I just enjoyed a quick reflection by Melissa Myer called “Childfree: is it really a choice?” that struck a familiar chord. Myer harkens back to her younger years, transporting us to the sort of awkward conversations puberty so often catalyzes. She relates an unsettling quip from her friend Sandy who was baffled by her disinterest in becoming a mother.
Marriage equals procreation. And since I had no interest in having kids, I had no interest in marriage.
“If you get married, you have to have kids.” ~ Melissa Myer (Source: The Unwitting Raconteur)
It’s an unsettling but not altogether unfamiliar perspective. Marriage equals procreation.
I admit that much of my own disinterest in marriage in early adulthood hinged upon my perspective that marriage equals procreation. And since I had no interest in having kids, I had no interest in marriage. Simple. Obvious.
It took my now-wife’s mostly patient, painstaking tutelage to gradually amplify my understanding of marriage.
You Have to Have Kids?
Children were simply the next step after marriage. Period.
But just as I didn’t fully grok this in my teens and twenties, I know that many others still lump marriage and procreating together. And many simply take for granted that growing up means inevitably transitioning from school to career to marriage to having kids.
My own father recently conceded that he’d never really stopped to question (or even consider) alternative to marrying and parenting. Children were simply the next step after marriage. Period.
I Was Born This Way
Myer’s post resonated with me mostly because of this important uncoupling of marriage and procreating. But she also teases out another intriguing idea, that of childfree choice. She challenges the notion that childfree adults choose to be childfree. Certainly we’re all familiar with unintentionally childless adults and couples. Pregnancy was impossible. Or fate intervened.
But Myer is actually talking about something else. Rather than a reasoned choice not to have children, she was born a “NotMom”. Growing up simply helped her accept that she was not destined to be a parent.
“I never needed reasons, and those of you who ‘chose’ to be childfree don’t need them either. What thankfully isn’t artificial, and what will never be, is that I am who I am — a NotMom since I was nascent. Childfree by a choice I never actually made. I was born this way.” (Source: The Unwitting Raconteur)
I’ve written in the past about not having a burning urge to procreate, no need to have a child or be a father. I think that this is basically what Myer means. I was born a “NonDad” by virtue of the fact that I didn’t ever want or try to have a kid. I’m not sure that my own experience warrants this conclusion, as if I were predestined not to become a father, but it’s an interesting twist. Some of us are born to reproduce; others are not. Nulliparity as hardwired…