Disclaimer: This is not me and N. Not by far. Even though we happen to be 'childfree' we are hardly jet setting around the globe and living carefree. By now just about everyone has heard about the hottest new article by Time Magazine and a lot of people have weighed in. I, personally, have read quite a few responses to the article (which, honestly the cover is the most controversial aspect of the whole thing) and what I gather is that people are either getting really offended (?!) or they are simply quelching the controversy by saying everyone has a right to whatever they choose (thank you).
When Nate and I started talking about marriage and starting a life together years ago the topic of family naturally came up. He was on the fence and I had already decided long before that children were not a life goal I had ever set out to achieve. The decision to not have children is a personal one, a serious one, and one that has to be agreed upon by both people and frankly, shouldn't be weighed in on by an outsider.
I figured it out in high school that motherhood was not something I felt partial to. I read an article way back when that discussed couples choosing not to have children and it was revolutionary to me. I had never had much of a maternal streak, children make me nervous, I am ill at ease around them, and the idea of pregnancy/labor makes me break out in a cold sweat. But I was never told that it was ok to not have children. So I assumed I would grow up, get married, have 2.5 kids and live out the rest of my life like many other families.
To choose to not have children has always had a negative stigma which I learned very quickly so I kept it to myself for the most part. When you get married the first thing people start asking you at the reception is 'when are you having kids?!'. It was really frustrating and caused a lot of anxiety having to explain ourselves to parents, family members, and friends that we simply did not want to start a family. Which garners the comments of 'oh well you will one day' or 'maybe you don't now but you will later' which in turn is extremely frustrating.
Personally speaking- not having children is not selfish to me. It is simply a decision that was carefully made. Now if my mind ever changes or we have a happy accident will I be the best mother I can be? Of course! I have been dumbfounded by the 'debate' between mothers and the childfree on the finer details of the decision because really, who cares? I don't get offended if someone doesn't choose the same career as me, the same religion, or lifestyle, why would anyone get offended that I choose to not have children? And in the same way if someone announces they are pregnant I certainly don't put them down- I am not anti-human race by not participating in procreation myself.
The gap that falls between the two categories seems to simply be a lack of understanding. Why the childfree choose to be so. In my circle I know everyone has different reasons for wanting or not wanting children and I personally would never judge for their decision. In your circle and community the key should be listening to people and being open about their decision.
Hopefully some day our society will look back at this and laugh, that we were ever so trivial to make this a hot topic. Until then, it is going to take more of us being open to others and become accepting no matter what people want out of life, we are all so different and isn't that what makes humans so unique? ♥