I Prefer the Term “Child-Free”

I’ve never wanted children. Even when I was a little girl, I disliked other kids. Playing with dolls was only fun because I got to style their fashions and create lives for them. Its one of the same reasons I grew up to love the game SIMS – I could create fully grown people and tell them exactly how to live their lives, complete control. Playing God, one could say.  But as a kid, the part of playing with a baby doll, changing pretend diapers full of pretend urine, singing it to sleep, carrying it around – to be honest, it grossed me out. I couldn’t understand why anybody would find that an enjoyable pastime. And as I got older, the idea of having children translated exactly the same.

For some reason, it is still somewhat unacceptable for a woman to choose to live a “childfree existence.” Females who choose this way of life are sometimes thought to be cold-hearted, selfish, or ‘not in touch with the self.’  When people would ask how many kids I wanted I would say, “None, if I’m lucky.” And suddenly I was transported to 1952, met with widening eyes and confused looks followed by endless comments and questions: “Why don’t you want to be a mom?” or  “Of course you want kids,” or the inevitable and condescending “Oh, you’ll want them when you get married.” (Right, because all it takes is the right man to convince me I don’t know who I am or what I want. But that’s a whole other blog.) I got so many negative reactions about not wanting kids that for awhile, I really thought there was something wrong with me. Girls were supposed to long for children, right?  Wasn’t my womb supposed to clinch every time I saw a woman pushing a stroller? Weren’t my daydreams supposed to be of finding the perfect husband/father and spending my days raising his munchkins?

Um, no.

My days were spent in dreams of celebrity and world domination, sunning myself in Capri, climbing pyramids in Egypt. Sometimes I’d throw in a husband, or a lover, but most times comfortably and blessedly alone. There was never the patter of little feet in my thirty-room mansion in the Hollywood Hills, or my flat in London.

As I grew older and started my lifestyle of “professional witch” I came to realize that I was a mother in many other ways. My work as an energy therapist and spiritual counselor required me to hold hands, instill discipline, and kiss the boo-boo’s to make it better. My friendships are full of listening and offering advice, supporting those I love with the proper encouragement. My environmental activities put me in the role of Mother Nature, taking care of the earth and making sure (at least in my corner of the world) that it survives and thrives. I saw that despite the fact it isn’t meant for me to have children, everything about me is mothering. A caretaker, a rock to be leaned on – simply because I am a woman, and that is what women do in every aspect of their lives, regardless of whether they are dealing with their own children or the world’s.

Some women are meant to mother children, which is the most important and difficult job on the planet. Others are meant to mother the world, which can be just as trying and just as rewarding. But the fact is we are all parents, in one way or another. And whatever we decide to give life to, to love, nourish, and provide for, is a valid personal choice.

16 thoughts on “I Prefer the Term “Child-Free””

  1. I applaud this article. Although, I chose to not have children for different reasons I ran into the same reactions from people. If I had a nickle for every time I heard “When you meet the right guy you’ll change your mind” I’d be a bloody millionaire.

    Sadly, I’ve even had people question my sexuality. As if lesbians never want children. *rolls eyes* What the hell has a persons sexuality have to do with whether they chose to have kids? Go figure…*shrugs*

    At 42 I’m single, never been married or engaged, and I have no children. That’s the way I chose to live my life and like you I found that I became a mother, just not in the traditional way. 🙂

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    1. LOL – I forgot to mention the lesbian comment. I’ve gotten that one too. The audacity of some people… but I understand that most of them are speaking from their own experiences, and their love of children. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, and just point out that what is good for them would be torture for others. I like kids too – I just don’t want any in my house, hahaha
      I just hate the assumption that because I am a woman, my ultimate goal in life is to have children.

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  2. Even though I have kids, I do think it should be OK for women not to have kids…or OK for couples to Foster or Adopt, etc.

    Because lets face it, some people should not have kids lol only they do not make that decision on their own…while others, who are more responsible about it, do (and not because they would suck at it…just because they aren’t pulled to do it).

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  3. I loved this article, thank you. I also chose not to have children and find, in my life as shaman, that I too do the “mother” role in many other ways than the usual one. I also suffered the usual put-downs of both men and other women about not having children – for quite a while I really felt “abnormal”, not a good thing! It is still a prevalent attitude today for child-bearing women to put down those who don’t … I had it done to me (even at age 61) a couple of Sundays back at a meeting with fellow shamans, for the gods’ sakes !!!

