Need proof that many parents regret having children? Fifteen ‘rents dish As you get older your mind will make up more and more reasons why it makes sense to have a kid. Don’t be fooled, it’s just evolution tricking you into reproducing — no sane, thinking beast would take on the burden of raising a child if the mind didn’t fool us into it. So, does the world need another one of you? Or are you just being fooled into making a baby… (Source: 15 Parents Explain Why They Regret Having Children | Thought Catalog)
Dear Childfree Person,
I am writing to you to share some vital information that has only become available to me in the last couple of years, since I became a parent.
Before that, I was subjected to the same saccharine clichés from parents that you are undoubtedly hearing over and over again. You’re probably being told, like I was, that you never really love until you become a parent. You’re probably hearing a lot about how no love can compare to the love a mother has for her child. Parents might be telling you that you’ll never ever EVER understand what real love feels like unless you become a parent yourself.
Well, now that I’ve crossed over from “nonparent” to “parent,” and with apologies to my fellow parents, I want to deliver this important message: You pretty much get it.
I hope you won’t let any of those rogue, self-righteous parents drag you into competing in the love Olympics.
I always felt like the idea that mothers and fathers are the only people that get love was bullshit, but I never had standing to argue with any of them until my son was born. Now that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I’m very happy to report that things are just as I’d assumed they would be. That love is love, wherever you’re standing.
The love a mother has for her child is unique, that much is true. It would be stupid to say it isn’t. But isn’t every kind of love unique? The love I have for my sisters is different than my love for my husband. The way I love my parents is not the same way I love my best friend. I don’t have any brothers or cats or parakeets, but I would guess that those relationships come with their own special flavors of love as well.
But you don’t hear parakeet owners running around telling non-parakeet owners that they will have no idea what real love feels like until they get a parakeet.
I loved plenty of people before my son was born and I don’t feel that that love has faded or diminished at all since I became a mom. My love for my family and friends is fierce and loyal and wild and real and I will seriously side-eye anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.
I’m hoping you feel the same way. And I hope you don’t really need me to tell you that the love you’re experiencing as a childfree person is real and significant and big. I hope you won’t let any of those rogue, self-righteous parents drag you into competing in the love Olympics.
The truth is, my being a mother doesn’t make me any better at or more capable of love than any other feeling person. My son is not some mythical creature that broke my stony heart wide open. He’s not this ray of light that magically gave my pathetic life meaning or transformed me into some amazing new person with extra overhead room in the cardiac area.
My kid is just another person in my life that I love. Like a sister, like a grandfather, like a best friend.
You know what that’s like. I know you do. Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t.
This originally appeared on The Toast. Republished here with permission.
Back in early 2011, my husband and I started a social networking group in Boston called Couples Without Kids (our friends with children “affectionately” referred to the group as “Couples Who Hate Kids”). We actually really like (some) children but had determined that we did not want them for ourselves. As we were getting into our 30’s and 40’s, we found that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find other couples who didn’t have children.
Couples Without Kids
Our concept for the meetup group was that it would be a social networking group only – not a support group. We weren’t looking to have intimate discussions about our reasons for being childfree, we just wanted to meet some nice people who could go out for drinks or meet for dinner on a moment’s notice. How tired are you of making plans 3 months in advance only to have it cancelled because Billy’s got the Hershey squirts? We like being able to call a CWK couple at 7 because we need a replacement at 8 for our trivia contest at the local bar (and we all know trivia + cocktails = fun).
Couples Without Kids Trips
Over the course of the past year, we’ve met many wonderful couples without kids and found one common interest (among many) was the love of traveling. I’ve traveled extensively throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe and beyond. Therefore, early in 2012, I partnered with Travel Concepts, a well-established American Express Travel company, to launch a new business called “Couples Without Kids Trips”. The concept is to offer unique, personalized experiences for childfree adults.
We offer two kinds of services – Organized Group Trips for childfree couples as well as Personalized Trips for childfree couples and adults (small groups, singles, honeymooners and “empty nesters”). Instead of “family-friendly” destinations, we are specialists in adult-only vacations and finding destinations and excursions which cater to childfree adults.
