“I do hate that I feel like I failed at living up to the childfree ideal.”

JoAnna, 46, USA

I was fascinated by childfree women as a child. The Brady Bunch featured a character that was an older aunt that remained unmarried and childfree. They depicted her as vibrant and exciting; I wanted to be her.

There was a time I assumed I would likely have children, but it was only because that was what most people did. By my early 20s I was fairly certain that it was not for me. Later in my 20s, I became pregnant. The chosen birth control failed, and I could not access Plan B, which was only available through prescription at that time. It was with a new partner and neither of us had any interest in becoming parents, but we could have made it work. It was during this process that I became certain that parenthood was not for me ever. Fortunately, I had a supportive partner and social network with access to an abortion and was able to terminate the pregnancy. I have never regretted this decision.

Twenty later, I remain single and childfree. My life has been far from the TV aunt I was awed by as a child. With career and financial struggles and mental health issues, I have had my share of ups and extreme downs. I often feel like since I don’t have an amazing career and lavish lifestyle, people feel sorry for me.

But at no point is having a child is something I want or wish for. I do hate that I feel like I failed at living up to the childfree ideal. I wish we could express all aspects of our lives without it being attributed to our decision to not have children.