    I must also admit that I’ve done the other roles of the goddess throughout my life – those of Maiden and Crone. Of course, I now look more like a Crone but I was doing some of this work even in my 20s *g* – and I didn’t look ancient then LOL.

    But thanks again for this great article – and you’ve inspired me to talk about the goddess’ roles when I blog next month.

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    1. How odd that shamans would give that attitude – you would think they would know better!

      I think with men its kind of assumed that they want to focus on their careers and dating as many women as possible; and that women are always trying to “get a man” to stay and have babies with… that’s the sadness of living in the 21st century – all the stereotypes and assumptions of who a person is…
      Le sigh.

      I am so happy this article inspired you! Any reason to talk about the Goddess is awesome with me, hahahaha
      I am in the process of writing a new non-fiction book about Goddess work, and I teach classes on Maiden, Mother and Crone. A lot of people are now adding in other aspects – like Nymph and Queen (so the cycle would be Nymph, Maiden,Mother, Queen, Crone) but I personally feel the additions are more archetypes of the human female, not the Divine. What do you think?
      And as a shaman, do you work with Goddess energy often?

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    2. *chuckle* – my thoughts entirely (on so-called shamans attitudes!) but then labels don’t make people :-).

      With men, I agree about the attitudes but unfortunately they’ve been around ever since paternity got to be important – particularly with the advent of William the Conqueror to British shores :-). Before him and his paternity issues (in every sense!) women had far more equal roles and we even elected our kings.

      Goddess … oh yes, I work with her all the time. In the British tradition she is Sovereignty, the Land and the Planet herself, the Queen who is guarded by the King. In fact this is the origin of the Morris Dance – Mary’s Men practising their unarmed combat as a dance! The name Mary is derived from words in many languages (including Sanscrit) meaning “the sea”. Of course, the chrsitians aquired her as it would have been impossible to stop the folk-love of the Lady. For us, in the British trad, Frayde (Brighid, to give her her Gaelic name, Frayde is her Brythonc one) carries the 3 faces and energies of the goddess and is a major part of our Way. I’ll get some stuff together for this Maiden/Mother/Crone blog. If it’s useful to you for the novel do use it – shall like a copy of it when done :-).

      The 3 faces are symbols – useful for the goddess to get through to our human brains 🙂 – and certainly not just archetypes of human females. They hold the feminine energy indeed but that’s certainly not just “female”. One of Frayde’s jobs is that of Blacksmith which is commonly thought to be a masculine thing, and this is her Maiden aspect :-). But Frayde is certainly not the only aspect of the goddess in the British trad, there’s Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd, Ceridwen, Morgan, Rhiannon, Elen of the Ways … just to mention a few :-).

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  4. And if you do have kids, so many folk assume that’s the be all and end all of your existence… like you should be satisfied by sitting home and washing nappies. People expected me to stop doing anything else. I didn’t. I carried on much as before, and took the child with me. He’s the richer for it.

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    1. No, just because people have children doesn’t mean they need to stop living. I think that’s why so many women who have children end up suffering from severe depression. And sadly, a lot of times, family members don;t help even though they have been there and done that. A lot of times, one partner ends up sacrificing everything for the kids while the other partner comes and goes, whatever. Shouldn’t be that way.

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  5. I’m child free too, and get all the usual responses you’ve mentioned. I dislike that people feel I need to justify my choice. No-one ever says to a mother, “why?”. I have also been told I’m selfish because I’m depriving my parents of the chance to be grandparents. And I have been asked “who will look after you when you’re old?” Er…ok, I don’t think THAT’S a valid reason to have kids!

    Other people assume I have chosen career instead of kids. Actually….I have chosen neither. I have no interest in going up some corporate ladder, pursuing promotion and money.

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    1. Jay,
      tell them with ALL the money you save by not having kids, you can afford that private island and the huge staff of hotties who WILL be taking care of you when your old. *winks*

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  6. (just saw this article) I am a mom and gave up a darn good career to be a stay at home mom. It works for me. One should NOT be a parent, if there is no desire to fill that lifetime, life changing role. You aren’t going to do any child any good if you have a child that you do not want … and you’ll ruin your own life too. We weren’t all placed on this earth to procreate and raise kidlings… we all have a purpose. Actually, we all have mulitple purposes. AND, so do other people. These purposes do not need to overlap all the time.

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