For TueNight.com by Tamar Anitai
There will be no children in my future. Ever.
Yes, I am married. Yes, my husband knows that I do not want children. Yes, we both realize we're extremely fortunate to be able to elect to live child-free. He doesn't want kids either. It's part of the reason I married him. (That, and he has excellent hair.) He married me knowing that and also because I always clean the litter box.
I probably brought up the topic of kids on the second date -- it would have been a dealbreaker. My husband would make the world's greatest father. But that alone isn't reason enough for me to become the mother I've never wanted to be, take on crushing financial burden or add more to my already too-full plate.
I love my friends' children. Because I don't have to take care of them. Their cuteness is there to fulfill my need to see cute things. I don't expect them to behave for me, and they don't expect 18 years of dinner from me. I see this as a good setup.
Not only do I not want children, but I think what really blows people's minds is that I've realized I don't need them. Apparently, some people agree with me, and apparently that's national news if the August 12 issue of Time is any indicator: The entire cover story was dedicated to the marvelous epiphany that "having it all" -- whatever that even means -- for some Americans means not having children. We've come far as a country, haven't we, when a well-established journalistic bulwark recognizes that -- gasp -- married couples might actually chose to subvert the cultural paradigm and elect to never need a minivan! What'll they come up with next? Gay people having babies? What sorcery is this?
Listen. I'm being real here: I need my sleep much more than I need children. Does that sound selfish? That's probably because it is! Which is probably one of the top reasons I shouldn't enter into parenthood in the first place. Which is just so funny, because people who have no business being in my business say the darndest things when I tell them I'm not having children. A sampling:
"You should totally do it! It's a blast!"
I bet having a dog is also a blast, but I don't even want the responsibility of caring for a dog. You'd probably talk me out of having a dog I didn't want to care for, so why would you try to talk me into having a human being I don't want to care for?
"You'll change your mind."
This is one of my absolute favorite things that people like to say when I tell them I'm not having children. It's so funny, because it implies they know me better than I know myself. To which I like to respond, "HOORAY! A REAL, LIVE, FREE PSYCHIC! What else can you tell me about myself that I don't know? Will I win the lottery? Will I ever finally lose those last, stubborn five pounds, or should I just give up? Also, how will the final season of "Mad Men" end?? Will we ever find out what really happened on the final scene of The Sopranos? What other secrets of the universe are you hiding in that magical brain of yours?"
"But what will you do when you're old?"
Um, let's see... hopefully spend the savings account that I didn't drain on summer camp and braces and college on traveling the world, all while dressed like Bea Arthur in "The Golden Girls." Playing shuffleboard. Hopefully.
"You'll just figure out a way to afford it."
LOL. Oh GOD you are just the funniest thing! Truly, a hoot! You're a stand-up comic, right? What's funny about that bullshit is that someone probably shared the same Pollyanna-ish platitude with the millions of people in this country who couldn't afford kids when they started out and still -- even with college educations and decent jobs -- never managed to "just figure out a way to afford it." The other thing that's funny is that this is another of the benefits of not having kids -- you never have to figure out a way to afford it.
"But what if you regret never having your own kids?"
I'd rather regret never having children than have children and regret it.
"But you'll never know happiness like the happiness of being a parent."
I'll also never know what it's like to have a penis. Or be Cuban! Or be able to dunk a basketball on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. I'll also never know what it's like to change a fetid diaper or what it's like to have a teenager who devotes months, if not years to hating me, followed by decades of passively resenting me. Thank you for your genuine concern regarding the status of my happiness, Deepak Chopra, but as a genuinely content person, I'm living proof that happiness isn't just reserved for parents and that it's possible to know happiness without venturing into parenthood. I love it here on the sandy child-free beach upon which I'm currently sunning.
"Why wouldn't you want to have children if your body is capable of it?"
Yes, someone actually said this to me. My body's also capable of having a gang bang, but I'm definitely not boarding that bus. So I'm not even honoring that with a response. The side eye was invented for this occasion.
"Good for you!"
Thank you. Can't say I disagree.
TueNight is a weekly online publication for women to share where they've been and explore where they want to go next. We are you, part two. As Gen-X women, we don't have a roadmap to this thing called life, so we are inventing our own. www.tuenight.com