From Our ReadersThe Luxury to Design My Own LifeFrom Our Readers

“We’re adults without children. We have the luxury to design our own life.” – Sex and the City 2

I must remember to paraphrase this quote the next time someone questions my decision to not have children. Ever.

“I want the luxury to design my own life.”

One of my best friends is married with two children and is the happiest she’s ever been. And I’m happy for her. I’m happy to spend time with her and her husband and her little cuties when they come home for a visit. Do I want to cuddle with her baby and play with her toddler? Yes. Do I want to change diapers, be up all night breast feeding, and have my entire life revolve around keeping another human being alive and happy? No.

Nothing I have ever wanted in my life has included having children. Nothing I want to do in my life, my future, would work if I had children. I know there are people out there who seem to balance a great career, a relationship, travel, fun times and their children. But I don’t want it all. I just want the fun stuff. I want to design my own life. My own schedule. My own home. My own plans. I never want to have to consider another person’s needs and wants before my own. If I decide I want to go rent a villa in Tuscany for a month, then I can save up my money and go. I don’t have to bring kids, or arrange to have them taken care of. I don’t have to give up the idea all together because I can’t afford a fabulous holiday and college tuition. The only other person I want to have to consider in that situation is whomever I want to bring with me to make the trip more fun.

Is it selfish? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s ever selfish to put yourself first. You have to in order to survive. Would it be a little selfish to leave your kids at home so you can go lie on a beach for a month? Maybe. It seems to me that no kids means no guilt. If I only have myself to worry about, I’m never disappointing or neglecting anyone.

What bothers me most about the formerly mentioned situation is when someone says “You’re still young. You’ll change your mind.” I find this infuriating and insulting for someone to tell me that I don’t know what I want. I’m not so young. I’m old enough to be planning the rest of my life. A lot of girls my age have already made the decision to have kids. Why am I too young to have made the decision not to?

I know that I still have a lot of growing up to do in a lot of ways. I’m always growing, maturing, changing. While the specific details of what I want to be “when I grow up” are always changing, the main idea has been pretty constant since I was about 12. I never considered kids in my grown-up dreams. I dreamed about my career, my lifestyle, my friends and lovers. I thought about being a filmmaker, being an entrepreneur, being a writer, being a creative businesswoman, being a traveler. Sometimes I think all that would be nice with that one special person by my side, but sometimes I think how boring to be stuck with just one person, I want some freedom and some fun.

Married or single. In Ontario, Vancouver, LA, or Europe. Filmmaker, writer, or business owner. One thing I will never be is a mother.

Read more from Tish Chambers here.

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  1. “I don’t think it’s ever selfish to put yourself first”. Isn’t this kind of what selfish is? That being said, you have the right to make that choice, and live your life the way you want! You are not obligated to have kids, and I find it so aggravating when mothers lose every ounce of their identity or say things like “you’re not a real woman unless you have children”. Be happy!

  2. Being pathetically codependent and submissive, I find this one of the most selfish articles I’ve ever read. I’m not being mean. But I care about others’ needs so much it’s almost like a disease. And since I’m this way, this comes off horribly to me because I don’t understand this way of thinking.
    Though, Ms. Chambers might not be able to fathom the way I work, either. I’m not saying she’s a bad person. I’m just saying, to a person like me, this is almost offensively selfish.

  3. Everyone identifying with this article should go right now and read Jen Kirkman’s book “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life without Kids”. It’s fantastic, Jen is a comedian on Chelsea lately and her book is super hilarious and on point. Highly recommend!!!

  4. I very rarely post comments, but I wanted to add my voice to this discussion. I am an Orthodox Jew living in Israel (Jerusalem). I never particularly wanted children but just assumed that I would have them naturally, as having children is a very important value in the Orthodox Jewish community (most people do not use birth control). I’ve been married for almost 5 years now (thank G-d), and have never been pregnant. We learned that my husband has some reproductive issues (he got tested over a year ago but still didn’t go back to the doctor for his diagnosis …. MEN! :) ). We are very fortunate that Israel is a country that offers free fertility treatments to couples (for up to 2 children). However, I’m not sure that I want to go down that road. I am very happy with my life as it is, the ability to travel, working to advance my career, etc. It is very awkward within the Orthodox Jewish community if a couple does not have children, because if a couple does not have a child within the first couple years of marriage, people automatically assume that there is “a problem”. When people ask me if I have children, I just say, “No.” They ask me if I’m a newlywed, and I say, “No, I’ve been married almost 5 years.” I don’t try to justify my life circumstances or act as though I am devastated by not having children (as unfortunately many couples who have reproductive issues are). Bottom line, I think everything happens for a reason, and I think (not to sound conceited :) ) that my husband is VERY lucky that he married a woman who does not necessarily want to have children, given his reproductive issues. If he had married a woman who did want children, their marriage may have resulted in divorce, or perhaps be filled with the struggles of a re-productively challenged couple trying to conceive with the help of medical intervention.

  5. I agree, nobody ever says to people who definitely want to have kids, “You’ll change your mind!”

  6. I love this article. I plan on having a child or two when I am done with my medical residency and have settled into my career (which will be about 15 years down the road) so that I am able to financially and emotionally provide for them. People often tell me that “God might have different plan for you,” which I hate just as much as “You’re young, you’ll change your mind.” First of all, I’m agnostic, second, I’m not going to throw away my goals and plans by being irresponsible and getting pregnant before I want to be.

