By the Way, You Don’t Have to Breed

Caprice

As a mother of two I’m going to let you in on a secret closely guarded by the parents of the world: having kids is overrated, and you don’t have to do it. No matter how many women (it’s always the women) accost you at dinner parties demanding to know why your uterus remains a thing of emptiness, I will tell you unequivocally that the motive for their probing is rage around the following things: you – unlike them – look fresh and rested; you – unlike them – will not be going home to pay the babysitter after this dull dinner party but heading straight to somewhere fabulous where you’ll imbibe alcohol and have sexual relations and lastly (and this is a biggie) your vagina is intact. Nothing makes mothers madder than the idea of your intact vagina.

These things about you fill parents of the world with hateful, jealous fury. How dare you sleep in the nighttime and spend your weekends on the beach? Why aren’t you and your partner also having fights in the park at 6:45am and walking up and down the driveway frantically pushing a pram while its contents scream unrelentingly and trying to eat a restaurant meal holding a fractious, miniature fembot? No no no no, you look far too contented. Quick! You need to lose that contraceptive device yesterday and also be very fat and very, very tired like them. But really, here’s the thing – and I’ve done it long enough to know – in spite of what people seem hell-bent on telling you there are in fact gazillions of worthwhile ways to spend the days of your life that have nothing to do with bringing children forth into the world.

Off the top of my head I can think of 137 more interesting things than the school run, for example. If I could clock up the hours, months, probably years I’ve spent waiting for someone short in stature to finish ballet/soccer/recorder lessons I’m certain I would keel over and die of dismay. And I’m not saying I don’t like having children. I adore my girls and for me, for whatever reason, mothering was always on the agenda. But I don’t pretend it’s not a job without moments of mind-altering tediousness and that there aren’t days I want to say to my offspring, you know what? You are the two most annoying people I’ve ever met on this planet. I’m off to drink piña coladas somewhere sane like a lunatic asylum. Sayonara, midgets, and good luck working the stove. 

But, unlike other job descriptions that looked good on paper, this one you can’t resign from. So instead you hire a babysitter, put on extra concealer and try to convince innocent, child-free people that they don’t know what they’re missing because safety in numbers and all. Many people genuinely love having kids and that’s cool and for (almost) every moment you go what the actual fuck under your breath there are moments that are fun and rewarding. But for those people sitting on the fence or who suspect there might be things that are better and more fun to do with their lives than being parents I say, yes! There are! Don’t believe the hype; don’t listen when they imply it’s your duty and that you’re somehow lesser of a woman/human being if you think it’ll be more interesting running a large, successful company than watching a toddler poo. Or traveling the world and living in different countries and spending your days having adventures with sexy men you don’t have to marry.

Lord knows, there are enough women out there breeding prolifically because they don’t have a choice (and, frankly, are often barking as a result). You don’t have to be one of them. You are fully, totally entitled to do something different and extraordinary with your life. And I commend singletons and couples who have the courage and insight to know parenthood is not for them. It’s not an easy choice to make, but only because the people around them make it hard. People hate it when other people make different choices. They get anxious and confused and start asking themselves questions they would rather not know the answers to. But I say, fuck everyone else and the family car they arrived in. Take your intact vagina and go conquer the world.

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131 thoughts on “By the Way, You Don’t Have to Breed

  1. This is great. As a woman who chose not to have children (and yes, I’m happily married), I think this hits an important point on the head. I’ve always known I did not want to become a mother, which is something most women cannot comprehend. To me, rejecting motherhood is just as strong as some women’s drive to become one. There’s nothing wrong with women and couples who have children, and I adore my friend’s children, however it’s not for us. We are very much enjoying our rested lives and freedom.

