You know the drill. When you’re dating, everyone and their mother (and maybe especially your mother) asks you when you’re going to get married. And then, maybe you do get married. Hey, I did. It was fun and I continue to very much enjoy it. But immediately — like, at the wedding (if not at the bridal shower or bachelorette party), The Next Question rears its nosy head.
So … when are you guys going to have children?
At first, I totally resented The Question. I mean, sheesh! We’d been married for about a minute! I was only 24! It’s not happening anytime soon, I’ll tell you that!
But, as the years have gone by, my feelings about The Question have changed. Partly, it’s because I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about it — J and I have discussed The Question since we got engaged. (I’m a planner, you know.) But also, I have to look at The Question differently because my answer is different. I can no longer respond that we’re really young and just got married and are totally broke. Now, we’re older and settled and only moderately broke, and sometimes, right after I get paid? I even pretend we’re not broke at all. (Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but I do occasionally grocery shop without checking my account balance first. Talk about living on the edge!)
A couple of weekends ago, I was at a party and The Question came up quite a few times. Some of the gals there, who were about my age, were expecting and/or had young children, so it’s natural for people to ask if/when we’re having kids. And I guess, at this point, my answer is that we’re childfree by choice.
This is something we’ve thought (and talked and talked and TALKED) about a lot. The fact of the matter is that we both have jobs we absolutely love, and neither of us is willing to take time off or put any of what we’ve done aside to raise a child. I enjoy what I do every day, and at this point, I don’t want to do less of it. We also love the fact that, as long as we can line up someone to watch the animals (which isn’t hard because we have some great friends, family and neighbors), we can take off at the drop of a hat — I suspect that lining up a week’s worth of childcare is a little more involved.
But, honestly, the main reason we’re not having kids right now is because I don’t want them. I know lots of people who have serious maternal urges (hell, the vast majority of my friends are moms), and … well, I just don’t. I appreciate a cute kid as much as the next person, but while I might like making a baby smile, there’s no feeling of, “Wow, I can’t wait to have one of my own.” There’s just not. (Puppies, however, are a whole different matter.) And my mom, who absolutely loved the years she spent at home raising me (hey, who wouldn’t?) gave me a great piece of advice: “The only reason to have a child is because you want to.”
That being said, I’m truly happy for my friends who have kids. Some of them are career-oriented, and have worked out great childcare options, and some of them have opted to stay at home with their little ones — I’m thrilled that they have those options, and I’m proud that they’re such amazing parents, and I love that they share their stories (the good, the bad, the heartwarming and the terrifying) with me.
I’m not childfree and angry that I have to share public spaces with children (although I do appreciate when parents keep an eye on their children and don’t let them behave like shrieking monkeys in a restaurant). Personally, I haven’t experienced a bias against married women without children. While I’ll admit that my friends having children has sometimes changed my relationships with them in some ways, we’re all still friends. And I don’t mind if you ask The Question — one of these days, the switch might flip and having a baby might sound like a great idea (or at least not The Worst Thing Ever) to me, and I might just have a different answer.