Six years ago.

I can’t think of a better title for this post, because it’s one of those kinda-personal and kinda-not-really things, where you just write it out and let the chips fall where they may.

If you read my childfree post before, then you know my desire not to reproduce is no secret. I make no bones of it and speak frankly about it. It’s fair game – no one ever asks people why they have kids or why they want kids, but a decision to not have any seems to give other people the license to try and “convert” us the childfree to their way of thinking. And sorry, folks, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and if you put my decisions under a magnifying glass, make sure yours stand up to the same muster.

I am also very frank about the fact that I’m sterile, and Sept. 12th marked the six-year anniversary of my surgery. I turn 30 in May of next year.

And I think it’s pretty fair to say that the past six years, even with their pitfalls, have been pretty damn good to me, and if they are any indication of the future, then I will say that this has been a pretty fantastic investment.

There have been many “studies” – and I use the quotations, for reasons I shall explain shortly – about regret for tubal ligations. The reason I use the quotations is because regret is a very arbitrary feeling, and there’s no universal category for one person feeling regret for the same thing as thirty or forty others. Considering that the “tubal regret” statistics are nearly all trotted out only for the reason to assure women seeking sterilization that they’ll “change their minds”, I really wonder how many of those studies were actually conducted by any means but an Internet poll.

As I said before, and I said time and time again, there’s a lot more thought that goes into the decision to not have a child than some people put into their decision to reproduce. A pretty sizable chunk of my peers either have kids, or are thinking about what to name them. All I could think of is, “Before you start of thinking of the positive pregnancy test, how about you first think of the world you want to birth your kid into!”

But they never question themselves. I, however, get questioned left and right, on the only account of going against the grain and actually asking myself, “Am I cut out for the job?” I look at my peers, and I’m thinking, “Did you think this through?” “Can you really handle this?” “How are you going to pull it off if [mitigating circumstance]?” And I also think, they should be asking themselves all of these things. Most of them do not, but those who do, and who come to the conclusion that hey, risking becoming a parent is not the right thing to do, are suddenly made the pariahs because they put to question what so very few others do.

I often say my tubal has been my best investment. I paid only my deductible at the time. A thousand bucks to ensure I’ll never reproduce.

What did I gain?

Financial security: it takes over $200,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18 without college costs as of today; that alone is cost of a house – and it’s money I will not lose over my lifetime. I may not be in my ideal living situation, but I have started putting away for retirement, and while my peers and I jointly suffer under the yoke of student loans, I have the potential to break free of mine so much sooner.

New horizons and experiences: because I am CF, I can pick up a suitcase and jet off to anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice if I’m called to a gig. I can carve out the time to read a book, or take additional classes to pursue interests. I’m free to move to a different part of the country, if I so desire. I’m free to travel – which is a passion of mine that I indulge often. I can go out to dinner to an exotic cuisine.

Professional advancement: because I don’t have kids, I can put in more hours at my work or business, which results in more income for me and my future. Yes, this means that I have to pick up the slack for my childed counterparts, and I make it work for me – neither my bosses nor my clients overlook my hard work. I can keep learning and expanding my skills and business, and invest both time and money into new technology to further it.

My health and peace of mind: never minding the enduring hell of pregnancy and childbirth, I am one of those people who don’t deal with stress very well, and the one thing I treasure is my quiet time. I am a worrying person by nature, and while I worry over my friends a bit, I trust them to take care of themselves. As a result, I can take much better care of me.

And most importantly: time. I will always find the time to nurture my friendships and connections. I invite my friends to dinner, to shows, to explore with me. I always have the time to set aside to get some more sleep – something I don’t do because of the workload, but the fact is, that time is there. And most of all, I have the time to put towards my creative pursuits.

If you want to call me selfish – please, go ahead, but ask yourself at the same time: how is taking care of my life and business selfish? And while you’re at it, please give me the reasons that you had children, that do not start with “I want” or “The bible” or “because that’s what you do”.

I’ll wait.

I will say this, though, that there is a lot of resentment towards the childfree people from their childed counterparts. Particularly over the aforementioned financial security and the free time. The free time most of all, and the resentment is most palpable from parents of young children, usually under 5. And to this I have to ask, did you not consider that before having kids? Did you not think of all that you’d have to sacrifice when you bring a baby into your life?

Turns out, a lot of my peers didn’t think of all of that.

While I will always be for giving parents some sort of a support system, having seen friends with children struggle through their early days – and being there for them – I will also be an even bigger advocate of planning in advance. The old saying, “Failure to plan on your part is not an emergency on anyone else’s part” is callous, unfeeling, and 100% true.

And six years ago, I made the rest of my future happen.

K.G.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Six years ago.

