Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Empty Cradle

My name is Noel and I am Childfree.

Some people might read that in the same tone-of-text that they might read, "My name is Noel and I'm an alcoholic," but that's certainly not how I mean it. Like shaking my hand, like seeing that my eyes are dark blue, the fact that I'm Childfree is just another given about who I am, a no-fuss, easily realized and uncomplicated certainty, of no greater importance than eye color, hair color, or skin pigmentation.

At least, that's how -I- look at it.

The majority of my "peers" disagree.

To them, children are a magical, completing factor in life, the thing that makes all other things worthwhile or more special. To me, children are superfluous - an unnecessary addition to a life that's already quite complete as it is. And when my decision to remain Childfree forever was announced to those who expressed an interest in my reproductive plans, I expected that they'd see it the same way.

Oops.

In some cases, I was told directly that I would change my mind when I was "older." In others, I was given a look of utter amazement or disbelief. In a few cases, I was met with outright hostility, as though my decision not to have babies was a direct threat to their decision TO have babies.

I was most unprepared for these, and I'm sorry to say that they still happen on a regular basis.

Because I'm only 24 years old, the basic assessment is that I'm much too young to understand what I want out of life (despite the fact that I've been happily married for almost 7 years already). When a 19-year-old friend of mine says she wants to have a baby one day, no one in her life says, "You're too young to know that you want that."

This seems incredibly unfair to me, as though the world is trying to tell me that parenthood is the norm, and not wanting it means that I'm depriving myself of something everyone should experience. Is it so ridiculous that I happen to disagree? That I can respect and admire parents for what they've created, while still believing that my choice to live a life without those restrictions is just as rewarding and fruitful?

Tomorrow, I can sell everything I own and travel in a convertible across the continent, go camping for a month, start over in a country I've never heard of, or simply go to the neighrborhood cigar store until midnight without having to check with anyone or hire a babysitter. And tomorrow, my best friend in the world can wake up and cradle her newborn with love overflowing from her heart. She does not envy me. I do not envy her. She believes that she has made the right choice. I believe that I have made the right choice. There are things I'll be able to do for the rest of my life that she'll never have the chance to do, and the same goes for her. Isn't that life in general? Doesn't everyone eventually make a choice which prevents them from the experiences that someone else gets to have?

At any rate, this journal will be a place for my childfree heart to unwind, a place where I can recount the conversations I've had about it, the resources I've discovered relating to it, the rants I need to unleash about how people perceive it, and anything I can think of relating to the topic. My reasons, the things I have planned instead of children, perhaps even the occasional domestic ramble, because, in spite of my lazy womb, I'm still a very domestic person who delights in domestic things.

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