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Childless in America

“How sad that you don’t want kids!” “You must be pretty selfish.” These are the comments you get when you decide to be childless in America in your 20s. In your 30s, you get: “Don’t worry, you’ll change your mind.” “You’ll meet someone who’ll change your mind.” And, finally, in your mid-forties, “Dude, but what are you gonna do when you get too old to take care of yourself?”

Obviously, if you’re gonna choose to forgo kids for others. And the popular sentiment is often fiercely held by those in the majority. After a while, these views become a person’s identity.

Choosing Childlessness

I love the title of this article; thought there’d be at least a few such articles on the web but didn’t find anything when I searched. Reads like, “Homeless in America” or “Bachelor in America”, depending how you look at it.

Nobody really chooses much in life, these days. Our paths are complex, serendipitous, and we often phrase what happened to us as though we intended it all along – this author included.

But, I do recall the years my parents struggled with their relationship and my sister and ex-BIL struggled with theirs. My own romantic relationships were as normal/abnormal as anyone else’s. What ended up etched in my mind, though, was an idea of living free of extra decisions and consequences.

Nobody Will Wipe Your Ass

“Who’s gonna take care of us when we’re older?” I don’t have the answer to that but if that’s the problem I’m facing all of my able years, I’m not gonna raise kids to solve for it.

The Census Bureau, too, seems worried about childless adults in America. But somehow I think these childless individuals have figured out how to get their incontinence managed even when they are too old to reach for the wet wipes.

Obviously, certainly, undoubtedly, that’s not what people mean when they say that to me. I think these are people who felt a lot of love and positive responsibility towards their elderly parents and took pride taking care of them. Having kids means the same to them.

But you know, I’m just gonna say it, you might wanna consider long-term care insurance – LTCI. The level of medicalization of normal aging and the fear of any negative health outcomes, the overdramatization of suffering, and the expense and burden of caregiving have made caregiving a highly specialized, impersonal business.

Many families raise their kids and were also raised to be the type of individuals who take care of their elderly, celebrate them, cherish them, and take care of them. For those who grew up like that, the process is fairly self-explanatory. If you didn’t, you might be having thoughts of childlessness too.

Loneliness Isn’t Externally Curable

When I was single people asked whether I was lonely. I was before, I remember that vividly. Back when I was on POF and Match.com, I was looking for the next person to entertain me so that I wouldn’t have to be content with loneliness.

Later, in very healthy romantic relationships, I felt the same kind of loneliness which led to head-scratching breakups and the search for the next ex.

After a few of these bouts, I finally found the problem, it was my own damn mind inside my head. I’m not saying that loneliness isn’t real, and I am not downplaying what a terribly destructive feeling it is, but it’s not something anyone can cure by getting a pet, a partner, kids, or tons of expensive toys.

“I’ve Never Known This Kind of Love”

I hear this from dads a lot. Man, you don’t know what love is until you’ve had a kid. Listen, bro, you don’t know what love is until you’ve woken up in a totally quiet house, walking over to the kitchen with your ding-dong hanging out, making that perfect cup of coffee and enjoying it in total peace.

The love I’ll never know is probably the love I’ll never miss. The only time I’ll miss it is when your dumb ass keeps saying, “But, no, dude, you don’t know! Until you have a kid, I’m telling you!”

Seriosuly though, I do believe that there are different levels of certain emotions, love being one of them. The puppy love we had in high school can’t hold a light to the love we experienced with our first real love … and so on. It’s just that this world has so much to offer that if you chase that next level of emotion, you’ll find it, and sometimes you’ll have to scrape the bottom of an old, burnt tinfoil, licking off the crack residue, hoping for a slight high before your dealer comes through.

Passing On Your Last Name…

Is this more of a machismo thing or a Middle Eastern thing, or both? My dad asked me what would happen to my last name if I didn’t have any kids to pass it on. I suspect he meant, “with no son to pass it on.” I don’t even know what to say to that. I get it, a different generation and a different mindset.

I can’t see myself pulling up my kid’s old passports and staring proudly at the last name ‘Ashori,’ a Farsi word written in English letters.

“Your Kids Become Your Friends”

But, Mo, listen, when you’re older these kids become these mini adults who then become your friends.

I hear you, but I don’t know how many more friends I can handle. I still have a backlog of texts to reply to, and these are pretty much all the people I can’t wait to connect with.

I love the idea of having kids that later become your best friend; I’ve seen that in … wait, no, actually, I haven’t seen much of that. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful thought and something worth aiming for.

Filling the Void of Childlessness

I had a nutectomy in my early 30s because I knew I didn’t want kids. I haven’t had any doubts about this decision, not because I’m the cool kid who knows what he wants in life but because it just turned out to be a good decision for me, individually.

As adults who choose or end up childless, we end up finding fulfillment in other aspects of life. Many of us degenerate childlessers end up being great nonbiologic aunts and uncles to our friend’s kids. And that’s the kind of love you can’t imagine because after you babysit, you still get to go home to your cozy bed and not have to worry about waking up with a wet puddle next to you.

Childless people sometimes make their careers and hobbies their passion. From professional goals to further education to entrepreneurial endeavors, there are lots of projects to keep you just as busy as the parent who may have the special needs child that needs regular attention.

The childless couples also tend to be the pioneers of travel and fun living. Parents get to live vicariously through such friends which make up about 17% of the population, and perhaps vice versa.

Don’t Feel Obligated to Have Kids

No matter what you choose, you’ll be fine. With or without kids your ass will be as feculent as the next. For those who don’t have or don’t think they have kids, I’m here to tell you that, at least at age 46, and as a dude, I don’t have any regrets yet.

I see my partner now struggling with the idea a bit because these matters are inherently different for women. Is that a sexist thing to say? I’m sure. But she’ll be okay eventually; the path less traveled has fewer signposts but also less dog shit to step into.

The idea of regret never clicked with me. I don’t have any destinations I need to check off. Many of you know me to be the digital nomad doctor who spends a lot of my time abroad, traveling, working, rock climbing, etc. But if didn’t get to or chose not to do that I don’t think there would be something I’d be missing out on.

The grass will always be greener whether you choose parenthood or childlessness, the single lifestyle or marriage. I don’t doubt that some of my friends who now have kids wonder what their lives would be like without kids and I suspect it would be just as good or just as bad as it is right now.

2 replies on “Childless in America”

“Nobody Will Wipe Your Ass”
For this scary rate limiting issue, hoping there’ll build a Musk-oid by then.

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