When I was in my early twenties, I was sure that I wanted children. In my head, I imagined that I’d get a good job, buy a nice little house in the suburbs, and raise two or three kids. And why not? After all, that’s how I’d been raised. All of my happiest memories have to do with my large Italian family. My siblings and I spent the summers of our youth together with our cousins, from as young as I can remember until we all went off to college. Now, at age 35, they’re still my closest friends, and people I talk to every single day. I wanted that same experience for my kids.
I have vivid memories from my mid-twenties where I would be struck with “child” thoughts. I’d be outside playing football with some buddies, and suddenly the thought of, “I’d love to do this with my son one day,” would pop into my head out of nowhere. I’d be surfing on vacation and think, “one day I’ll show my daughter how to do this.” It was strange, since even though I’d always wanted children, these thoughts were brand new. Looking back, it feels like it was biology almost kicking me in the brain, encouraging me to produce a few offspring.
As I moved into my late twenties, however, those thoughts slowly became less and less frequent, until they finally stopped manifesting at all. I also felt like I was finally starting to get a handle on things – on myself, on life, and how I wanted to live and what factored into that. Interestingly, when I sat down and really thought about it, I found that having a child never appeared as part of any of my plans. In fact, the more I looked at what I wanted out of life, the less and less appealing the idea of raising children became.
So what did I want out of life? That was the big question. And the big answer turned out to be “complete independence.” I absolutely love my life, and I love that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. When I was younger, the idea of having children made me feel excited. But now, the idea that I might no longer be able to live for myself – that I’d have another human who completely relies on me – fills me with apprehension. That realization was the primary driver in my decision to be child free.
Having a child requires a lot of sacrifice. Heck, even reading that sentence, it feels like such an understatement that it’s laughable. While it doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun, or stop being yourself, it certainly requires a massive life adjustment. As I got older, and closer to the real possibility of having kids, the required sacrifices became increasingly unpalatable.
I often wonder how much of my urge to procreate was internal, and how much of it was influenced by society. A lot of people follow the general flowchart of school > work > house > kids. There’s nothing at all wrong with that; I’m a product of that very pattern of human existence! But I have come to realize that there is actually a lot of external pressure to follow in those footsteps. I was lucky enough to have a happy childhood and be raised in a good home, and I certainly grew up loving my huge Italian family. I saw the joy and satisfaction that raising a family can bring. Despite that, my introspection slowly brought me to the conclusion that having a child simply wasn’t for me. Ultimately, I do not have it in me to sacrifice my independence in order to devote myself to raising another human being.
I am lucky enough to be married to an amazing woman. We actually both love kids – we just don’t want any of our own. Fortunately, we have several nieces and nephews, with more on the way. I’m privileged to get to be an uncle to these amazing kids, and to be a part of their lives as they grow up. And that’s enough for me.