The past year or so, I see this term “childfree” gaining traction in the media (local Indonesia, regional, and international) and the collective consciousness (OK, I mean “people and conversations”). Which made my brain notice more and more things related to it.
I’ll share a couple of examples of things I’ve been noticing, watching, reading, and thinking about, on this topic.
I’m 97% comfortable and excited about my (mostly implicit) decision to be childfree. Rarely second guessed it.
And I’m most extremely grateful for my wise and supportive mother who sincerely says “don’t get married for the sake of getting married. if you find someone you want to be with, then please consider. but if not, women these days can thrive without getting married“.
But, that said
- I do feel having a child is an amazing privilege and lifechanging. Gives life immense meaning.
- reading these replies to Courtland Allen’s tweet
- and I think I will have such an awesome child really. and an awesome parent.
- kids are the coolest to observe. like, pure human
- kids force you to be strategic with your time, easier to prioritise. good challenge and best types of constraints
- having kids will probably keep me from ever experiencing emptiness in life
Wholesome moments that my friends share
Note: All links to personal material, other than for public personalities have been redacted from this post. They are 2-3 links to my friends' wholesome FB posts of their kids and family activities, first moments, etc
- seeing my friends with kids, seems fun. things like this […]
- and https://twitter.com/schlaf/status/1424415825029632003
- > My 2.5 year old daughter just looked at me and said, “Dada I’m so happy.” I could see it her eyes. This is what life is all about. Being a parent is a gift.
- and this post of his cute (indeed) kid, captioned “My bundle of joy ♥️”
- and (a Twitter friend sharing his family photo, genuinely think he has such a beutiful family)
- and Simon Sarris‘ life.
Things that my filter bubble recommendation system has presented me
CBS Insights. Such a great segment from 2 years ago (thanks YouTube for surfacing this gem). The most various cases of arguments from people who are cildfree: by choice, from different genders, background, and reasons. Great host too
// I relate with the lady at 19:25. great conclusion too at 50:20
Vice Indonesia covered this on their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSyzQrJhx06/
They’re also running a column for this, apparently.
“If someone is thinking ‘I really, really want to have children, but worry it’s bad for the Earth’, you are likely to be unhappy if you follow that worry through. Not many people have the distance to avoid the evolutionary urge to procreate. You have to be careful not to overthink this desire.”
Her advice is to think about and write down the values that are important to you – both in terms of raising children and the contribution you want to make to the world – and the kind of life you will be able to give to a child. She also says to check the list every year to see if you still feel the same way.
She did as her mother had done, and what most of her friends were doing at the time. “I never really pre-thought it. It was a normal thing,” she says. “The careers weren’t quite so intense and attractive for women as they are now. Whereas you were more career-orientated. You had more options going for you.”
I tell my mom about my list and my quest to advance my decision-making skills. Her advice from 10 years ago still stands. “Think about why you’d want them,” she says. “If that reason is something you are doing for yourself, fair enough, but it shouldn’t be something you are doing for the family.”
Knowing how much I value my independence and freedom, she also urges me to think about how different my life would be as a mom. “Look at your friends that have got kids and how their lives are different to your own. They are life-changing. If you’re having children, you’ve got to put them first.”
She knows me too well, and can see how much I enjoy my lifestyle. I have friends with kids who continue to live fun, fulfilled lives. They seem tired, sure, but they’re still the same people I knew and loved. I also have friends whose lives seem to have become smaller, and this is where Frances Kissling’s advice starts to come to life. If I do this, I’ll lose freedoms, but by being deliberate about the way I want to bring up a family, perhaps it’s not impossible to set my own terms.
Also, I’m not averse to change. Change wakes us up and keeps us on our toes. With so much talk about the sacrifices parents have to make, I wonder what my mom liked most about having kids.
“It’s amazing how close you feel to that little tiny person that you bring into the world,” she tells me. “The unconditional love that is there between you, having a little person dependent on you, and in a way you are dependent on them too. It’s great watching them grow up and see what life they make for themselves.”
For you, it’s like an added bonus. Like ice cream on your apple pie. You would enjoy life either way.”
// I can probably write about this by creating a similar list:
- “Reasons I Don’t Want to Have a Baby”
- “Reasons I Do Want to Have a Baby”
women are no better at so-called domestic tasks than men, we’ve just been scapegoated into cleaning and cooking; sure enough, a mother’s children are the most important thing in her life, but if you have no children, well, some other most important thing gets room to be and become.
Childlessness is almost as radical today as it’s always been, a fact that belies the numbers: in 2018, 15% of women between 45 and 50 were childless.
As I’ve aged – I’ll turn 52 this year – my appreciation for the liberties I’ve chosen has only grown. Like a free agent, I’ve always revelled in my actions without restrictions, my decisions without ramifications. I could move to the other side of the country, then move back; spend three months making sandwiches in a cafe in Alaska; throw all my savings into a furniture store for a short year; then cut and run with a backpack across the African continent for another.
I loved, lived, and slept with whomever I pleased. I keep a Post-it in my wallet that says, “I can do anything I want to.”
But the freedoms that come with childlessness are much more profound than the thrill of wild adventure, wild sex or wild precarity. I have the time to think, to be creative, to cultivate a career of my own curation.
Noticing and clipping this during a random Wikipedia rabbit hole https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Antonoff
In June 2014, Antonoff said he was “desperate” for kids, explaining: It just seems like the most fun thing in the world. I’ve never met people who have kids who haven’t looked me in the eye and been like, “It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened.”… I think it’s biological. I’m 30. I’m not that young, right? I’m not, like, 24 or 22. I’m no longer in the phase of my life where I talk about everything as in the future. Like, I’m in the future
But of course, we have these too
But yeah, I still can’t stand kids, never felt like I’ve ever genuinely enjoyed spending time with a kid, and have so many other things I want to do in life.
Unlike some of the reasons these people share in the above, world, environment, medical reasons, financial ones, my motive and reasons are mostly selfish ones. OK there’s a better way I want to frame that as but can’t — I feel only slightly selfish but mostly “meh, I don’t mind” about it.
I value my independence, me time, burdenless, energy, sleep, time to dabble. I love the way my life is set up now.
But, parents still have time for these “freedom era”, in different seasons in their lives, right? After they retire, yadda yadda.
Am I depriving myself from a true genuine irreplaceable source of joy meaning and treasure in life?
I feel like I’m approaching this more from a 1) FOMO and 2) “it’d be interesting experiment of human-ing”, and less of a “my maternal instinct is trying to say something”.
- Draft of this post can be found at: http://proses.id:5417/s/PY4N9u6CO
Also published on Medium.