Not having kids means I’m free to be me me me

Let’s talk about the selfish side of not having children. I hesitate to do that because then people will think I didn’t want them. I don’t want to reinforce the false stereotype that all people without children are selfish and immature. They’re not. But maybe I fantasized my offspring would be like the dolls I played with as a kid. My dolls sat quietly on a shelf or in a box until I wanted to play with them. The rest of the time I was free to ride my bike, read until my eyes hurt, or eat cookies without anybody grabbing for a bite. I may be confusing children with dogs in that last bit, but you know what I mean. No need to share my food, my stuff or my time unless I wanted to.
When I was  a child, Mom took care of everything while I just had to do my homework and a few easy chores. Once they were done, I was free to do anything I wanted.
As an adult, especially one without a husband, I have my work and more time-consuming chores, but I am still free when they’re done. I spent years with a live-in stepson. I know what it’s like to have to think about the child’s needs in everything you do. Salad for dinner? He won’t eat it. Want to rent a movie? It has to be PG. Let’s go away for the weekend? What about the boy? I didn’t mind most of the time. I was happy to live some semblance of motherhood.
But I do understand why the childless-by-choice crowd choose to be “childfree.” Kids don’t sit quietly in a box. They cry, complain, get sick, need help, need love, need to be fed, cleaned and taken to the orthodontist. You can’t do whatever you want when you’re a parent, at least not until the kids grow up. Then you can buy an RV and tour the country, start a new career or write a novel.
Speaking of which, November is National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. During this month, writers pledge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. That’s a lot of writing. To devote that kind of time and concentration would be very difficult with children around. I have signed up before but haven’t followed through. This year, I plan to do some marathon writing for the book I’m working on.
There are other month-long challenges, a poem a day, a blog a day, a short story every day. They’re great for producing a lot of work in a short time, but I don’t think I could do any of them and keep up with my regular work if I had kids around.
We spend a lot of time here grieving our lack of children. The grief is real and it never completely goes away, but look at the other side of it. What are we free to do because we don’t have children? Even if you’re still trying to figure out if and how you’ll become a parent, what can you do right now that you couldn’t if you were a mom or a dad? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Not having kids means I’m free to be me me me

  1. I am on a big tour of 'childless' blogs/books/other resources. After years of thinking I was the only crazy woman who cried almost daily over not being a mum, suddenly I find that there are lots of us! Yes, there are lots of benefits of not having kids around – my main one is that I have health issues, and I cannot imagine coping with a child as well as the constant pain/other symptoms. I have a fabulous craft room, and it is all mine – and my ponies/dogs/cats. I could continue for a long time! I only heard about the 'writing a novel in November' thing about 2 weeks ago – and at first I crazily signed up. Then I started reading the forum and got scared about how serious it all was, and I also realised that I have not written any fiction since school, my mum is coming to stay for 4 days at the beginning of November and there are various other commitments. Had not heard about the non-fiction version. Will go and have a look, and perhaps sign up next year! Ali x


  2. Thanks for sharing this Ali. There are definitely good reasons not to have children for some people, and sometimes it just doesn't work out. But as you point out, it isn't all bad.
    I'm not sure why the writing challenges fall in November. Maybe the winter weather is good for writing, but we've got holidays and visitors and such. I hope you do sign up next year.
    Enjoy your mum.


  3. Thanks for this post, Sue. I had wandered away from your blog for a while because two Junes ago, miraculously, my husband agreed to a vasectomy reversal. We've been trying to conceive ever since, to no avail. I think I cry harder each month now than I did before. I really, really thought it had happened this month, and I had made all the plans for telling my boss and my family, and preparing for a pregnant summer. But once again, nothing. And I'm beginning to think our fate in that department is sealed.

    I know I can't go on devastating myself each month as I have for the last eighteen. I'm trying to adopt the “childfree” mindset – which is particularly difficult when the Catholic church teaches that children are the most important (and perhaps only?) purpose for marriage. So I have tried to envelop myself in writing, too. Had I known about the November challenge, I absolutely would have signed up!

    That said, please don't stop writing about the benefits of being “childfree.” I am terrified of feeling this pain forever, and am desperately looking for a reason to be joyful about this situation. Anything you can share in that department helps the healing!


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