Wednesday, May 31, 2006


There's a common misconception, I think, about childfree folk that it's a matter of greed. We want the big house, the big vacations and the luxury car. Speaking at least for us, that is only a small bit of the puzzle.

Of course children are expensive. I can't imagine how expensive my niece is. It's $1000 per month just to put her in private school the only option, really, because her public school friends are so far behind her. Nevermind the schools have gone WAY downhill since my brother and I were in school there. Then there's birthday presents for friends -- about $100 a month, as she goes to at least two parties per month. Clothes, special kid's food, toys, games, etc... children are expensive. Would we be able to live on one less paycheck per month, on 25% less money? Of course... if we had a smaller apartment, fewer luxuries, put less money in savings, and i'm sure we would be carrying balances on our credit cards. Of course money is a concern, but money is something we would figure out.

If we're greedy about anything, it's time. I learned while watching her that my morning started an hour before I was used to and immediately turned into work. Even at seven, she needs to be told what to do and when, in sequence. Take her to school, then it's off to work. As soon as work is done, I'd pick her up, then if her friends were not available, she'd look to me to entertain her; otherwise, I'd have to keep tabs on her anyway. That's 'til dinner. I made two dinners -- one for her, the picky eater, one for me. Then it's bathtime, booktime, bedtime, *poof* it's 9pm. At that point, if I want to keep the house clean, I'm tidying up and doing dishes 'til 10pm. Since I'm getting up at 6 with her now, I have to go to bed if I want 8 hours of sleep, but we all know that's not happening.

Now, granted, I didn't have my husband to help out, which I know he would, but where is the *us* time in that? Where is our time to be romantic, intimate, even just friendly grown-ups? Time to have a conversation by ourselves? And that was with a seven-year-old. Nevermind how it is with an infant, or a toddler, or later when she's a dramatic pre-teen, or a teenager? What happens to our marriage? Where does it go?

I understand that many people view children as a step in the evolution of a marriage, but based on what I've seen it do to my friends and family, I ask "why does it have to go there?" I see moms resenting the dads for not being around, dads working "too many hours" and not spending enough time for the family, arguments over who does more than the other. I see parents who are completely unable to talk about anything but their children, even when the kids aren't around, when they're with grown-ups, people completely unable to relate to the childless people in their company. I see sleepy, exhausted people who complain that they haven't had sex in months, haven't gone on a date or seen a grown-up movie. I see people whose vacation days are used up on sick children or sick nannies, who are depressed that all their vacations are to see far-flung family. The couples I know with children don't get to be husband and wife anymore. They're not friends, they're not lovers. They're parents, partners is a job that will last 18 years.

To that, I say "no thank you."

Oh, we could hire nannies, babysitters, but I don't want to be one of those parents who never ever spends time with their children. I don't want to be a parent at all.

I refuse to believe that my relationship with my husband will stagnate without children. I see A's Aunt & Uncle, both childfree after infertility, and they have the happiest marriage I have ever seen, after 30 years. They love their life, they travel, and yes, they do have the money for things like a vacation home and trips to Europe and luxury items… but their wealth is not why I envy them. It's their happiness, their freedom, and the fact that they are still in love.

I know couples who haven't been married a decade who aren't in love. They're unhappy, and staying together "for the kids", or they just don't talk about it at all. I don't know a single couple whose marriage has not suffered since the addition of children. Does it make them stronger? I don't know.

What I know is this: I don't want to wait 18, 20 years, 'til the kids are "finally out of the house", to experience the joy that I see A's Aunt & Uncle experiencing during their retirement years. I want to have 30 years of that happiness, that love, that intimacy. A lifetime of it.

Call that greedy. Call that selfish.
It's my life.
Don't you forget,.

No comments: