February 4, 2013

living childfree: a future of possibilities

the "living childfree" series is about learning about the experiences, motivations and opinions of childfree women and couples - whether it is by choice, by circumstance, or still undecided. if you are interested in sharing your thoughts, please contact me at yael.santo(at)gmail.com.
this installment of living childfree features the story of kim. find her online on her blog, simplicity.
photo by rishi bandopadhay via compfight

tell me a litte bit about yourself.
I'm a 32 year old woman. My husband and I have been together for 7 years and married for 2. We are free spirits and have enjoyed volunteering on organic farms in the US & Canada, teaching english abroad, and backpacking throughout Asia. We moved from the east coast to live in the beautiful rocky mountains of Colorado with our two dogs.

when did you first know you weren't interested in having children? what was your reasoning for choosing a childfree life?
I always thought that I would have a child (just one)-- but at some point in the future. That magical point in the future never seemed to arrive though. And then I realized I actually dreaded the idea of having children! I dreaded the thought of pregnancy and of having to take 9 months out of my life to be pregnant -- to ruin my body, not to be able to practice hot yoga, to obsess over everything I'm eating, to no longer feel in control of my body... And then to be a parent for the rest of my life. To always have to worry about the well-being of someone else, not to know just what type of person we would be bringing into the world, to have a permanent houseguest that we have to clean and cook for and cater to, not to have the freedom to come and go as we please or to live anywhere we want. I realized the idea of having a child was not something I was excited about or looking forward to. Since deciding to be childfree I feel young again, like the future is filled with possibilities, rather than responsiblity and obligation.

what were your family and friends' reactions like when they found out? did they take you seriously?
We haven't ever come out and said we don't want kids. I think everyone assumes we just aren't ready yet. My mother, I'm sure, will be disappointed as I am her only hope for grandchildren; in the past I have told her I planned to have kids. But she needs to understand that that I am not going to have a child just to make her happy... that this decision isn't about her at all.

did you face any other kind of opposition regarding your choice?
No. I have been fortunate to find a lot of people who feel the same way.

do you see your choice changing at all in the future?
No. For the reasons below.

childfree women and couples are often described as "missing out" or "being selfish" - do you feel this way at all?
Having a brother with autism, and being a professional in the field of autism, I think I have the unique perspective that things don't always go as planned. 1 in 88 children are being diagnosed with autism today. Just because a couple envisions a perfect child who will love them, listen to their stories, and grow up to be productive members of society, and give them grandchildren, does not mean this will be the case. Having worked with children, adults and families affected by autism for the past 10 years, I have seen families fall apart, and parents who will have to take care of dependent children for the rest of their lives. Many of these families are so over-burdened that I am certain they would not have chosen kids if they could go back again. Being faced with this reality on a daily basis makes one really reflect on whether or not having kids really is missing out or being selfish. We also live in a world whose resources are becoming more and more limited and where cancer and other diseases are prevalent. I think these are very valid reasons, as well, to seriously think about the quality of life for an unborn child, and to rethink whether it is truly selfish for not wanting to bring one into the world.

what do you enjoy the most about your childfree life?
I enjoy freedom, freedom of knowing we can move to anywhere in the world that we desire. I like having a messy home and being able to to lounge around, sleep late, or walk around naked. I appreciate going to yoga classes in the evening, going out to dinner, a movie, and taking trips. I like having money and being able to plan for our future, and having our relationship revolve around us as a couple. I have my own business and make a signficant portion of our income -- if I wasn't working, our standard of living would be greatly diminished. I like the idea of early retirement. I see choices my friends have made, and am not impressed with their lifestyle. I just envision a different life for myself filled with spontaneity, adventure, and lots of travel.

what would you tell someone wanting to live childfree, but under pressure to have children?
Pressure is never healthy and always leads to poor choices. Everytime I felt pressured into something it has been a horrible mistake. I can't let anyone bully me into having children because having a baby involves another person, not just myself. Parents and grandparents aren't going to be around forever to make you feel guilty, but a child will be.

any last thoughts?
I think as women, the idea of having children is so ingrained in us that we don't ever question it... how often have we heard "When you're a mom someday..." or similar phrases growing up? It is an enlightening thing to realize that you do have a choice. You don't have to do what everyone else does, you can think for yourself. I have several aunts, uncles, and cousins who are childfree and they have shown me that being childfree is something positive.
thanks again, kim! don't forget to visit her online!


Robin said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Kim is a good example of how some of us can do things to make the world better for future children, even if we don't have any ourselves.

"But she needs to understand that that I am not going to have a child just to make her happy... that this decision isn't about her at all." <-- Exactly. Not only this, but who would want to be live knowing that their mother wasn't enthusiastic about them? (** Kids WILL eventually sense these emotions and feelings in their parents. People shouldn't underestimate their ability to do so. **)

Debbie Doglady said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Many of us are childless by choice. Hubby and I are happy with dog babies, (for 40 years now), and only people who really WANT to have children should have them. I feel society has somewhat relaxed about this over the last decade. Used to be that couples like us were considered abnormal, but slowly, there has been more acceptance.

Melissa said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Kim, I'm more than ten years older than you, and I had that dreaded conversation with my own mom. I'm not only her only child; I'm the last of our family line. So it was tough! When you do tell her -- and eventually -- you will have to do this -- I personally feel that it's important to acknowledge her feelings. And this is just my humble opinion, but I think it's perfectly OK to feel a little bit sad about a parent's disappointment. That's what makes us human, right?

One thing that I have not told my own mother was that I know how much she wanted grandchildren, and I wish I could have given them to her; however, the cost of doing this was just too great. It was not in the best interest of a hypothetical child. Now that my mother is getting older, I don't want her to leave me with anything left unsaid.

::Hugs and best wishes to you!::

Michael G said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thanks for this post. I'm a 30 year old male and while I agree with all the points, this one really rang home "I like the idea of early retirement. I see choices my friends have made, and am not impressed with their lifestyle. I just envision a different life for myself filled with spontaneity, adventure, and lots of travel.".

gwenakinyi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi! I just started my first blog (loosely themed around living child-free), and of course started out with a Google search to see who else was blogging on the D.I.N.K. topic. Your blog was the first hit, and I was thrilled to find it! I love your living childfree series, and I've added you to my blogroll.

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