March 30, 2006

No Kids, No Regrets

This is my first post for the website, and my first blog, ever. With those disclaimers in mind, here is my introduction. Read on and enjoy!

When I think of being childfree, I like to think the childfree lifestyle chose me, instead of the other way around. When I look back on my "grown-up" daydreams as a kid, I realize they didn't involve having kids of my own. I dreamt of living on a ranch with a flock of animals to tend to, flowers and trees to nurture, and maybe even some horses to ride. I would spend long hours in the sun tending to my garden, and making sure all the animals were fed, loved, and healthy. I also dreamt of being a professor at nearby UC Berkeley, helping students to discover ideas that they hadn't previously considered, and contributing to the rich academic community. While I didn't grow up to own a ranch or to change the world, I have remained true to my dreams of a life unencumbered by parenting.

I rolled my eyes when neighbors would bring their babies over for a visit, and would wrinkle my nose as my friends showed off newborn siblings. No thanks, I would tell them, I don't want to hold/diaper/feed your new brother or sister. I think my mother realized very early on she wouldn't be a grandmother on my account. One afternoon, my quiet time of reading in my room was blown to bits by the paint-peeling wail of a visiting neighbor's baby. I tossed my book aside, came out into the living room, put my hands on my hips and said "Would someone please shut that baby UP?!" I spun on my Mary Janes and flounced out of the room. I was about 7. Yep, destiny taps you on the shoulder early in life and invites you to dance.

I was 11 years old when I read Ellen Peck's The Baby Trap. It blew my mind and set me free from the cultural imperative to reproduce.

As I moved forward into my 20's and 30's, I coped with the loneliness of my choice (friends were reproducing like rabbits then) and took comfort in the company of others who felt the way I did.
I read the works of Elinor Burkett, Leslie Lafayette, Mardy Ireland and other CF women who I saw to be very powerful role models. I took action and spoke out on pronatalism in our society and in the media, and the harmful messages that came with it. I have my bad days, sure. They stem from having dealt with ignorant comments/stereotypes, armchair psychoanalysis ("You don't have kids because of childhood trauma"), and other ignorant, rude behavior.

I cringe when some parents assume their familial status makes them morally superior. Hey, we all come into the world the same way: Cold, naked, and without kids. So I don't get it. In all seriousness, every day I'm grateful I listened to that scrappy kid back when who knew parenting was not for her, and I'm grateful for my choice today as a grown adult, living a life of clarity and of no regrets.

8 comments:

Teri said...

Dear AlphaGirl - what a wonderful first post. Already we are getting to know you. Your early reading experiences really supported your choice. I wish I one of my aunties had given me books like that! I am making up for lost time now.

I wonder if you would be willing to review The Baby Trap for us here?

Boxing Tomboy said...

Please review The Baby Trap! I'm always looking for good childfree books to read. Welcome!

Boxing Tomboy said...

Please review The Baby Trap! I'm always looking for good childfree books to read. Welcome!

AlphaGirl said...

Sure...I'd love to. I'll need to dig it out and re-read it..it's been awhile and I want to re-fresh my memory. Once I do, I'll review it =)

AlphaGirl said...

I goofed on the author's name...The Baby Trap was written by Ellen Peck.Goes to show you how much it blew my mind..couldn't get the author's name straight.

Teri said...

That's okay. I fixed it!

ChrisR said...

Ooh, I think I'm gonna have to borrow this one to add to my 'arsenal' - "Hey, we all come into the world the same way: Cold, naked, and without kids."

And anyway, what's so bad about knowing what you're like? Good on you, I say. :)

Anonymous said...

alphagirl - you are amazing, I never had the confidence to have such a honest dialogue as yourself. But you have helped me, confirm my decision for sterilization. Been thinking about it for a year, felt nervous, but after your article, I am being honest with myself, I don't want kids, I have known that a long time, 9 years. So I will be on the waiting list for the op. - Oh be the way, in England we cannot get Mardy Irelands Reconceiving women. The American publishers cannot make up their mind, whether to republish it or it. Could all the women who are fans of Mardy Ireland work, put a petition together, for this book to be republished.