A client recently asked me about the possibility of scheduling them on a childfree flight. Although we can’t make miracles like this happen (yet), we do our best to cater to our childfree travelers. For a humorous look at childfree travel, check out this video from DINKLife. For more information about CWK Trips, please visit our website at www.coupleswithoutkidstrips.com. If you “like” us on Facebook, you’ll receive updates about upcoming trips and promotions.
The number of PANKs (Professional Aunties No Kids) and PUNKs (Professional Uncles No kids) is growing and their influence on children is in the news. The founder of the auntie movement is Melanie Notkin at www.savvyauntie.com. She has an active blog and book that guides child-free aunties on all things kiddie. Notkin is the creator of the term PANK and she also owns the trademark.
From her website:
A few years ago, DINKs was the new segment marketers had their eye on – Dual Income No Kids. PANKs, while focusing specifically on women (married, partnered or single) who have no kids, is a pretty large market in the US. In fact, the 2010 US Census Report: Fertility of American Women states that 47.1 percent of women through age 44 do not have kids (check “All Races” report). And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. In 1976, only 35 percent were childless.
Notkin gives statistics on the spending potential of the emerging PANK market:
– According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50 percent of single women own their own homes. They’re also the fastest-growing segment of new home buyers, second home buyers, car purchasers, new investors, and travelers. (Who hasn’t dreamed of taking the nieces and nephews on their first trip to Disney World?)
– Twenty-seven percent of American households are headed by women, a fourfold increase since 1950.
– Of American women who draw annual incomes of $100,000 or more, nearly half don’t have children. In fact, the more a woman earns, the less likely she is to have kids.
That means that these PANKs and PUNKs have money to spend on their nieces and nephews since they don’t have kids of their own.
A November Forbes article Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles says that many adults in childrens’ lives today are not relatives but close friends that are considered stand in aunts, uncles and godparents.
Notkin says, “The more aunts and uncles the child has, the more influences a child has,” says Notkin. “If the uncle is a fantastic artist, the child may be inspired by that talent.”
For kids the diversity of influences could be beneficial. Parents who share their kids with aunties and uncles might benefit too. And it fits with the notion that “it takes a village” to raise a child.
I’m not really an aunt, but I’m a godmother three times over and consider most of my friends’ kids my nieces and nephews, so that makes me a PANK. I just finished shopping, wrapping and mailing all their Christmas gifts. I take my role of Auntie Amy very seriously at Christmas time, and put A LOT of thought into finding the exact right gift for each child. (One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.) And I hope, hope, hope the kids love them! I find that books are the best gifts and still remember all the books my PANKs and PUNKs and real aunts and uncles gave to me as a child. Hope you will share your favorites.
Hey WNKers (and PANKs and PUNKs) what is your favorite book to give to kids?
In the spring of 2008, I sat down late one night to write the first installment for a newspaper column I called Planet Mom. While my youngest son slept on the couch next to me, I stared out at the night sky and tried to conjure my muse. By midnight, I had it–a relatively clear, concise, and honest introduction to the life I live as a mother to four. (Full installment is here.) In it, I wrote the following:
“This act of mothering is life in the raw. There are moments that threaten to unhinge me, followed closely by those that offer a glimpse of enlightenment.”
Nearly 3 years later, the truth in this statement still holds. Being a mother, especially to a brood the size of mine, is absolutely dichotomous. It’s unhinging and enlightening, sometimes all at once!
Choosing to become a mother was, for me, a no-brainer. I always knew I would have children…. Furthermore, I always knew I wanted to have children. This desire must have been hardwired or something–I can’t explain it much better than that. Having children gave me so very much–the opportunity to lose myself and find myself… the thrill of finding and dancing on the very edge of my every possibility. Being a mother has made me more human, more frazzled, more fully alive, more tired, more fully in love, and more humble than anything else I have ever done.
