Creating a chosen family, with Barbara Krulik

This 65-year-old American in Amsterdam has pursued a childfree, solo polyamorous life, full of love and support.

Episode 13


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Barbara Krulik has lived a life! An independent curator and cultural manager, she came of age in New York, where like-minded creatives formed the core of a chosen family that has been there for her through to her 60s, and now spans four generations. In her early 20s, she decided she didn’t want children, and has pursued a life of “solo polyamory” ever since, living alone but loving to spoil and nurture her friends and lovers. It was fascinating to hear what drove Barbara to avoid entanglements, all the places her work has taken her, and to learn about a social housing project being developed in the Netherlands, so that unrelated people from different generations can create a caring home together. Barbara is living proof that you don’t need a partner, or children, to be fulfilled – a true inspiration.

Listen to Zoë guest on the Private Parts Unknown podcast, to hear her own childfree journey and what drove her to start We are Childfree.

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Barbara: My chosen family is also intergenerational. I have a family that I’m close with, you know, this fourth generation. It’s not that I’m stuck in a group of friends that are my own age, there are young people that are in my life. And you know, that’s wonderful and extremely satisfying.

Zoë: Hey, lovelies, welcome back to We Are Childfree, a podcast that celebrates childfree lives and shares our stories. Before I talk about this week’s story, I want to share that I was a guest on one of my favourite feminist podcasts, Private Parts Unknown. The episode is out now. So if you want to hear more about my childfree journey, and the reasons why I started this project, you can find a link to that in the show notes. This week’s story is with the incredible Barbara Krulik, an independent curator based in Amsterdam. She came of age in New York, where like-minded creatives formed the core of a chosen family, which has been there for her through to her sixties, and now spans four generations. In her early twenties, Barbara decided she didn’t want children, and has pursued a life of solo polyamory ever since. Living alone, but loving to spoil and nurture her friends and lovers. We talked about all the places her work has taken her and about a really amazing social housing project being developed in the Netherlands, so that unrelated people from different generations can create a caring home together. Barbara is living proof that you don’t need a partner or children to be fulfilled. I really loved our conversation together. And I know you will, too.

Barbara: It was something I always knew. And I never had a goal of finding a man and getting married and having a family. That was never in, you know, maybe it might happen, but was never something that I was actually looking at as a life direction.

Zoë: Right. So then where did you grow up?

Barbara: I was born in New York but I grew up outside of Philadelphia in a typical American 1950s suburb called Levittown. And when I was 18, I went to Penn State University, which is geographically in the middle of Pennsylvania in the mountains. Lots of nature, very beautiful, not my interest. And I started studying biology. And maybe it’s interesting to know that I have a twin sister who is an identical twin. That’s a zygote twin.

Zoë: Wow. I’m a twin as well, but we’re not identical. It is interesting, isn’t it? Oh, well, yeah. Twin sisters and we could not be any more different.

Barbara: Well, this is the same. Obviously, I’m going to say there’s a lot of similarities but in terms of character, very, very different.

Zoë: Interesting. So, you know, how does she deal with your decision then? Does she have kids?

Barbara: She has one kid. She got married quite late considering our ages. She was, I guess, 35 and she had a she has one child, my nephew who is now 30. So she had her kid when she was 38 and I couldn’t love that child any more than if I had my own, and he actually paved the way for me to actually like children and appreciate children, which I didn’t really before, because they didn’t like me, I didn’t like them. They had just that sort of, you know, nice standoff. There weren’t that many children in my life before that.

Zoë: Yeah, I think I am similar to you. I have a nephew and I would do anything for him. And I think when you have that bond, when you can build that bond with a child, you know, many of us love that, being the auntie is like, it’s a really cool role. You get the best bits, you get to have fun, play with them, and then you know, when the crying starts, you can hand them over.

Barbara: Precisely. It’s one of my favourite roles and then I play auntie to a number of friends’ children. And, you know, I relish that. I mean, that’s a great pleasure.

Zoë: So then tell me then a little bit about your mother and your father. So, you know, how was it growing up with them?

