Does Having It All Really Mean Not Having Kids? It’s Up to You.
I have to confess that after ignoring the ongoing commentary over Time Magazine’s recent article, “Childfree: When Having It All Means Not Having Children,” I finally caved and read it, and though it is a well-written piece, I found myself completely unsurprised by it.
The article¹s title in itself is idiotic. I could easily argue that, I have more because I have children. I can list the many ways in which I feel my life is enriched because I have children. I can say how I am constantly challenged as a person because I have children. I can say how I have become more in tune with myself as woman, because I have children.
But, I won’t. Because I am not an a-hole, and because through decisions and attitude and outlook have all shaped my life as I know it today. I know more than most that family and home is made up of many different circumstances and people, including friends, neighbors, and lovers. I’m a travel writer for a living so obviously, I don’t feel like I am missing out on much “fun” because I have kids. I advocate and share information to help other families do the same – which is a complete contradiction to this mentality of “having more (money, fun, time, happiness) because you don’t have children.”
I am not faulting women for gravitating to material like this because it just so happens that it doesn’t matter what decision a woman makes, whether to have kids or not, she will be judged, and scrutinized, and labeled often by men, but mostly by women.
I get the frustration felt by women who whether by choice or circumstance have led a childfree life. I got to experience it just a little in my 20s when I announced my decision not to have children. Being a Latina who doesn’t want children is not a walk in the park. I was called gay, selfish, promiscuous, evil, and heartless, and I didn’t even need to leave my family circle for it.
I eventually changed my mind - a powerful thing really, this freedom to decide how you want to lead your life. But not without first getting a taste of what it was like to go against expectations. So, I get it. I get the frustration in noise and the satisfaction in being represented and defended and spoken for in the media.
But, of course, what follows is what sucks: the inevitable comparisons of which choice is better.
It’s no surprise that a search of the article’s keywords online brings up a slew of religious sites protesting against the ideology of a childfree life. These protests are then followed by comments by environmentalists arguing that a childfree life decreases the carbon footprint. Then of course, you have those who made the choice to not have children, or for whom it never happened, going on and on and on about how amazing their lives are. How they get to sleep in late, and don’t have to worry about anyone but their nieces and nephews and how they can be spontaneous and free. Yes, FREE.
And suddenly it becomes a competition. A way to measure people up for the choices they have made. And it makes me want to yell, “F*ck you!” for trying to make any of us feel inadequate or selfish or wrong or screwed for these choices.
The media and society eat up this comparison crap like crazy and we all buy into it in search of validation, justification, and a way to defend our lifestyles choices.
Are there times when my husband and I daydream of a life without our children? Absolutely. As I am sure there are times many of those who don’t have any try to imagine what their lives would be like if they did. But what fulfills us is that in the end we can come back to our reality are happy with it, as is.
We can never know the potential of our lives without truly experiencing what we don’t have. Would I be happier without kids? I don’t know. Am I happier because I have kids? I don’t know. All I know is that I am happy now and it’s a pretty great life and, yes, my kids are a huge component of that joy. But to assume that things would be better or worse otherwise is talking from a perspective I can’t even comprehend, because it’s not mine. It’s great to find your tribe, your support group, your rock, but it’s not ok to try to validate any of it by putting others down in the process.