originally posted on What the Flicka? by Erin K. Moffat
The controversial new TIME cover reads, “The Childfree Life: When Having It All Means Not Having Children.”
As someone without kids, I can tell you that I live in my grandmother’s basement, and I don’t have it all. I think “having it all” has an exclusive meaning to each individual—your life should be your decision. Someone once said to me, “I believe women can have it all, but not all at once.”
What is “having it all” anyway?
People always want something better, or something more. I’m not even talking about the other debate of settling for something that you don’t want. With or without the family, are we as people ever satisfied?
As I pass out of my safe childbearing years, I’m not sure if I’ll be devastated when the possibility of having my own spawn no longer exists. Right now I’m on a teeter-totter with myself debating; if given the option and the right circumstances, do I want kids? Kids are a lot of commitment, and I like my freedom. Is that a cop out? Does that make me selfish? Is there a difference between “childfree,” and “childless?”
I know several single women who have flourishing careers and seemingly have it all— without the white picket fence, and rushing kids to ballet or soccer games. However, there is one problem: they do desire, more than anything, that Suburban full of kids.
It’s a hard question: does having or not having kids define who I am? The answer is no—I define who I am. Will people judge me? Heck yea. But they will be judging me regardless.
With or without child: that is the question!
Beyond societal, cultural, and familial pressures, there are rejections. Putting so much pressure on women to be able to do it alland have kids is ridiculous. Some women shelf their single or childless friends after they have kids. Can a woman without children still relate to her mother friends?
When I think about having kids I think, “If my kid is born with my crooked teeth, how will I pay for braces? If I bring a child into this world, am I setting him/her up for failure? Will I be able to send them to college?” Those are the things that keep me up at night!
As I stood in the baby aisle of Target shopping for a friend’s baby shower, I tried to remind myself not to focus on all the cute baby stuff shouting at me, “Single and childless!” Overwhelmed, I stared at the rows and rows of diapers and thought, “Which brand did my sister-in-law say she liked best for my niece again?” So I texted her: “Huggies, Luvs, or Pampers?” When she texted back, I had the wrong brand in my hand. I grabbed the right brand, threw them into my basket and hauled ass to the baby shower. I realized as she was opening my gift that I had grabbed the wrong sized diapers. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have waited until the last minute.
Granted, this isn’t a mistake that I usually make. I have attended a lot of baby showers in my day, and have a slew of friends that have been procreating since we were teens. When I noticed the “jumbo” diapers, I giggled and called myself out. My friend’s mom started to laugh and then she shouted, “She doesn’t have any kids!” Epic fail! Way to go rusher! I actually cried the whole way home.
When I was young, I thought this is what you do: you get married, live in a yellow house, have a couple kids, and live happily ever after. Here is the sad truth: I have never been in love. I have never had the option of making the decision about whether or not to have a baby. I’m at the point where I don’t even know what “having it all” truly means to me. Why is ultimate happiness and security equated with parenthood?
I think that ultimate happiness comes from within. Parenting is a difficult job! It’s okay that it’s not for everybody. I think it’s brave to “have it all” and not have kids. Let’s face the music here too—there are people out there who are crappy parents. (I have a friend who calls her mother “the incubator.”)
Breaking free of the façade!
I’m reminded of the movie Pleasantville—the perfect family, in the perfect house, in the perfect town, and everything was in black and white. They were just following the mold created for them. They were being the way that they thought was right, in the right reality. But, they were missing out on who they really were, and all of possiblities outside of their comfort zone. It was amazing to watch when they changed to color—when they realized that there was more to life.
We all have the right to break free from the mold that was created for us, and people need to learn to respect the lifestyles of others. In my opinion we are here to live, learn, love, and grow. I think judgment just puts pressure on another person to live a false reality. No matter what you decide, I think living your reality and truth is important. I think “having it all” is subjective! Life is precious and a gift, so choosing to make a life is a big decision. What I’ve learned is that life is way too short. So whatever you do, live to the fullest, trust your gut, and live out loud in Technicolor.
What the Flicka editor’s note: To read the referenced TIME article, click HERE