Having children has never been part of my life’s plan. Although I was told many times when I was younger that I’d change my mind someday, I knew from my teenage years onward that being a parent wasn’t for me. While I don’t dislike children or mind being around other people’s children for short periods, I don’t have the innate sense of mothering that some women have, and I quickly tire when I’m around kids. I’m an introvert (’learned extrovert’, if you follow Susan Cain) and need lots of quiet time to recharge. I honor that part of myself.
Not having kids, was, of course, a huge disappointment to my parents and in-laws from my first marriage. My first husband, who also didn’t want children for the first 9 years of our marriage, changed his mind after some good friends of ours started having children. Instead of simply saying he’d changed his mind, he became verbally and emotionally abusive. I believe he did this in part so that I would be the one to make the decision to get divorced, relieving him of any guilt associated with it.
In the nearly 20 years since we split, I have flourished professionally and personally. I’m now a travel writer – a career I love and wouldn’t be able to do effectively if I had children. Working in the gig economy can be tough for individuals and sometimes involves long hours; I can’t imagine the pressure I’d feel to chase down additional paychecks if I were providing for a family.
I remarried three years ago, to a man who helped raise his little brother, 15 years his junior. Perhaps because of this, he also doesn’t want children. We have more money, free time, and ability to follow new opportunities than any of our peers with families. Whether we feel like going away for a week or spending quiet time in the house, we know we have near-complete freedom to decide.
I’m now 50, full-time self-employed, and an aunt to a 15-year-old niece. I have not regretted my decision for a single day. One of the nicest parts about getting older? Not having to deal with the inappropriate questions like ‘When are you planning to have kids?’