Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
—Glenn TurnerDisclaimer: I’m not saying that I will never have kids. I just prefer not to have them.
In our culture today, when a woman is past a certain age, she starts to get bombarded with disarming personal questions and (annoyingly) unsolicited advice not just from well-meaning family members and relatives, but also from complete strangers. As if it’s an affront to their delicate sensibilities that she opts to be single and childless. While mankind claims to have evolved to have higher forms of societal awareness and tolerance, most—if not all—still stick their noses in other people’s business by interjecting their own beliefs and opinions. Just as racism never really went away, some still cling to the archaic belief that the essence of a woman is the ability to conceive an offspring no matter the cost.
Now I’ve had my share of these gross intrusion into my personal space time and time again, and I’d like to say I handle them all with as much grace as I could muster. Still, I understand where they are coming from. Truly, I do. It’s something I think about in the middle of the night when my body is tired but my mind is still awake. When I doubt my life decisions and double-think about settling just to get over the soul-crushing loneliness, I torture myself with those very questions. But I also know about failed marriages; women pawning their kids to their parents while they work to provide for them—albeit, barely scraping by—and being constantly on the brink of exhaustion, insanity, and bankruptcy. No sirree! I want no part of those statistics.
Before I jump into my reasoning, I just want to weigh in with my views about marriage. First of all, I am not opposed to them. I may have said once that I don’t believe in the “institution of marriage,” but that was uttered in jest and, more accurately, for shock value. Nothing would make me happier than finding someone I could spend the rest of my life with. However, I do have one weighty requirement—he must be willing to accept that I may never want to have children. This is nonnegotiable. Now I’m fully aware that it’s not at all fair to ask someone to give up this colossal milestone so I’m not expecting anyone to come knocking at my door anytime soon. Since no one in my immediate vicinity would willingly do so just to be with me, I may have to cast my net a little wider. Mind you, not that I’m going out of the way to catch fish! I feel like I’m this soft little light struggling to shine against the thick fog in the middle of a swamp, just waiting for someone brave (or desperate) enough to come to me for some shelter. Ugh, terrible analogy! But If by some miracle, I somehow find someone who can accept that without trying to change my mind in the long run, then I’d be the first to sprint up to the altar. Until then, I’m perfectly content with treading shallow waters on my own.
Now here is where my disclaimer comes in. I have 3 nieces and 3 nephews, and I love them all to bits! The first time I held my youngest nephew in my arms and he fell asleep to me singing him a lullaby, I fell instantly in love! But changing his diaper, looking after him, and taking care of him 24-7, not to mention the long and arduous road to parenting teens a little later, is something I don’t think I’ll be able to make. The reasons why are not purely selfish though. Not only am I not willing to pass on any of my health conditions and hereditary illnesses (asthma being at the top of the list), I am also not willing to bring another human being into this world without giving my child my absolute best, which I am nowhere near capable of right now. Should I ever be convinced otherwise, I want a hundred percent guarantee that he (or she) will grow up healthy, kind, wise, and well-adjusted. Since nobody can guarantee that—and the advancement of science capable of achieving that feat is still not available in my remote corner of the world—then I have no desire to propagate overpopulation when living conditions and the overall quality of life in the entire planet are steadily deteriorating. Besides, if I do succumb to a life of regret and have a change of heart one day, there’s always the option of adoption, right?
That being said, I find myself in a precarious position. Because I don’t have the quintessential nuclear family, don’t own a car or a house, and don’t have millions saved in the bank, I feel like I am basically left out of grown-up conversations, like I have nothing to contribute. It can be isolating to think about not being taken as an adult. To be honest, I don’t mind it that much sometimes. I don’t have much insight about property taxes, loans, and amortizations. I don’t have to worry about checking car mileage and insurance, saving up for school fees and college funds, and paying off mountains of bills.
So call me a spinster, an old maid, or a prude any day—sticks and stones and all that—and I will just brush it off, as I’ve sadly learned to do over the years. People always find something to complain about or fulminate against other people. Singles are criticized for not being married. Couples are criticized for not having kids. Married people are criticized for not having more kids. This is the tragedy of humanity—man is never content. After all that, if you happen to see me walking down the street or feel the urge to message me, kindly think first before you open your mouth (or flex your fingers) and make sure to call me out for something else entirely new, not for the same old shtick I’ve heard a gazillion times before.