@kelsinat0r they're a hobby you can't give up. Even sailing is less expensive.
-- Swarley (@Prince_Swarles) September 26, 2014
I am 24 years old and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that I don't want to have children. Ever.
When I get on my own health insurance I want to get my tubes tied, and until then, I will take every possible precaution to avoid getting pregnant. We live in the 21st century, so why is a woman who opts to stay child-free for life still given the stink-eye? The stink-eye is typically followed up by a condescending comment that "you'll change your mind," and "baby fever" that makes me want to b*ttch-slap the commenter. "You like kids, you'd make a great mother!" "It's really selfish of you to not use the God-given gift of childbearing." "I know kids annoy you, but it's different when it is your own." "You'll change your mind when you meet the right man." NO. A million times no.
No, I will not change my mind. My wish to remain child-free is not limited to those of the biological variety, but also excludes adoption. I don't want to have children biologically because I have a host of mental illnesses running amok in my gene pool, and I shudder to think of those passed onto any child. I wouldn't wish the pain and struggles of my mental illness journey on anyone I cared about. Furthermore, the whole mess of being pregnant for nine months, having the baby (where you might, at any point: sh*t on the delivering table; tear your vagina; vomit; die, etc), and breastfeeding the baby is not something I want to endure.
I don't think it's selfish to respect what I want my body to do in this one life that I have. My body is made for running, swimming, reading, biking, loving, sleeping and more -- but it will not be used to bear children. I believe in bodily autonomy, and any partner I'm with will have to respect that, or they can take a hike. If I accidentally get pregnant (which the IUD I have makes highly unlikely), then I will get an abortion. We don't need any more unwanted children on this planet.
Having a child is such a massive physical, emotional and financial commitment -- the likes of which are not taken seriously enough by many adults. Some people aren't meant to have children. Some people, like myself, would probably make decent parents, but just because I could be a parent doesn't mean I should, or ever will. The latest estimate of the cost of raising a child until they are 18 years old is $245,340, much less the costs that continue to play out for the rest of the parents' lives. I have places I want to travel to, people I want to see and adventures I want to have, and a child and the accompanying financial burden would put a swift halt to those life plans.
Let's not forget the emotional wear and tear that a child has on its parent. I think about what I put my parents through and I don't want that. What do I do when my child inevitably rebels and/or runs off with their significant other? None of what people say are the "positives" of having children are worth it to me. The risks associated with the entire gamut of bearing and raising a child are too great to me, and so I choose not to embark on that journey. Why do people choose to judge me for this informed decision?
I feel like women who choose to not get married and/or to not have children are judged as being selfish and workaholics. This is simply not true. We just have other areas, outside of what is socially acceptable, that we pour ourselves into. I have various passions I give my love and time too -- such as my career, friends and man-friend. I prefer animals over people nine times out of 10, and thus my pets are my children -- I often fondly refer to them as my "fur-babies." The only reason I want to have a bigger living space and more money is so that I can rescue more animals from being euthanized or abused.
I do not dislike children, as long as I'm only exposed to them for a brief period of time. I choose not to allocate my body and my financial, emotional and physical resources to that particular avenue. I love animals more than practically anything else, and I am passionate about my career. I am more than my ability to bear and raise children. No, I will not change my mind. No, I will not cave to the shame you attempt to heap on me. But yes, I will stand tall and gleefully live my child-free life.
Originally posted on Literally, Darling an online magazine by and for twenty-something women, which features the personal, provocative, awkward, pop-filled and pressing issues of our gender and generation. This is an exact representation of our exaggerated selves.
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