Wednesday Bubble: The Mommy Factor? It’s personal.

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | 22 comments

I’m fairly active on Twitter. And the other day, someone I follow and respect greatly tweeted the following:

Gaining a whole new appreciation for child-free by choice types and those without kids. Society views these women so very differently.

Recent data released by the Pew Research Center shows that childlessness is increasing in the U.S., with roughly 1 in 5 women past childbearing years currently childless. Although the research points to “never married” as a factor, it also emphasizes the power of individual choice, employment opportunities and most importantly, a growing opinion that ‘without child’ does not equate to ’empty life.’

I am one of those women who are child-free by choice.  I am a statistic. And my life is not empty.

“But aren’t you afraid you’ll regret it someday?”

“Don’t you feel badly that you didn’t give your parents grandchildren?”

“Do you understand what you are missing out on?”

“You’re an old maid.”

Guess what? I’m going to share a little known fact with you.

I became pregnant at a time in my life when I felt I was too unsettled to properly care for a child. A time when I was with a partner with whom I didn’t feel comfortable sharing parenting responsibilities. A time that was simply the wrong time. Period. And after that? I certainly weighed the pros and cons of having children, many times. However, I ultimately decided that I was happier without having children of my own.

Shocking isn’t it?

My experience might resonate with some of you. Others might disapprove of my decisions. At the end of the day? It truly is about personal choice, responsibility and a close, close look at oneself. Not everyone is suitable for parenthood.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

My life has been filled and surrounded by children for almost two decades now. I am an Aunt to three wonderful, amazing nephews and spending time with them brings me more pleasure than I can adequately express. I am also a surrogate Aunt to the children of an old friend, and although I don’t see them quite as often as I would like, I recently came to the realization that their presence, however sporadic, enriches my experience as a human being and as a woman in ways, again, for which there are no words.

As I near my fiftieth year (perish the thought!), I don’t feel as though the decision to leave the childbearing to other women is one that I regret or will ever regret. I made the decision based on timing, circumstance and a nagging feeling that I wasn’t meant to have a child, at least not in this lifetime, that I had a lot to offer the children in my life in ways that didn’t include being their parent.

So the next time you see a woman walking down the street without a child, or find a couple moving in next door without children, it’s probably best to assume that it’s best if all bets are off. There are many reasons why women don’t have children. And although being a mother is the defining moment for many women I know, I know just about as many who’ve chosen to remain childless and have experienced alternative defining moments in their womenhood, their lives and their spirits.

It’s all about choice. I’m grateful to have had that choice. Not every woman does.


  1. 8-18-2010

    Remaining childless is neither shocking nor unusual, simply a matter of very personal, no-ones-business-but-your-own choice. In our culture, being childless by design is a brave decision that I believe many people are afraid to make. I applaud those, like you and my sister, who make it without apology.

    • 8-18-2010

      Thank you Candace for your thoughtful comment. Glad to know that I am in such great company!

  2. 8-18-2010

    Liz, thank you for this. I am CF by choice and have never had regrets or doubts. It was just *right* for me and I always knew it. When I was in my 30s, I got the questions all the time–very insensitive ones at times so I developed some wise-ass answers. But with your 40s comes wisdom and perspective, which allowed me to speak truthfully and help people understand. My sister-in-law, 39, made the same decision and it pains me to see that things haven’t changed in ten years. We’re a long way from people understanding but hopefully that will come in time.

    • 8-18-2010

      Thanks Peg. You’re correct – it does get easier to field the questions over time. I would like to get to the point where there are no questions…

  3. 8-18-2010

    I agree with you. You made that choice and it is the right one for you. Not every woman has to have children. I can tell you are a very strong woman and you know what you want in life.

    I enjoyed reading this article!

    • 8-18-2010

      Thank you Cascia. That means a lot coming from you. Cheers!

  4. 8-18-2010

    Great post, Liz. Oddly, I never thought I wanted children. Life took its path and, as you know well, I have 3 amazing kids. For me, it was the right decision and I’ve never regretted it. But I can surely imagine a full and wonderful life had it gone a different way. Choice. It is all about choice. I couldn’t agree more!

    And to state the obvious, you are a wonderful aunt to my boys and you enrich their lives in so many wonderful ways.


    • 8-18-2010

      Thanks Wendy. Best compliment I could get.
      I know that you and I have discussed this before. It is all about choice and the path that we end up taking in life.

  5. 8-18-2010

    I’m CF by circumstance and not by choice. And I’m getting closer to the age where biology might take the choice away from me. But I’m still struck by the people who somehow think my life is less fulfilled because I am CF. I’m pretty happy with my life like it is. And just earlier today, I was joking that at least I don’t even have to contemplate the purchase of a mini-van. I think we as women are so hard on each other regardless of the choices we make, instead of being grateful we’re in a position to decide what is best for ourselves and supporting each other along the way.

