“I am obligated to no one, and no one is obligated to me.”

Dana-Lyne, 61, USA

I knew from the age of five that I did not want to be a mom or a wife. I did not want a family of my own. I wanted to live life on my own terms. I wanted to be alone. If I wanted companionship, I knew where and how to find it. I wanted freedom.

Only my dad supported my decision. The women in my family, fellow students, co-workers, friends, and even strangers wanted me to change my mind and have a child.

I was told I was selfish for not wanting children. I was told that being a mother is the most ennobling thing a woman can be. I was told that I would regret my choice. I was told that it would be a shame to die alone (Guess what? All of us die alone.) I was told that I would have a lonely and unfulfilled life without children. I was told that my purpose on Earth was to have children. I was told that once I had a child, I would feel differently (as if that were a reason to have a child). The pressure started when I was 23. When I turned 40, I was told that time was running out. When my period stopped at the age of 57, I was told I wasted my life. I was told I am missing out on the joys of being a grandmother.

I am 61 now. I have no spouse, no children, no family, and no regrets. I have freedom others can only imagine. The women who pressured me when I was in my 20s now tell me how wise I was to stick to my choice. They look tired. They are tired. I feel great. I feel very alive. I am obligated to no one, and no one is obligated to me. I am there for people when I am needed, and I am fully available to them. I feel being of help to others is my purpose on Earth, but it is not a full-time purpose, like motherhood is. My mind has not changed. My life is not wasted. My life is joyful. My life is full.