10/26/2014 06:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Childless by Choice - Gas Station Condoms and Rumors of Infertility


Remaining childless through your childbearing years when you are in a continuous relationship is not just a decision or lack of making the decision to have children. It is also work.

It's very strange that I had no problem buying liquor or illegal drugs when I was in my late teens but I was too embarrassed to buy condoms in a drug store.

In the group of friends I hung out with while growing up, fear of pregnancy was very high. I think we would have had less of a problem calling our parents to bail us out of jail on a minor drug offense than to come home and tell them you had gotten someone pregnant or were pregnant (my female friends, not me).

My solution to this dilemma was to buy condoms from a vending machine in the bathroom of a gas station that was at the end of the airport runway.

I finally got over this fear of buying condoms publicly when I was about 18 and moved in with my now wife and she had no problem sending me to the store to buy her "feminine hygiene" products. Once I tackled that fear, condoms were no problem.

The fear of pregnancy followed my wife and I through our 20s and 30s. We were never ready to have kids, didn't have enough money to have kids, we should have done that last year, all the usual reasons. We then realized one day we were too old to have kids. Probably not biologically but definitely psychologically. We had become set in our ways, some may even say selfish and self-centered.

Children can't be let out in the yard to play until you get up at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday because you were out late the night before. Dogs can. Cats don't even need to be let out, you can ignore them.

Since we had entertained the thought of having children at various times during our marriage, when asked why we had never had children, we didn't express the thought that we had never wanted them. Our stock answer became "we forgot to have kids."

The truth of course was somewhat more complicated than that since we had talked about it. The reality was that neither of us ever had a strong desire to be parents. The wonderful mental images had crossed our minds; coloring with a cute three year old, taking them trick or treating on Halloween, or seeing their faces on Christmas morning as they opened presents. We recognized however that this was a romanticized view and not everything that was involved in parenting.

Now that we are in our fifties there is no regret. My wife has even stopped the occasional worrying about the idea that I may change my mind, divorce her and find a younger woman to start "the family I always wanted." Of course maybe she has just realized that no one else would want me at this point.

My wife and I never talked about our lack of desire to have children with family very much which led to the following encounter between my wife and her father when we were in our late 30s.

My father-in-law had some sort of surgery and my wife had gone to Florida to be his "nurse" during this time. As he woke up from the anesthesia, she was standing there and he asked her "Have you had Kevin tested?" her response was "for what?" Thoughts of STDs and AIDS ran through her mind. He then said "well you've never had kids." Her response:

"I guess it might help if we stopped using birth control."

End of discussion.

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