Barbara: My parents were extremely attentive parents. My father was quite a strong disciplinarian and, you know, my mother was a stay-at-home mom. And they followed the 1950s norms and values. Family was important – my father really wanted my mother to stay at home to look after the children. And then he, gradually, as we got older, encouraged her to go out and do other things. I mean he really was sort of the director of the family. And education was important so, you know, we were really encouraged to study, to read, to work hard. And, and we did, we all did – I have an older brother as well. But my mother, through a number of tragic events, lost both of her parents in an automobile accident. And she was living far away from them and from her sisters and brothers, and we were infants, my sister and I, and my brother, a toddler, when this happened, and you know, I think my mother was extremely in a very intense grieving process. And, you know, I reflected on this when I was, I guess, in my late 20s – she was not really, as a young woman alone during the week while my father was traveling and working, and through her grief, I mean, she wasn’t really maybe as available as a mother might have been, or maybe should have been. Yeah, I can’t fault her, I mean, it was certainly a tragic situation. And, you know, if I lost my parents, and I was in a new city, or a new place without too many friends, and three children, I’m sure I would have been terribly depressed as well.

Zoë: Yeah, I guess back then, I mean, you can’t just go to therapy and try and work through traumatic experience, you just have to get on with it. And that sadly, means that many people just live with trauma.

Barbara: Right. And it was sort of like, buck up and be there for your kids, which I’m sure she was to the best of her ability. Anyway, it’s like that’s something I only reflected on later but it does have to do with one of my core decisions is that not every woman is qualified to be a mother. Not every woman should be a mother, not every woman has the skills. And you know, I didn’t really feel that I had the skills to be a mother. Not only that I physically didn’t want to go through a pregnancy, but I also just simply didn’t feel like the world needed another, yeah, unqualified mother,

Zoë: I mean, yeah, it’s kind of interesting. Why we don’t accept that humans aren’t just good at everything? I’m terrible at cooking, so I don’t do it. So you know, why do we pressure women without even knowing, without even asking them, is this something that you might be emotionally ready for, financially ready for? There’s so many aspects to bringing your child into this world and doing it well. I mean anyone can have a kid basically, but doing it well – that is extra, extra special.

Barbara: Absolutely. And I see people that are just doing the most amazing parenting. And, you know, I think this is developed, of course, over years. I mean, I don’t think in the 1950s there was that much attention being paid to it. I think people just pop their kids out and carried on with their lives doing the best they could. That’s why I feel that my decision not to have kids is not a selfish one. Not a selfish one at all, I mean, it’s actually quite altruistic.

Zoë: Yeah, yes, absolutely.

Barbara: You know, it’s like, unless I’m thinking that I want to keep shrinks in business.

Zoë: Right. It’s interesting, that selfish is, you know, thrown at childfree women when I couldn’t disagree with it more, because in my eyes, you are really critically thinking about a decision that will not only affect you, it will affect another person. So we should be allowing the people who really want this, who hope are going to be great at it, or at least good at it, let those people have children. But absolutely, why is it selfish to really consider whether you’re going to be good at this, and think about what you need and want in your life. Like to me, if that’s selfish, fine, I’m selfish. I’m fine with that term.

Barbara: But it’s not a selfish choice. It’s absolutely not. I mean, not in my view. You know, I do think that I’m a better human being because of my career choices. In the beginning, I didn’t think so because you know, I work in the fine arts, and that’s pretty rarefied field, and certainly in the museum world. And certainly now in the last three to five years, I mean, we see how terribly important art is in the social context and my hope that I’m contributing to that. And you know, that’s a legacy I want to bring forward, not a legacy of childbearing.

Zoë: No. And I mean, that’s an incredible legacy as well. Tell me a little bit more than about, you know, you’re living in Amsterdam, right. So when you move there, how long ago was it?

Barbara: I moved to Amsterdam, like 23 years ago, and I had been working in New York for, like, 23 years. I worked in a museum, I was an assistant director in charge of curatorial activities, so anything to do with exhibitions and art and collections. And I managed a lot of people. And I’ve worked very hard and very long hours, but it was extremely satisfying. I did that for 17 years and then I thought, okay, now I’m ready for a change and had the opportunity to move to Europe, which I had always wanted to do. When I was a teenager I always had a fantasy of living in Europe. So, I finally had the opportunity to do that. Of course, when I was working, and absolutely in the museum, I traveled a great deal, both within the United States and within Europe. So, you know, it was pretty great life – I mean, just pick up and go and do what needed to be done. And sometimes that was for weeks at a time. So, you know, the family situation doesn’t really fit into that.

Zoë: That would be pretty difficult. Yes. I mean, so without having children, it is giving you more freedom, I guess, to be able to move to different countries. And of course, there are many people who have kids and can do that, but it’s more difficult.