That said, motherhood doesn’t define me entirely, and it shouldn’t. I am also a photographer, a writer, a graphic designer, and a jeweler, though not necessarily in that order at any given time. I own my own business, set my own hours, and have been turning a profit for several years now. Today, Wednesday, I am a writer and a jewelry maker. I am both writing this and babysitting my jewelry kiln as it sinters tin and copper into bronze (making two sets of custom wine charms!). Next to me, dull gray pendants that will soon metamorphose into fine silver await their turn in the fire. I am an alchemist.
I am also a traveler. I returned from a whirlwind trip to New York several days ago, where I was photographing a friend’s wedding. I was blissfully childfree for this journey, and it was awesome. It was awesome as well to come home and see my family again. A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my husband, kidfree, to Baja to shoot the Baja 1000 with and for a group of firefighters who ride for The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (the prelude to that story is here. I apparently never posted the actual story). In a nutshell, that adventure was awe-inspiring, remarkable, incredible…. fill in the blanks. But again, it was also awesome to come home and see my family again.
Family is the absolute ultimate for me, and of course that is defined in large part by my children. Because of this, I simply don’t see parenting as duty-driven more than I see it as motivated by a deep and abiding love. It is not a job, it is my heart.
I can’t and won’t sell it to anyone, however. It is not something to do unless you feel that undeniable drive within you to create a child. It is never something to take lightly. It should never be a should. It was absolutely never a should in my own life–in fact, quite the opposite, since I was very young when I got pregnant with my son. I chose to have my children when I did–Soren, who is now 17, was born three weeks after I turned 22. I birthed him at home, with a midwife, and when I looked into his little face for the very first time I saw God. This agnostic borderline-atheist truly and absolutely saw God. You see, God isn’t some big judgmental guy lurking about the heavens waiting to smite sinners or whatnot. No… God was the design of my son’s newborn face. God was his first cry.
And I can’t expect anybody else, not even my son’s father, to understand that moment like I did. That was my moment as a mother, and I was fortunate to have three more like it in the years that followed.
It was for moments like this that I became a mother. My decision to do so had very little to do with economics or leisure or opportunity for myself. It had everything to do with feeling and expressing a love that eludes definition. It wasn’t happy happy happy, but it wasn’t sad sad sad either. It ultimately isn’t any one thing. As I recently wrote in another post on my blog (full post here):
“…motherhood is the end-all-be-all of a woman’s existence…except when it isn’t. Motherhood will thresh your very soul and lift you to heights of joy you never thought possible… except when it doesn’t. Motherhood will sweep you up to the pinnacle of beauty…. except when it’s anything but beautiful. When you have shit on your hands because the baby decided to do gymnastics after you removed the stinky diaper and the phone is ringing and the dog is barking and the older kid is whining about cookies or some such… and the diaper pail is full and the room smells like digested green beans and you haven’t showered in two days and your breasts start leaking and then the baby pees all over the changing table and all the while you suspect, in a grim sort of way, that your mortgage check will bounce this month….
Nope, that’s not beautiful at all. Motherhood isn’t always anything except raw, demanding life. Base and beautiful humanity.”
And though it is a commitment, that sometimes makes you feel like you should be committed, it can be–should be?–one gleaming facet in a multifaceted life.
It should follow the sentiment I have tattooed on my upper left arm:
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
No matter what we choose in this life–parenthood or not–there will forever be more to explore, more to learn, more to love. Or at least, there should be. And that is the only should that I, personally, understand.
Postscript: For anybody who is still unsure about having a child, ask yourself this: if you attempted to place your coffee mug in the cup holder of your car, one frenetic morning, and found that the space was already occupied by a large piece of dusty, hairy, dessicated bacon left therein by one of your children (one of your teens, in fact!), how would you feel? Your answer to this may help clarify your child-bearing decision…. at least a little bit. 🙂
- MOM Takes Manhattan: The First Museum of Motherhood Opens (pajamasmedia.com)
- Beyonce Speaks on Motherhood, Husband, Liberation (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Seeking Life Balance in Motherhood (joyofspa.com)
Today’s guest post is from John Davis, a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute. John’s previous posts, “Why Five Cats?” (a lighthearted look at the merits of nulliparity and cat ownership) and Sire of All Crises (a “no holds barred” look at human overpopulation), primed the pump for this intimate-if-lighthearted look at the childfree holy grail: sex!
