I Don't Want Children (or Real Estate) … and That's OK

Meeting my niece Catherine ("Cates") for the first time.
Meeting my niece Catherine (“Cates”) for the first time.

By Laura Braden

I don’t want to procreate or own real estate…and that’s ok.

Now before we dive in, let me issue a huge disclaimer to all my girlfriends and sister-in-law: I L-O-V-E your children.

How can I not when they have 1/2 of your genetic make-up? I got misty the first time I met them, and it’s fun to buy them snarky onesies. I fully plan on being the “cool auntie” that teaches them all of the things you don’t want them to know. And I fully plan on hosting my niece (and any future offspring) at my home for weeks during the summer.

In other words? If your kid runs away, you should check my apartment first.

But I don’t want my own – never have, never will.

It took me a long time to admit this out loud. I’m from Tennessee – the land of social and arbitrary expectations. In that world, it’s common to get engaged your senior year of college, buy a home by 25, have multiple babies before you hit 30 and quit your career shortly thereafter to be a full-time mom.

And that just never appealed to me, even when it WAS my reality. I grew up in a loving home with two parents in a nice suburb. I was engaged at 20, married at 22 … and amicably divorced by choice at 26. I was enthralled with my career and focused on travel … whereas my ex-husband wanted to buy a big house in the ‘burbs and start popping out babies. Every time the subject came up, I’d break out in hives and start sweating.

I grew up in a loving home with two parents in a nice suburb. I was engaged at 20, married at 22 … and amicably divorced by choice at 26. I was enthralled with my career and focused on travel … whereas my ex-husband wanted to buy a big house in the ‘burbs and start popping out babies. Every time the subject came up, I’d break out in hives and start sweating.

Fast forward to 2011, and I’m a single gal buying a loft because I had all this cash sitting in my savings account and being a homeowner is the American Dream, right? Isn’t that what we’re all working towards?

My answer? Not exactly.

Like everything else in life, you have to focus on knowing yourself well enough to know what makes you truly happy … and then work like hell to make it a reality.

I’ve realized that I’ll never need more than 1,300 square feet of living space to be happy. For me, freedom means mobility (and financial independence, but that’s a different article), which means the ability to drop everything and move to a brand new city/state/country for the right opportunity.

And BTW, that’s exactly how it happened. I purchased the Tennessee loft in May, found myself back in California by December. #Whoops

I feel most alive exploring new worlds, food, ideas and cultures. All of which is pretty hard to do with a mortgage and kids in tow. Not impossible, but difficult.

But back to children.

I get a considerable amount of pushback from friends and the top things I usually hear include…

  1. You’ll change your mind when you meet “the one.” Thanks, but I’ve found “the one”, and he doesn’t want kids either. Sure we’ve talked about how amazing our kids would be and how interesting it’d be to see what our genetic make-up produces…but the last time I checked, kids aren’t a science experiment.
  2. You haven’t truly experienced love until the first time you look into your baby’s eyes. You haven’t seen the way I look at my dogs.
  3. My child is the only thing that’s ever truly been mine. Babies don’t exist to fill your emotional holes.
  4. Really? Are you sure? Don’t you think you’ll ever change your mind? No, I don’t. And if I change my mind at the age of 42, 55, 61? Fine. I’ll simply foster or adopt because I’ve never understood why something needs to come from your womb to be “yours.” Frankly, the world is overpopulated so I’d consider it an honor to provide a stable home for a child that really needs one. #LoveIsLove

And my reason is quite simple: I don’t want to change my lifestyle.

The idea of spending vacations at Disneyland, waking up early on Saturday for soccer practice and spending a 1/3 of my income on a mini me just doesn’t sound appealing to me. Is that selfish? You bet it is, and I’m fully owning it.

And by the way, aren’t all decisions about our personal lives selfish? Every time I’ve asked friends why they’re having kids, their answer always starts with “Well, I wanted [insert].” So in reality, aren’t we all just making choices based on what we want? And I want to continue to focus on my career, my own personal growth and travel…lots and lots of travel.

But guess what, I’m not alone. It seems we Millenials/Generation X’ers prefer smaller homes … and roughly 25 percent of us aren’t so sure that the institution of marriage is still relevant in these modern times … same stat applies to those not wanting/unsure about having kiddos. Good-bye McMansion in the ‘burbs, hello urban loft. Does that have geopolitical/economic implications for America? Yes. But you can’t deny the demographic/social trends.

Will this choice come with consequences and trade-offs? Sure, even the best ones do.

And I’m not advocating for all women to stop having children. Life is precious – yours, mine and your children’s – and my choice to not create life doesn’t take anything away from that.

Bottom line? It’s 2014, and we have the freedom to design whatever lifestyle we want. Have kids, don’t have kids – it’s YOUR choice. Just know why you’re making it, and own it.

And in the meantime, let’s all support each other’s choices – even when we don’t understand or agree with them.

PS – For more on the subject, check out these articles:

    • NY Mag: 25 Famous Women on Childlessness
    • Huffington Post: What it really feels like to be a childfree woman
    • Today.com: One woman’s childfree status update ignites Facebook free-for-all
    • The Guardian: The choice to be child-free is admirable, not selfish
    • Daily Beast: Why I Choose to Be Child-Free: Readers Share Their Stories
    • Huffington Post: 8 Reasons Why I’m Not Having Children
Clearly Cates is a future #BossLady. Love her!
Clearly Cates is a future #BossLady. Love her!

 

You might also like

3 Comments

  1. Shaye says

    I totally agree with everything you say with one exception: real estate does not have to limit travel and can actually assist. I own a house/have a mortgage but still moved to Europe this year (somewhat on a whim and with very little prep time). I know others who have made similar leaps while owning property. Some day, these mortgages will be paid off and the property they’re currently attached to can help finance more travel. Just another perspective. Otherwise, totally agree! Well written!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.