    1. This made my day to hear, I have so many (fake) girlfriends that tell me I will NEVER find a man even though I am (if I may say it myself) am smart and sassy, cute and good looking, funny, a good cook and take care of a home etc, unless I have babies with him. I just got dumped by my fuck BOY exs bf that told me since I dont want kids Im not for him, that he decided after a year of knowing where I stand with his. this gives me hope one day I will find a man that will be happy with just the two of us like you and your husband <3

      1. I too am strong in the issue of not having kids and because I know this is a potential deal breaker I put it out there right at the beginning. “Hey, I wish to never have children and it’s a non-negotiable subject for me. I’d like you to know that now so that if having children is something you want you can move along to someone who wants hat for themselves too.” That is literally the words that came out of my mouth with my current boyfriend of a year. Had he not been ok with it or had doubts, I wouldn’t have wasted his time

      1. Mental health worker and you use comments like ‘lost the plot’ well done mate.

        I’m sure all the people reading this really value that great insight to your knowledge of mental health.

      2. Oh a non-woman shows up to tell women about mothering. Thank all the gods. Matey, unless you are a ‘sexy man’ non-mothers might want to shag as referenced in this artlcle, this article has absolutely nothing to do with you. Plot off.

      3. As a mental health worker and a married woman of almost 10yrs I am so happy to read this article. I will say there is a lot of pressure. Especially when we first got married. Now I am more comfortable with our decision and thankful my husband had enough self awareness to not be pushed into feeling we had to fit a mold. He helped me se outside societies box of marriage then kids. we are pretty much debt free.

      4. i … Is used with a capital ” I ” As for your sentence, it does not make sense! It is not worded correctly. Perhaps studying english wasn’t your strong point. It seems like belittling someones opinion is all you are good at, behind a keyboard ! My guess is, is how jealous you probably are right now!… Perhaps you have to go and change a nappy full of poo.. whilst a female who didn’t decide to breed is out there with her partner, or by herself having an amazing time!

    1. Our honesty will be revered in the future. Because of us people will give more thought to having children which will result in better parenting.

  2. Thank you for this post. It would be so nice if more mothers would be as reasonable as you are, instead of trying to bully all females around them into reproduction and try to convince them that it’s the one and only choice.

  3. It’s not overrated or underrated. Some people love it, others don’t. I can’t even remotely fathom why people watch sport, never mind actually get invested in a particular team winning, but they do. Is sport overrated? Is wine overrated? Apparently some people think it is amazing stuff and those who can’t see the point are missing out.

  4. This is brilliant. Thank you so much for being honest. Couldn’t have stumbled across this at a better time in my life. I’m closing in on 40 and love children. And they love me. But creating them, might just not be on the agenda for us. There are plenty of other things to do with life – that’s so true! And guess what? You’re absolutely right. Yes, I love my intact vagina and the fact that I can get 9 plus more hours sleep on a nightly basis if I so choose. And martinis. Anytime is martini time. But seriously, we’ve tried for over 10 years and it just hasn’t happened. I’m pretty close to giving up, letting go and accepting that it may not ever happen. Fostering, adoption is not out of the question, but for now, that experience of pregnancy and child birth and procreation, I think it might just be coming to an end. Everyone else makes it look so easy. But for us, hell, it’s been far from it. I know a losing game when I see it. In fact, just writing this in reply to your excellent article has made me accept more and move a little further beyond, that yes, there is life after children. And with regard to other women – and it IS always the women – we need to stop that. I don’t go around telling my mum friends how tired they are, how old they’ve grown, how they could really do with a quick exfoliation once in a while. Why do they feel the need to do that? In any event, I’ve seen that there is some negative feedback here on the replies section: fuck ’em. You, on your own goddamn website have as much right to say and express what you feel as anyone else. WE NEED MORE HONEST MOMS like you. And I bet your little ones are wonderful. Please keep blogging. Thank you.

    1. I could’ve written your response word for word! We too have been on that journey for 10 years and coming to the end of it and starting to accept our family is the two of us and that’s ok. It’s the judgement from other women, the exclusion from conversations about kids (because I wouldn’t know what it’s like) that I struggle most with. Hopefully women will start to be more accepting and supportive of if each other no matter if they’re a mum or not.

    2. It’s the honest Mum’s opinion that carries the most weight. However being the eldest of six I think I can be relied on to make an informed decision too. If it was not for the pill I would never have married.

