As someone who knows I don’t want children, and has known as much from a fairly young age, I think about what it means to be a woman who doesn’t want children and how this impacts my life a lot. I’m at an age where the children issue is both something you confront on a daily basis — my friends are starting to have kids or discuss having kids with their partners, the ones who don’t have kids or a person with whom to have kids are starting to worry about timelines, and the question of children is actually something that arises in the dating world (and knowing you don’t want kids, if you are female, is not exactly a selling point apparently). Anyway, since it’s something I think about a lot, I’m always intrigued by pieces about it. This one, “Opting Out of Motherhood” by Meghan Daum, is one I particularly enjoy.
I’ve never wanted children, but I’ve always had names picked out for them anyway. Some might say that’s a sign that I live in some sad state of unconscious regret now that, having freshly turned 45, I haven’t had them. But it mostly just means there are pets I’ve wanted to call Lucy and Thomas but didn’t because I was irrationally inclined to save those names on the off chance they might be put to human use one day. I say irrationally because this is basically tantamount to holding on to a pair of ankle harnesses in case I suddenly want to go bungee jumping—something that ranks about 500,000th on my bucket list. But that’s how deeply the motherhood mandate is imprinted in women’s brains. We try to talk ourselves into it. Sometimes we even let others talk us into it. Even those of us who aren’t programmed for it are prone to try to overwrite our code.