Childless and happy
By Annie Lane
Dear Readers: In a column last month, I posed a question: “If you had to do it all over again, would you have kids?”
In yesterday’s column, we heard from parents who said yes — the largest group, at 77 percent of the responses. Today I’d like to share some responses from people belonging to the second-most common group (12 percent of respondents): those who didn’t have children and wouldn’t change a thing. Check back tomorrow to hear from the next group.
SACRAMENTO: I had my tubes tied on my 30th birthday, and I’m now 66. I was afraid I might be the kind of mother my mom was, and I wanted a career full of adventures. I had a life full of amazing experiences — and I have no regrets. I enjoy my friends’ grandchildren but then get to return to my life.
FLORIDA: I am 64 years old and chose not to have children. I have zero regrets. Most of my closest friends made the same choice and feel the same way I do. Do I worry that I will be lonely one day without them? Sometimes. That said, go visit a facility where elderly people reside and see how many have their children visiting. You would be surprised at how few get a lot of attention.
PIONEER, CALIFORNIA: As a 65-year-old man, I have never regretted my choice to remain childless. My childhood was not exactly rosy, and I always feared that I would act toward any offspring in the same manner my mother treated me and my two siblings. This has proved to be valid, because when I have had relationships with women who have children, it has taken extreme attention to not respond in that manner. In the meantime, I have had a wonderful life, without the constant negotiations that seem to be part and parcel of the first couple of decades of parenting. My mother often accused me of being selfish in not having kids, and I was happy to plead guilty to that charge.
NO KIDDING: I’m 64 years old. When I was in my 20s, I decided to have a tubal ligation. It was difficult to find a doctor who’d do the procedure. Like many people, the doctor assumed that I’d change my mind. Despite the women’s movement, there was strong social pressure to want and have children. Luckily, I was able to finally find a reproductive clinic that offered tubal ligations. I know I made the right decision. To me, people who decide to have children so they’ll have someone to take care of them in their old age are deciding to become parents for an incredibly selfish reason. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your child will be able or willing to care for you when you need it. To those who thought my life wouldn’t be complete without children: You were wrong. I have a loving husband, a loving extended family, great friends, a fulfilling job, strong religious faith and deep gratitude for having a fulfilling life. And to those young women who are sensing that they don’t want children, I’d suggest: Trust your gut.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.