  1. I was on the fence and did not decide until 38 and had my one and only at 39. I like your writing and post but I will say that although I had my husband have a vasectomy 2 weeks before the birth of my son, I was very certain I wanted ONE. Being pregnant was a huge joy from start to finish and the only bad part was the turmoil in the OBGYN office that culminated with some angry lunatic in the staff setting the place on fire a week before I gave birth, and the having to test my blood sugar levels 4times daily the last 4 months. Giving birth was also for the most part, with great drugs a super experience. I do agree, because I lived it until I decided that it is super annoying to be asked (in my case especially as I am/was married) when, how many, what do you mean you might not have kids…. I know quite a few post vasectomy unplanned for babies, what are the stats with the tubal ligations, I do not ask in a mocking or cruel tone, I ask because from where I stand as a 55 year old, life, fate , karma has a funny way of slamming us into what we may not want. So heads up on follow ups, because as I said, I do know and love quite a few post vasectomy kids, because they did not get checked on an annual basis (which I insisted my husband do and happily accompanied him to do so). It is true however that parenthood is one of those things that one cannot even remotely grasp until having a child of ones own, and I speak as stepmother to four and someone who worked with kids for many years, I thought I knew a lot….. it has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life and as blessed as I have been in love ( receiving and giving it) from many, the love I feel for my son, is in a stratosphere that no other love can possibly touch. Again always great to drop by and enjoy your great writing.

    1. One very small problem with your comment, Maria Catalina, and one I’d like you to consider carefully: is parenthood with adopted children any less of an experience because the child is not one’s own biologically?

      Just to give you food for thought.

      Because what you are saying is a derivation of the adage “it’s different when it’s your own” – which is one of the things that, frankly, happens to be a pet peeve of mine. It implies that unless one produces their own child, they’re incapable of understanding parenthood.

      You also mention that no other love can touch the love you feel for your son. Really? So there’s no love higher than that of being a parent?

      To that I take offense, because empathy and love are not limited to parenting status. I’ve been the parenting counselor more times than I can count, and, quite obviously, I’m sterile. Love and empathy are not dependent on parenting status, and your statements are, frankly, one of the reasons that childfree people generally avoid parents. By putting parent-child love on a pedestal, as you are doing now, you’re also implying that other love is somehow less. Don’t do that.

      The reason I got sterilized is because, first and foremost, I do not like children.

      That does not mean I’m incapable of empathy, and incapable of setting my parent friends straight if they run into difficulties with their children. If I fall in love, is that somehow lesser of a love than if I had a child? According to the logic of your comment, it is, and that is 1. incorrect and 2. offensive.

      Check your words, and check your implications.

      1. I have always liked, loved kids, ironically the member of my family who thought he did not like kids is the father of 5 (all amazing) and his oldest just graduated from Stanford Law with many other great accomplishments so he turned out to be great at parenting. But I stand by my words, I totally admire adoptive parents and seriously considered being one myself if nature had not provided once I decided to plunge. Adoptive parents go through a psychological pregnancy process as they long for their child/children , which is as equivalent as that of feeling life grow within.
        ” Not flesh of my flesh
        Nor bone of my bone,
        But still miraculously my own.
        Never forget for a single minute,
        You didn’t grow under my heart,
        But in it.”
        I do stand by my words because I know how cool it was to have my 38 years of absolute freedom. But making the commitment to parent is like no other commitment and it is a love that cannot be understood unless such a commitment is made.
        Now people who just reproduce, glide through it and those exist in every socio-economic strata, that is not choosing to honor.
        Everyone has the right to lead their own life to the fullest, but the understanding of what we do not experience is limited to what one can only assume.
        I was so sure “I knew” and as I have the vantage point of both sides… same thing with divorce, if someone has not gone through a divorce ( I was married before in my 20s), or abortion, I have never had one but I am pro-choice and assume that under certain circumstances I would have made said choice but as I have not been there done that my grasp is limited.
        Your choices are great and fine for you, you r life is full of music, knowledge and other fantastic things, but your perspective by your own choice is limited by something that you will never experience. I will also say that at thirty I was so certain that I knew so much more. I am pretty sure that in 25 years we can have a very different conversation.

      2. I severely doubt that we’ll have a different conversation at all. When I make a decision, I stay with it, and if I look at the state of affairs in the world today, there’s no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision. I pity the children who have to be born in a world like what we created – yes, we created these messes, and it’s up to us to undo them – with absolutely no say to it, other than their parents’ want of a child.

        You are still overlooking the point I made earlier. Not going through it is no indication of incapacity. Your example of a divorce or an abortion does not at all preclude you from having empathy. The words “Put yourself into another person’s shoes and walk a mile in them” come to mind. I’ve never had an abortion, but I know those women who had. And it does not at all stop me from talking on the subject. Likewise for non-divorced couples. Your grasp isn’t limited if you’re capable of empathy is what I’m saying. So take another look at your words – again.

