It amazes me how some folks who are so openminded about alternative lifestyles, accepting the lifestyles of gay and polyamorous friends (some in polyamorous relationships themselves!), even a friend's transgendered sibling... these people would never ever confront one of their friends and tell them they were making a mistake, that they would change their mind later or regret decisions they were making for their relationships. And they certainly don't speak to friends and family who decide to have children and suggest that this desire to have a child is just a phase, that maybe they'll regret this decision.
It's been a year since I realized there was a name for what we, my husband and I, are, for our lifestyle. I've had people say I can not want kids without taking the "childfree" label, I say that's missing the point. Our lifestyle seems to be at least as scrutinized as that of the poly friends mentioned earlier, and I can't explain the power that having a label for it really has had. It's like having a health condition or something, where you have these symptoms but no one knows what it is. It may just be a minor, harmless thing, but until you know what it is, you feel like something terrible is wrong with you. Putting a label to it made me realize that I'm not alone, that this is not such a freakish condition.
I've never thought about myself as someone who leads an "alternative lifestyle", but in the last couple months since I married, I've been trying so hard to find resources to help with the "coming out" to family, to deal with the friends who say they accept my position until I announce plans for A to have a vasectomy. I wonder if those who deal with other alternative lifestyles face similar feelings.
Primarily, the feeling that I am so solid in this decision, but it's the disapproval of others disguised as "concern" that makes me think too much. It doesn't make me doubt myself or my convictions; it's so hard to describe how it tears me up. I just want everyone to be happy, and I want these people who judge me to understand that this is a valid lifestyle, that I'm not running away from something, we're not doing it to get revenge at parents or to make a statement. This is who we are in our marriage.
I can see those who judge me reading Nicki DeFago's book Childfree and Loving It! and telling me it's just propaganda, even though these are the same people who read liberal political books and couldn't be persuaded to read, say Ann Coulter's work. They would say it's not balanced and miss the point that it's a book to support people who make this decision. This book that's changing my outlook on my situation, the book that's really driving the point home that my experience is a universal one, that the feelings I have are real and valid, and that I'm not a part of some obscure "movement"; I'm part of something real, something that 10% of married couples choose for themselves. And most of all, that there's nothing wrong with me that I don't have the insatiable urge to reproduce.
If I had the guts to confront the people who make me feel this way, this is what I would say.
Stop telling me how concerned you are about me, that you're worried I'm getting caught up in some "movement", as if I'm being brainwashed or something. It's insulting to my intelligence that you think I would make a decision this big just to fit in with any group. Stop bringing up everything I've ever changed my mind on. ACCEPT ME. Accept that my husband and I have talked about this, and accept that this is our life. You've been able to accept your gay friends, your poly friends, and I'm sure that happens without a lecture. You don't suspect your gay male friends have feelings for your husbands just because they are gay, why should you suspect that I hate your children because I don't want them for myself? Stop being suspicious about my love for your kids, and stop assuming that I'm overcompensating when all I want to do is love them.
And when you tell me that you accept my decision, please mean it. Don't make it conditional and don't change your mind when I suggest that we might be doing something permanent. We've already said that we'd adopt if we decide we want to raise children because we don't want to bring any more children into this world. There is no "permanency" to that, so comfort yourself by saying we might change our mind and adopt. Or better yet, accept that we can be different, that you are mothers and I am not, and that's okay. It's really okay.