What is the sexiest reason to abstain from having children?
That would be sex, of course. All you young couples out there, wondering whether or no you should have children, ask some parents to honestly answer the question, did you have sex more or less often after you had a baby? (You might want to choose close older friends for your focus group research, as asking random strangers about their sex lives could quickly turn awkward!)
Although much church doctrine argues against the decoupling of sex and procreation, that decoupling has been largely accomplished materially; and for the sake of this crowded world, and our own busy lives, that is for the good. Birth control advances have allowed couples to decide whether and when they want kids. The fewer kids you have, the more free time you’ll have to enjoy wild pursuits, including that most fun and intimate of acts.
You young folks entering an active sex life will have the greatest amount of activity over the longest run, I’ll wager, if you always practice safe sex and opt not to have children. Or if you do really want children, have just one (read Bill McKibben’s excellent defense of the one-child family in Maybe One) or at most two (read Dave Foreman’s new book, Man Swarm, on how human over-population is smothering the natural world). This year, the human population will top 7 billion, meaning the number of people in the world has more than tripled during my parents’ lifetime. Why take on the difficult, time-consuming challenge of parenting when there are already more than enough kids in the world?
One of the most effective population planning programs I ever encountered was a surly and chubby child, thought of as Girtha, from the unlikeliest, nicest slimmest parents. How these kind and fit parents suffered their unruly and sour-faced child was beyond any neighbor’s comprehension. Most of us love most children we meet, but this round hellion was a reminder, at a time when otherwise I might have wondered about fathering a child, that not only do all children need much of their parents’ time, but some turn quite disagreeable. I did not quite dare suggest to these parents with the patience of Job that they go on tour with their child to college campuses with a presentation, This Could Happen to You!; but I think such a show could have significantly cut fertility rates in the US for years.
Girtha was a child before the metastasis of computer games and cell phones, so I must suppose that a difficult child could be even more of a hindrance to a happy romance these days. What a downer on a sex life it must be for couples who have children noisily playing computer games and chatting on their cell phones late into the evening – as well try to make love in a Best Buy store!
Good parenting and other forms of nurturing are among the noblest of human instincts and endeavors, undeniably. In this crowded world, however, people do well for themselves and others by forgoing the opportunity to procreate and using their nurturing skills to help raise nieces and nephews or foster children and to provide homes for needy cats and dogs. Be a good uncle or aunt, and you enjoy the pleasures of being with kids without the constant obligations of raising them. Small, close families are an ideal to which our society should aspire – lest we, as cultures and as individuals, be overwhelmed by problems stemming from overshooting our carrying capacity, from crime to pollution to hunger to roadkill to war.
Along with the huge amount of time that parents must invest in their children (time that otherwise might be spent in bed or on the beach) is the hefty cost of raising children. The average middle-class American couple invests hundreds of thousands of dollars raising a son or a daughter, and those costs are rising, with young people’s lofty expectations of material abundance. Such investments are rewarding for many parents, but people still wondering about procreation should surely factor them into their decisions. You’ll have more time and more money for romantic vacations and wild excursions if you opt to remain free of the obligations of parenting.
Peace activists in the 1960s righteously urged, Make love, not war! This is a good motto, but may need updating. Let us care lovingly and well for all children (and dependent cats & dogs, too!) the world over. Let us not, though, bring more new children (or cats or dogs) into this world, unless we simply must, and then only in small numbers. Make love and peace, by caring for those already here!
John Davis is a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute.
Today’s guest post is from John Davis, a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute. John’s previous post, “Why Five Cats?“, took a lighthearted look at the merits of nulliparity and cat ownership. Today’s post is excerpted from an essay that will appear in a forthcoming population anthology, Apply the Breaks! Environmentalists Confront Population Growth, edited by Eileen Crist and Philip Cafaro, University of Georgia Press. We’re hoping to review the anthology on Why No Kids? when it is published.