    3. We have LOVED our experience as foster and adoptive parents. It is beautiful and rewarding at times and tragically hard at times. It is absolutely not for everyone. But we always thought we might like to give back that way, and we have found it opened doors to friends and community ties we wouldn’t have had without our involvement in “the system”. You can foster without any intent to adopt as well – there are plenty of kids who need a good place to live for a time but won’t need adoption. We have now been foster parents to 3 and are soon-to-be adoptive parents to 1. I’d encourage anyone to keep the foster/adoption option in the mix, especially if they might like to be parents but aren’t sure about biological babies. Good luck to all, whichever road you’re on!

  5. Firstly, thank you for writing this, especially from your own perspective as a parent. But I want to add something that is largely missing from narratives on having children. Some people want to have children, but have difficulty getting there. Society largely focuses on those that have kids and those that choose not to, with their respective (uninvited!) judgments and criticisms. But we avoid talking about those that want to have children but are struggling, perhaps because the only emotional response is sadness, and we’re not very good at being sad for someone else?

    I don’t know if I’m the best person to weigh in, as our struggles to conceive have not been going on for that long. Many people have a tougher journey than I. Who knows, hopefully my next pregnancy will stick! But the past year of having to bear societal idolatry of motherhood, coupled with proclamations of making a courageous and respectable choice not to procreate… well I imagine it makes a lot people feel even more powerless and choiceless and somehow invisible. At least that’s how I feel, and I’ve only been trying for a year.

    Women do ask me about children often, and while I want to say to them that it’s none of their business, instead I tell them that I want kids and am trying, and have had a miscarriage to boot. I do this in part to remind them that if you’re gonna intrude into someone’s personal life with a question like that, you better be ready to hold whatever they give you. If you’re not comfortable with peering into a stranger’s emotional core, don’t ask such deeply personal questions!

    It’s a bit ironic I suppose, but for myself and the few other couples I actually know of that have struggled to conceive, the decision to have children was a big one, and one that involved a lot of deliberation and soul-searching and working on strengthening their relationships. I think these couples would make some of the most amazing parents.

    I don’t know, I’m not trying to complain here. I just want to add this to the conversations happening in this thread. I know for me it would mean a lot to know my experience is somehow visible and legitimate in the eyes of society, at least in the way experiences are reflected in public narratives and representations in film/television. Thanks for reading and all that.

    1. Your experience is acknowledged. It is visible. Many of us did not have children because they couldn’t, whether it be medical, financial, or life circumstance. This article made me laugh and it was a fabulous reminder that those people who ask those awful questions, do that awful bullying etc that they can shove it. Good luck.

    2. I guess it’s all about perspective – I happily chose not to have kids, and I feel like everything revolves around the people (women) who choose to have them, whether they are successful or still trying.

      From my own perspective it would be nice to not always feel like I need to explain or validate my choice. I imagine people would be fairly surprised if I questioned why they decided to have kids!

      Clear that our individual situations and experiences colour how each of us views things :)

    3. People who have decided, built the nest and are prepared for the responsibility of parent hood are the kind of parents that we want. If it doesn’t happen don’t let it be the end of the world for you. Remember you never miss what you never had. I have a magnificent Burman cat that I adore and can’t imagine life without him. He is as dear to me as anything in this world but there again people tend to ridicule those who prefer pets to people. You can’t win. So long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else people should be allowed to pursue their own way of life or as near to it as they can get. Many people aspire to live in mansions but I could think of nothing worse. All that upkeep, maintenance, security, etc. etc. I’d rather live in a tiny house than have that much responsibility. Then life becomes simple, cheaper and flexible to do whatever I want.

    4. Don’t forget about the option of adopting if you can’t have one biologically. It can be a wonderful experience. I mean, I’m adopted, and look at me. I’m fucking awesome. (You can’t have me, though, I’m fully grown, so HA.)

      But seriously. If it’s what you want, don’t let the biological struggles get in the way there. You can be a great parent, even if your biology isn’t making it happen. Just the fact that you put all that thought and effort in before deciding is a good sign you’d be a great parent. So keep trying, but remember it’s not the only option, and you don’t have to give up on parenthood just because biological parenthood isn’t coming through. Adoptive parents are real parents, and it bothers me so much when people treat infertile couples or adopted kids like they’re not ‘real’ kids.

