What? Me…Selfish?

How often is it suggested that SWaNKs are selfish people? My guess would be – often. I believe that those who have chosen not to have children are frequently thought of as selfish human beings for not doing so. But, selfish people exist in all of society whether they are single, married, with children or without. So why are childless people the target of such ignorant, broad labeling? Is it jealousy over the amount of freedom that we have and that others so desire? Is it because we made a choice that others felt wasn’t a choice for them?

I can think of many different and selfish reasons why people DO have children. Here are some of them.

Because I want to have grandchildren one day.

Because it would be fun or interesting to see what the child would look like when our gene pools are mixed.

Because I want to play house – for real.

Because having a child would mean that our family name would live on.

Because it would make my life more meaningful.

Because it would make me feel wanted and needed.

Because I want to have a little version of myself around.

Because someone will need to take over the family business.

Because I want to be loved unconditionally by someone.

Now, who are we calling selfish?

I have an aunt who is a SWaNK. She is one of the most thoughtful, giving and self-LESS human beings that I have ever known. Yet, I imagine that she is also looked upon as being selfish for not having kids. I know of many other childless men and women who are thoughtful and giving people and who care for other humans as much as they care for themselves. And because they have chosen not to have kids, they too are labeled as selfish.

Are we seen as selfish because we put our own needs and desires before those of an unborn child? Perhaps we’ve put more thought into the consequences of bringing a child into the world who might not receive the love or dedication that they deserve because we are aware of our own limitations and lack the commitment and interest that is required to be a good parent. In this case, we’re actually doing an unborn child a favor by recognizing that we would not be able to nurture them the way that they need to be. Personally, I know deep down inside that I make a great auntie or “big sister” to children, but that I could never be a great parent because I lack the passion for it that I feel is necessary to do it well, as well as the financial means to raise a child.

So, doesn’t it make more sense to leave the parenting role up to those who embrace it, love it, are interested in it and are able to rise to the challenge? Not everyone is good at mechanics or cooking or creating art, so who how can it be expected that every woman will be a good mother and every man will be a good father. I’m sure every single one of you knows someone who is a horrible mother or horrible father. It might even be your own. Some people just have no business having children. So, it’s better to recognize your capabilities as a parent before having a child because an unwanted or unloved child is a tragedy for them and so many other people involved in that child’s life. And that brings us to the subject of adoption, which is a whole other subject. Thank goodness for those who adopt.

Always a Bridesmaid and Never a Bride and That’s Just Fine with Me.

Happily ever after, hmmmmmmm. With the rate of divorce increasingly on the rise and hovering around the 50% mark, you have to wonder if marriage is really the answer for modern day humans in relationships.

Just for fun, I thought I’d sit back and recall the number of times “Always a bridesmaid and never a bride” applied to me. I was a bridesmaid for one girlfriend, two of my female cousin’s and a flower girl for another female cousin many, many years ago. I’ll count the flower girl gig as the first time I was a bridesmaid since the role is very similar in this context as it relates to this little story. The memories of being a bridesmaid are somewhat faded as they all happened so many years ago. However, amidst the blur, I do recall asking myself if “this was for me”. As in “Is marriage for me?” not as in, “Is dressing up in taffeta and having my hair in a BUN what I want in my life?” And I can’t recall ever thinking or feeling that it was something that I wanted to have in my own life. At least the pomp and circumstance part of “getting married”. That was never of great interest to me. I guess I’ve always been just too practical.

I’ve never really expressed my disinterest in a wedding, or marriage for that matter, to any of my extended family members.  I believe many members of my extended family might assume that I am somehow dissatisfied on some level with my life because I’m not married. Or that they feel sorry for me because I’m not married yet at the age of forty-eight. My immediate family, however is very clear that I don’t intend on marrying and since I am past the child-bearing age, the assumption that I won’t have kids is very clear in their minds.

I have considered marriage briefly in the past, but those thoughts were fairly loose and fleeting. The kind of thoughts that don’t quite take a grip on you and slither away into the ethers easily. At this point in my life, it’s about the level of commitment that two people have for one another. The marriage part is not important to me. It’s the love that is important. I don’t need a man or woman to “take care of me” financially at least, even when life throws financial challenges my way. And I don’t need a to be married to anyone to feel fulfilled or loved in relationships.

I’m just happy to have had and to have wonderful loving relationships in my life. Each relationship enriching my life and contributing to the ups and downs that life is made up of.

I am perfectly happy being a bridesmaid and never a bride. Oh, wait a minute did I just say that I’d be happy being a bridesmaid again? Oops! Well okay, as long as I don’t have to wear taffeta, high-heels, and my hair in a BUN! Now, what’s up with that? Why does wearing your hair in a bun make your hair-do more formal? See… I really have no business walking (slowly) down any aisle as a bridesmaid or a bride. Maybe running down an aisle away from everyone would be more appropriate for me?

Enjoying Other People’s Children

Yes, I like and love children! Even though I’ve chosen not to have kids of my own, I enjoy having kids in my life. My nieces and nephews, my boyfriend’s daughter, my Hawaiian “little sister”, the neighbors’ kids, my friends’ kids, and many other children are a joy to be around. I sit back and admire how some of the parent’s are able to cope with the kids and the constant energy that children seem to give off. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m happy that they do because a world without children would be a world without a future. Here’s to other people’s children.

“I Guess I Can See How You Could Want the Oprah Kind of Lifestyle”

So said an individual whom I was having a conversation with – or rather – an argument with. Oh, wait a minute…it was more like a lecture I was getting from this person. I wasn’t really involved in the conversation at all until the end. I was just the subject of the it. Or rather, the subject of the conversation or lecture was “Why I wasn’t married yet and why I didn’t want to have kids”. I believe I was about 35 years old at the time. I was so taken aback by the attitude of this person and the thought that I wasn’t doing what was “right” in the minds of mainstream society. Near the end of the lecture,  I had a chance to “defend” myself, and I was almost in tears from the forcefulness of what began to feel like accusations. My accuser, in the end, resolved to the fact that his opinion wasn’t going to change how I felt, softened up a bit and summed it all up by saying, “I guess I can see how you could want the Oprah kind of lifestyle”. Since then I haven’t heard any remarks from him about my un-married status and my childlessness.

One of the Pros of Being Childless, for Me at Least.

For me, the greatest benefit, and gift as I see it, of being childless is having the freedom to come and go as one pleases and being able to pack up and go whenever we wish, without the concern of how it would affect a little human that is dependent on us. Is this selfish? I think not. It is honoring our true nature and that to me is important. I personally, don’t have a parental instinct. That’s my nature. Is it yours? This form of freedom, to me, is absolutely priceless. I witness so many parents whose schedules revolve around their children and having to live under such constraints, for me, would feel so unnatural and restrictive. Being a very free-spirited person who loves to travel and experience living in different places, has contributed to my choice of being childless. How about you?

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