“I don’t think I know anyone who voluntarily chose to not have children,” said my sister after we had one of our lengthy discussions on why I really don’t want to have kids.
Growing up in a traditional country where family values seem to be so important meant my life was planned out for me. It was planned out based on my country’s values, which were then adopted by practically everyone around me. You know, you were supposed to go to primary school, then secondary school, go to university right after, find a boyfriend, find a job, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. In that exact same order. Everything else was out of the norm, and I broke those rules right after secondary school, much to the surprise of everyone around me.
“But you’ll have two children, the psychic I went to ten years ago told me so!” This has been my mother’s response each time the topic of having children came up. This was her way of ignoring everything I had to say because psychics are highly respected people in her world, even more so than feelings and decisions of her daughter. I’m pretty sure that she still thinks living abroad exposed me to all that is wrong with this world, including being child-free by choice.
“Oh, you just haven’t found the right guy yet,” is another one of my favorite statements. My grandmothers always find a way to ask whether or not I have a boyfriend every time I come home. And every time I say no, it seems to follow with a deep dissertation-like analysis of my love life and why I haven’t yet found the right guy to marry and, ultimately, to have children and live their version of happily ever after. And each time it happens, I’m reminded to practice my Zen and accept that my decision will forever be brushed off as if it’s some kind of an absurd statement I’ll regret for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong; I like kids. I spent the majority of my late teens and early 20s being a nanny. I like being the fun aunt and making sure my sister’s kids will have somewhere to go when they want to run away from home or take a break and see what it’s like to live a different out-of-the-norm kind of life. But seeing a child become a jerk because of my jerky-ish genes is not something I’d like to experience again—one time was enough. It’s a personal choice, and a selfish at that—so what does that make me? Which demographic do I belong in?
It’s sad that most women are only valued by their marital and maternal status. We are worth so much more than the legacy of the motherhood we leave behind. We are the legacy. Not because we’re someone’s child, but because we’re also human. My mark on this world will be left by myself, not by my children who would be forced into the same life path and think that is all they’ll ever be good for.
Not being a mother doesn’t make me incomplete and having children is definitely not my only purpose in life. I don’t judge you for your choice of having kids, so don’t judge me for my choice of being child-free.