By Blanche Kruk
I have never felt offended when asked why I chose not to have children. I share my reasons readily. I am a poster child taking a stand for women’s rights or any individuals’ right to choose a lifestyle other then the traditional nuclear family. What is offensive is when my answers seem unsatisfactory or if someone mockingly states “If you’re not going to have children why bother to get married.” I am then forced to defend myself as I become wheedled into answering a dozen questions, not just for enlightenments sake, but to convince the individual who is on the defensive that I am certain I made the right choice.
Here’s how the one way conversation goes, “Can you or can’t you? Are you sure? How do you know? Can your husband? Is he certain? Why doesn’t your husband want children? What do your families say? Who will take care of you when you get old? But you’re both so attractive! Oh we’ll you can always adopt.”
What? Did they not hear me? I said I choose not to have children. I can bare children. I don’t want to adopt. And what does being attractive or not have anything to do with it anyway.
(We have removed the awful pet photo below 🙂
When I was engaged I agreed to meet with a priest to discuss my reasons for not wanting children. I think everyone thought my reasons were not very concrete and that I could be influenced to change my mind. I don’t know why I agreed to meet with him possibly because I wanted a church ceremony, maybe to convince everyone that I was very certain about my choice and could not be swayed, maybe I felt some guilt and wanted him to say it was ok, so I did it. I don’t remember the entire discussion, only that he asked me why I did not want to have children. I answered back with why should I. His response was “So we could have more good people like you on this earth.”
THAT’S IT? That was his reason. I came out of it as I went in, undeterred in my decision. I only reflected on the thought that I had one question for him that I forgot to ask. I wanted to ask him what his was calling. How did arrive at the decision to join the priesthood, remain celibate and not have children of his own.
As I approached forty and the proverbial time-clock ticked louder and louder the onslaught of questions slowed and instead I was told “look at what you’re missing.” Now in my fifties with evolution and “mother Nature” taking charge of what once was a choice, the responses have switched to a more cynical, do you have any regrets?
It has occurred to me that I really don’t understand the other person’s perspective as well; those that have children. I understand their desire for children. I understand the joy and the happiness they feel. I understand the upside and the pitfalls as well. What I don’t understand is the resentment directed at those of us who choose not to have children. I personally do not advocate to others that my choice is the right choice for everyone. I am not in favor of population control so I have never used the over populated earth theory as my excuse.
So here are some questions I pose to you…
Why does it matter to you whether someone else unrelated to you has children or not?
What kind of person do you think I am? Without knowing me do you have a prejudicial descriptive or preconceived notion of what you think I am like? Do you think I … May not like children? Am not the mothering type? Am unfeminine? Frigid? Am I selfish?
I can tell you that none of those things are true. There are women who have children who fit those descriptions far more definitively then I do. My Husband and I both made the choice not to have children prior to meeting each other so we did not have to convince the other. Neither of us has any regrets, but I do wonder if when I am at deaths door if I will have reconsidered my decision and think it had been a mistake. But I don’t think it about it much in that way. I ponder more over the smaller mistakes I may have made that may have affected others.
And oh by the way, yes I have two dogs and a cat, but no they are not my substitute children. I do not treat them like children. They are my pets and at best my pals. If I had children we would still have two dogs and a cat and maybe even one pet for each Child.