily married, struggling financially and were overwhelmed with the responsibilities of work and family and trying to make ends meet. They fought over money a lot - in fact money was so tight that my mother frequently came to me to borrow my babysitting money just so she'd have enough money to keep gas in the car. My impression of them was that all they did was work and struggle. When I think back to my parents' days of raising children, I think any objective person would say that it was the least joyful period in their lives.
In addition to having financial troubles, my parents were clearly incompatible and an ill-suited match. It became apparent to me at a young age that had they not had children, they would have most certainly divorced early in their marriage. In fact, my mother told me (on more than one occasion), "If it wasn't for you kids, I would divorce your father". She meant this to be a loving statement - i.e. "I love you kids so much that I will suffer in a marriage that I desperately want out of" but the more salient message came across loud and clear, "you kids are what are standing between me and the life I really want. It is because of you that I am tied down in this miserable existence."
Is this the reason I chose to be childfree? If I had been raised in a happy, well-adjusted family where my parents loved being together and seemed joyful in raising a family would I have looked at the option of parenthood in a positive light? I often wonder about this. There's no doubt my childhood experiences and perceptions were powerful influencers on my thinking, but regardless of my upbringing, I am confident that I would have chosen the same childfree lifestyle. Why? It always comes down to this one fact - people with kids pay a very high price for their lifestyle, and I just don't see that they are any happier than I am. In fact, in most cases they seem less happy. Why would I choose a life that costs substantially more, but in most cases yields less?
When I look at the lives of family, friends, co-workers and acquaintences who have children, I see lives that are full of overwhelming responsibility. I see that (like my parents) they are frequently struggling to make ends meet. I see that they no longer have the time or money to go out to dinner, to travel, to pursue interests in hobbies, to go to school, to schedule outings with friends or even to have meaningful conversations with other adults. Their entire beings are consumed with childrearing and their lives appear to me to be 99% work and 1% fun. I sense that their marriages aren't passionate anymore with little quality time left for their spouses after all the childrearing chores are done. I see their involvement in the community and interest in world events has dissipated. They look tired and worn down. They look old for their ages. They look spent. While there is no doubt their children bring them joy, in my estimation the cost for that joy is so excessive, it just isn't worth it.
Of course, people with children will respond, "yes, of course it is worth it!" and maybe for them that is true. For me, though, having kids would most definitely not be worth losing (or even compromising) all those very important things. Perhaps my marriage, my friendships, my hobbies and interests, my educational pursuits, my interest in the world, my passion, my enjoyment of adult conversation, my love of travel, my need for personal space, and my health and fitness hold more importance to me than they do to other people. Maybe other people don't need those things to be happy. I do. When it's all said and done, if I want the benefits of kids in my life, I can easily get them from my nieces, nephews and friends' kids with almost no cost to my happiness.
Lucky for me, I met my soul mate at age 26 and even luckier for me, he is a person who shares my perspective in all the important areas of life, including the choice to be free of the burdens of childrearing. I count my lucky stars every day because I realize the miracle of an independent-thinking freespirit like myself finding any man I'd want to commit to for life, let alone a guy who knows that a very happy and fulfilling life can be created free of children.
How about you? Care to share your story? Please comment...