It seems to be all around, people who never wanted kids getting clucky all over the place. The phrase "I used to be childfree" makes me squirm.
"Oh, you'll change your mind" is a favorite amongst the critics of my choice not to procreate… that or "what if you change your mind?" It makes my blood boil, but at the same time it's a somewhat valid point. The fact is, biology makes us that way. It makes people change their minds.
I suspect it's probably similar to the thing inside us that makes us hate boys when we're kids, that makes us think sex sounds apalling. Some argue that the fact that I am indifferent to babies and I find toddlers mostly just irritating (save for a handful of token really adorable moments) is just a phase that I'll get over "when the time is right."
They said it would happen when I met "the one". Nope. Didn't happen with my first husband when I was 21, and it's certainly not happening with this one. "Wait 'til you've been married a year." Nope — we're more adamantly childfree than ever.
And yet the phrase "I used to be childfree" haunts me. Mothers I know say it. Friends and family say it. Strangers say it. "I used to hate kids, but…" BUT.
I wonder sometimes if I will change my mind. While I get the occasional twinge now and again, I attribute it to hormones because I simply do not want a child, nevermind everything a child involves. Do these "formerly childfree" folks want a baby, or do they want to raise a child? I think that's the difference between us and them — them being the clucky ladies who want nothing more than babies babies babies without ever considering what that really means.
I've been asking myself again lately if I would terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The IUD makes that an easy decision, given the risk of birth defects and my complete disinterest in taking any sort of risks. I realized just recently that yes, I probably would, and for a number of reasons, ranging from the occasional cocktail I enjoy to the fact that we don't want our lives to change. It was a sobering realization, because I've long thought that I wouldn't be able to do it because I'm old enough, financially secure enough, and really have no excuse, but it really came down to three main things:
1. I don't believe life begins at conception. Perhaps it happens sometime between conception and birth, but I don't believe it's in the first trimester. Argue with me if you must, but I've researched it myself and we'll just have to agree to disagree. This is something I've thought long and hard about and I'm comfortable with my beliefs. I believe if I were in this situation I would be terminating a pregnancy, which is not the same, in my mind, as killing a child. You may believe differently and that's okay. (Note: I will not be engaging debate on this topic. Let's just agree to disagree.)
2. Every child should be a wanted child. I don't want to raise a child and have long insisted that an accidental child would be reared primarily by my husband, while I would be a secondary caregiver. But I don't want to have an "accident". This is the 21st century and I am an enlightened woman who knows what I want from my life. There is no reason I should have to go reluctantly into such a life-altering situation with no do-overs.
3. I am completely unwilling to deal with a child that is not the best case scenario. This sounds ridiculous, I know, but there are so many things — physical things, behavioral and emotional things — that can go wrong with a child. I would be utterly devastated if my own child was disabled in some way. Call me heartless, that's fine, but I'm being honest with myself. If I am not willing to potentially give up my career and my own life to care for a child, it is not worth the risk.
But primarily, it's this: We're adults. We don't need an excuse. It is our lives, our consciences and our gods we have to answer to; no one else can make the decision for us and it is no one else's business. Just because my infertile friends would be devastated if they knew I did such a thing, why would they have to know? It has nothing to do with anyone but my husband and me.
I do not want a child. I do not foresee myself ever wanting a child. Will that change? Who can say. There's precedent enough to say 'maybe'. But that's something to deal with if it comes up. Otherwise I live my life for me.
Do it; call me selfish.