    1. The kids of tomorrow will be designing and building robots. That’s why they need a good education that is not always affordable for most parents.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this. As a mother of two grown up and ‘flown the coop’ kids myself, and with many friends who chose not to have kids, I completely understand your point of view. I love my children dearly and would not have had it any other way but there were some trying times when I dreamt of freedom! It is absolutely unwarranted for anyone to question a woman’s choice of procreation. There are many reasons some women choose not to have children just as there are reasons for those who choose to have them. And finally, let’s remember that there are many who’d love to have children but can’t.

    1. Yes but let’s not make it the end of the world because they can’t. My wealthy Aunty could not have children and my Mum had six that she could not afford but did she offer one of us to our Aunt? I would have loved to have gone to live with them but my mother was programmed to believe that she would be a bad mother to give up her children and so it never came up. There are thousands of children leaving homes all the time that would be far better off with conscientious parents than in the welfare system that ruins children forever.

  7. Fuck yeah – great blog! I knew I never wanted children, my partner is of the same view and just prior to turning 31 we made a great choice…I had a vasectomy. Best. Thing. Ever.

    People don’t get me in the overwhelming majority – but that is because they are part of the “can’t think – to busy mindlessly and unquestionably ambling along through life’s prescribed path” crowd. To busy looking down to look up.

    As soon as I talk world problems, orphans, over-population, environmental issues…well the list goes on…but the gloss over and use the “yeah, but, erm, won’t you miss it?” MISS WHAT?!?!

    I feel that they need to read your post. It likely won’t change them but that will not be the fault of your very well executed piece!

    1. But you were born into this world for a reason and if you can live it the best way you know how then do not despair. You have so many opportunities to rack up some good karma by making productive citizens out of your children. Teach them well. We will thank you for that.

  8. Thank you Susan for writing exactly how you feel and making it entertaining for us to read also :)
    Thank you for being honest! Thank you to all the ladies whom commented here, I enjoyed reading your views also!
    It is so true that it is other women enticing non-mothers to have kids… it is so common.

    Here are some points – as I see them:
    What Susan is trying to say is that there is so much more to life than being a mother. Being a mother is only one part of your life as a woman, if you choose to be a mother.
    As there are many talents, gifts to be shared with the world and fun to be had as a woman.
    To further this, I feel when a woman had “erased” her identity with whom she is and has made her whole life and what she is about motherhood, that’s when she may slightly begin to “bully” other women to be like her.
    And at this point it is not about children…it’s about misery loves company.

    And what Susan may be saying is that you don’t have to choose this path if you don’t want to. You have that choice. We always have choices.

    As I like to think, if I choose to have children or not, the Human Race will go on regardless…

    Craig Suny,

    This may sound harsh…
    But anything you would add here, would be hard to believe as you are not a woman.
    And I am sure you can appreciate women who are pregnant and depressed, or who have given birth and end up depressed as I am sure you have come across it in your field as a mental health worker.
    These women and others alike whom think outside the “pro-creation” box particularly, won’t be able to enjoy that plot you were mentioning..because contrary to popular belief, not every woman is meant to be a mother. And if they are not meant to carry children and be a mother, that is okay. Or if they enjoy being a mother but have a different opinion about it which is contrary to that popular belief/plot…They are just as equal and beautiful as any woman who ever walked the planet.

    To all the ladies:
    You are beautiful, no matter what!

    1. You don’t have to be a woman to understand that the world is overpopulated and having children is beyond the income of a majority of people today, There are whole nations that cannot afford children and have no choice. We have a choice and we are educated. If we bring up our side of a debate, that used to be taboo, then we are educating those who might otherwise have given more thought to the most important decision that they will ever make.

  9. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone their choice – but I do think if you choose to bypass the baby making (as I and my husband have) you get a lot more stick from those who have kids than the other way around.

    Due to social norms and niceties it would be pretty rude for a child free person to give a parent attitude for making the “wrong choice” or that they’ll regret their decision “when they’re older”. That and the fact that once you’ve had kids there’s no going back and no changing your mind.

    If you profess to be disinterested in having a child / children – to a degree – you can go back on this choice later on if you change your mind. Short of abandoning you family, there’s little a parent can do if they realise they’ve made a mistake and want to be child free again. You’d be a pretty awful human being if you did that.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say I wish I could verbally push back, but I think perhaps parents who berate the childfree would think a bit more about it if they got a bit of stick back in return….

