Yes, I’m one of those married women who have decided to forego what’s commonly deemed the crowning achievement, the greatest legacy in a marriage.
People are quick to judge women like me as selfish; they assume we just want to breeze through life, party whenever we want to, and not deal with adult responsibilities, which is not really the case, at least for me.
I have a ton of worries that give me eye bags, I rarely party and can barely stand the taste of alcohol these days, and I’m just tired from working and adulting each day. I’m hardly the stereotype of the child-free, carefree, big city girl.
I didn’t always know that I didn’t want to have kids, of course. When I was younger, I thought I was just like every other girl who’d end up having kids once married. I imagined I would relish the chance to have a perky mini-me if it was a girl; I’d buy her gifts, dress her up, take her out—all the things I used to enjoy when I was little. But as I grew older, I realized that my earlier reasons for wanting to be a mother—which mostly stemmed from it being the “natural” thing for girls to grow into—were terribly flimsy.
I met my first boyfriend and the man I would eventually marry in college, and we struck up a friendship with a group of people we met in our dorm. We remained close even after we had all graduated, often meeting at impromptu dinners or planning out-of-town trips together.
But when these friends started tying the knot and popping out kids one by one, we could no longer do the things we used to do as easily. Our regular outings turned into kid-friendly trips to better accommodate their children, and we started seeing each other less and less because their lives had begun to revolve around the kids.
When I was around these kids, I'd try to be affectionate with them, but it never came naturally to me. I would think to myself as I cooed helplessly to a child in a tantrum, “Is this what you're supposed to do to a crying child? Am I making it worse? Doesn’t this kid like me?”
After many interactions like these with my friends and their kids, I eventually realized that I wasn’t exactly the nurturing type, nor was I ready to give up the freedom I treasured so much to devote myself so fully to caring for a child. I thought that maybe if I had a child of my own, my nurturing side would reveal itself, but I’ve come to accept that it’s just not me—at least not now.
And the same goes for my husband. While he absolutely adores kids, he’s more “fun tito” material than “doting father” material, and he knows it.
My husband and I discuss it every once in a while, like a state-of-the-relationship thing we do to make sure we see eye-to-eye on the matter, and we always agree to postpone having kids for the meantime or to not have kids at all. Sometimes he would see a stranger with a cute baby and he would tell me about it and say that he almost wanted to have a kid. But we’d both know that it was just the idea of having a cute baby that was attractive; once the idea became a reality, nappies and no sleep and sky-high expenses and all, what would we do then? Would we still find it “cute?”
Nurturing tendencies and the need for freedom aside, the main reason we've opted not to have kids is we're overwhelmed by the commitment required to raise a kid from birth to adulthood, especially now when we only have enough to provide for ourselves without a third family member in the picture. I’m a practical, levelheaded person who has thought about this a great deal, and I think it's irresponsible to start a family when you're not financially capable, let alone emotionally ready.
I see families that seem to be living hand-to-mouth and I can't help but get dismayed that these parents are bringing children—actual lives—into the world when they're so ill-equipped to raise them. Wouldn’t any parent wish to provide the best quality of life for his or her children?
I take the prospect of raising a child so seriously that I want to be sure I'm ready for it when it happens. I don’t want to jump into it and risk screwing it up just because becoming a mother is what everyone expects of me as a married woman.
My husband and I do sometimes worry about getting lonely and having no one to take care of us when we get older—one of the arguments people often make in favor of having children—but we’re not going to jeopardize our present circumstances just for the security of having someone to care for us when we’re seventy. We’ll get there when we get there. In the meantime, we’ll make the most of our little family, just the two of us.
I rarely open up about my decision to stay childless, precisely because there aren't that many people who would welcome my viewpoint. When people ask me when I plan to have kids, I often answer “No plans yet” or something vague like that. It's hard to explain where you’re coming from to people who firmly hold the opposite view—you’d be going against years of convention and teachings by the Catholic Church.
But when I meet women who think like me, I feel less like an outsider. I feel understood. I know there are a lot of us out there, but I just wish we didn’t have to feel forced into silence, or forced to defend ourselves over our choices.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind and decide to have a baby along the way, maybe when my husband and I are more confident in our finances and we’re in the right state of mind for it. But whether I change my mind or not, whatever I decide to do with my body and whatever my husband and I decide to do with our family is as valid as any other parent or couple’s decision to have children.