Barbara: Yeah, you know, it was totally not even an issue for me at that point. I devoted myself, I chose for my career and working in the fine arts and particularly not for profits, I mean, the salaries are extremely low, and I could take care of myself and I could take care of myself reasonably well. But I didn’t have the earning power to have a type of family even if I wanted one. And since I didn’t want kids, I also didn’t have to have a full time man around. I think I have a lot of nice adventures and…

Zoë: – oh, you have to tell me about those? I mean, in your response to me, you mentioned that you are solo polyamorous. So maybe you want to go into a little bit about what that means for you?

Barbara: Well, this is a term that I’ve just learned, actually, in the past month or so. I mean, since I worked in the art world, in New York, I have a huge circle of gay friends and colleagues. And that is my chosen family and through my friendships with gay men, I’ve learned an awful lot about alternative lifestyles and you know, how you can establish a chosen family that is loving and supportive and encouraging and also flexible. And the solo part of solo polyamory, which also tends to have a rather, if you read about it, if you Google it, this always comes with a little bit of a negative tint, right? “Oh, these people are so selfish, they chose for their family, they chose for their work, they chose for their traveling…” But I say, “No, I choose to live alone, I’m not necessarily a wonderful person to live with on a 24 hour basis”. So the solo part is that I choose to live alone, I didn’t always live alone, but I choose that now and I’m very satisfied and happy with that decision. The polyamory is that I believe that the heart is a very strong and flexible muscle. And you know that the more exercise it gets, the stronger it becomes and the bigger it becomes. So, when I was in New York, I had times where I had multiple boyfriends and times that I had no boyfriends. But you know, and sometimes since it’s such an unusual thing to do, I always was very respectful of those relationships. I wasn’t entirely honest with the men that there was somebody else or not. And in that time, it really wasn’t necessary. Now, I would do it differently, and that has to do with HIV and AIDS, and also now with this pandemic, greater responsibility to be open and honest with the people that you’re with.

Zoë: Yeah, I mean, the way that society tells it, it basically conditions women to believe that they must have a husband, they must have a partner, you know, they must have a family you know, and you’re kind of breaking free from all of that and going, “No, this is the life that I want, and this is making me happy.” And, you know, there should be nothing wrong with that. I don’t really understand why anyone would call anyone else selfish for creating a life that gives them joy. And why do we have to tell women that they’re nothing without, you know, a partner, a husband, a child? It’s ridiculous.

Barbara: Yeah, this is absolutely true. My parents were very concerned, you know, they’re like, “Oh, you know, she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she doesn’t have a husband.” It’s like, I didn’t want to tell them what my activities were because, first of all, it wasn’t any of their business. And second of all, it would have given them more cause for concern, and out of respect to them and their morals and their religious positions that I did not share, you know, I didn’t share that information with them. Now they would meet an occasional boyfriend now and then, usually always inappropriate – either they were too far away, they live too far away or they you know, or otherwise inappropriate, unavailable. Which was fine for me. Yeah, just out of respect for them, I didn’t share with them. My mother wanted to, of course, have grandchildren, my mother wanted me to be happy with a partner that will fulfil me, for whatever, I don’t know what it is. But, you know, she wanted there to be somebody in my life, an extra somebody in my life, as I was not enough.

Zoë: Yeah, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Like, why can’t we tell young girls that you don’t need anyone else except yourself? You can if someone comes along into your life, and you’re open to them, and you want that, great, but, you know, it’s this kind of just conditioning of “you need to find someone else to be happy in this life.”

Barbara: Exactly. It is “you need to be a mirrored, you need to reflect in somebody else’s glow”. I mean, I knew that if I need, if I found a man, he would have to be an extraordinary man. A man that was going to be able to let me free to travel, to exercise my intellectual capabilities, to support those intellectual capabilities, and you know, there aren’t that many that do that. And, you know, ultimately, I came to the Netherlands and I met a man and the artist, and we had a ten year relationship. The first five years, he lived in a in a different city and we would see each other on the weekends, and it was great. You know, that was totally fine. I mean, it’s like, one of us would get on the train and you know, I would continue with my life. And, you know, then it was great. And at a certain point, he decided to move to Amsterdam, and to live with me, and I don’t know, I felt you know, I was at a certain age, I don’t know forty getting very close to fifty, and I’m like, “Oh, well, I’ve never done this before, let’s see how this works out”. Well, it didn’t. So the first year was just great, and after that, it was not so great. And, you know, I realised that I wasn’t getting what I wanted, I felt suffocated or held back, and you know, finally we worked through it and separated. But that took much longer than it should have for me, I should have been more decisive and said, “You know, this is it, get out”, but I didn’t do that. I mean, I felt that I needed to build consensus, I felt that I needed to do absolutely everything I could do to say that I worked at it, and that I made every possible conceivable effort to make it a success.

