You may not have known this (I didn’t until I saw it on Twitter) but August 1 is International Childfree Day! If you’re one of the many people out there who have procreated already, you probably think it’s dumb to celebrate NOT having kids. To put it bluntly, it’s not. Let’s talk about the #childfree movement and its value for those of us who have chosen not to have human kids of our own.
The first thing I want to clarify is that “childless” and “childfree” are two very different things. Childless is an old school term with very negative connotations; it exists in a patriarchal utopia straight out of 1950 where every woman is dying to become a mother and some don’t “accomplish” it. It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: Lots of people choose not to have kids for lots of different reasons, and there’s nothing wrong with it. That’s where #childfree comes in. People who are childfree aren’t longing to be parents or unable to have children; we have deliberately chosen a life free of poopy diapers, bleeding nipples, and mountains of bills that only get bigger as they grow older. We chose a life where we can afford to pay the bills and do something nice for ourselves sometimes too, like go on a vacation or get a mani/pedi. We chose a life where we can prioritize our careers, personal goals, and happiness instead of being relegated to a life of financial distress and constant overwhelming demands.
Childfree people get a bad reputation in a society where the intent to procreate is assumed, especially for women. Any woman who remembers playing with dolls as a little girl understands that we were being not-so-subtly groomed to the expectation of someday becoming baby incubators while our brothers were encouraged to learn to fix things and think about their future careers. When we buck that expectation and decide motherhood isn’t for us, we’re seen as terrible selfish people.
Thanks to the childfree movement, the climate around this issue has been changing as more childfree people share their stories and reasons they chose to be childfree. In honor of this special day, I’m going to tell my story.
I grew up thinking I would eventually have kids, like most people do (thanks to society’s expectations). I got into my first serious relationship at age 19 and I thought he was The One (he turned out to be an abusive piece of shit but that’s a different story). We stayed together for 9 years and he constantly talked about how I should go off my birth control and have a kid with him. I refused because I had a hard and fast rule that I wouldn’t choose to have a child while unmarried. Long story short, he never wanted to marry me, so I left him finally when I was 28. After that, I was single for 4 years before I began dating my now-husband (the actual One). By the time we got married in 2017, I was 33 and the ticking biological clock that had been so deafening in my late 20’s had almost completely disappeared. I hadn’t considered before that a family can be complete without kids, but that realization was an epiphany for me. We could be a family on our own with our dogs, no kids required. No pregnancy making me feel like shit and taking away my wine and sushi, no giant medical bills for labor and delivery, no expensive child care, and no college funds to build! Suddenly, the idea of being childfree forever and accomplishing our own dreams sounded awesome. My husband had been on the fence his entire life about whether or not he wanted kids (shocking for a devout Catholic), and we decided together that we weren’t interested in being parents of small humans. If we had a quarter for every time someone asked us when we were going to have a baby (not IF but WHEN 🙄) though, we would be rich.
We’re not selfish people and we don’t spend our entire lives recklessly partying, nor do we hate kids. We love being the cool aunt and uncle to our nieces and nephews; we just simply don’t want any kids of our own. We have different goals for our life together and our family. For example:
- I have a goal of maintaining my self-employed status and never returning to Corporate America
- He has a goal of turning his popular satire blog, Yonkaholic, into a source of income. Check it out if you haven’t already! Yep, shameless plug for my wonderful husband. 😁
- We have a goal of adopting more rescue dogs at some point
- We recently accomplished our goal of owning a home. We wouldn’t have been able to afford it if we had a kid.
- We have a goal of traveling around just about the entire country throughout the years
- We want to own a beach house someday
The list goes on, but you get the idea. We have a very full and happy life planned together, and children are not part of that plan. We are happily #childfree.
Any other happy #childfree people out there? Shout it out in the comments!