“I dreamed of writing and dancing and animals, but never of being a mother.”

Emma, 34, USA

Despite what people want to believe, despite what they tell me, I don’t want kids. I have never wanted kids. As a little girl, I would daydream about my future life, and what I envisioned never included children. Dreams of the future involved differing scenarios, like being a ballerina or a veterinarian, but most often I would picture myself writing. Writing furiously on a typewriter near an antique window, in an attic like Jo in Little Women, a cigarette burning in an ashtray (I grew up on black-and-white movies where everyone, especially writers, smoked), a cold cup of tea forgotten beside me because I was so enthralled by “my work.” I dreamed of writing and dancing and animals, but never of being a mother.

I am at an age where many of my friends are beginning to have children (if they don’t already have them). My twin sister has two children and two stepchildren. I’ve gone to more baby showers than I ever thought a person could go to in their lifetime. I seem to be surrounded by children; everywhere I look there are families with two, three, four, five little ones in tow. And don’t get me wrong, I actually like children. I love my niece and nephew more than anything. But I also love going home to a mess and noise-free house at the end of the day. (Except for my mess.)

When I think of my life and what I want to do, kids don’t factor into the equation. I don’t yearn for motherhood like many people said I would when I turned 30 (I’m now 34). I don’t feel like something is missing. If anything, my life is more full. I’m starting graduate school this month to become a librarian. I became a certified yoga teacher last year. I plan to travel the world, experience new cultures and locations. I picture meeting all different kinds of people, hearing their stories, learning about their customs. I picture trying new things, perhaps finally learning to love to cook. I picture a future with a house full of dogs and dinner parties and being an aunt to dozens.

Though I don’t want kids, I do sometimes think about how different my life would be if I had children. I think of how I would not be able to do things as I like to do them. Just because I am a woman with ovaries does not mean that I want or need to be a mother. This doesn’t mean that I look down on mothers; quite the opposite. I have the utmost respect for mothers (and fathers), for those who love their kids fiercely yet gently, for those who want babies. That is their choice. And my choice is different.