What I want you to know: Happy to be child-free

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Brittany.

We had big news to share with my parents, so we invited them over for dinner. I was nervous, but obviously excited. They were too. As they pulled off the highway my dad turned to Debbi and said, ""I have a feeling they are going to tell us something. Either they're getting married or having a baby. I just feel it.""

"WHAT?!?" Debbi exclaimed. "They aren't getting married! OH MY GOD! They're having a baby!!"

My dad was right. He usually is.

After 7 years of dating, everyone thought we were just passing up the whole marriage thing and going straight to rearing a family. When they told me that story, I burst into laughter. I still chuckle about it. The funny thing is, we had no intentions of having a child-filled family - and we still don't. The trouble is, I still have a hard time admitting this to people. It's not because I am ashamed of our decision, or that I'm even apprehensive about that decision. It's that so many people get offended when I say it. Oddly, they get offended when we say we don't want children, yet completely disregard how offensive they are being when they scoff at us and say one of 3 things...
  1. That We Will Change Our Minds. This one I get, I suppose. I mean, how many people do we all know who at one point claimed they didn't want any and now have 2.5 kids, a freshly built house in the suburbs, and a graham cracker encrusted mini van? People frequently say one thing and do the opposite - it's simply human nature. With that said, as for us, the smaller our child bearing window gets, the more content we are with a child free existence.
  2. That We Are Selfish. This is the one that, I must admit, I still feel a little guilty about. Let me rephrase that, I don't feel guilty about not wanting kids, and I certainly don't think it is a selfish act. I do, however, feel selfish in that I actively seek to prevent having a child, while my brother and his wife are desperately trying to have one. I feel selfish in that I take my reproductive system for granted - assuming I could even have a child if I wanted one. On the other hand, it is my reproductive system and I may do with it as I please. Which I have decided to tuck it high up on a shelf and pray that it never needs to be used. As for actually being selfish on this manner, don't even get me started. Maybe that is a post for a later time.
  3. That We Will Lead Empty, Pointless Lives. This was actually said directly to me at one point, by someone I am incredibly close to. I don't think she meant it directly at me, but she meant what she said about people without children and she simply didn't believe that I meant what I said about not wanting them. The furry that boiled in my brain for the entire next week! But I got over it and now find the statement quite comical. And I really don't mean to sound harsh when I say, what an empty and pointless life one must have when they must create another being to acknowledge any self worth.
I will be honest, however, that when I was much younger, I thought the saddest thing that could ever happen to me would be to not be able to have them (I have several aunts and uncles who never had children). As I got older, I realized how naive I was in assuming that all of those without children couldn't have them, rather making that conscious decision. Time has certainly passed, and the idea of children has become less and less appealing. Don't get me wrong, I love kids - I adore my nieces and nephews and would love to welcome more. I worked as a full time nanny for several years and still maintain a strong relationship with those children. But as for us and our own personal family, we are happy to fill our home with the pitter patter of four legged creatures (of which there are many) and leave it at that.



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