Friday, August 05, 2005

Talk Talk About It

I think I'm starting to understand why parents talk so much about their children. The fact is, I'm surprised how much my fiancé and I talk about being childfree with our likeminded friends. It's an issue that's constantly on our minds. It comes up when we're talking about the wedding, about vacations, about our friends, about our families. We talk about children, I dare say, every bit as much as an average parent — NOT the obsessive types whose lives revolve around their kids to the point where they define themselves as ONLY a parent and not a person, but just a regular parent. This seems to be true of all my childfree friends. We talk about it all the time.

There was a time where I wondered if the fact that I'm so interested in identifying myself as childfree, so obsessed with the idea of NOT having children, was masking the fact that I really do want kids. This period bothered me considerably. "Why am I so obsessed wiith this label, this lifestyle?" I'd ask myself. It was a time of great self-doubt.

I would be lying if I said I never wondered what it would be like to have kids with my fiancé. Of course I have. I've wondered what they'd look like, whose personality traits they'd pick up, all of that stuff. But it's never been in the way that a lot of my parent friends have thought about it. Sure, I've thought long and hard on whether I'd regret this decision in the future, wondered what it would mean if we did change our minds in ten, fifteen years. Would I be letting this "movement", this label I'm attaching to myself, down? I would be one of those breeders who changed their mind, who was never actually childfree in the first place as some sites argue.

I honestly think anyone who claims they've never EVER considered kids is kidding themselves. We all arrived at this decision through consideration. I know that while I'm not terribly fond of the babies of strangers and I remain unmoved when "A Baby Story" comes on TV, I still look at my niece and wonder what it would be like to have a kid just like her. My maternal instinct is remarkably weak, though, I've noticed through the years as my niece grows up and my friends start having babies. I don't oogle over teeny tiny shoes and socks, or have the need to see and hold every baby that crosses my path. My instinct is still to flee. I honestly was never able to see a day when someone would call me "Mom". It's just not me.

The thing is, when I latch onto stories of kids, I'm of course moved and touched by the sweet or funny stories. But the ones that stick with me, unlike my parent friends and the parents-to-be, are the negatives. I love hearing the fun stories, but I can't get past the complaints of "I want my life back" or "when you have kids, you won't have time for that" or "I miss my husband", etc. These stories are much more powerful to me, and when I imagine myself in such a position I feel paralyzed. It makes me sick.

But because children are such a huge part of the lives of the people with whom I surround myself, being childfree is justifiably a huge part of mine. Every time I defend my position I feel a little better. I still feel sick when I consider coming out to my future in-laws and know that it's going to be incredibly difficult, but I'm strong in my resolve. Luckily I have the support of a wonderful, like-minded man, many like-minded friends and a handful of respectful disagree-ers to help me through.

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