Remember that cheeky Lichtenstein-esque greeting card that showed a woman with a thought bubble that said “I can’t believe I forgot to have kids!”? That’s me! And I kept doing it! Over and over! It wasn’t for lack of a husband, as if that’s even necessary; it was because I just wasn’t interested in anything a child had to offer. Childless by choice, 100 percent.
It wasn’t for lack of a husband, as if that’s even necessary.
There was a time when, if pressed, I might have accepted a 10-year-old boy, when he was still curious and polite, but what happens a few years later when the sweet boy turns into a career masturbator whose only other interests are video games and trying to score beer/weed? What then?
Childless by Choice: The Dogs. Always the Dogs.
My first marriage to a perfectly nice fellow started in the Love Chapel in Lake Tahoe and lasted a year and a half. It took me that long to realize that the only thing we had in common was being from Oregon. I got a glimpse of what life would be like going forward and decided not to go there—with him. It ended messily. When he aired his grievances, I was surprised that among them was, “I wanted to have children one day.” It had never come up—in conversation, or anywhere in the remote vicinity of my radar. You might think that would have at least planted the seed, but … no.
When he aired his grievances, I was surprised that among them was, “I wanted to have children one day.”
My next husband, with whom I spent 18 years, never mentioned the idea of parenthood, nor was I waiting for him to broach it. Once we aged out of cocaine-fueled weekends, we went on to live fairly separate lives, uniting in the evening so he could watch televised sports while I managed the house and the dogs.
Ah, the dogs. The dogs were—and in truth, always had been—my favorite part of life, starting from my birth, or so I’m told. Maybe therein lay the issue, because anytime I was forced to look at a baby, the only thing I felt in my loins was an aching desire for a puppy, preferably a litter. If I had a biological clock at all, it was never programmed to start ticking. So time marched on and, ultimately, so did I. It ended messily.
He Would Have Made A Wonderful Father But….
My third husband—relax, there’s only one more to go—was a sweet, sweet man who would have made a wonderful father, but by then I was too old. I have to admit that for the first time I imagined what a child of mine/ours would be like: kind, smart, beautiful, quirky but not weird-quirky, and eager to make enough money so his/her parents wouldn’t have to worry a whit during their golden years. But anyway, that’s not necessarily how it turns out, is it Mr. & Mrs. Ted Bundy, Sr.? And, also, I married this husband in the ER at Seton Hospital the day he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He fought hard and lived another year and a half. Would our child have helped offset the grief? I’ll never know.
People tell us we’re exactly the kind of people who should have kids, but even if it were possible would it make sense?
My husband these days shares both my lack of enthusiasm for the “chronologically deprived,” as we have been known to call children, and my devotion to the dogs. Our lives revolve around art and travel. We spend evenings with similarly unencumbered folk, watching movies, drinking champagne, and talking smack about the thug in the White House. We sleep late. The last time I saw the sun come up it was because the night had ended, not because the morning had broken. We count our many blessings every day, and when we get to our golden years, or maybe we’re already there, I don’t see us fretting over a lack of heirs.
Menopause: The Non-Event
I think menopause was a non-event for me because I was childless by choice—so I didn’t make a trip from “I’m fertile, giver of life” to “I’m barren, no longer useful.” I never wanted that kind of power, so I never missed it, and the only thing menopause ever did was to make my forearms sweat more than usual. As I’ve considered this issue over the years I’ve also wondered if deep down I was afraid to have a child because I wouldn’t survive losing one. I wonder if the universe knows this and has done me a good turn.
I’ve also wondered if deep down I was afraid to have a child. I wonder if the universe knows this and has done me a good turn.
People tell us we’re exactly the kind of people who should have kids, but even if it were possible would it make sense? We’re so happy the way we are, and the last thing this beleaguered earth needs is another mouth to feed, even if it would have been a superior mouth in every way.
I hope I don’t sound militant on the subject; I’m certainly not advocating childlessness. In fact I’m indebted to all those keeping our fragile, tattered species viable. I simply believe that if child rearing has never been an imperative, it’s never going to be a regret. Childless by choice is the only way for me.