        Also, you can’t speak for the limitations of my perspective – I know exactly what I’m missing. Just because I have not gone through it doesn’t mean I don’t know what it entails, the good or the bad or the ugly. I have eyes, ears, and logic, and one of the best ways to avoid something is to look at other people in situations that you consider.

        What you also have to understand is that we can’t experience everything. Simple truth. We can’t have it all. And I calculated and felt – and got proved right – that I would have a lot more if parenthood (a state that never appealed to me in the first place) was something I eliminated.

      3. Sorry I did not read the first one, first. I do not for one second question your choices. Those are yours and you know yourself. I do not for one second question empathy, but it is not the same at all as ‘living it’ you have a very interesting and diverse perspective, and as such it is true that when you write, people could easily expect someone far older. My point is more along the lines that as messed up as the world is, it is also exciting and amazing. That in the next 25 years you will take so many cool pics, hear so many new Jazz pieces, write so many things that the growth you will experience might shape your perspective NOT with regret but with a softer perspective! In essence remaining the same.

      4. So then is this a thinly veiled implication that I’ll change my mind? Or that I’ll change it if I’m with a man who changes his? There’s a very good reason I’ve been single for the past seven years: I don’t want to deal with the “you’ll change your mind” routine ever again. Been there, done that, quit and got the surgery.

        And if you want to know what happens when someone who doesn’t want kids ends up caving and having one, read this story: https://www.reddit.com/r/childfree/comments/201prv/reporting_back_from_the_other_side/

        I would much rather not have kids and regret that, than have a kid I don’t want and resent that kid for the rest of their natural life.

        My tubal ligation is non-reversible. The ship sailed. Telling me how happy you are as a parent has no effect on my decision. I’m glad you’re happy, but I know me. After all, I’m the one living with my brain and body. Your experience is your own.

      5. OKAY, lets get one thing straight. I like your writing, admire your views (even when I disagree) and would never mock your intelligence by a thin veiled anything. So I had no interest to be offensive, and as you have a very powerful voice which is sure to grow, you need to read the difference between exchange of opinions and attack, which was never my intention.
        I would be very surprised if you ever change your mind as much as with your passionate nature in music, photography, and writing I would also be very surprised if you do not find love someday, because interesting people like you are charismatic and enchanting.
        AND now to incorrect ? we are discussing choices in lifestyle and there is no right or wrong, your right is absolute for you as is mine for me, but because you are a curious, informed, growing person (and at 94 my dad is still growing because of a keen mind) yes in twenty five years I expect that shaped by knowledge and experience, both of us (GAWD! 80 if I am alive ) and you my now 55 would have grown and approached the conversation with a different perspective.
        I think there are many horrible parents out there.
        I am the product of two lovely ,tired people who were raised to think that it was their moral duty to reproduce. I am the 6th of 8 and I know I was far from a planned thought and certainly not wanted by the older siblings who simply saw a new baby as UGH! Another reason they would not get what they wanted.

  2. Another beautiful post. I always love when you do your personal posts of this nature. You’re never afraid to speak as openly as is needed on those subjects that you feel strongly about in your life. As to the judgments? Nobody can say whether or not someone else made an incorrect choice. They can only say if they made the wrong choice. Most won’t own up to that if they did, but I’ve seen some parents who have said quite often that they were lied to about being a parent. That it was not the experience touted to them in magazines and so on. I feel like people need to be more open and honest in that regard: it’s not all going to be sunshine and unicorns. There’s going to be rainbows, but that does require rain. And I am highly supportive of the think first before having children aspect whether adopting, conceiving, or fostering there should always be forethought when it comes to having and raising a child; especially in regards to the financial.

    There’s a good deal I beat myself up over in regards to not being able to have children. I get jealous of those that I do, I feel like less, and so on; especially since I know even adoption or surrogacy might be difficult given my disability in regards to being able to care for a child. It can be. . . hard. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know anything about parenting or children, because childfree people have been taking care of children as far back in our history as we can look. Just look at Wet Nurses, Nurse Maids, Nannies, Governesses, etc. who practically raised most children and had none of their own cause that was a requirement of the job. Me? I had a bunch of little siblings and was always around kids younger than me, and helped out a solid amount here and there. Plus there’s the bonus that I was a kid once that was raised by parents which gives me a scope to look through as well.

    I always find that it’s the parents who can’t handle possible criticisms that say things like “You don’t know unless you have children.” to those that don’t have them. Being a parent doesn’t qualify you as a parent anymore than not being a parent. We see this often when it comes to cases of neglect, child abuse, abandonment, and other things of that nature. I honestly commend you on making your choice and not buckling under the pressure of the societal judgment. I still want kids as I’ve wanted to be a wife and mother since I was really young, but I know that certain things have to be in play before that can even be a remote possibility. So I just hold out for some day though who knows. . . I may decide I can be happy without that element in my life. We all have to make the choices that are right for us.

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