I have known from the time I was a child that I didn’t want children.
I have a vivid memory of playing with my friends at school when I was around age 8. My friends were all talking about how many kids they wanted, and when it came to my turn I said, “I’m not going to have kids.” One of my young friends condescendingly said to me, “Well, if you’re MARRIED, you can’t help it,” as though I was the stupidest girl in the world. And I shot back with, “You can if you’re CAREFUL”. Even then, I had read about birth control and it infuriated me that another person felt that they knew more about my future decisions than I did.
I have stayed true to that gut-deep feeling all these years later. It used to terrify me to have sex because I would think, “what if I got pregnant?” One day, I made a promise to myself that if I ever got pregnant, I would do whatever it took to terminate and to keep my body a safe place for myself, under my own control. Once I had made this commitment, a deep sense of peace came over me. No matter what anyone else thought, did, or said to me, they couldn’t take that away.
Growing up, my mother told me that having children had changed her life. She was planning to be a nun before she met and married my father. When they separated, she ended up struggling for decades as a single mother of three with no financial support. She had no social life and sometimes worked two jobs. Even though she was a loving mother, I saw that it was very hard on her. She told me that it was only in her 50s that she’d started having her own life again. I do not want that for myself.
To me, having children is the world’s biggest dupe. I’ve seen my formerly-childfree sister go through postpartum depression and how she no longer has a moment alone for herself. I’ve watched my friends struggle with their kids. I choose me. I choose my own freedom, control, and peace. I want my life to be about my own needs, not someone else’s. I have absorbed the lessons of the parents around me – it’s not good to become a martyr and to sacrifice your “self.” So I honor them by making a different choice.