By Michaela Stephens
This is for all my fellow married without children couples out there. This is for all the stereotypes, interrogations, and the social outcast that being without young in’s gets you! This one’s for you guys! *starts playing “My Life” by Gwen Stefani* (Google it.)
Before we go further let’s go ahead and redefine some terminology real quick. First, my husband and I are not childLESS, we are childFREE. Childless makes it sound like we’re missing something, or that there’s a void that can only be filled with a bumbling, drooling baby.
Since the first, oh, ten minutes after our wedding, my husband and I have been inundated with questions about having children. The questions were basic at first, just a simple “So, are you going to have children?” After the first year this was followed by “So have you guys start planning for kids?” The first couple of years were mainly polite intrusions, more small talk than anything. Now that we have been married for six years, the questions about kids have gotten downright demanding. “Well, when are you going to have them?” “What are ya’ll waiting for?” to the just plain rude, “Oh ya’ll just wanna be selfish for a few more years.” I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that all selfish wants and needs cease to exist once you become a parent. I guess I will tell the many parents I know who love doing “selfish” things like taking a vacation, going on a shopping splurge, or enjoying alone time, that the kid thing didn’t get out those “selfish” kinks, and maybe better luck on the next one?
Why is that childfree couples are always expected to give essay long explanations regarding why we don’t have children? At first, I used to do humor the question with said essay. I had a ready laundry list available for every time we were asked. This got old really quickly, so I started asking the question back. “Well, why did you decide to have kids?” All of the sudden I was being rude, intrusive, and shouldn’t the answer be obvious? I mean duh, kids are the most awesome thing in the world. Why would you dare ask this? Well, being that you feel like it’s okay to question me and feel like I need to go into detail about my life choices, why not flip this on its axis and ask you about yours? It’s only fair, right?
Well, for the record being childfree is awesome too. For our family, (yes FAMILY, because we are still a family even though we don’t have little ones), the answer is simple: we like having disposable income, sleeping in, and having a date night/romantic weekend, without having to find a babysitter before doing so. I wish fellow marrieds, and society as a whole, would respect our decision a heckuva lot more. I don’t question your judgment to actively plan to add a third child to your brood. I just smile, say congratulations and ask when the baby is due. So why is it that when I, a young married, answer your kid question with a no, I get The Look, followed by the ever popular “Well, why not?”
I will never forget this one situation where I responded to a woman and said that my husband and I do not have kids, and weren’t planning on having them for another few years. The woman replied,”Well, the biggest gift I ever gave to my husband was our child. It is one of the most important duties you can do as a wife.” Well, maybe you feel like that. Good for you. But I also feel like my loyalty, love, support over the years (not to mention saying vows in front of God and our family) is a pretty great gift to my husband too. Seriously, based on her reaction, you would have thought I told her I kicked puppies for a living or something.
There is something so unbelievably rude about questioning whether or not someone, specifically a woman, has kids. It’s almost like as a wife, my duty is not complete until I bring forth an heir. Not to mention that many times, people don’t think about the other side of the question. For instance, what if you are asking a childfree couple who has been trying to have children for years, but have been unable to conceive, or has suffered from several miscarriages, which is much more common than people think. For the record, I don’t think it’s the” Do you have kids?” question that is rude, it’s the “Why not?” immediately following the “No” that’s the problem.
All I am saying is this: how about we just respect our individual life choices? Or if we must question, let’s have an open, dialogue where we share from our collective experiences. Having children is a blessing, and being childfree is a blessing. There’s no competition here, we all do what we feel is better when it comes to being happy in our relationships. That sounds good enough to me!
Michaela Stephens is the owner of Metropolitan Swim Instruction, LLC, an aquatics based company that specializes in spreading awareness of the benefits of swim instruction and water safety. She is happily married to her husband of six years, Craven Stephens, who is a soldier in the US Military. Michaela’s two biggest passions are finding ways to help guide other couples through the not so black and white areas of marriage, and also empower the modern woman on how to achieve individual balance, and happiness while juggling all of the many roles in her life.