Today is my 32nd wedding anniversary. Coincidentally, it is also my wife’s. (She’s the amazing award-winning artist Heidi Hooper, in case you didn’t know.)
It’s astounding we have lasted this long given that we have no children. After all, as the anti-marriage people keep telling the courts, marriage is all about procreation and that’s why we can’t allow those gays and lesbians to have equal rights. Fortunately, each subsequent court’s laughter at this argument grows exponentially.
We always knew we wanted to be like this — not because we hate kids, but because we wanted to do other things in our lives. If you have children, that becomes your life. Other things you may have wanted to get done get put on the back burner (or should be, anyway — your kids should be your first priority.)
I think I would have made a good father, but if I had, I probably wouldn’t have taken many of the risks I took in life — starting businesses, moving fairly constantly, and otherwise always trying to better myself. Heidi probably wouldn’t have gone back to get her master’s degree if we had children to care for (and pay for). Our lives would have been completely different. Not worse, just different.
That’s just the choice we made. It was frustrating at first when family members constantly asked when we were having children (Well, mostly Heidi’s family — a very traditional, southern family who still can’t acknowledge after 32 years that her name is not “Heidi Ventrella”).
More and more couples I know these days are not having children, and that is absolutely fine. I am thrilled for my friends who have happy families, and thrilled for those who don’t. There is nothing wrong with deciding not to reproduce. Those who say childless couples are “selfish” for not repopulating the world in their image are very insulting. I could counter that those who have children are selfish for contributing to overpopulation, but that is just as stupid an argument.
Ironically enough, sometimes these people who think there is something wrong with not having children would never think to criticize gay and lesbian couples for their “lifestyle choice” (even though that’s not really a choice). Not having kids is also a lifestyle choice, and should also be respected. These critics would never think to shame a gay couple for not adopting, but feel just fine looking down on a straight couple that decides not to have kids.
Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Heidi! May we celebrate another 32 together. Childless.
On September 30th, Mary and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary, and we have no children either. It wasn’t by choice, but we accepted this a long time ago.
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I’ve never understood the criticisms of those who choose not to have children. You know you don’t want to have kids, and that’s awesome! The last thing I’d want is for a couple to feel they *have* to have kids when they don’t want to, and I don’t want a kid to have parents who didn’t want to have them. Having kids is a huge commitment – and I completely understand why someone would want to opt-out of parenting. The idea that it’s selfish to not have kids is just absurd; it’s quite considerate of a lot of other people for someone to make that decision. An uncommitted parent hurts a lot of people. Opting out saves a lot of pain and frustration for all involved.
Most of my child-free friends opt-in to other ways of being mentors or teachers, and are huge parts of a lot of kids’ lives. Then they get to go home and focus on their passions, wants, and needs. I wish more people could see that reality: childfree couples don’t live in a magical world where they are never influences on the young. Everyone contributes to society in their own way, and there’s nothing wrong with opting out of parenting. The world takes all types to function properly.
AND – happy anniversary! 🙂
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Wonderful post! My husband and I have been very fortunate in that both sides of our family have supported and understood our choice. The people who question it tend to be virtual strangers. They often dismiss it with, “Yet!” or “When do you plan to start a family?” (Um, say what? Pete and I _are_ a family!) I seem to have outgrown, “You’ll change your mind when you’re older,” at least!
Remaining childfree is a valid choice. Anyway, my brother made his contribution to overpopulation by having four kids! Having kids is great for some, but I like to say my biological clock is set to dog!
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