    • 8-18-2010

      I love that thought – women are hard on one another regardless of the choices we make. It is critical that we continue to support our choices and other women’s. Thanks Ashley for taking the time to comment.

  6. 8-18-2010

    I’m in a hurry, but HAD to stop and read your post. What a great post. And I hear ya!

    We live on a cul de sac filled with kids. But 3 homes in a row belong to CF couples. Ours is one. We wanted kids very much, but it didn’t work out for us and we have made our peace with it. Either way, no one should assume that one way of life is superior to someone else’s. It’s about choice. Today, coming home from an early tea with a friend, I was greeted by a mom from the next street over & her three little girls (all in sundresses) who came to visit for the first time. We had iced tea on the deck and told stories about my cats & dog. As they left, two kids from next door came over to tell me about their trip to the lake. Then I got a voicemail from my nephew me asking for some career advice. An invite to spend the afternoon at the beach with my niece. A Facebook message from my other nephew. And when my San Diego niece needs a morale boost, I’m the one she calls.

    I may not be a mom. But I am a nurturer. And a friend and champion for kids of all ages. I’m the grownup who has never yelled at them and always sees the best in them. And somehow, my life feels full and rich in ways I never expected. Having children may not always feel like a choice. Choosing happiness is.

    • 8-18-2010

      Kat, your morning sounds like a dream! And is so indicative of how fulfilling relationships with other children can be. You may not be a mom; but you are a nuturer. So true. And so am I. Thank you. I am touched.

  7. 8-18-2010

    Great piece! You’re what I call a Savvy Auntie -as are many of the women who commented here, I can tell. @Kat – Your final words are ones I have said time and time again.

    Personally, I always wanted children (still do). I’m what I call “circumstantially infertile-” I haven’t met the right man yet, and at 41 I can only hope I will soon. In the meantime, I founded, the Webby Award-nominee best family site for women like us; women who love the children in their lives as ABRs (Aunties by Relation) ABCs (Aunties by Choice), Godmommys, LesbiAunts, DebutAunts, etc.

    Nearly 50% of American women don’t have kids (yet) but nearly all of us have a child in our lives whom we love and adore. In fact of those who do, 14% have their first child at age 35 or older. So we’re childless longer than ever before. We’re all part of the American Family Village, unselfishly giving love (and investing our discretionary income towards) children not-out-own.

    Auntie Melanie (@SavvyAuntie)

    • 8-18-2010

      Hi Melanie. I am so glad you commented. Circumstantial infertility (great term by the way) affects many women and for some, this means having children outside a situation considered normal by societal terms. I hope that you fulfill your desire at a time that makes the most sense for you.

      Your site, and your mission, to elevate and celebrate aunties everywhere, is so important and so appreciated. I love being an Aunt and as Kat says, it allows me to choose happiness and be a nuturer.

      Keep doing what you are doing. I’m grateful!

  8. 8-18-2010

    It so funny you should write about this now as I submitted a similar post to a blog last night.

    Naturally, I agree with you completely. What gets my goat is that people feel they have a right to give their input into this most personal of decisions. What business is it of anyone else whether you decide to have children or not? I’m tired of hearing I have somehow not performed a duty to mankind.

    I am happily involved in the lives of my ten nieces and nephews. That is enough for me and from what they tell me, who I am is just perfect for them.

    • 8-18-2010

      Hi Emma. Nail on the head my dear: performing a duty to mankind. Our duty to one another is to be kind and respectful. It’s sad when women are judged by fulfillment (or not) of their biological clocks.

      And you are lucky – 10’s a charm – and even luckier for what you add to their lives.

  9. 8-18-2010

    You are so spot on Liz. Whatever the choice is, it is a choice. There are many parents out there who seem to have children because they think they should and they are not always suited for it.

    As you know, I had my kids later than average and only because it was right for me and Chris at that time.

    Keep up the great posts!

    • 8-18-2010

      Thanks Lori, for your support. As you say, whatever the choice is, it is a choice. I have long maintained that there should be a test for parenthood but that’s just me! Not sure I would have passed it!

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  10. 8-19-2010

    FINALLY! Thanks Liz! I LOVE being an Auntie, and my siblings and in-laws LOVE that I can give my full attention to their wonderful children – when I choose to. Thanks for writing it like it is.

    • 8-19-2010

      Thanks Sistah Rachel. We have had many conversations about this and the challenges faced by women like us who choose not to have children. More often than not, we benefit from special relationships with our sibling’s and friend’s children than we can adequately express. I wish that more women would feel comfortable with their choice to remain childless. It is really okay!

  11. 8-19-2010


    • 8-26-2010

      And Amen back! Thank you!


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