If You're Choosing Not to Have Kids, You'll Want to Read This
I don't know what it is about my decision to not have kids that absolutely infuriates so many people who have nothing to do with my womb or life choices, but the topic seems to come up on a weekly basis—sometimes even two or three times a week. The thing is, I love children, and I totally respect the decision of my friends and family members who have had or plan on having kids. I just don't want any of my own.
In an era when people are so overly concerned about what women are choosing to do with their bodies, it's not surprising that everyone and their mum has an opinion on the activities (or lack thereof) of my uterus because—God forbid—I'm 33 and have an empty womb.
I've heard it all: "But you'd be such a good mom," they say. "You say that now, but wait until you meet the right person." "You'll change your mind and then it will be too late." "There are so many people out there who want kids and are unable to have them." "You'll totally regret this." "Your life becomes so much more worthwhile when you have kids." "You'll have no one to take care of you when you're old." "You're being selfish." "You're just saying that because you're a feminist."
Concerns about my choice to keep my eggs unfertilized come at me from all different directions, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and places—most frequently, from out of left field. Whenever the subject comes up, about 90 percent of people either shame me for not wanting kids or simply don't believe me when I tell them that I'm not interested. But why should I feel guilty about not passing on my DNA?
If you're also choosing to keep your uterus unoccupied, the best argument against jerks who want to tell you that you need to be a parent can be simply, "because I don't want to," but sometimes it's more fun (and convincing, if the person is someone you care to convince) to throw some facts at 'em too. If you'd like, you're welcome to use any and all of these personally tried-and-tested arguments when you're confronted with someone who questions your choice to stay child-free:
I have the absolute freedom to pursue the dreams, career options, apartments, vacations, foods, schedule, and cities that I choose. I can wake up and make any decision I want without having to take into account what would be best for my kids. Ultimately, I can do whatever I want, and that's pretty damn amazing.
You already know this, but kids cost a lot of effing money. According to this report, raising a child in a middle-income family in the good ol' US of A now costs upwards of $233,610. That's definitely not chump change, and that number is at the lower end of the spectrum.
And if that kid wants to go to college? Has health problems? Drug issues? Cha-ching! Want to take a sabbatical from your "real" job to pursue a creative project? Nope, that's not going to put diapers on the baby (unless your creative pursuit is embroidering custom-sewn, reusable nappies, I guess).
Curious to see how much raising that cute little mini-you costs in your life situation? Here's a fun calculator you can play with. I got $452,940. So that whole "You'll have no one to take care of you when you're old" argument? Yeah, there's no guarantee that your kids will turn out to be the sort of people who take care of their parents, and investing half a million dollars is by far a safer bet.
The Environmental Cost
The earth is already messed up enough, dealing with issues like climate change and plastic waste—to the extent that people actually think Mars, a planet currently without water, plants, or oxygen, is a viable alternative solution to rehabilitating the planet we're already on. Having one fewer child a year can save more than 130,000 pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions a year. And this study from 2008 has all the maps and graphs, if you need further proof.
We have all watched with sympathy and horror as this scene unfolds on planes or in hotels: An exhausted, miserable-looking parent, covered with mystery food stains attempts to reason with a screaming child on what they surely envisioned as "a nice family vacation."
And we've all seen parents carting what appears to be 16 people's worth of luggage (including heavy car seats and strollers), 90 percent of it stuff they wouldn't have it was just them. And just looking to them, you can tell they're heading to a Sandals resort in Florida just because it has a daycare and kid-friendly facilities (I mean, to be fair, have you seen the waterslide?!). In the end, thanks but no thanks, I'll take my carry-on and in-flight cocktail mix for some topless sunbathing and debauchery in Greece.
I know I'm not the fittest fiddle in the… fiddle store; I've got a few wobbly bits, but they're my own. And while I think that C-section scars and stretch marks are beautiful on mothers, testaments to their sacrifice and love, I can tell you for certain that they are not for me.
I have enough scars as it is, great boobs, and a pretty fantastic vagina that I'd like to keep intact. Frankly, I don't want to waste the best of my able-bodied, good-looking years on kids. Call me shallow, call me selfish… or just call me honest. The idea of dealing with complications (or lifelong, enduring pain) after childbirth sounds deeply unappealing.
I'm not saying all parents do this, but some definitely do: I don't want to live vicariously through a kid. I don't want to make a child take violin lessons even when he hates it just because I never learned how to play—I can and will pursue any goal I have. I don't want to wait until I'm 50 or 60 and the kids have gone to finally do what I want in life. I want my whole life to be like that.
All I can say is: YUP. ACCURATE.
Kari Langslet is an avid dater, impulsive adventurer, unofficial therapist to friends and family, and animal lover. You'll usually find her at a dive bar playing Jenga with her dog or headbanging into oblivion at a Brooklyn show. Stalk her on Instagram and Twitter @karilangslet.