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March 10, 2009

My husband and I do not want to have kids.

Gasp! I know, it’s like I just broke the Golden Rule. I don’t know what the Golden Rule is, but I do know it has something to do with biological clocks and a woman’s desire to decorate bedrooms with teddy bears and diaper genies.

Up until about a year and a half ago, I was sure I did want kids. Since I’m unable to physically bear children, my husband and I planned to adopt (as my sister and I were adopted), and I’d already vetoed these terrible names my husband wanted to inflict upon our child.

Then my sister had a baby, the most precious little boy in the entire world, and I fell in love with him the moment he was placed in my arms. I was amazed by the ease and speed with which I could feel such responsibility for another human being. I’d only known him for a few minutes, but with undeniable certainty, I knew I would do anything for him.

Since that time, I’ve taken care of my nephew quite often, and I love him more with every passing day. However, I also realized that I although I loved being an Aunt Sam more than anything in the world, I didn’t want to be Mama Sam.

For one thing, I’m a worrier. This past weekend, my husband and I went over to my brother-in-law’s house to baby-sit my nephew for a few hours. He was starting to get over a cold, so crap was leaking out of his nose every five minutes. Unfortunately—and this is something that fathers should TELL their babysitters—he also harbors a great aversion to Kleenex.

So he’s sitting on the couch watching Cars, and I notice that a bunch of yellow junk is oozing out of his nose. So I grab a tissue from the box in the kitchen and go up behind the couch to wipe his nose. He catches one glimpse of that Kleenex and LAUNCHES himself off the couch, FACE-FIRST onto the floor.

He, of course, starts, screaming, so I rush around the couch to pick him up, telling him it’s going to be alright, for GOD’S SAKE, it’s going to be alright. Then I notice a trickle of blood running from his lip down the left side of his chin.


I start crying, the kid is crying, and my husband rushes in from the other room, thinking someone must have a bashed-in skull. But no, it’s just inept Aunt Sam trying to calm down the poor baby with tears streaming down her face.

I’m lucky I escaped the entire episode without a heart attack, and for the rest of the afternoon I’m watching my nephew like a hawk, certain he’s going to eat something poisonous or perhaps encounter a rabid coyote on the back porch.

Everyone says that parents get over the insane protectiveness with their own children, but I know myself well enough to realize that motherhood would be a non-stop stroke waiting to happen.

There are other reasons why I don’t think I should have kids. I’m very routine-oriented, set in my ways, and I’ve grown to like my life the way it is. I like that my husband and I can make last-minute vacation plans or sleep in late on Saturday mornings without any obligations. I enjoy the relative lack of stress in our lives, the comforting predictability that comes with a childless existence.

But apparently, if you decide you don’t want to have kids, other people (mostly mothers) believe that you are the SPAWN OF SATAN. How can I be so selfish as to not want kids? Why am I shirking my responsibility as a woman? My husband doesn’t have to tolerate that kind of criticism from his male friends, but in a circle of women, I’ve become a pariah when the subject turns to parenting.

Why is that? Why are you expected to procreate? I figure, it’s better for me to say up front that parenting isn’t for me than to adopt children out of some sort of misguided responsibility and find myself inadequate.

If I had kids, if I suddenly got pregnant (although it’s impossible), I would welcome the challenge with open arms. If my nephew was suddenly orphaned, for example, he would find a loving and nurturing home with my husband and me.

However, I do think it is my right to decide I don’t want kids. Are you a mother or a father? If so, have you always known you wanted kids? And if not, do you face criticism from others for your decision?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    March 10, 2009 6:11 am

    Did you know that there is actually a movement about this point of view? Its called childfree by choice and there are lots of women and men who feel the way you do. I don’t see anything wrong with no wanting to have children especially if you’ve given it a lot of thought.

    However I will be one of those annoying women who reminds you that its different with your own kids. My brothers kids drive me up the wall but I never feel that way about my boys no matter what they’ve done. Still its completely your choice and you shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

  2. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 10, 2009 6:16 am

    Thanks Amy. I’d never heard of a “movement” about being childless, but I’ll Google it later. It isn’t that I think there is anything wrong with parenthood, but more than I feel I’m not suited for it. My husband is older than I am and we’re just not in a place where parenthood sounds like a good idea. Of course, my opinion could change by tomorrow, knowing me.