Zoë: What was his stance then on having children? Are you always very open whenever you would meet someone, would you be like, “This is this is who I am, I don’t want children just FYI”?

Barbara: Yeah, well, I was already 42 when I met him or 43. And, I mean, I did say, “I didn’t want children”. And of course, you know, previous lovers or partners had asked, and it’s like, “No, not for me”. And that was that was fine because it was never, you know, anything so, well I wouldn’t say committed, but I mean, it was just different. And, he was very clear that he never wanted children either which worked out just fine. I’ll never forget the first time my mother met him and he is eight years younger than I am. And my mother was very concerned. She’s like, “He’s going to leave you”. And I’m like, “What do you need?”

Zoë: Has she got a crystal ball?

Barbara: Exactly, and I’m like, “What sort of comment is that?” You know, it’s like this is just started. I mean, it’s like, “Yeah, at a certain point, he’s going to decide he wants children. And he’s going to leave you for somebody else.” I really, of course, I had to laugh because we had already had that discussion, and I knew that he didn’t want children. But my mother’s reaction was fascinating.

Zoë: Wow. So in her head, I guess she probably just couldn’t comprehend that people can make this decision that they don’t want to have kids. And as a couple that you were both on the same page. It just may be so alien to her perhaps.

Barbara: Exactly. And the other thing is because she didn’t know about some of my affairs that she just assumed that I had a large circle of gay friends, she assumed that I was gay. So she would very often try to get that out of me, come out to her.

Zoë: Okay. Oh, really? That’s interesting. So she really considered that you must be gay because you didn’t want children? Or you weren’t following down the traditional…

Barbara: I wasn’t following the traditional as they call it, the escalator of relationships.

Zoë: Right. Interesting. And you were just like, “Nope”.

Barbara: I’m like, “Well, you know, these are my friends, but you know…”

Zoë: Interesting. Yeah, that’s super interesting. Wow. So then what about then the cultural differences between, say, living in Amsterdam and the Netherlands compared to America? I mean could you feel a difference with say, how women are treated? Or is it similar?

Barbara: Look, New York is not America, and Amsterdam is not the Netherlands. But having said that, I mean, my observation of you know, this is empirical evidence, what I saw on the street is that most women, if they worked, they worked three days a week. They like that, that gave them time to have children, that gave them time to have families, and yeah, I mean, the family culture. I mean, this is a very, very small country, they’re only like, 18 million people now. And as I said, you know, not all of it is Rotterdam or Amsterdam, which are, you know, big international cities. There’s still a mentality that’s based on family, that’s the norm. I mean, you know what? It’s also why there are huge gay communities in Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, and not in the rest of the country. There are what urban environments have like Berlin, like London, like New York, and Paris is a cultural life, a work ethic, that provides a place for alternative lifestyles, where to raise a family in a city like these cities, requires a vast amount of capital, you know, gigantic salaries, and space, and those things are not really available in most cities.

Zoë: And then, you know, talking about, say, your chosen family, this is something that can be very important for childfree people because, as we get older friends start to have children, relationships start to change, and then, it’s really important to try and build those connections and friendships with people who hopefully are on the same page as you or at least understand you, you know, and it sounds like you’ve created an incredible chosen family.

Barbara: Well, I’ll tell you, I have a really great chosen family in New York and I have a really great chosen family here in Amsterdam. And I will tell you that I missed my friends and sister and brother already so much over, over the years. That and I miss New York from primarily, I mean, it’s a city of remarkable energy, and Amsterdam is not that type of city. Amsterdam is a very, very chill place. You know, things take a long time to tap, and then once you know, once the ball is rolling, they move quickly. But I mean, it’s not like New York where in New York, you can I mean, you could do everything, you can do everything all the time.

Zoë: Yeah, there is no limit.

Barbara: Precisely. And, that type of energy was something that I really missed here and even recharging once or twice or three times a year with visits to friends and family in New York, didn’t really satisfy it. So I decided at a certain point that I was going to move back to New York, which I tried to do. And, you know, I was there for almost three years and literally lived with my chosen family while moving around. I was sort of the oldest couch surfer in New York. I literally moved, you know, and in and around with my friends. You know, it’s sort of, “Okay, you know, I’ve had enough time here, I’ll go stay on somebody else’s couch.”

