Moses and Alma are not my “children”.
They – and the cats – are not our “furbabies” and we are not using them as practice kids nor for exhibiting nesting behaviour (unless, perhaps, the nesting period is longer than a decade?).
Both the Husband and I grew up with pets in the home. Dogs and cats are part of what makes a home a home; even once out on my own, it wasn’t long before there was an unauthorized cat smuggled into the apartment.
I say Moses and Alma are not kids because I am acutely aware they’re not. It’s intentional.
We have our pets on purpose; we also don’t have any children on purpose.
Dogs, not kids
The Husband and I are happily DINKs. That’s double-income-no-kids, for those who forget their junior high social studies. Or, perhaps, we’re DONKs: dogs-only-no-kids. (But I don’t think sociologists recognize that term… yet.)
Sure, I may be occasionally tempted to respond to a story about a toddler’s drool with a story of Moses’ drool, but that’s not because I think he’s the equivalent of a toddler; it’s because I find some common ground with my own experience of sharing a home with a drooly creature. It’s intended to be funny – and probably gross – but it’s not supposed to be insulting or demeaning to the child.
Moses exhibiting frozen drool
And it certainly doesn’t mean that I think my role as a dog owner – no matter how extreme I take it (raw diets, crazy vet bills, hours of training, a blog…) – as anything at all equal to the responsibilities of parenthood.
Any dog/child comparisons I may make, though intentionally rare, do not mean I think of Moses and Alma as children. They’re dogs. They’re part of the family, of course, but they fill the role they’re supposed to: pets.
Sure, they’re a commitment that requires training, a good diet, medical costs, daily walks, etc. I frequently stress the importance of being a good pet guardian. But they’re still not kids, which (I can only assume) are a whole different, scary-looking thing. They certainly appear to be, anyway. I mean, I’m able to leave my dogs home alone for ten hours while I’m at work. You can do that with a two year old dog. You can’t do that with a two year old human.
The Husband and I are soon to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary and we continue to be childfree.
Something about this piques interest in people, and, for whatever reason, it is a frequent go-to for small talk with acquaintances, coworkers, and business associates.
Truthfully, I have no idea when ‘small talk’ was expanded to cover biology, reproduction, bedroom activities, and major life decisions; that sounds like pretty big talk to me.
No kids? Why not? Well when are you going to start? Don’t wait too long. You’ll change your mind. You’ll regret your decision. Don’t worry, your clock will start ticking and you’ll get baby fever when you turn 30. [I’ve since turned 30, and my temperature is fine.] There’s no point in waiting – you’re never truly ready, anyway. If you wait until you’re ready, it’ll never happen. You don’t know unconditional love and happiness until you have a baby. Don’t you feel like you’re missing out? That’s a selfish decision. Having kids is part of being human. Everyone should have kids. [Have you read the news lately? Not everyone should reproduce.] Don’t you want to pass on your genes/your name? It’s part of God’s plan, to populate the earth and whatnot. [Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the buffet approach to religious texts.] Who is going to take care of you when you’re old? Don’t you want to give your parents grandkids?
I’ve mentioned before that I am an introvert, which means personal stuff is off the table for sharing with… well, all but a select few. But the intrusive nature of these exchanges isn’t the only thing that raises my hackles, though that’s certainly a big part of it.
It’s also the ridiculousness of it.
Most of the people who interrogate me on the state of my ovaries won’t be affected in the least if we decide to have kids in the future or not at all. And even if they are affected, that impact does not at all put any weight on our decision to create and be responsible for a new human life. Those aren’t decisions to be made by committee.
Not to mention, my reproductive status reflects nothing about your family and your own decisions, or my opinion of them. Someone having a child does not validate someone else’s similar decision to have children. Nor does not having kids insult those who do.
That’s the most irritating part about this issue: just let everyone live their lives.
If you ask, and I confirm I don’t have kids, just move on. No need to badger with “Why not? When are you going to?” I’m not a riddle that needs to be solved.
It’s none of your business and it doesn’t matter.
To you, anyway. It actually might matter a great deal to the person being asked, but it is certainly not your place to pry (consider how much pain you might cause when harping on this issue and the person in question has been struggling to conceive or may never be able to).
Unilaterally turning my reproductive status into a big deal, and a defining part of my identity, is disrespectful and incredibly close-minded. I don’t know if you got the memo, but women are much more than just their uteruses. (Uteri?)
Sure, I realize that by being a married, thirty, and childfree female I’m not necessarily following the status quo. But who cares? And if you do: why?!
This is not intended to equate childbearing with death. [Comic: Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis]
The Husband and I make decisions based on our lives and our goals. I expect you to do the same. And I don’t expect our decisions to be the same as yours, because I don’t expect our experiences and situations to be identical. No one’s are.
So when you harass someone about having kids, or not having kids, or having only one kid, or having too many kids, or adopting kids… what’s the point?
Or if you question someone’s choice to not get married; or keep/change last names after marriage; or have a home birth; or get an epidural; or breastfeed; or bottle feed; or be a stay-at-home parent; or a working parent; or an attachment parent; or two working parents… what’s it to you? Shouldn’t you be too busy with your own goings-on?
No one should be expected to quantify major and personal decisions to every person with whom they have a fleeting conversation. It is just concern-trolling? Or is it to validate your own decisions and ideas of happiness in the choices of others? Because that would be ludicrous.
For example, I do not at all understand how someone could decide to have six kids. That sounds ridiculous (and expensive, and tiring) to me. But it’s not up to me. And as long as I’m not on the same airplane as them, it doesn’t affect me. If they’re happy and capable – great! Who am I to weigh in on that?
Or if someone says “I don’t like big dogs” or “I’d never have a big dog” or “I don’t want a big dog”, I don’t take that as a personal insult. They like small dogs. Their experiences have lead to a conclusion and it’s a statement of opinion and preference. They’re not saying “everyone should have a little dog” or “no one should have big dogs”. They’re just saying what they like. And that’s totally fine because someone else choosing something different from me is not an affront to my own decision.
How one person lives life is not a judgmental statement on how someone else lives his or hers. Thus, our decision to be childfree does not mean we think everyone should make the same choices, or even expect that everyone else could. And it doesn’t mean we don’t understand that people change their minds as their lives change.
I expect this sentiment to be reciprocal.
And if you think I’m overreacting… I’ve actually had a 60-something male coworker tell me my eggs will dry up if I don’t have a baby soon. I’ve been told my life will be incomplete without kids by a 20-something male business acquaintance during an introductory meeting. I’ve actually had to sit a female coworker down and utter the words “my reproductive potential is not appropriate office conversation” (even then, it hasn’t worked). I’ve, more than once, had people start to whisper that I “must be” pregnant simply because I didn’t order an alcoholic beverage (sick, tired, working, driving, going diving, simply wanting something else – all apparently less reasonable excuses).
Drawing an obvious parallel here.
So yes, my experience is that people are intrusive on this issue. I find it perplexing, discomforting, and irritating.
As the saying goes, live and let live.
Or, more contemporarily, you do you.
So, no, random acquaintance, we don’t currently have kids. It shouldn’t matter why and you shouldn’t think yourself privy to that information.
And no, Moses and Alma are not our pseudo-kids; they’re our dogs. But if you’re just looking for something to converse over, I’m happy to talk about Moses and Alma for hours.
So how about you – any other DONKs out there with similar experiences?
For more great reading on this subject, check out this post: You Shouldn’t Need a Reason for Not Having Kids. Though this post has been in my head for a long time, reading the Thought Catalog one definitely prompted the timing.
This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.