I’m Childless, Not Loveless


Ever since I was 14-years-old I knew I never wanted children.
Maybe even earlier.
On the few occasions that I played with dolls, the assumption was never that I was the doll’s mother. I was the doll’s teacher. Or flight instructor when I repeatedly threw her over the edge of my friend’s loft, sending her crashing to the floor until her head dented in.

Whenever I read Jane Austen or E.M. Forster books, I never identified with the central female character. I preferred those old maids who went manor house hopping or escorted teenage relatives on European holidays. They’d sit there in beautiful surroundings, sipping tea and eating pretty little cakes, watching all the drama unfold, occasionally being a shoulder to cry on. But they seemed somewhat removed from the rigid social structure. They were unmarried and had no children, so they were not really “women”. But their spinster lives always seemed more fun to me. Hell, I even like the name “spinster”. It sounds devious and slick. Like a superhero.

So you don’t have to give me some sensitive label like “child-free” to make me feel better. No, I am childless. I know that having children is a wonderful, biological imperative. I know I’m not normal. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Women have wombs and hips and boobs and I’m not using mine to their fullest potential.

But I don’t need reassurance that I’m fulfilled. Melanie Notkin and her Savvy Auntie website are proposing a national holiday to celebrate women who are aunts and Godmothers, but not mothers. She writes, “It would be a chance for these women to feel whole, for everything that they are, instead of having to focus on all the things they’re not – i.e. mothers.”

Now that is insulting.

I already feel whole, thanks. And if other childless women don’t, some meaningless Hallmark holiday isn’t going to change that fact.

Here’s the main thing I’d like parents to know: I love your kids. I do. Just because I don’t personally want kids doesn’t mean I don’t love yours. I think they’re cute and funny and sweet. I genuinely find your stories about them endearing and I like looking at their pictures. I don’t want to babysit them until they’re teenagers though. When they’re sullen, bitchy, full of teen angst, and want nothing to do with you–send ’em to my place. Why? Because I understand the need to write bad poetry, being obsessed with music and enduring heartbreaking crushes. But toilet training is not my strong point.

You can call me selfish or shallow for not wanting children. I don’t mind. Although you may want to consider that childless people still help pay for your children’s schooling and after school programs. But the one thing you can’t do is pity me for “not knowing real love”. Save your pity for the women who are trying to conceive but can’t. They deserve it, not me. I enjoy my life, just the way it is.

Contrary to popular belief, a woman with no children can still love and be loved.

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2 thoughts on “I’m Childless, Not Loveless

  1. Here by way of TK.

    I think what you said here is key:

    Melanie Notkin and her Savvy Auntie website are proposing a national holiday to celebrate women who are aunts and Godmothers, but not mothers. She writes, “It would be a chance for these women to feel whole, for everything that they are, instead of having to focus on all the things they’re not – i.e. mothers.”

    Yes. These women have always had a place in world societies and it would be a wonderful idea to formally acknowledge such. Moreover, I would say childless men have a role, too. Brett & Kate McKay sum this up very well in their article “How to Be an Awesome Uncle” at The Art of Manliness:

    The uncle role is especially important for men who are unmarried and don’t have kids of their own. Not only do bachelor uncles have more time to spend with their nieces and nephews, they also bring another varied influence into kids’ lives. It’s hard to describe, but “undomesticated masculine energy” is the closest I’ve got. Kids naturally gravitate to bachelor uncles, and see them as seriously cool dudes.

    1. Excellent point! I like your way of thinking and I agree. Those of us who are childless, both men and women, offer up a different kind of role model to children. I particularly like the phrase, “undomesticated masculine energy”. Kids are so very smart, and I think they pick up on all these things. It’s good for them to have a variety of adult influences in their lives. And hell, it’s fun too!

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