Zoë: Wow, that sounds like an adventure.

Barbara: It was, it was great. I mean, what I did learn was that New York is not the New York that formed me in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, it’s a very different place. And, you know, it’s so expensive that in my career choice, I could never afford to live there anymore. And this, you know, to get back to the chosen family point, that chosen family also includes a couple of children, you know, a gay couple of very dear, dear friends of mine, had a little girl. I mean, they found donor eggs, and they had a surrogate and they, I mean, this is a couple that wanted children so desperately. And this is exactly the type of people that should be having children, people that desperately want them. And, you know, they have extremely excellent parenting skills and this is an amazing baby. Well, she’s three now, she’s incredible. And, you know, I loved hanging out with her and getting to know her, and I miss her, and that gives me great joy to follow her on Facebook. But, my chosen family is also intergenerational. I have a family that I’m close with, you know, this fourth generation. It is not that I’m stuck in a group of friends that are my own age, there are young people that are in my life. And, you know, that’s wonderful and extremely satisfying. But what I wanted to tell you, which is something that is so incredible, is friends of mine have come up with a concept which is being supported, you know, in larger Amsterdam governmental initiatives, which has to do with real estate and developing self-developed housing for different sorts of people. Now, I’ve just joined this communal group, they’re almost all gay men, above 55. It’s an LGBTQ+ hetero group. So there’s 25% of the group will be straight, and the rest are gay. And the point is, it’s going to be intergenerational, they’re going to be 55+ years, but there’s also going to be space for students and young people up to the age of 27. This is because most of us, or all of us that are in this group now, do not have children. We don’t have people or families that are going to take care of us when we’re old, we want to maintain the same level of activities and lifestyle that we have now as we get older, and, you know, we want to have a group of people that we can depend on, for some of the things that we will need. And we have a lot to pass on, you know, as you’re doing with this podcast, pass on information, histories to a younger generation, you know, saying that there are choices and people that have not been seen or heard. So this is something that I’m also working on with an extraordinary group of men with tremendous foresight.

Zoë: I love that, Barbara. I mean, that’s what we need, you know, we have an ageing population and you know, the kind of the wealth of knowledge and experience that people who are older can pass on, like you said to younger generations, and vice versa, the energy and the vibrancy that you know, young people can pass on is also really essential. And I just love that idea of each group helping one another, and living together, and experiencing each other’s life. I just think that’s such a great initiative. I hope we get things like that around the world. It sounds like an incredible idea.

Barbara: Yeah, I do believe that there is one in Berlin or there’s it’s being… Anyway, I think it’s really an extraordinary concept. I mean, it’s something that I had always fantasised about when I was a young professional in New York. I’d be in a sort of like, what was I going to do when I got older, you know, I wanted to be living with a group of friends in a big house where we shared a lot. But this idea of bringing in young people that you can pass on histories, and experiences, and memories. You’re not sort of relegated to some, you know, balcony behind the geraniums, as they say here in the Netherlands,

Zoë: Exactly. It’s really sad, you know, the way we kind of separate all the generations out, and it’s like they are lost. They’re just in residential homes, and why can’t we stay connected with each other? Because, like you said, there’s so much to be gained from knowing people who are older because they’ve lived it, they’ve gone through it, they can help you, they can guide you. I mean, you know, people messaged me as well, saying that their dream is to, you know, live with a group of childfree people and when they’re growing older, they can help each other and this is happening.

Barbara: Exactly. This sort of information also needs to get out there. I mean, there are ways to maintain motivation and energy. Now, and this is actually something I learned from a colleague of mine when I worked at the museum in New York, you know, we needed a receptionist and we put an ad in the New York Times, and we get a call from this woman who was just retired. And, you know, after years of having her own business, now she became one of my best friends and maintained and she ended up working in that museum for quite a few years, I don’t know, maybe 15 and then went and worked at the museum next door for another 10 or so years, until she started to lose her vision to monocular deterioration. I think she ended up stopping work at, like, 88. And yeah, anyway, an extraordinary woman, a totally extraordinary woman. And you know, we would sit I mean, many years later, she was already, she died when she was above 100, just close to 101. And, you know, we would sit there and drink wine with her. And you know, this one friend asked her, “What were you thinking when you decided to make this young man of 19, and a young woman of 30 and another 28 year old, what were you thinking when you befriended these people when you were already, you know, 70?” And she said, “I don’t know, it was just something that I thought I needed”. And that is such a pure thing. I mean, it’s like, her friends were already getting older, her friends were already dying, and she needed to have new friends. And new friends, I mean, she had children, she had grandchildren, you know, one daughter lived very nearby. And one daughter lived in Rome. So, you know, with two grandchildren of hers. So, I mean, she traveled a lot, she was extremely intellectually curious. But she wanted to have a new group of friends. And I think that that’s something that childfree people can also choose, you choose your friends, you choose your chosen family, and you know, if that’s keeps you, you know, dynamic,

