Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why I Don't Have Kids

Happy Anniversary, Honey!
My eight year old nephew asked me why his uncle and I don't have kids. I gave him an elevator answer about working in an office and taking naps or travelling. My niece jumped in to suggest that I should have multiple husbands. But my sister's explanation was the perfect one, "Not everybody has children." A clean, simple truth. Parents and children may see me without something while I see parents as having lost something children do not fill. 

I like my husband

I love my husband, but I also really like him. Like a lot. Sometimes on weekends when we are doing separate activities around town in the mornings I catch a glimpse of him, and for the split second that I don't realize it's him, my mind says "Hello Mr. Handsome!" And then I realize he's my Mr. Handsome. He is my favorite person ever. We are not together because we had the mutual goal of wanting to raise a family, we have chosen each other and what we have doesn't require the glue of children. 

If I ever picture the if-we-had-them kids, they are always in another room asleep while my husband and I are on the sofa drinking coffee or on the patio having a glass of wine together. My husband is an ENTJ and I am an INTJ, so we are a good if not ideal match. But INTJs and ENTJs as parents have significant challenges because children are sensitive and less capable of the rational analysis that bonds us. Children complain over and over about boredom, friends that are being mean, not liking their vegetables, and wanting things their friends have. Adults do too, but we have the luxury of walking away, usually after asking "Well did you read that book/take that class/try my suggestions we talked about?"

Children don't indemnify you

A woman asked "What about the holidays?" when I told her we were planning not to have children, which made me think about why double ovens are a terrible idea. They take up space 365 days a year but are only used Thanksgiving Day. I am not interested in a day-to-day lifestyle of raising children, so why would I raise children for the purposes of having them around for the holidays? 

I hear "What about ..." repeatedly from parents, as though having children offers security. What about when I get old? I don't have friends caring for their parents at home, but I do know families where adult children are living in homes of parents in their 50s and 60s. If 60% of young adults receive financial support from their parents, having children may threaten rather than guarantee a secure future. Meanwhile the future I save for is retirement and not education

I was warned that a decision to not have children in my 30s will be a regret in my 50s. But I am familiar with regret mostly from parents when I tell them about our travels. People without kids love Italy, people with kids love camping, but everybody seems to agree that the best time to travel, be spontaneous, and enjoy your time as a couple is prior to having children. Nobody says they regret having children!

I've never been much of a joiner

When I was 32 my physician told me that if I wanted to have children I should begin trying. My ambivalence toward raising a child was bolstered by my husband's skepticism. We were traveling to the Caribbean and Hawaii on vacations, making plans to remodel the kitchen and landscape the yard, and I was enjoying a new career as a technical writer. We were in the discussion stages of maybe possibly planning to get a puppy ... someday. A baby felt like an interruption. 

The most intense peer pressure that I ever felt in my life was to have a baby those first five years after we were married. We lived on a street where people bought houses to raise a child. My friends were having kids, my colleagues were having kids, and within my extended family my generation of cousins were having kids. It felt as though I had to make a decision quickly to have a baby if I was ever going to, not because of a something originating from me, but because of what I was experiencing around me. I was repelled by it. So I opted out. 

As an INTJ, an introvert personality type, I am used to doing things alone. Being left out of a club not only doesn't bother me, it's somewhat of a relief. True or not, I see myself as an outsider looking in on everyone else and not having kids falls right in line with that. While I do understand that the camaraderie of mothers finding a common enemy in vomit and sleeplessness offers a great deal of support and sometimes leads to lifelong friendships, I am okay making friends on the basis of shared interests (or shared disinterest.)

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