In the wake of having my last remaining ovary removed and facing the need for a hysterectomy, I once again have faced questions from doctors, among others, on whether I still wanted to have children. For as long as I have known where babies come from, I have known I didn’t want any. I especially didn’t want any coming out of my body.
I didn’t discover that I was genderqueer until later in life, but in retrospect it’s one of the primary reasons I am childfree. The idea of my body becoming pregnant and bearing children has always felt wrong. The very thought of it gives me a visceral cringe.
Whenever I related my personal discomfort with the idea of being pregnant, many people always loved to be helpful and point out that I could always adopt. However, even the concept of being a parent, raising a child, and being responsible for another life never clicked with me either.
At the age of 28, when I developed a fast-growing dermoid cyst that required the removal of my right ovary, I begged my gynecologist for a hysterectomy. She refused but compromised on giving me a tubal ligation on my remaining fallopian tube instead. The reasoning was that at least I could still go through in vitro fertilization if I ever changed my mind.
Since my husband passed in 2016, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection. It was through this self-reflection I finally came out to myself, and later to my friends and family, as genderqueer. However, through all that self-reflection, I never once felt any pangs of regret on never becoming a parent. I can honestly say; I do not regret remaining childfree. My late husband also did not want children, and it was that fact that brought us together in the first place, having met at a childfree party back in 2005.
Whenever I came out to people as childfree, I often heard the same tired arguments. “You’ll change your mind someday.” “Who will take care of you when you get older?” “You’re just being selfish!” To this day I still wonder why some people seem almost personally offended when you tell them you have chosen not to have children. I have often wondered if perhaps, in some small way, they are having their own regrets.
The argument of “who will take care of you when you’re old” has never made sense to me, especially coming from someone in the United States. In our culture, very rarely do children care for their elderly parents. Instead, they send their parents off to a nursing home or extended care facility to live out their days. Often, they rarely even visit their parents. Also, I find the idea of having children, merely so you have someone to take care of you when you’re old, far more selfish than choosing not to have children at all.
Another thing that has often been assumed, is that I must hate children. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While some childfree people have no love for children, some even openly despising them, that is not true of all of us. I spent nine years as a babysitter which helped me get through high school and college. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and I spent time as a teacher. I have several nieces and nephews, all of whom I adore. I don’t hate children. I merely have never had the desire to bring one of my own into the world or take on the responsibility of raising one.
I have always wanted to do more with my life than become a parent. Therefore, I worked hard to get into college and graduate with a degree. I even went back and earned a master’s degree when teaching didn’t work out (long story for another post) and built a successful career doing web usability, design, development, and analytics.
Being only responsible for myself and focusing my energy toward my passions gave me the opportunity to turn one passion into a career, while also exploring other interests on the side. One of those interests, writing, has now blossomed into my latest passion, which I am hopeful to turn into my next career.
Some people have questioned whether I get lonely or bored without children, but the truth is I enjoy being alone most of the time. I also don’t experience boredom like most people do. It seems I always have more things to do than I have time to do them. I honestly cannot even imagine fitting children into my life, even if I did want them. I was lucky my late husband was tolerant of my need to be left alone most of the time, even if he didn’t quite understand it himself.
Attitudes in western countries are slowly changing, but society should learn to accept the fact that not everyone wants or needs children. People can lead fulfilling, meaningful lives without becoming parents and shaming people into having children can lead to disastrous results. How many times do we see news reports of people who clearly didn’t want to be parents, wind up horrifically abusing or even murdering their children?
As the child of an unwanted pregnancy, born before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, I know from experience that being raised by a parent who didn’t want me is a nightmare. I would never wish my childhood on my worst enemy. That fact also played a factor in why I have never wanted to be a parent.
Therefore, I don’t understand why many people judge and shame people for not having children, to the point where some people feel they have no choice. Then they take out all their anger and resentment on the unwanted child. Thankfully, I was never one to be influenced by peer pressure or societal expectations. I forged my own path in life, and I am happier for it.
Bottom line, I do not regret that I never had children.