4 Reasons Not Having Kids is Hard

by Rebecca A. Watson on November 3, 2015

in Family, life, women

One of the most amazing things about being a woman, some say, is the ability to give birth. One of the most amazing things about being a woman living in the western world is that I am able to choose not to. While there are plenty of folks continuing the human species, I am one of the (growing) few who are not.

This is by choice, mind you. I haven’t tried to get pregnant and failed. I come from a line of “very fertile women,” as my mother has told me since I was young and as evidenced by my sister’s five lovely offspring.

No, this isn't them. They're a private bunch. But trust me, they're cute.

No, this isn’t them. They’re a private bunch. But trust me, they’re cute.

I recognize that many women come to the decision to not have kids after a long and stressful journey through in vitro and fertility specialists. I’m not one of those women. I simply do not want children. And while there are plenty of reasons to have kids, there are also many to not.

Many women have made this choice, and they all have their own reasons. But some of the most impressive women I know still struggle with the question of procreation.

Every time we chat, it seems to come up. While some would argue that not having kids is taking the easy way out, being selfish or is a product of short-sighted goals, it would seem that the most thoughtful people I know are the ones who struggle with this question the most.

I’d argue that choosing not to have kids is more difficult than you’d imagine, and not for the reasons you might think.

1. Societal Pressure

Since there are plenty of thought-provoking pieces on this, I wanted to get it out of the way first. I bring it up only because I can’t ignore it — I’d like to say I haven’t experienced it, but that’s simply not true.

From spending dinner parties with moms who completely ignore me to being teased repeatedly by well-meaning parents whose children I play with, (“Are you sure you don’t want kids?”) I have felt a bit of a desire to fit in, to play the game.

(Click to enlarge)

This is pretty par for the course. (Click to enlarge)

Luckily I’m blessed to have mostly wonderful people in my life who commend me for being honest and thoughtful about my choices. They even ask my advice about their kids. Because, y’know, I’ve still got a brain even if it’s not a mom-brain.

2. I Like Kids

Children are a pretty amazing group of people. From finger painting to cringe-worthy honesty to the most spectacular imaginations, they’re the kind of folks I like to spend time with on the regular. They’re fun. Exciting to be around.

Who wouldn't want to kick it with Double Sunglass Boy?

Who wouldn’t want to kick it with Double Sunglass Boy?

But they’re also difficult, incredible expensive and do irreparable damage to your body and sometimes your relationships. If having children meant hanging out with them maybe 15 hours a week, I’d be down, but I know that’s not the case.

It’s kind of like dreaming of living in Italy. The optimist in me thinks that the gorgeous scenery, amazing produce and beautiful language would make up for the government corruption, sexist culture and antiquated Catholic attitudes, but the realist in me says, “You wouldn’t last a year.”

3. My Body is Built to Make Babies

Let’s go back to the days before birth control, before social-security concerns, before religion even. Back to the time before man was really man — he was caveman.

Safety, food and procreation were the top things on the to-do list. Frankly, that was about all there was on the to-do list.

Since then, we’ve upgraded our brain’s software, but we’re still walking around with some pretty old hardware. We are animals after all.


So. Much. Cuteness.

So while my brain has thought long and hard about the pros and cons of adoption, costs of college tuition and whether child abuse is hereditary, my body doesn’t care at all.

And I just turned 35, which means that for the past 12 years or so, I’ve been fighting with it. I’m trying to control the beast inside me that has a full refrigerator and a proper home and is now demanding to procreate. Some days it’s like wrestling a grizzly bear.

4. Limited Time Offer

The last time I was at the gynecologist she offered to count the remaining eggs I had left in my ovaries. You know, just in case I changed my mind I could know how many chances I had left.

Horrified on so many different levels, I politely declined and went home to think about this choice that would not be mine to make forever.

As Meg Ryan’s character reminded us all in When Harry Met Sally, Charlie Chaplin had babies into his 80s. Women don’t really have that luxury.

I’m not a big fan of the word never and here I am, having to make that choice. I’ve always liked to keep my options open, not commit to anything.


It seems unfair to ask me to make a choice that insanely huge by the time I’m 40 – especially since I’ve spent at least one of those decades making particularly poor choices.

But since I’m almost positive, since some days hearing a child say “Mama,” 15 times in a row makes me want to rupture my own ear drums, since I sort-of secretly (definitely alarmingly) understand how a mother could drown her babies, I choose not to procreate …

… regardless of the FOMO, or the scream of baby-bump-watching celebrity magazines in the grocery aisle, or the not-so-subtle hints my body keeps giving me.

And since I come to the same conclusion every day, over and over again, I guess that what makes me think it’s probably the right one, even if it’s not the easiest one.

Photo Credits: sathyatripodi, StockSnap, kanghuengbo, geralt

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly November 9, 2015 at 1:45 am

THANK YOU for this article! Very well put, and very much needed in this day and age where, yes women are making the choice, but no, it isn’t without serious judgement or consequences. It warms my heart to see content like this, that even though someone enjoys kids, they make the reasonable choice to remain child-free. Love the comics the Oatmeal has been putting out as well. I’m 31 and have never wanted kids, though I have a great times with my nieces and nephews. Happy with my choice, but of course, every once in a while I wind up thinking “what if” etc.


Rebecca A. Watson November 10, 2015 at 10:43 am

Yay Molly! I am so glad this resonated with you. I really do think you’re right: It’s important to put stuff like this out there, so others know it’s OK to make this choice. I know someone who, when I told them I wasn’t having kids, said, “I didn’t know that was an option.” Thanks for your encouragement!


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