From A Childfree Woman To All The Parents Out There

Only you know what it really means to be parents. But perhaps this will show you that while people like me might be childless, we are not heartless.
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You know me. I'm that woman who doesn't want children.

I have to admit that the preconceptions about women like me are accurate: I don't want to give up my freedom. I want to have a career. And I feel no need to look after a little person.

Hearing babies crying in the train brings out my aggressive side. I don't know how to talk to young children. I can't understand people's delight when they talk about cute baby videos. Sometimes I even wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night because I dreamed I was pregnant.

Perhaps I'm missing a gene or an instinct. Or maybe I'm just programmed the wrong way.

Dearest parents, I'm afraid that you and I will never have much in common. There's a lot you don't understand about me, and plenty I can't understand about you. In the future there will be more and more people like me who have no desire to join your exclusive club. Who decide against a life with children.

This is why there is something I would like to say to you -- as my contribution to mutual understanding between different peoples, you could say. I would like you to know that while I might not understand you, I admire you.

I admire the fact that you have decided you make your own life secondary to that of another person. Forever. From the day you become parents, nothing else will ever be more important than your child's life again. Not even your own needs.

Maybe sometimes you'd like to go out with your friends in the evenings. But instead, you stay at home and read your children bedtime stories. You tuck them in, kiss their foreheads and leave the door open so that they aren't scared.

Maybe you'd like to go on a vacation to the Caribbean -- go on a cruise, go diving. But instead, you go on holiday to a farm so that your children can pet the animals. Or to a hotel resort in Majorca where there are log flumes and paddling pools. Maybe some years you don't even go on vacation because it's too stressful and expensive to take young children.

I admire the fact that you stay calm -- even when your children sometimes behave like little monsters. You love them -- even when they say things to hurt you. You dry their tears when they cry out of anger at you.

You wipe their behinds, clean their noses, let them spit on you. And you aren't even disgusted by it. Instead, you take your children's sticky little hands in yours and make them feel like they're the most valuable thing in the world to you.

You, mothers, more than anyone, are asked to accept that your career may have to wait. Your professional achievements and goals are meaningful to you. Perhaps just as your years of knowledge and hard work begin to pay off is when you make a choice to take time off to have a baby. Even without the certainty that you will able to pick things up right where you left off. I admire you for this courage.

I admire the fact that you can spend hours playing Go Fish or Uno, pretending that you have no idea what all the cards are. I admire the fact that you take the time to braid a doll's hair or look for that darned Playmobil figure's hat -- even though you still have so much more work to do.

You listen to your children when they tell stories with no punchline or which often make little sense at all. You laugh at jokes which aren't funny. You hang on their every word as though they are recounting untold wisdom.

More than anything, though, I admire the fact that you take the biggest risk there is: you dedicate your entire being to another person. You agree to be part of a relationship which nobody can ever destroy.

I can imagine how worried you must be when you children get ill. When they don't come home on time. I can imagine the pain you must go through when something bad really does happen. Losing a child must be the worst thing that a person can go through.

Of course, all of these thoughts are just what I assume. Only you know what it really means to be parents. And all parents are different. But perhaps this will show you that while people like me might be childless, we are not heartless. We see all the hard work you do. And we say: You have our greatest respect.

This piece originally appeared in Huffington Post Germany and was translated into English.

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