Feeling stressed because all of your friends have decided to have kids and you’re on the fence? Then the video below is for you. It’s all about the leisurely-strolling, picnic-having, ice cream-savoring, glass-clinking benefits of not having kids.
Why, oh why, didn’t this ersatz ad surface four years ago? Had I followed its sage advice then, I might be spending my days skipping in the sunshine and sniffing wine corks instead of slipping on wayward wet wipes and sniffing, ahem, bottoms.
Kidding aside, I believe a major reason the video has racked up more than 1 million hits on YouTube is because it makes light of some very real anxieties facing folks in their 20s and 30s today. Are they ready to give up their fairly carefree lives or compromise their demanding careers to raise a human being? If they choose not to, will they regret it later in life?
Not feeling ready was the main reason my husband and I didn’t have our first child until about five years after we got married. Many wouldn’t necessarily consider it that long a wait, but it was positively an eternity by my grandparents’ standards!
When we finally did decide to start a family, one of my motivations was, in fact, fear of later regret. That doesn’t sound very altruistic, does it? Shouldn’t you want a child just because you want one? Because you want the joys of caring for a tiny little person? Because you have that much love to give?
Well, all those things were true for me … but I also feared that, decades later, wrinkled and graying, I’d sit in the future equivalent of a rocking chair — um, rocking hover board? — and feel terrible regret for not having children, or at least not trying.
I wouldn’t have been alone.
“I could probably build an entire private practice just seeing women who regret not having babies,” Abigail Trnovsky, a New Hampshire psychotherapist, told me. “It’s a terrible realization for them. Some never thought they wanted kids, some just never felt stable enough or were waiting for the right guy … most have great careers. Our society makes people believe that ‘you can have it all!’ But for many, they realize too late that they can’t, they waited too long. It can be devastating.”
The national fertility rate is declining and clearly, there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy and fulfilled while being childfree: Time Magazine ran a cover story on them this past summer. The cut line on the cover? “When having it all means not having children.”
I’m glad that there are people who have realized their “all” by not having kids. Those people include some of my friends — to whom I’d like to take the opportunity to say, “Good for you!”
Also: “Wanna come babysit?”
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