  7. Me as well! I wholeheartedly agree with this whole article. and I completely hate when someone says “your young, you will change your mind”! I love not having to think about getting home for dinner or bed time or making sure the kids get to school on time. I love my niece and really look forward to spending time with her but I really enjoy my independence.

  8. I identify with this so much! I’m not cut out to have children. I think the one thing that so many people don’t take into consideration is the financial aspect of having children. Sure “you can never have enough money to raise a child”, but I don’t feel being a parent is a right of passage. Even if i changed my mind and wanted a child, I’d be responsible enough to know that we don’t make enough money to provide for a kid in the way that I would want to.

  9. Same here! When I say I don’t want kids a lot of people sort of nod their heads and say, “Yeah, because you’re gay and can’t have them? You can always adopt. Don’t worry.” NO. I just don’t want them; I want my life for myself. It may be selfish, but it is a lot less selfish than having one and only caring for myself. This was a good article.

  10. You pretty much summed up my thoughts and feelings in this article. I’m glad that there are more people like myself being honest about the fact that they don’t want kids.

  11. Thank you so much for writing this! I absolutely despise it when people tell me I’ll change my mind or that I’ll have children some day whether or not I want to now. I have never wanted to pop out a mini me. Even when I was four I asked my parents not to have any kids, I haven’t wanted any for that long and it will stay that way. I want the life I want and I will not jeopardize my future by bringing another human into an already over populated world.
    I am totally capable of understanding myself and what I want. It’s honestly very rude to tell someone that what they want or who they are isn’t true or real; that is exactly what people do when they tell a woman that they will have kids even if she insistently explains that she doesn’t. Biologically/physically I may someday feel like I want kids because of the so called ‘biological clock’, but the beauty of being human is that we have a powerful consciousness that allows us to make choices beyond our animal instincts.
    So many people act like it’s selfish to not want or have children, but how can someone be selfish if they choose themselves over another person who does not exist? Whenever someone acts like I’m being selfish or say that I’ll change my mind, I resist the urge to say, ” But isn’t it also selfish to have children?” To some extent it is, whether people will admit it or not. The only true reason people have babies is to continue their genetics so that when they’re dead, there’s still ‘a little bit of them’ left behind. It’s the way of evolution and nature. I am completely content with being biologically useless to our species and I am completely happy to live an amazing life without children.
    Thank you again for writing this.

  12. Thank you for this! You perfectly summarized my exact thoughts and sentiments toward not wanting kids and toward those people who can’t respect that as a woman I really have no desire to be a mother. I always got the “you’ll change your mind when you meet someone and get married”. Well….I’m married now and wouldn’t you know–NEITHER of us want kids and yet “we’re still young and can change our minds”. Nope. Not happening. Most of it is because their friend so-and-so was the same way and then one day she was pregnant and now she has 3 kids and is happier than ever. Good for her!–it’s still not for me. We like the luxury of knowing that we can go wherever we want at any time and not worry about the kids.

    We have pets and we’re more than happy with our family being the 2 of us and our pets. I don’t feel like we’re missing anything and neither does he. And if I’m being honest more people should be supportive of 2 young adults who don’t want kids making the responsible decision to NOT have kids despite the unrelenting attempts from everyone else to convince us that we have to have kids because we’re married.

    I have no desire to put my body through that. I have no desire to worry about whether or not my baby will be healthy. I don’t want to wake up all night every night for the first several months to feed a baby. And I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s life for (at least) 18 years. It isn’t appealing to me and while it may be the greatest most rewarding experience it’s not an experience I want for my life. A great career, a happy marriage and a happy life-yes. And I firmly believe I can have all those things–including a happy fulfilling life–without having kids.

  13. Yes! I am a parent of two (almost three) and I love when people are self-assured enough to go after the lives they want, rather than the expected. I think wanting all those things is selfish, but being able to say you are too selfish to want to take care of another human being takes a high level of maturity. People who have kids because they fear they are “missing out” or because they think it’s expected should not be having kids. It’s a life changer and life commitment that should not be taken lightly.

    It is condescending to say you will change your mind when you are older. But the fact is, even if you do change your mind, that is YOUR prerogative and better to have a child when you are sure you want one then before just on speculation that you might change your mind someday.

  14. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
    You basically described how I feel, most of my friends have kids now, and when I tell people I don’t want any, I always get the “oh you’re still young”. I want to live a life of adventure and wanderlust, and I cannot do that with children. It feels great to know that someone out there thinks like me.

  15. You’re right, if you feel that way, you shouldn’t have kids. And it sounds like you’re old enough to definitely be planning your life.

    I think where people say “you’ll change your mind” is due to their observations of others who have done so. Take my step-mother-in-law for example. She was NOT going to have kids. It was the LAST thing in the world she wanted. But… in her mid 40′s she was out gardening one day and realized she HAD to have a baby. Like, immediately. When she told her husband, he laughed and said, “you don’t mean that.” But she did… and she will tell you the biological clock is real. And that is the story of how I have a 5 year old brother in law.

    That doesn’t mean that will happen to you. You may never change your mind, and that’s okay. But I think that’s why people say that – not because they think you’re not really old enough to know what you want.

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