I’m 33 years old and I'm lucky enough to be engaged to the kindest, most loving man I’ve ever known. It’s an exciting time in my life; I’ve been dreaming of this for years while fearing that it may never actually come to fruition. As exciting a time as engagement and wedding planning are, they also denote society’s (and family members’) expectations regarding how we live our married life after the big day. The first thing everyone is dying to know is always “When are the babies coming?! I’m sure you’ll start trying right away, RIGHT? Or are you already pregnant?” Well, my friends, I’m sorry to be the bearer of what you might think of as bad news, but I’m not pregnant and never plan to be.
I always thought I wanted to have kids eventually (key word being eventually). The estrogen-infused baby fever started when I was about 28, and it raged on until almost age 32. I didn’t even consider having kids without being married first because it was never a task I intended to take on alone (not many people do). Dating was hell, and it seemed like there were no more nice guys left, no one who wanted marriage or any kind of serious commitment. Because it seemed so unlikely that I’d ever even make it to the altar, I occupied my time working on myself instead. I built my career up and found my own kind of happiness as an independent woman. Truthfully, I fell in love with independence and I’m still addicted to it. It was only after this revelation that I met my future husband in a crazy moment of fate. After spending months playing it cool and being too busy for any remote possibility of dating, I finally agreed to see him, and the rest is history.
You would think that becoming engaged and planning my married life/family would make me start counting the days until I became a mother, but it didn’t. In fact, I decided once and for all that I don’t want to have any kids. You see, when I was in my 20’s dreaming about my future family, I was being the ultimate idealist. The Anna I saw in that role was someone who was willing to give up all of her favorite things in exchange for a baby. This futuristic version of myself would be totally cool with giving up wine and sushi for at least a year at a time, getting up early every fucking day even though I hate mornings, and risking my professional success by voluntarily taking on a medical condition that’s likely to make me feel like shit every day and affect my performance at work. In fact, those are all reasons why I take my birth control perfectly every day and never ever forget (also, 14 years of experience remembering every day helps). Ten years ago, I thought I’d be ready to make those sacrifices by the time I was in my early 30’s, but I’m 33 and I still can’t see myself changing my life so dramatically, especially after I spent so many beautiful years building this happy independent life.
Before you start in on how selfish I am for daring my put my own happiness first, that wasn’t the ultimate realization that made me decide not to have kids. My aversion to self-sacrifice is just one good reason in my book. When I was considering why I ever thought I wanted children, the answer that immediately popped into my head was “to complete my family.” When I was in my 20’s, I hadn’t even considered that a family could be complete without kids, but that train of thought is bullshit. In the year and a half I’ve known my fiancé, he’s become my best friend and every day adventure partner. When I accepted his marriage proposal, my family became complete in my mind. There’s nothing missing anymore because all we need is each other. For the record, he’s never really been convinced he wanted kids, so he’s totally on board with being the only two humans in our little family. We plan to adopt a dog or two from local area shelters, and we both love that family plan because it’s what makes us happy. We will still be able to travel without stopping 20 times for bathrooms, still be able to have money for vacations and nice dinners instead of buying diapers, and be able to sleep until noon and day drink on the weekends because we’re free and we always will be. I’ve never looked forward to married life more than I do now.
No, I don’t hate kids and I’m very happy for those who really want them and decide to have them, but it’s not a life for everyone, and that’s OK. I love being the cool aunt to my friends’ and siblings’ kids, and that’s not changing. I’ll gladly play with them, share some laughs and hugs, buy them ice cream, and then give them back and retire to my nice quiet child-free home.
Will I ever regret my decision? Possibly, but I doubt it, and I’d much rather face that kind of regret than the regret people feel when they have kids because they’re pressured into it and end up stuck in an unhappy life (while being forced to pretend they’re happy). I know that the path I’ve chosen will make me happy, and that’s all the security I need. Cheers to birth control!