Suzie: “I was hassled by a mother in a cake decorating class telling me I was going to die alone”

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I got my first couple of jobs out of university thanks to maternity leave here in Canada. Right out of school, I wanted to get my career in publishing going and I got some of my bigger breaks because women would go have children and never come back. Until this started to happen, I was quite neutral about having kids. I figured I probably would some day but was not fixated on it. Then women started disappearing. Not just from work but my life. If I didn't have children and was not planning on having them soon, you were out. The ones that returned were different. Remember after Madonna had her child? She was a completely different person. People freaked out. I freaked out.

The older I got the more I saw it happen around me. Women giving up on their dreams or changing. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I was like, no, I do not want that to happen to me. My career was stolen from me because of illness but you can not take away who I am. I do not want to change. I like me. My body has enough to deal with. Later as a spouse of someone in the military, the pressure got even more intense and I was the weirdo wife. The older I got I was considered an aberration. 

As a food enthusiast I signed up for a cake decorating class only to be hassled by a mother who was taking the class with her daughter telling me I was going to die alone. I have been many controversial things in this little life I have lived on this planet. Nothing has been more alienating than my choice not to be a mother. Thankfully there are a lot of people out there who do not care but clearly they many who take my decision not to have kids to heart as a personal rejection. The worse part is when they say I have no family. Anyone who knows me knows how close I am with my family. You do not need to have children to have a family. At least I don't. 

You can hear more about the story of me and that cake decorating class. I was so publicly humiliated. I still wish to this day I had taken my cake and thrown it in her fucking face but at the time I did not want to attack her in front of her child. It still haunts me to this day what the girl must have thought of the woman who took that abuse from her mother in that stupid cake decorating class. I have tolerated no fools since and shut it down right away. I am done being polite. –Suzie

Do you have a story about navigating the choice not to have children? Share it here.

Sophia: "One partner I had been dating for over three years deliberately tried to get me pregnant"

I always knew I didn't want to have children. I never played with dolls, mostly stuffed animals, and I was never their mother, they were all my friends. Now that I am in my forties I have found that my closest friends are child-free professional women or gay men. 

I've never felt that I could truly express why I don't want children for fear of offending friends and family. My mother thought I would change my mind, eventually. "Who will take care of you when you're old?" is what my parents say. Clearly, they have that in mind for me. I will give up my life as a professional college educated woman and go take care of my elderly parents back in a small town in Mexico when the time comes. I am dreading that day.

I've finally found a partner who sincerely doesn't want kids, no secret agenda, pressure etc. In the past I've had to end long term relationships because they really didn't take me seriously. One partner I had been dating for over three years deliberately tried to get me pregnant. He just didn't pull out, sorry to be crass. He said something like "Oh come on would having a kid with me be so bad?" I was really pissed and made him go with me to pay for the Morning After pill. We walked to go get it, and when told him to go in and buy it, he responded with, "This is my neighborhood people know me." I said "You're 33 yrs old are you kidding me!"  Things were never the same and we broke up quickly after.

Years later I feel like it was an ego thing. Why would I not want to have his child? Lucky me. This is probably how most children are born: with an oops and some fantasy of how wonderful it could all be. Like Elizabeth Stanton famously said after meeting a man boasting eight children, "I have met few men worth repeating eight times."  –Sophia, 43, first generation Mexican-American, Los Angeles.

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Becca: "I have started to become quite vocal, standing up for my choice, fighting for it to be accepted as normal"

I've always known I don't want to have kids. The very idea just feels so incredibly unnatural and alien to me, and for the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me, because society teaches us that we're supposed to have kids, that it's the only way for us to achieve true happiness and fulfillment, that we don't know the meaning of true love until we have child that is our own flesh and blood, that we're not complete as women or worth as much if we don't reproduce. But I have found great comfort both online and in my life from like-minded people and now, at 36 soon-to-be 37, I am confident and reassured that I have made the right choice for me and my life.

I've had very few moments of doubt. When they occur it's much more of a fear of missing out rather than actually wanting to procreate, but that feeling has thankfully never lasted more than a couple of hours.

Like so many others, my choice to remain childfree has been questioned and disrespected. I've been told that'll I'll change my mind, that I'll regret it later when my life is all empty and I have no one to take care of me when I'm old. After I got married the questions and accusations got even worse. I've been told I'm robbing my husband of the enjoyments of fatherhood and that I'm immature and selfish. I find the concept of women being selfish for not longing for and succumbing to motherhood ludicrous. Surely, becoming a parent just because it is YOUR wish to do so, completely disregarding the risks of hereditary diseases, the environmental impact or the state of the world your child is brought into and having to navigate and so on, is more selfish? 

