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June 03, 2004: C is to choose

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To be childfree by choice is to feel with utmost certainty that you never wish to be a parent, biological or otherwise, to any human being. To be childfree by choice is to know this with every fiber of your being, in times when you are safe and healthy and whole even more than in times when you are scared and uncertain and your world seems as if it can never be right around you again. To make this decision is to understand fully the consequences of what you will not be. You will not be a mother or a father. You will not have babies or toddlers or teenagers or any of the stories and trials and fears and joys that come along with them. You may have nieces and nephews and your friends may have children that call you aunt or uncle and you may love all these children as deeply as you are able, but they are not yours. No matter how deep a bond you forge with these young lives you still always remain in their periphery. And what everyone else cannot seem to understand is that you are okay with this. You accept this. This is the way you want it to be.

To decide to live childfree means that you will, for the rest of your life, probably always feel as if you may not ever quite belong with the rest of the people around you. To live without children means that you get lost in conversations everyone else seems to understand naturally, and that your conversational topics may often leave those around you confused as well. To decide to live childfree means that you may have to leave people you care about because you cannot be what they want you to be.

To decide to live childfree means accepting a life of living in a world that is unwilling to recognize that you, as a demographic, exist.

To decide to live childfree means that you have resigned yourself to an entire lifetime of people questioning you; of strangers assuming that you cannot possibly know your own mind; of pressure from well-meaning friends and family; sometimes even of hostility. You will be accused of being selfish. You will be told in condescending terms "of course you will change your mind". You will be asked who will take care of you when you are old, as if the sole reason for having children is to provide a ready-made nursemaid for the elderly and infirm. If you are single they will assume that marriage will change your mind. If you are married you will be told over and over of what a wonderful father or mother your spouse would make, accompanied with sly glances and narrowed eyes suggesting that somehow you are failing them for being unwilling to procreate.

And yet you make this decision, because you know deep in your heart and soul that this is the right one for you. You make it not because of some emotional reaction to an act of violence or to the build-up of national fear and anxiety perpetrated by the media. You make it not because of financial reasons. You make it because this is you; because you cannot be someone you are not and you cannot want something that is not in you, no matter how desperately and persistently anyone else insists that you should. And above all, this is a choice. Your choice. Your decision. Your right to not want, need, desire, crave, have what everyone insists you should have.

Your choice. No one else's.

Yours.

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