Zoë: It does, it really does. I mean, do you have any advice for people who may be listening and kind of going, “How do I find people? How do I find my chosen family?” You know, how did you do it? Was it just through? Was it through your work? Or was…

Barbara: It was mostly through my work, mostly through my work. My 19 year intern is one of my dearest best friends, you know, the one that he and his husband have their baby now. You know, so that’s a friendship of 30 years that I met him through my work. Most of my friendships come either through my work or through other people. John’s friends became my friends, and my friends became his friends. And oh, yeah, of course, through some hobbies. I mean, some of my friends I’ve met through other activities, cooking clubs and things like that.

Zoë: So you are a good cook then, okay.

Barbara: Yeah. I like to cook.

Zoë: I wish, I wish I was, Barbara.

Barbara: I wish I had the opportunity to feed more people in the last year.

Zoë: And yeah, hopefully, you can get back to that. Is that what you would do? You would kind of have people over? And –

Barbara: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, my house both in New York and here was always a welcome hub for people to stay and come to dinner, and parties, lots of parties.

Zoë: Oh, that sounds fun.

Barbara: Lots of late, late nights that aren’t possible with children.

Zoë: Oh, no, definitely not. No, that’s the thing, no way. So then, I remember you said earlier on that you didn’t think you would be a good mother. I mean, to me, you sound, clearly you are incredibly nurturing, and loving, and giving. You know, what, what was it about kids that you were just like, “Nope this isn’t going to work for me?”

Barbara: Yeah, endurance. It’s a responsibility. I mean, I think I had written to you, I mean, that responsibility to take care of a being, mentally, physically and for a very long time. You know, I mean, yeah, I am nurturing, I am loving, I am giving, I am generous, but, yeah, I also am impatient, I am also you know, sometimes a little mean, you know, I can say things in the wrong way that can be hurtful. I mean, it’s like we all can do that but, with children, you know, it can be extremely damaging and that’s responsibility I didn’t want to have all the time, and for the rest of my life, and I knew that when I was 20, that the rest of my life was not, you know, that I wanted to share in that way.

Zoë: Because, yeah, I mean, regret is something that is kind of always said to childfree people, women especially, you know, “You’ll regret it, you’ll regret it.”

Barbara: Not for one second. Not for one second in my almost 66 years.

Zoë: I love that. I mean people say this all the time, but I have yet to hear from a childfree person, or who is an older person who has said, “I regret it”. It’s just not so far been the experience I’ve had.

Barbara: No. And at this point in my life, I’ve had a lot of people in it. But there are a lot of people in my life, and it’s very rich, and I feel very, very fortunate. I’m not lonely. I, actually through this pandemic year, I think, is the first time in my life that I felt pangs of loneliness and isolation. But before that I never have and I know a lot of people that just the idea that they have children out in the world, give them some sort of sense of connection, and I never needed that.

Zoë: No, I mean, to me, your life sounds so incredibly rich. And if they could just see that you have lived an incredible fulfilling happy life, you know, and you are living your very best childfree life.

Barbara: Yeah. And I’m very satisfied. They say, hindsight is 20/20, you know, I might have done some things differently, you know, if I knew – but that’s not one of them.

Zoë: No, nope, no, sorry. So then, you know, is that any advice that you can give to maybe the women who are kind of, you know, they are maybe grappling with this decision, because maybe they think that they don’t want children, but they’re getting so much pressure around them? Yeah. Is there anything you can say, as someone who’s in your 60s, you’ve lived this incredible life, is there anything you can say to them to maybe help them?

Barbara: I would just say that, you know, I mean, be incredibly self-aware. And I think that self-awareness is the thing that pulls it off. I mean, to be to be swayed by other people’s needs, wants, and desires, other people’s norms and values, other people’s ethics and morals, I mean, you need to follow your own. I think that that self-awareness is really pivotal.