Today’s guest blogger used to call me up every snow day and whisper the three little words most teachers love to hear: No school today. And for the longest time, I had no clue who she was since her Caller ID didn’t match the name on the weather tree. Turns out she was living in sin back in the day, and twelve years later, I’m happy to say that she is one of my best friends. She’s also child free, which means she brings something new to our month of women. But I’ll let Mary Burke explain why she made that choice.
I am super selfish . . . I always have been . . . and I don’t think it’s such a terrible character flaw when one is aware of their selfishness. And when it comes to recognizing that one is too selfish to have children, is that a bad thing to know your own limits? I think not! At this point in my life, I am absolutely confident I made the right choice not to have children. Actually I was pretty confident all along that this was the right choice for me. This is a very good thing because at this point my eggs have expired. Some people talk about a biological clock. I am convinced I wasn’t born with one. I never heard ticking, and the older I got, I found babies and small humans less and less appealing. Ironically, I am a teacher, and I choose to work with children everyday. I love my job and I love (for the most part) my daily interactions with kids. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Well, except being a stay at home dog mom . . . but that’s just not in the cards right now!
I grew up with a fairly large, close extended family. I’m the oldest of four children and the oldest of 22 grandchildren. There were always lots of babies around. I loved taking care of my younger cousins at family functions, and once I was old enough, I babysat. I have many wonderful female role models in my family with my mother leading the way. She was nothing short of amazing while we were growing up, and she still is tireless in her efforts to care for our family. It’s almost like she set the bar too high! Despite early positive experiences and being raised by supermom, sometime in my early 20s, I had a shift in my perspective. I don’t remember an actual defining moment, but thinking back I can easily remember the time in my life when this happened. I was in college when I realized I wanted to work with children, but I didn’t want to have children. I began to understand what an absolute CHORE it would be to have to care for another human being for the rest of my life. Also, I can’t do throw up or diapers. Don’t tell me I’d feel differently if it’s my kid; that’s just BS. I have nieces and nephews, and I always enjoyed holding them as babies, but as soon as a diaper change was needed, I passed that kid off as fast as I could! I recall a time holding my nephew and as he was throwing up, I almost dropped him trying to get rid of that little spewing alien. I think my tubes spontaneously tied themselves! I guess I just don’t really have any maternal instincts. I also find that I have an absolute lack of patience outside of the school setting. It’s like I have an off switch when I leave work. However, I am the kind of aunt that loves to sugar those kids up, spoil them rotten, whip them into a frenzy and send them home with my sisters. Remember . . . I am the oldest and I have a long history of sibling torture! I love family get-togethers, but I am always thankful that I get the fun part of spending time with the kids and not the daily hassles and never-ending work. I am simply in awe of the work that goes in to being a parent (if you’re doing it right, because believe me, I see way too many examples of poor parenting choices . . . but that’s another story for another day).
So, my choice to be childfree is not typical, and it’s especially not typical in my family (did I mention large? and Catholic? Breeders, those people are). My husband and I lived together (SINNERS!) for eight years before we got married. We had the “kids” conversation a couple of times, each time completely agreeing that no, kids just weren’t for us. Pretty serendipitous, huh? Of course, this is much to the dismay of my ever-growing family . . . there are now 19 great-grandchildren . . . breeders, I tell ya! My husband and I jokingly came up with reason # (insert any large number here) why we don’t want children. One funny, with a wee bit of truth, reason I have is not wanting to procreate with my husband: because when he was in school, he needed a custom made football helmet for his giant melon.
I have come across many people in my life who simply don’t understand my choice. And that’s OK. I love the life my husband and I have. We have independence, time to enjoy things together, and less of a financial burden than our friends with children have . . . kids are EXPENSIVE and not always the best investment. I’ve had people ask who will take care of my husband and me when we’re old . . . and I tell them I’m counting on other people’s children to go into the health care field to take care of us! I even have one friend who still holds out hope that I will come around. Honestly, that ship has sailed, and I’m pretty sure it sank!
I once had this conversation with my mom at an age when my eggs were not past the expiration date: ME: Mom, you know that feeling people get when they hold a baby, and they just need to have one and that’s all they can think about? MOM: (Holding her breath with anticipation) Yes! ME: I had that feeling today . . . I was holding a puppy and it had the sweetest puppy breath and my heart ached because I just knew . . . I need to get a puppy! MOM: Mary, that is NOT funny! True story, I think it’s the closest I’ve come to having ”that feeling,” and I really do love me some puppy breath! I have a soft spot for dogs. I don’t think my childfree life would be complete if it wasn’t for my dog. Dogs love you unconditionally, and they don’t ask for anything in return. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby, and I really am so happy for them, but I did tell my brother I would be way more excited if he was expecting a pile of puppies. (BAD SISTER!)