Time Magazine’s newest cover article spotlights the childfree life: the idea that life can be fulfilling and happy without children. [Note: that article is currently behind a paywall; if you want to read it without subscribing or buying a physical copy, a kind person from the Childfree subreddit posted it in full.]
The article features the childfree life without bashing parents and shows the culture that equates womanhood with motherhood. And in a baby-crazy society, seeing a positive article like this on the cover of a major magazine says volumes for those, like me, who have no desire to reproduce.
Why not, you ask?
I like having time for myself
Oh, I thought I wanted kids at one point… when I was a kid myself. I played house dolls and school and those games that most little girls played. It was an expectation for girls: you grow up, get married, and have the kids and the white picket fence and the house. But as I got older that changed. I developed lots of hobbies that I barely had the time to pursue fully thanks to school and later, a job. A kid would throw all that time out the window because I’d be spending a lot of my time on that hypothetical critter instead of on myself.
I like having money
Let’s face it. Money’s a good thing to have. A kid costs at least $250,000 over the course of eighteen years to raise in the U.S. and more if you live in an upper middle class household or higher. All that money goes to food, clothes, diapers, school, activities, things kids beg you to buy in stores, toys, gifts, and other things that kids need and want. Thinking back to my upbringing I probably wasn’t the most expensive kid compared to my peers, but my parents did still fulfill all my basic needs and quite a few of my wants. (Surely my parents were thankful one of my hobbies–books–wasn’t quite as costly thanks to the library.)
The only problem with having that extra money is that when I want something, I usually buy it. Come holiday time when people ask what I want for Christmas/my birthday (only once a year since they’re two weeks apart) I have no idea what to tell them.
I like my body the way it is
Let’s not forget the worst part: having a kid usually involves being pregnant, having a little human grow inside you and feed off you for roughly nine months, causing the host’s body to grow and change and never return fully to its previous form. I (mostly) like my body fine the way it is and definitely do not want the consequences of a pregnant body. This probably makes me shallow, but I don’t care.
Not to mention that pregnancy itself comes with a lot of risks, both to the pregnant and to the unborn. Sure, most pregnancies don’t mess up a woman’s body beyond the usual stretch marks and weight gain after the birth, but things like postpartum depression aren’t rare. That’s some serious business.
I can barely take care of myself
I’ve killed a cactus before. I left it outside, and then it rained. A few years later I killed a bamboo by leaving it my bathroom… which has no windows. Oops.
A common argument is “But it’s different when they’re your own”. Well, I’m my own and can barely remember to take out the trash. I’m pet-sitting my boyfriend’s cats over the next two weeks, and that may be pushing my responsibility level to the max.
It’s going to get worse
I’m twenty-six, born and raised in a small north Georgia town, and smack in the My Friends Are Married demographic. I stopped checking Facebook in part because everyone from high school and quite a few from college are already parents. Even my Twitter feed contains several parents or pregnant people around my age. Over the next few years more and more people in my social circles will couple up and reproduce, my social feeds will fill up with children-related updates, and more likely than not people will ask me when I’m going to join them. (My parents, Baty bless them, have not asked this, as they want me to concentrate on adulting properly.) As the answer turns to “never” and I lose them them to their children, I’ll find myself left in the cold.
Thankfully a few of my friends are also childfree, so we’ll band together. We’ve gotta stick together, right?