Childless By Choice
31: My age.
35: The age that a pregnancy is deemed “geriatric.”
22: The age I was pretty darn certain this would never matter in my universe.
Most of my contemporaries are getting married and either dealing with the “So when can we expect kids?” questions or having kids before these questions arise. While I’m over-the-moon thrilled for their happiness and Instagrammable family, I’m 100 percent set on the child-free course.
It looks like I’m not alone in this feeling, although the childless choice is more common on the coasts than in the Midwest. A December 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 37 percent of American adults don’t want to—or can’t—have kids. Why is this higher than ever? Later-in-life marriage, changing definitions of “the ideal family” size, rapidly rising child care costs and fears about global security and economic stability were some of the reasons cited in a July 2018 New York Times/Morning Consult survey. Another explanation: uncertainty about ability to parent well. I say “ditto” to all of the above.
Here are five other reasons:
I stress enough about investing. Saving for retirement is scary. Add on the estimated $282,780 it costs for a kiddo’s first 18 years growing up in Iowa (not counting college!)? I can feel my hair turning grayer already.
I treasure flexibility. While it must be heartwarming to wake up to a giggly little mug jumping into your bed or to watch faces fill with awe as they discover Santa’s delivery, I can’t deny the freedom that comes with knowing I can drive to the airport in 10 minutes and jet off to another land. I can say “Of course!” to a last-minute coffee klatch. I can leave my ink markers wherever I please—without fear that they’ll be used to create a masterpiece on the wall. (Although that would actually add more art than ever to my apartment … anyone need a babysitter tonight?)
I love my bucket list “baby.” From whitewater rafting and Vespa-driving across Italy to mastering sign language and a pull-up (finally), I have so many personal to-dos that I want to check off in the time I have on this planet. If one of your to-dos is to raise a stellar human, hats off to you! I’ve just never felt the same itch. Even though sometimes it feels somewhat selfish, I’ve come to terms with that being A-OK.
I feel whole myself. Finally. After decades of struggling with body image battles and self-confidence struggles, I felt like I hit my stride as I entered my 30s. I feel worthy. I feel enough. I feel complete.
I adore spoiling your kids. Kids are incredible: their never-ending energy, their uninhibited joy and their zest for life. I enjoy the heck out of seeing it, sharing it and promoting it. And I enjoy the heck out of lovingly sending that joyfest back to you, his or her admirable, awesome parents.
Karla Walsh is a freelance journalist and marketer who has called Des Moines home for six years. Her work has appeared in Runner’s World, Shape and Fitness magazines, as well as on Prevention.com, EatThis.com, WomensHealthMag.com, TimeOut.com and more. Share your stories of singlehood, parenthood, or whatever-makes-you-happy-hood at email@example.com.