“Why don’t you have children?” I used to get asked this all the time when I was younger. Now, of course, the question is “Why didn’t you have children?” Do men get asked this same question? It seems that women are the only ones who are supposed to want kids and choosing not to have them makes them an anomaly. The funny thing is, only the people who have kids ask me this. If you never had kids, you know why someone else didn’t, or possibly you are happy enough in your own life that you don’t feel the need to question someone else’s choices. I suppose I should go around asking parents why they chose to have children. Seems only fair, but I imagine it would be considered rude.
Now there’s a question. Why is it ok to ask someone why they never had kids, or why they didn’t get married, but it isn’t ok to ask why a person has children or a spouse? Societal norms? Or is asking someone why they got married the same thing as questioning their judgment? Some things seem to be ok to question, while others are not. After delighting in my childless life, I certainly question, if not the judgment, at least the planning of a person who opted to reproduce. What I would really like to ask, is if they ever regret giving up being childless, but I suspect that would be a very bad idea.
So why didn’t I have kids? Are you kidding me? This has to be the easiest question ever, for lots of reasons. Kids are an amazing amount of work. The best parents I know spend every moment with their child teaching, instructing, explaining, demonstrating, and every other active verb you can come up with. They stay up late on election night explaining how the Electoral College works, or demonstrate what crystals are by making ice. Parents drag their kids to museums or plays trying to teach them culture. They haul them to dance lessons, baseball practice, summer camp, Japanese classes, the list of things that children seem to need to be taken to is endless. I’ve watched people I know who have children, and not only am I certain that being a (good) parent is a continuous amount of work, I’m certain that it’s not work that I am well suited for. Am I lazy? Selfish? Maybe, but I’m good with that.
Kids are expensive. Even the cheap ones. Those guys never stop growing, never stop eating, never stop wanting new things. And all those plays and classes take money. Busy or lazy parents seem to spend even more, buying endless electronic toys to keep junior entertained. It doesn’t seem to matter how much money you make, your children will be requiring most of it. If I were independently wealthy, maybe I could justify being happy to drop a buck or two on a kid, but for where I am now, I can think of better things to do with my money, such as spend it on me. Selfish again? I’m still good with it.
Kids break things. That would drive me up the wall. It’s bad enough when I break something, but to have a two footed tornado whirling around the house would completely do me in. Even when you keep them outside they manage to smash, dent or otherwise damage just about everything they come into contact with. I know that they’re exploring and learning, and I realize that a few things might need to be sacrificed along the way, but I guess I decided that I don’t need to be the one making the sacrificing.
Kids are loud. What can I say, I like peace. Music can be loud, that’s ok, but not screaming. I’m not talking about babies, they’re just trying to get their point across, it’s the older ones that should know better that get to me. Really? Screaming is going to get you that candy? Honey, if I were your mom, screaming would get you nothing but a quick trip back to the car and a twenty minute lecture on behavior. I even lecture my cats when they’re too loud, and no, they don’t listen either. I don’t know why little people can’t seem to understand that being louder isn’t going to get you your way, but then maybe I’m being unfair here. I guess I know plenty of big people that haven’t figured that out either. Maybe we’ll just call that one a wash.
Kids are demanding of everything. Time mostly. Even when they aren’t currently in the presence of their offspring, parents are talking about what the wee one did recently, or failed to do, or plans to do in the future. I would have to say that once you become a parent, nothing happens in your life that doesn’t involve your child. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I promise you, my day will be just as complete if I don’t hear about the most recent diaper blowout. I’d say my day would be better, even.
There must be plenty of good reasons why people have children, they can’t all be mistakes, right? But whatever those reasons are, none of them ever seemed to apply to me. I guess it’s a good thing that other people have decided to reproduce, carry on the population and all that, but I’m awfully glad it wasn’t me. I like spending my time the way I choose without having to worry about the welfare of some small person. I get to go where I want, do what I want, and listen to what I want. I just can’t imagine how having a child could compare to the freedom and fun of not having a child. Sure, maybe I’m missing out on something, but if that’s the case, it’s not anything that I’ve noticed.
If you’re wondering if I’ve ever regretted my choice, why don’t you come over some time, we’ll go through my travel photos and talk about it. We can even eat ice cream and listen to loud music while we do it.