Despite my friend’s frequent reminders of “yet another woman over 40 who has successfully had a healthy baby” stories, I’m not the gambling type.
My friend thumbs through People magazine, identifying the aging celebrities touting their late-in-life offspring.“Look, 50 and a healthy baby,” she beams.
“That one had a surrogate,” I quip.
“Oh, right, she did. But she had twins at forty-two,” she’ll protest.
“And a staff of forty nannies and household servants, and tell me in ten years that she doesn’t get cancer from all those hormone injections,” I counter. She sighs and closes the magazine, failing to put me on the parent track.
The truth is, it isn’t really about my age. It’s a convenient excuse, but if I were in my twenties with all else being equal as it is now, I think I’d still make the same decision not to have children.
Early in my first marriage and in my twenties, before I got a dog I stopped every dog I passed on the streets of New York City.
“Oh, look at that one – soooo cute! And a yellow lab and a chocolate lab. I just looove labs. Can I pet your dog?” I would coo.
I finally got a yellow lab who became my pride and joy for fourteen years. She outlasted my first marriage. Everyone thought I was practicing to be a “real” mom with her. When she died she was succeeded not by a ‘real” baby but by an energetic male yellow lab instead. As it turns out, I was practicing all along only to be a dog mom. Sorry to disappoint, but I think I’ve done well with those skills. Does this mean I don’t get to celebrate mother’s day? Can I be a mom if my dependent happens to be canine?
The same impulse for babies, however, never emerged. Passing strollers never merited a second glance from me. That was a strong sign to me to avoid having a baby.
Okay, so not every happy parent started off ogling babies on the street. Nonetheless, the fact is there is just so much I still want to do with my life that I don’t think even if I were twenty years younger I’d be able to accomplish all that I hope to do.
I’m not just talking about my career. We’re busy people, busy seeing friends and family, busy doing volunteer work, busy working, busy traveling, skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, waterskiing or windsurfing, in short busy being involved in our community, and in our world.
So, then, why do so many people think I’m selfish for not having kids? Is it selfish to forgo children when you could perhaps raise one successfully, when you have no obvious major impediments to parenthood? Is it selfish for me to want to work on myself, to be the best person, citizen, sibling, wife, daughter that I can be? Could I work on myself and achieve the same goals if I had kids? Knowing me, probably not.
Some people would say it is self-centered to reproduce yourself. The world is already overpopulated and there are already so many parent-less children who need a good home. It’s a good point. We’ll have more thoughts on this topic later. It’s in important one but since this piece is an introduction of one founder’s background and viewpoint, I will save that meaty conversation when I can interview multiple folks on the issue.
Frankly, the thought of disseminating my genes multiple times over just scares me. I like who I am and I’m proud of my family and heritage, but, boy, I think one person like me in the world is really enough. I’m a handful all my own.
The way I see it, I can have an influence on a greater number of kids if I don’t have my own.
My hope is to be the adult who doesn’t treat them like a parent would, to be the person they can ask embarrassing questions, the person they can call in the middle of the night and say, “I need help. Please don’t tell my mom.” I want to be the person who takes them on safaris in Africa, fashion shows in Paris and hang-gliding in Bora Bora. That doesn’t seem selfish to me.
As my cousin’s 8 year old child said of me in the car once while I was driving a heap of kids down a dirt road in the country: “You can talk about it in front of her. She’s not a mom.” That made me feel good. They all nodded in agreement and spoke of a subject that would have been just too embarrassing or dangerous in front of their moms. It was an enlightening moment.
I recently became a CFES high school mentor in our local public school. I help juniors with the process of choosing, applying and gaining acceptance at the colleges of their choice. It’s a great program and if I had children when the majority of my friends did, I’d likely only be thinking about college preparation only for my own kids instead.
Let me be the mentor, friend, aunt, water ski and windsurfing coach to a number of kids. Most children don’t have enough positive adult influence in their lives outside of their parents. That’s where I enter.
- Wednesday March 16: What I’ve learned From Hanging Out With Moms and Why are The Dads Having More Fun?
- Friday March 18: Forging My Own Kid-less Path
- Monday March 21: Dog Mom and über Aunt Will Travel