I've always lived the classic childfree lifestyle. This consists of a huge amount of self-care, self-improvement, looking after my own needs, pursuing my dreams with no holds barred, having a lot of time for loved ones and still have room for new networks and friendships. And since I'm turning 39 in 4 months, I'd like to vent out loud about how I'm feeling towards being childfree as I approach midlife... hoping that other childfree people out there can relate.
Here's the video blog I did today where I expressed sentiments about having no kids:
Did I chose to not have children? Not really. I was just happily distracted living the good life doing so many amazing things such as TV, traveling, dating, meeting people from all walks of life and culture, learning new things and taking really good care of myself that I never felt a strong urge for it. I got so comfortable with my own company and I never have any regrets doing what I did all this time.
Do I want children? I did when I was young because it was how I was programmed from a traditional upbringing... that the end goal of a woman is to be a mother. That along with the pressure from almost everyone in my circle having babies almost forced me to jump in that bandwagon. But after having travelled so much and opening my mind to different ways of living life, I don't think I want it anymore because I doubt that I'm built for that kind of responsibility. But of course, I'll never say never and just allow life to happen.
I am very content living the childfree life. There's a liberating feeling that goes with it. I'm able to focus on myself and my happiness without feeling accountable to someone. I can make impulsive decisions such as quitting my job, booking a flight somewhere, moving cities, taking naps when I want to, splurging on pampering and shopping, driving a convertible and shifting careers. Being childfree, if you know how to navigate it, is a great lifestyle. The possibilities are so endless. So yes, I do love it and will continue to be great at it.
I'm glad I live in a Western culture where more people are understanding and open to this way of life and there's lots of us here in the "no kiddo" zone. In the Eastern culture and with close-minded people in general, there's too much questioning as to why you don't have kids yet, why you don't want one, who's gonna take care of you when you get old, etc. Then it will be followed by an unspoken judgment... that you're selfish for not wanting to procreate, for wanting to just take care of yourself and pursue your own desires... that you're copping out of your responsibility as a woman which is to bring forth a child... and the list just goes on and on. I've gotten used to not let these comments affect me by understanding that they're coming from a traditional background but there are times when it still hits me hard.
In general though, what truly sucks in this lifestyle is that your friends who have kids unconsciously take you for granted. Once that baby is born, they just go in a completely different mindset and drift apart from you. They start hanging out with other mommies leaving you on your own to find new childfree friends which can be very challenging as you hit the midlife bracket.
And the worst of it all is when you hang out, they seem to have lost themselves as individuals because all they ever talk about is their kid and NOTHING ELSE. Then when it's your turn to talk about the things you're doing to improve yourself, your splurges and new interests, they make you feel like you're so self-absorbed, shallow and immature. What am I suppose to talk about then? Isn't that the point of being childfree? So you can go all out on your self-growth and enjoy your adult life to the fullest?
It's annoying too that I'm always the one having to always adjust to their convenience because they have kids to take care of. They just figured it's easy for me because I'm only one person and they're a bunch plus the kids have a strict routine especially if they're still very small. And when you finally go out of your way to hang out with them which happens very rarely, they still don't give you their full focus because they keep watching over their kid while you're in the middle of bearing your soul. And even if their kid is not with us, they still keep checking their phones waiting to hear from the nanny or their other half, still worrying about them and not being there completely with you. Yup, you don't really get the quality time and attention you hoped for. It's STILL about their kids.
And sometimes, they even can't get out of the parent zone and starts to treat you like their child by mothering you in your conversations. Instead of just letting you think out loud and bounce off some ideas, they lecture you to think like them, impose on what you should do without really hearing your take on things, how you should live your life and rush you to just "settle" already so that you can join the mother club. You can tell they're just tired of listening to your stories and want you to "grow up"... making you feel as if being given the carefree life is a sign of immaturity.
But as a good friend, I still stick around and understand this sense of entitlement that they seem to have acquired from being a parent. After all, raising a human being is one of the hardest responsibilities there is. I can only imagine. I really do. The childfree people are expected to adjust and understand them because we have it easy. But do we really?
What about us, childfree people though? What about our adult human needs? What about our desire to spend quality time, to exchange mature stories, to be heard and cared for by our friends? I know that I will never understand how it feels like to be a mother unless I become one but at the same time, is it too much to ask to be made to feel important as well? I know that raising children really does get all the parents' attention, effort and time. And I'm not expecting my mother friends to drop all of that so they can hang out with me and listen to my so-called "shallow" issues. But can we get our quality time and attention too even once every so often just because we also have those emotional yearnings?
We're humans too, you know. We have our own issues that we want to share to a trusted friend. We do feel lonely, we'd like to bond, we long for familiar connections, we desire adult conversations, we want to be heard, we crave for undivided attention and we love knowing you care by simply shooting us a call or a text once in awhile to see how we're doing. Just because we don't have little mouths to feed, doesn't mean we don't have struggles too.
That's why it felt bittersweet when I got diagnosed because that's the only time I really felt my mother friends go out of their way to give me that quality time and attention I've always desired. Sweet because I finally felt how important my friendship is for them. But bitter because I have to come to a close encounter with death first before I got it. Yup, talk about procrastination.
I'm not here to bash parents for their horrible job at being friends with childfree people like me. But rather, make you see everything from my perspective. Don't call us selfish for focusing on ourselves because we are all that we've got. Self-growth and indulgence are the perks we have for not having an offspring. Don't think we are not being a grown up as well for not joining the mother club by chance or by choice because some of us just had better things to do with our lives than getting pregnant and changing diapers. Other people are just meant for another calling, another responsibility. It doesn't just have to be about raising a child. And please. Don't hate us for demanding time and attention from time to time because, again, WE ARE HUMANS TOO. We have emotional needs of wanting to be heard and cared for no matter how silly our issues may sound to the world.
Yes, children and parenting issues are important and should be given full attention to and parenting must be hard as fuck but so is having a breast cancer diagnosis at age 37, rebuilding life on my own and not fully knowing where I'm heading at age 38, being far away from my primary family, living and adjusting in a foreign land and constantly trying to seek new friends because the friends I have all jumped into the motherhood bandwagon leaving me to navigate by myself.
So yeah, cut us, childfree mid-age people some slack and make us feel like we matter too. We deserve it for having gone this far on our own without depending on a kid to give us a sense of purpose. REAL TALK right here baby.
[NOTE: If you're childfree and can relate, I hear you. I know the feeling of being always set aside. But we're gonna keep WINNING. If you're a parent and you have childfree friends you've lost in touch with along the way, shoot them a call or text once in awhile to see how they're doing. Find time to hang out with them even just once in a blue moon. And when you do, give them your undivided time and attention. Don't wait for a life threatening event before you actually make them feel important. Do it now because you'll never know. They could be feeling so lonely and isolated and hearing from you could give them the cheer on they need to carry on.]
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