Virtually every major problem in the world today is caused or exacerbated by human overpopulation. From famine and disease to war and extinction (the overarching crisis of our time), the main driving force is the exploding human population. Planet Earth is being wrecked by too many people consuming too much of the natural world through technologies too harmful.
The litany of overpopulation’s problems is the list of the world’s travails and torments: habitat fragmentation and destruction, species extirpation and extinction; air, land, and water pollution; global climate chaos, extreme storm damage, killing droughts; unemployment, declines in social services, poverty, starvation, disease, epidemic; degradation of natural and cultural amenities, such as trails, parks, and gardens; loss of individual meaning, influence, and opportunity; ennui, angst, and mental disorders; congestion, noise, traffic, road rage, crime; exploitation, imperialism, war … If our civilization is to have a prayer of persistence, we must face the huge challenge of humanely, peacefully reducing our numbers – probably several orders of magnitude, over many decades – to within biological carrying capacity, to a level compatible with the long-term well-being of all our fellow denizens on this sensitive planet.
With good reason, the hot topic of the day is just that – global overheating. Obviously, the problem is not just that we drive gas guzzlers, overheat our poorly insulated houses, and waste too much paper. The problem is also that too many people are driving; too many people are heating their homes with fossil fuels; and too many people are consuming natural resources and supplanting natural, carbon-storing habitats with crops, cows, lawns, and houses.
In the United States at least, demographic and economic trends of recent years strongly, if surprisingly, suggest that fertility is more amenable to reconsideration than is consumption: People will apparently more easily accept a smaller family than they will a smaller energy budget. Americans would rather have fewer children than stop driving their cars and running their air conditioners. So, while we must also confront the problems of excessive consumption and harmful technologies, we will likely make the greatest strides toward saving the world from disaster by instituting educational, financial, and cultural incentives for lower birth rates.
A central tenet of sensible population planning is the education and empowerment (social, political, and financial) of women. From my recent experiences out exploring North America’s endangered but not lost wildways, often guided by great naturalists, let me humbly suggest a complementary strategy, one already being promoted well but not widely enough by environmental educators: immersion of young people in wild Nature. Get kids out roaming the woods, paddling the creeks, snorkeling the ponds, looking at birds and flowers and trees and frogs and butterflies … Help them see how wondrous and exciting and beautiful our wild neighbors are and help them understand the connections between land and wildlife, between land and people, and between the actions we take as people and the consequences to the land and wildlife. Go forth and don’t multiply, young people!
The Inconvenient Truth of human-caused planetary overheating may best be met with the more convenient truth that by peacefully and voluntarily reducing our numbers, we not only help stabilize the climate and abate the extinction crisis, we also treat virtually every ecological, social, and cultural ill in the world today. Then, rather than our many descendants cursing us for condemning them to a world of poverty, pestilence, and war, our small number of offspring would thank us for recognizing just in time the moral imperative of ending humanity’s march against the natural world, for rejoining the biotic community and celebrating our connections with land and wildlife.
John Davis is a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute. A longer version of this essay will appear in a population anthology, Apply the Breaks! Environmentalists Confront Population Growth, edited by Eileen Crist and Philip Cafaro, University of Georgia Press.
- What a population of 7 billion people means for the planet (guardian.co.uk)
- Where the Natural and Human Worlds Meet (acuriouscure.wordpress.com)
Sometimes it’s important to analyze artifacts, decrypt opinions, interpret statements. And sometimes it’s important to step aside and let the evidence speak for itself.
The latter was my reaction when we received this old, yellowed news clipping from a reader. A quick search online turned up a copy of the the original text which I’m including below to make it a little easier for you to read. The piece is tongue-in-cheek, and all the richer for it. Enjoy!
Dear Ann Landers: I have four children, all grown up, married and on their own. They were quite a handful to raise, but they turned out great.
I have a fond recollection of a column you printed a few years back about the joys of having kids. Our two oldest children now have kids of their own, and I think they would appreciate a good laugh.
Will you please run that column again?
