“It took me too long to break free of those shackles.”

Maribel, 42, USA

I’m an overweight, unmarried, childfree Filipino woman in my 40s.

With a cultural collectivism that exists in Filipino culture, a lot of assumptions have been made about me and it has intersected with my not fully owning my decision to be childfree much earlier.

“You’re fat! You’re eating too much! Do you exercise? How are you going to find a man like that? When are you going to get married? When are you going to give your parents grandchildren? Who’s going to take care of you when you get old?”

It took me too long to break free of those shackles, live life on my terms and I’ve become sort of my own role model in the process.

In the spring of 2021, months shy of my 40th birthday, I was still on the fence about children. My employer at the time provided fertility benefits of up to $60K towards any fertility or family-building procedure. Empowered with options, I decided to pursue egg freezing.

While I learned a lot about my body throughout the process and found a greater respect for women who pursue motherhood, it also forced me to be brutally honest with myself. In evaluating my values, needs and motivations, I finally owned up to what I always knew- motherhood was not for me.

Three major things cemented this:

  1. Later that year, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s with dementia. Throughout his illness, I admittedly found caregiving more stressful than not. Watching my mother and sister, they just had a different gear that I just didn’t possess.
  2. Also during that time, I met someone. My lover, my companion, and my best friend. I once asked myself if a kid would “make things complete”… and the answer was clear.
  3. My maternal box was checked off long ago when I took in a stray pitbull, now going on 13. His needs are simple, yet his impact has been monumental.

Being childfree has best equipped me to navigate the ups and downs of life, from getting promoted and traveling the world (including my first solo trip!) to getting laid off without feeling rushed to get back to work.

Now in between jobs, I’m currently living a slow and soft life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.