I'm childless by choice. I learned from my family that not everyone needs to become a parent.
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I come from a long line of women who didn't want to be mothers.
People often suggested that I change my mind about trying to have children. Not me.
My mother had an abortion in the 1960s when it was illegal in the United States. She regrets nothing.
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One afternoon in my mid 30s, I was in the office of a worried looking endocrinologist. "I need to talk to you about your family plans," he said. "It's not that easy to say."
He told me that my thyroid was not working properly and that my options to have a child were complicated, expensive, and potentially fruitless. Meanwhile, he searched my face for signs of an impending collapse that never happened.
I found the diagnosis reassuring. I always knew I didn't want kids and I was always told that I was going to change my mind - that I just had to meet the right person, that one day I would regret it.
Some people accused me of being selfish; some even suggested that I have a baby and trust my maternal instincts to kick in.
The news from the endocrinologist was confirmation. Turns out "I can't" was the response I didn't know I needed.
I'm more than fine without having children
I'm the last in a line of women who didn't want to be mothers. Even my own mother would agree that having children was not part of her original life plan. "I never wanted children," she often said. "But I guess I'll keep you!"
She would laugh when she said it, but that didn't mean it wasn't true. There were three reasons why she agreed to have children. Two of them because my dad promised they'd both keep their jobs and be a team.
Her mother hated having children. She was abusive and generally terrible at it, and I remember my father's mother was mostly indifferent. In the end, my father wasn't much for parents either. He left when I was about 5 years old.
Some people don't become parents because they want to, but because they have to.
My grandmothers had children because they did. My mother, a brilliant computer programmer, got stuck with it. When my father left, she tried to make the most of it and hired people to help us until we could no longer afford it. I was 9 years old when I learned to shop for groceries. I always knew that I wanted a different life and I made up my mind accordingly.
My mother had an abortion and has not looked back
My mother made decisions too. Before she had children, she decided to have an abortion. She will tell anyone who listens that she has never regretted it and that being able to choose when to have children was the third reason she agreed in the first place. While their abortion was illegal in the US in the mid-1960s, the availability of abortions has always been about where and who you are.
It's now 2021 and people are trying to deny access to abortion care. There are SB 8 in Texas and more than a dozen laws pending in other states, as well as the looming threat of Roe versus Wade reversal. As always, this legislation will primarily affect people who are already critically underserved by health care.
None of this is going to stop people from choosing not to have children. People have been doing this since they were pregnant.
I'm childless because I chose to do it, and my life is wonderfully full of all the things I hoped for. I want this choice to be there for everyone. Perhaps child freedom is a rest stop or your goal. However, parenting isn't and shouldn't be for everyone.
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