Reader in Gary
Dear Reader: It’s one of my all-time favorites too. Thank you for asking.
Musings of a Good Father on a Bad Day
There’s nothing sadder than the childless couple. It breaks your heart to see them stretched out, relaxing around swimming pools in Florida and California, suntanned and miserable on the decks of boats, trotting off to enjoy Europe like lonesome fools–with money to spend, time to enjoy themselves and nothing to worry about.
Childless couples become so selfish and wrapped up in their own concerns that you feel sorry for them. They don’t fight over the kids’ discipline. They miss all the fun of “doing without” for the child’s sake. It’s a pathetic sight.
Everyone should have children. No one should be allowed to escape the wonderful experiences attached to each stage in the development of the young. The happy memories of those early years–saturated mattresses, waiting for sitters who don’t show, midnight asthma attacks, rushing to the emergency room of the hospital to get the kid’s head stitched up.
Then comes the payoff–when the child grows from a little acorn into a real nut. What can equal the warm smile of a small lad with the sun glittering on $1,500 worth of braces–ruined by peanut brittle–or the frolicking, carefree voices of 20 hysterical savages running amok at a birthday party?
How sad not to have children to brighten your cocktail parties–massaging potato chips into the rug and wrestling with guests for the olives in their martinis.
How empty is the home without challenging problems that make for a well-rounded life–and an early breakdown; the end-of-day report from Mother, related like strategically placed blows to the temple; the tender, thoughtful discussions when the report card reveals that your senior son is a moron.
Children are worth every moment of anxiety, every sacrifice. You know it the first time you take your son hunting. He didn’t mean to shoot you in the leg. Remember how he cried? How sorry he was? So disappointed you weren’t a deer. Those are the memories a man treasures.
Think back to that night of romantic adventure, when your budding, beautiful daughter eloped with the village idiot. What childless couple ever shares in such a wonderful growing experience? Could a woman without children equal the strength and heroism of your wife when she tried to fling herself out of the bedroom window? Only a father could have the courage to stand by–ready to jump after herThe childless couple lives in a vacuum. They try to fill their lonely lives with dinner dates, theater, golf, tennis, swimming, civic affairs and trips all over the world.
The emptiness of life without children is indescribable.
See what the years have done. He looks boyish, unlined and rested. She is slim, well-groomed and youthful. It isn’t natural. If they had kids, they’d look like the rest of us–tired, gray, wrinkled and haggard. In other words, normal. (Chicago Tribune)
- The Truth About Childless Women (blogher.com)
- Are There Disadvantages to Being Childfree?? (psychologytoday.com)
- Time Essay: Wondering If Children Are Necessary (time.com)
Today’s guest post is from John Davis, a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute.
Many are the personal reasons to practice nulliparity: As compared to the majority of couples who (some unthinkingly) decide to have kids, you and your mate(s; ample freedom for diversity, if you desire that!) will have more free time, more disposable income, a cleaner house, less stress, fewer arguments, greater opportunities for travel, and a generally simpler life. You will be spared having to relive adolescence.
You should NOT suppress your nurturing instincts, however; just apply them where the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. I allude, of course, to the noble cat. Dogs can be wonderful family members, too, but in the end they are a lot like kids – needy and sloppy. (I should say at the outset: most of my friends have kids and/or dogs, and I love them all, but I’m glad they’re not mine!)
Millions of cats (and dogs) need good homes. Adopt a cat from an animal shelter, and you are saving a life. While you are at it, adopt two, so they can keep each other company (with your in-laws looking in on them daily) while you are traveling the Orient. Nay, two will not do; you’ve a big house, with plenty of potential feline territories: Adopt three or four or even a wholesome five cats! Then can you feel duly righteous, and enjoy ongoing amusement at the antics of four armfuls of playful, comely, cuddly, tidy, mouse-eradicating, self-cleaning, self-assured, unconditionally loving family members. (Beware, though, that mature unfamiliar females may not take to each other. Males or siblings are often easier, with Felis familiaris, that is, unlike Homo sapiens.)