  3. March 10, 2009 9:36 am

    There’s nothing wrong with not wanting kids. I had two, and I’ll tell you what, mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young. Some people have easy-to-raise, well-behaved honor student kids. Not me. They weren’t thugs in gangs, but they were not easy. And as much as I love them, I’m not sure I’d have kids again, given a second chance. Just because we’re women society EXPECTS us to WANT to be mothers. You don’t have to. I’ve known too many people who had them because it was expected, and although I’m sure they love them, would have been much happier child-free. So I congratulate you for being brave enough to admit you don’t want kids. If you feel like you need to mother something, adopt a puppy! 😉

  4. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 10, 2009 10:45 am

    Thanks for the affirmation. And you know, I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been scared of having a kid like the one I mentioned to you in my e-mails. You raise him or her up and find you have yourself a psychotic or sociopathic offspring. I think from that worry along I’m better off without kids. 🙂

  5. Chris permalink
    May 14, 2009 3:16 pm

    The P-R-O-C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N Dilemma.

    One of my not so favorite discussions, especially these days, as our entire geopolitical and economic awareness draws ever closer to the harsh, and sobering reality of resource depletion, and competition for survival. I should mention too, the dire economic reality that is now forcing American families into having to turn to ‘Food Banks’ in order to feed themselves.

    I lived during the early part of my life in intensely over populated countries. My early references to the horrid downsides of our Earth’s societal members copiously cloning themselves with extremely little concern, or compassion for the relative well being of their genetic contribution to our planet, still leaves me disturbed and angry fifty years later. So, when I currently witness people continually reproducing, without any substantial first, second or third thoughts to what kind of a world they are potentially initiating their children into, it bothers me immensely…
    I should also add, that when I watch members of our social structures reproduce mindlessly and then turn the economic, health and social / familial burden onto the already shaky social safety net as if they are participating with some sort of inconsequential toy from a giant big box store, yes, I concern deeply with the overly hyped and marketed preconception that everyone has to have children.

    Personally, I do not have my own children. I did want them at one time, but I am perfectly comfortable, and consciously in tune with my reality of not having children. It is most assuredly, not a selfish act, to not have children.
    I also have immense issues with the prefabricated social, and institutional advertising brainwashing agendas that hammers the idea that in order to fit in to the baby making clan, we had better do our part, or we will feel guilt, and derision for not cloning ourselves. I especially have rants with the institutional and corporate entities that do not honor the true reality of procreation, other than to boost their market share domination, because more of their loyal followers will perpetuate the ability to make sure that their belief structure, and or product will maintain a certain sense of viability, with greater numbers of populations.

    Some of the best parents I know, have no children. Some of the most challenged parents I know, have too many children. I love children and their vital joy and importance in our perpetual motion machine on Earth, but, as it stands in both intuitive, logical and rational perspectives, there are more than plenty of capable reproducers as it is—we are not going to run out of personal cloning units anytime soon. We should also celebrate those that choose not to play the family game.

    ‘But apparently, if you decide you don’t want to have kids, other people (mostly mothers) believe that you are the SPAWN OF SATAN…’

    I have personally felt this venom from others when it was realized that I was without clones, and following their highly prescribed lifestyle. My deeper impression, was that I was being attacked because I was not subjecting myself to their own resentment, that underneath their plastic parenthood, they knew that they were party to the cultish induction practices that are highly subversive in making people toe the family club.

    There are incredible parents too, that truly embody the awesomeness of being a parent, and that I honor, and these parents are usually cool with the fact that there are others that choose not to genetically reproduce their personal clones.

    ‘Gasp! I know, it’s like I just broke the Golden Rule…’

    Personally, I believe the Golden Rule, should be more in tune with living sustainably, cooperatively and with collaborative wisdom. It especially should be about more personal freedom, tolerance for diversity and dropping less guilt and shame upon those that decide to live “non-normal” lives, what ever that may be…

    So, good for you and your decision to be so much more aware about the decision of bringing another intense carbon consuming unit to our currently, highly complex matrix…

    A couple of additional thoughts: Perhaps some of the people with children, should instead be grateful that some of us with out children have chosen to use our time in areas that are beneficial to the whole, rather than just the personal and private family unit. I know a lot of parents of families that simply just do not have the time or energy to engage in considerations of subjects like international food safety and domestic food security, or the situations that lead to the struggling social economics of single parenting…

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