When my doctor told me it might be best to wait on having children, I was ecstatic. Even when I was a child myself, I knew I never wanted any loud, expensive, dirty, unsanitary kids of my own. Needless to say, when my doctor later suggested it could actually be dangerous for me to become pregnant, my husband and I decided to nip the issue in the bud.
THE DECISION WASN’T REALLY A DECISION AT ALL. Despite not wanting children for over 20 years, it was still a difficult topic to discuss. My husband did want to be a dad but he valued my health and safety more. Holding out for a “maybe your baby could survive” or “it’s possible your body won’t break down” wasn’t an option. We went through with the vasectomy.
THERE WAS A MOURNING PERIOD. Neither of us was ready for children, but the vasectomy changed things. Suddenly, instead of being a choice, it was an absolute. We would never become parents. As crazy as it seems, we went through a brief period of mourning. We’d always had the ability to choose, something we’d taken for granted, and now it was gone. It was hard for a while, but we slowly realized we were free. Gone was the stress of an accidental pregnancy, unexpected expenses, and an 18-year responsibility. We were free!
PLEASE STOP PITYING US. Children are an important part of my culture. Many of my family members would share how sad it was that we wouldn’t be having kids. A well-meaning cousin of mine offered to be a surrogate if we chose to reverse the vasectomy one day. Her offer was touching, but she didn’t get it. Everyone was being so kind but no one understood. They incorrectly believed our hopes and dreams were dashed. We explained we didn’t really want kids right now anyway, but that wasn’t enough for them. Everyone wanted to express how they felt about our “situation” and some offered advice to help us “cope.” Their attempts were appreciated but in the end, we just wanted them to stop.
IT’S OKAY TO HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES. It was hard to tell my family I had different priorities than them. I felt guilty and my family didn’t help matters. My grandmother had nine children and lived in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home with her husband and mother. Eleven people were crammed into a tiny house in a small town, but they were happy. Of course, when those kids grew up, they had kids who had kids and the joy continued to spread. Procreating was a serious family value and expectation, so when we deviated people started asking questions. It didn’t take long for us to stop giving brief, ambiguous answers and started responding with the life expectancy of myself or the child, of the complications related to lupus, the disease that has run rampantly through my family tree. That quickly shut everyone up.
IT’S ACTUALLY POSSIBLE TO BE A FAMILY WITHOUT HAVING KIDS! When people started suggesting we adopt so we can “start a family,” my defenses raised to full height. In my heart, I knew everyone was trying to be supportive, but what they were actually doing was telling me that a married couple is incomplete, that we weren’t a family because we couldn’t hear the pitter-patter of little feet. I was so offended I was literally stunned for a second the first time someone said it. We’re already part of a family. I have three sisters, seven nieces and nephews, both my parents, several aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandmother. My husband is part of that family and we’re both parts of his as well. We also have close friends we consider family too, so why was everyone insinuating we weren’t a family? Not only was the comment offensive, it was also really freaking hurtful.
I DON’T WANT TO LOSE “US.” One of the many reasons I’ve never wanted children is because I grew up hearing stories of countless couples trying to make obviously awful relationships work for the sake of their kids. My husband and I love each other and we know our relationship will shift if we ever have children. I know for a fact that I would prioritize my child(ren) above him because they’re young and they’ll need guidance, while he’s a grown man who already knows how to not die by running across the street or eating household chemicals. Kids tend to come between couples and I don’t want anything to come between us.
WE CAN BE HAPPY WITHOUT KIDS. My mom once sat me down and asked if I was happy. I told her I sometimes stressed about work or relationship issues, but overall I was extremely happy with my life. Knowing where the conversation was headed, I added that without kids, we were able to save a substantial amount every year and take nice vacations whenever we wanted. We could choose to go out to a midnight showing of a new movie without worrying about babysitters or tight schedules. As a couple, my husband and I enjoy a freedom most people wish they had: we could go anywhere and do anything or stay in and do nothing at all. I’m happy and so is my husband, especially since we get to sleep as long as we want without consequence. We’re seriously living the dream.
COUPLES WHO CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN CAN STILL LOVE KIDS. After describing our joyously kid-free lives, my mom asked why we disliked children so much. Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t know me at all when she says things like this. A couple can choose not to have children but they can still absolutely love kids. My husband and I babysit often for my siblings and we love teaching all our nieces and nephews how to do new things. We introduce them to games and movies we loved when we were their age, take them to parks, and love them to bits. Spending time here and there with kids of all ages can be a joy, but ultimately, we’re more than happy to give them back to their parents at the end of the day.
SOMETIMES KIDS JUST AREN’T PART OF THE PLAN. While we still might adopt or reverse the vasectomy later, right now we’re absolutely happy with where we are as a couple and as a family. We don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything and we’re enjoying this time together. We may not be able to have kids right now but seriously, it’s okay.
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