My wife Denise entered our marriage with one cat, Maverick, and one son, Justin. I entered with two cats, Taiga, and Ptarmigan. Maverick won my confidences immediately, and gradually those of Taiga and Ptarmigan. Justin bonded with Ptarmigan (fluffy white old male cat), but remained enigmatic to me till cancer took our beloved Ptarmigan from us much too soon. Then did Justin rise to the occasion and console the grieving family: He marched us down to the animal shelter where we adopted three more cats! Though we sorely miss Ptarmigan, life is full and rich again. By the way, for their own longevity and for the sake of songbirds, we keep all our cats indoors, and they are quite content that way.
Oh, one reason transcending the personal, if I may, to adopt cats or dogs or foster kids rather than bringing more people into the world: wild cats! Human overpopulation is clearing and paving over much of the wildlife habitat needed by the undomesticated relatives of our beloved house cats. To name but five of the great cats we could see restored to healthy numbers if we humans learn to control our growth: In Africa, the kingly Lion and fleet-footed Cheetah are both dangerously reduced in numbers. In Asia, the Leopard and Tiger have been eliminated from most of their original habitats and some subspecies teeter on the brink of extinction. In South and North America, the Cougar, or Puma or Panther or Mountain Lion, has been widely displaced, shot, and trapped, to the point it is nearly gone from the eastern United States. How much richer the world will be if we someday have a good chance of seeing these great cats in their natural habitats, then returning home to tell our house cats of our visits with their wild cousins!
John Davis is a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute.
- Mysterious mountain lion killed in Connecticut (msnbc.msn.com)
- Suburbs Riled By Mountain Lion Reports (npr.org)
- Will a wild mother cat abandon her kittens if handled by humans (wiki.answers.com)
- June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month (rescuedinsanity.com)
I personally made the choice to live kid-free before I was old enough to know from whence they came. I said it out loud at the ripe old age of 3. I was sure that if I had a child, it would be just like me – and who needs another sarcastic drain on my attention and wallet who has no respect for their elders?
I’ve never wavered from this decision, and when I met the guy who would be my husband, it was a mandate that he agree wholeheartedly; which we did, and do, about almost everything.
We have fielded reproductive questions from the audience ever since our first date. I know that my parents genuinely wished to have grandchildren, but I suspect that our friends, who found themselves chasing two or three toddlers around, just wanted us to share in their misery.
During the first ten years of our relationship, we diagnosed ourselves as being selfish. Why no kids? We would save money, and be free to live the lifestyle to which we would become accustomed. Take off for the week and go rock climbing? Sure. No babysitter required. Tear the house apart for reconstruction while living in it? No problem. We weren’t endangering the health of anyone but ourselves.
We chose to live in the Adirondacks, where we grew up, in order to enjoy the healthy quality of life here. But living in the Adirondacks requires an economic balancing act. Though we are DINKs, we also live up to the level of our double income without much to spare. Adding kids to the equation is beyond my math abilities.
And then there’s the worry factor. Having had the pleasure of being owned by a dog for over 15 years, and living with the associated anxiety about his safety, I can only assume that a kid would increase that level of anxiety by a sizable multiplier. More math.
As I understand from reading the news, our contribution is unnecessary for the survival of the species; there are plenty of other people keeping the planet’s population growing. And good for them – we actually LIKE kids. We especially like to be the doting, fun, favorite aunt and uncle.
Luckily, we’re not alone. We’re oddly surrounded by (or maybe attracted to?) a number of workaholic friends who have made the same “no kids” decision.
Perhaps as a result of the this no kids alliance, but more likely a result of maturity, I no longer think that we made a selfish decision. Rather, we have the freedom (though not necessarily the money) to make a greater contribution to society. Instead of driving kids to piano lessons and coaching basketball, we are able to donate our time and perceived skill sets to organizations and individuals that enhance our lives and our communities.
And at this point, we’ve successfully dodged family and friends who repeatedly insisted we’d change our minds – 18 years of dodging. Still no kids. Now that I’m 40-something, I think they FINALLY believe us.