“How old are you?” she genially asked me in Mandarin.
“30 plus …” I replied, not wanting to over-commit myself into the conversation.
“How many kids?” came the next question.
I smiled and shook my head. “None, none, I don’t want kids.”
Now you can probably guess what followed after my admission: a lengthy spiel about why I should have kids, why it is healthy for me to become a mother (something about how my reproductive organs will “spoil” if I don’t use them), and how kids will help me “keep” my husband. Throughout her well-meaning monologue, I smiled and nodded along. She did not need to be told why I thought she was a bit misguided to believe kids will save a marriage; I wouldn’t be able to explain my views fluently in Mandarin anyway.
I don’t want children.
I admit, sometimes I do get curious, but I usually recover quickly enough to tell my suppressed maternal instincts, “No.” Many friends have commented how Simon and I are going to have beautiful, exotic-looking children, and while it’s tempting to see if our offspring is truly going to be a winner in the genetics lottery, we have both agreed to remain child-free.
I could list out all the reasons behind our decision, but increasingly, I don’t see why I should. No woman has ever had to explain why she wants to become a mother so why should those who want to remain child-free be expected to explain themselves?
“Then why bother getting married?”
One of the things that irk me most is that people tend to link Marriage and Kids together. When they learn we don’t want to have the latter, we are often asked, “Why get married then?” Stupid me. I thought people got married because they love each other. Sorry, I’m afraid I didn’t get that memo. With so many single parents out there doing such a great job of raising their children, it’s mind-boggling why people continue to lump the two together.
A person does not have to be married to be a great parent. Similarly, being married doesn’t mean you are ready for parenthood. I’m happy to just spend the rest of my life with Simon (and I certainly hope he feels the same too) and I think it is important that we recognise that the “family” is complete when it’s just the both of us. If a couple needs a child to “complete” the family, what then does it say of their relationship with each other?
“What if one of you changes your mind?”
Every time someone talks to us about kids, I always make sure I ask Simon this, “If there is a chance you’ll want to have kids, you better say so now.” I don’t think we are completely closed to the idea but what each of us would appreciate is some form of warning. If there is a smidgeon of chance that he might change his mind, I really want to know now so I can prepare myself for the eventuality that I might have to deal with motherhood. If there is so much as an iota of doubt about my stance towards children, I’d make sure he’s agreeable to that too.
So yes, no kids for us. No number of cute baby photos is going to change my mind, no amount of guilt-tripping is going to alter the way we feel about children. I love kids and I adore my nieces and nephews … but to have my own running around me all day, all night? I honestly don’t see myself enjoying it.
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and want people to stop showing her pictures of cute Eurasian babies. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.
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