  10. Hi,

    I absolutely agree with you about the fact that you shouldn’t feel pressured to have children, there is nothing wrong with not having children, I’m a father and my wife is a fantastic mother and she loves to do it, but it is not necessary. I don’t want to start an argument but I’m finding the counter argument you suggested fairly confusing. The first paragraph you’ve kind of made up an entire stereotypical antagonist class of people to support your opinion (which I agree with and is valid). I don’t think in my lifetime have I ever encountered people who even suggest the things that apparently happen outlined in the first paragraph. You talk about how jealous people of your imagination get of people without children, i don’t think this stuff happens and I don’t think people act or say this kind of stuff and if they do, you’re probably best off not associating with them at all. Again, I don’t want to start an argument and I agree with your point but I think you’ve given yourself a VERY generous artistic license with the situations to support your opinion. Also, my wife says her vagina is still intact.

    1. I love my friends and they are jealous of me because I made a decision that they were not game to make because they would have been castigated for it. Now in my later years with their kids all grown up most of them confide in me that they wish they had give it more thought. That’s what this page is doing reminding people that they don’t have to join the queue and follow the crowd. They are free to make up their own minds. One of the reasons they might do this is to protect their vagina. It’s got nothing to do with you if a woman wants to do that. There are men out there who leave as soon as the baby is born and don’t try to tell me that you have never heard of that. I don’t want to argue either but keeping my husband was more important to me than anything else in the world.
      So glad, for you, that you are sill enjoying your wife.

  11. Thank you for writing this, especially as a mother yourself. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for a long time now, doctors say there is no reason we should not be able to, just isn’t happening. For every day that I’m down, there are 3 more where I enjoy being fit, free and financially independent. I am trying to enjoy the perks of childlessness, something that is frustratingly and heartbreakingly eroded away at every time somebody feels bad for me. Seriously, your pity is counter-productive! I love the way you made me see it in a new light…safety in numbers and all!

  12. In defence of my vagina, Sex is even better since I gave birth!
    But thank you for the ever important reminder of STAYING FREE, as freedom is a state of mind.
    I’m not into overpopulation either, so a sincere thanks to the non-breeders.

  13. I think the largest pressure on me to have children, was that my parents (and every other parent I’ve ever met – there have to be some out that that don’t feel this way, I just haven’t met them) did not treat me as an adult until I got pregnant! As a much older and more mature adult; that attitude sucks! Not having children is a mature, responsible choice and one I suggest a heck of a lot more people choose. From the financial viewpoint – the average middle class kid costs $250K to raise to adulthood. Imagine how much sooner you could retire (aka be financially independent) if you had invested that $250K instead of having a kid. There are so many reasons to choose to have one or none, I wish more people would embrace them!

  14. Well written! I’ve chosen not to have kids and it is a personal choice that isn’t anybody else’s business. I ignore the rudeness from those who have chosen a different path and want to force their journey onto me. To each their own!

  15. Fantastic post!
    I am in my early 50’s now but since I decided at the age of about 32 that I did not want to have children, I have had to defend my choice numerous times , usually at social occasions
    On one particularly harrowing day, I was trapped in a kitchen at a party by no less than 3 pregnant women who asked each other (and me) about birth choices…they were all choosing natural births of course and one had given birth to he first child in her dining room in a pool!
    My expression of horror must have given me away and they all turned on me and demanded to know about my choices….imagine the fallout when explained that I did not want children!! At the time I was living with my long term boyfriend with no plans to marry either and I spent the better part of 30 minutes defending my actions….I have since learned a far more tactful and measured response but it always amazes me how judgmental women are of my choices….I am quite happy with my choices , then and now and when I look at how challenging the world is for young people now and even more so in the future, I am absolutely sure that I did the right thing…for me !
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about what seems to be quite a controversial subject!!

    1. You absolutely should not have to defend that choice and I’m sorry you have faced that kind of judgement. By the same token, please be wary of judging others for their choices – “my expression of horror” with regard to how someone chooses to give birth… Each to their own.

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