With every question and every accusation, I find that I'm getting more and more provoked and I have started to become quite vocal and standing up for my choice, fighting for it to be accepted as a normal and valid choice to make. This has landed me in a couple of heated word-exchanges. My husband on the other hand rolls his eyes at me and has more than once asked "why can't you just tell people we're unable to conceive and be done with it?". But to me it's a matter of principle, and although he is fully supportive of me not wanting to not have kids, I wish he'd back me up in my fight a bit more. - Becca, frontend/mobile developer and graphic designer, Oslo, Norway

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Betty: "We all know that the Mom does the drudgery. If I could have been a Dad I might reconsider."

I grew up in an Ohio town where the norm is to marry your high school boyfriend and have kids by the time you're old enough to drink. I no longer live there. I'm a Christian, and so many in the church perceived the "be fruitful and multiply" to be a generalized command, rather than an optional blessing.

I never wanted kids. I felt called to write, to work in music and nonprofit. I am introverted, with adult ADD. If I took on the assumed calling to be a Mom, it would certainly jeopardize my confirmed calling, which is to be a writer. Because quite frankly we all know that the Mom does the drudgery. If I could have been a dad I might reconsider.

There's a Bible passage where Jesus is teaching a crowd, and a woman in the back interrupts him saying "Blessed is your Mom!" Jesus replied, "even more blessed are those who hear God's word and do it." Being a Mom is not the most important job in the world. The most important job is the one you were created for and give yourself wholeheartedly to. Am I selfish? No. I lack peers, friends, the ability to have a lasting conversation with anyone my age (38) because we share little common ground. Not creating new people has left me with few people to talk to.

I made my choice to be sterilized so that I could stay up odd hours, dive in to a songwriting binge in hopes that maybe one day someone who I'll never meet hears the song, and it's raw honestly, and feels like they aren't alone. And that stranger who I nurture from afar will not take care of me when I become elderly. –Betty

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Kate: "Even now, at the age of 57, older men have asked me, 'So was it you, or was your husband shooting blanks?' "

Even now, at the age of 57, older men have asked me, "So was it you, or was your husband shooting blanks?" As if they need an answer, so unable to accept my choice. As if it's their business.

Or, "I'm so sorry. What are you going to do when you get old?' Which sends me off into gales of laughter. As a care aide I've seen older folk with plenty of children who never come to visit them in their homes, or even after they have been put in said care home by their children.

Another one I love is being told how selfish I am. Hm. That one I will never understand. In a world of shrinking resources, poverty, dysfunctional families, how is choosing NOT to bring yet another human being into this world, selfish? Hm.

Years ago my husband and I were called DINK(s). Double income, no kids. Hm. Again the point is? Perhaps the kindest comment came from my hairdresser. A father of five children who once said, 'well if you don't have 'em, you don't miss 'em." I liked that approach. It was accepting and kind with no judgement put on me or questioned of choice.

I was never the kid who wanted to play with Barbie or have a baby that peed water when pressed. Call me silly, but it just didn't appeal. I had puppies and a pony and rabbits and other lovely mammals that showed me what motherhood looked like, but I preferred to do exactly what I wanted. I hit the road at 17 and haven't looked back, and I'm pretty sure I'll be just fine. –Kate

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Marie: "Even from a young age, I equated motherhood with a loss of independence."

I've always known that motherhood wasn't for me. I never played with dolls as a child. For me, make believe meant dressing up in my mother's high heels and father's suitcase and proclaiming that I was going "off to work." Even from a young age, I equated motherhood with a loss of independence. As I got older, I wasn't shy about disclosing that I didn't want children, but that information was generally met with some form of, "you'll change your mind," "you just haven't met the right person yet," or "but who will take care of you when you're older?" Luckily, those arguments never came from my parents, who were older when I was born, and seemed to understand that I didn't have the maternal instinct.

Eventually, around my late 30's, the arguments mostly stopped (though they were sometimes replaced with pitying looks, as though I'd squandered my childbearing years and was now paying the price). I'm now in my early 40's and have become even more outspoken, particularly when it comes to championing girls and young women who say they don't want kids. My niece is 13 and has been saying she's not having kids for the past few years, much to my sister's dismay. I've recently seen more chiildfree older women publicly stating unequivocally that they don't regret their decisions, which makes me feel really good. –Marie Fisher

Do you have a story about navigating the choice not to have children? Share it here.