“If money wasn’t an issue, would you have a baby?”

I was asked this question last night by a client, and it kind of freaked me out. A lot of my clients are curious about my very solo status and whether it’s by choice, I imagine because a lot of them are facing marital issues on the subject themselves. Like, did you know you could triple your sperm count with acupuncture?? – I learn the most bizarre things from these conversations.

Anyway, I’m not sure if he was just curious or if he was, ahem, offering his fertility services (and financial support?? dude’s got 3 by his ex-wife!), but it got me thinking. For better or worse, financial security did not affect my feelings on the matter. It would make me a lot less likely to have an abortion if contraceptive measures failed, but that’s the full potential extent of money’s impact. I’ll admit, that kind of surprised me. I thought I didn’t want kids because I was afraid of being unable to support two instead of one, knowing full well you can’t count on the father. Plus, paying up for parenthood is not that intimidating because I don’t think it’s the parents’ responsibility to pick up any of the tab for college – me and my 2 sibs made it through 4 years each in private colleges without a “family contribution”, and if it’s good enough for us, it’s good enough for MMK Junior. However, it turns out that this particular river runs way deeper than that. Specifically, I enjoy the hell out of my freedom. I can work when I want, sleep when I want, go away for a month if I feel like it … and I actually do all these things, it’s not just theoretical. And then there’s something else I find very off-putting about motherhood: in our culture, having a child seems to constitute permission for the free f***ing world to butt into your business, watch you, criticize you, lecture you, blame you, all while spouting that self-righteous crap about how it takes a whole village to raise a child. Plus, I’m a doormat and I’d rather not breed little doormats because it’s really not much fun being one…seriously, I don’t think I’m cut out for setting an example and raising a child to prosper in a society that prizes values that I neither possess nor want, and thus couldn’t pass on. My DNA will go the way of the dinosaur.

By the way, I’m 38 and decided at the age of 15 that I didn’t want kids, and I’ve never faltered in this. A big part of the reason this client’s question freaked me out is that the day before, I deduced that all parts South of my neck are staging a rebellion against rock-solid decisions made by the North. It’s a good thing I picked up those Lindt truffles on sale Friday to distract the South. Have fun untangling all the euphemisms in that paragraph!

Anyway, I thought this might be an interesting hypothetical to throw out to my fellow childless-by-choice readers. How would you answer?

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12 Responses

  1. Yes. I would be happy having a baby if I was able to afford a cook, housekeeper and nanny (not an all-in-one; literally 3 different people). Then I would still have some of the freedom you’re talking about. 😉

  2. @ sunflowers – come and live in Hong Kong. Full time domestic helpers are both affordable and readily available even for middle income earners. Yes, there are a number of issues involved, but it does address at least some of the downside of having children. Full time help does make raising children much easier – although we do have to make sure we still spend enough time with the children.

  3. It’s interesting you bring this up today…just got off the phone with my dad not too long ago who, for the umpteenth time, has asked if I’m gay. My younger siblings are married with kids and me being the oldest and neither married nor reproducing has caused concern for my dear folks. *sighs*

    I choose not to have kids at this stage in life because for one, I don’t like anyone enough to procreate with them. The thought is truly disturbing. Two, I’m not anywhere near ready for such a feat. The reality is that I’m a little bit selfish. I like MY stuff. I like ME time. ME, ME, ME! I like it that way. I can buy the things I want, when I want, and I have no one to answer to or be responsible of. These types of sentiments are clearly not conducive to motherhood.

    That said, eventually I want kids and I hope that I am financially stable when that time comes around. Actually, strike that. I want one kid and pray that whoever I marry is good with one because that’s really all I feel like donating to the world. At any rate, at this stage in my life, money or not, I’m just going to say no to kids.

  4. Interesting question but still, the answer is a resounding NO for me! I am almost 44 and decided not to have kids I think when I was a teenager, like you MMK. I never felt the maternal urge and have too many personality issues to have kids (I’m selfish, a control freak, I like stability and routine and am unable to “fly by the seat of my pants”)

    I also firmly believed with all my heart that I would never have made as good a mom as my mom. She was an amazing and wonderful person and truly, I can’t imagine having a better mom than her.

    Finally, I like guarantees and with kids, there are no guarantees! I have an older sister and brother; my sister and I turned out to be decent law abiding citizens; my brother has spent the last 22 years in prison with no hope of release (thank goodness, really). He broke my parents’ hearts; we always wondered, hey, we were all raised together, what happened? So, in addition to of all my other reasons for not having kids, I figured with my luck I would get a “bad” kid and I couldn’t risk it.

  5. I think we’d be in a better place if the north made more decisions when it came to kids across the board…

  6. I’ve reached the age where all my friends are married with kids. I do want them someday, but I’m not ready emotionally or financially. Sadly old biological clock is telling me to get with the program soon, so ready or not we’ll be diving in – in a few years. Financial concerns are a big part of it, I do want to help with my kids education (since our system assumes parental help) and be able to provide for them without breaking myself in the process. I think if I had more money, and no concerns about how to pay for daycare, we would be starting a family now. Instead I crunch numbers on how much day care will cost, how much more to feed and clothe them, how to save for college… Kids are tough financially. I can see someone running the numbers and deciding that they can’t afford kids.

  7. I am pretty ambivalent about kids. I don’t have a biological clock screaming HAVE BABIES NOW in my head, but I wouldn’t mind having them someday. I don’t think I’d regret it if I didn’t have kids, and I already know I don’t want to be the poster mom who stays at home (I NEED adult interaction). My sister has said since she was little that she didn’t want kids ever, and I’ve always believed her.

    For me, the weirder realization was that if I did get pregnant, it would no longer be a devastating situation. I’m capable of taking care of a child, with or without assistance from the father. Even better, I think Peanut and I would make a fantastic parenting team, which gives me even more reassurance. I’m not looking for an “oops!” moment, but it sure is nice to know that if it were to happen, I wouldn’t need to call Planned Parenthood in tears.

  8. My motto is I like children that can be returned to their parents after 2 hours. I also tell people (truthfully) that my brother has enough kids to make a starting line up for a basketball team with a few on the bench. Folks have to do some math for that .

    Like a few others, I made up my mind years ago that I was just not a mother type person. Like Amy, I can be a bit of a control freak when I’m not being a total doormat. I like my selfishness for me!

    I think people will ask about your marital/child status because our society does see it odd that a woman of a certain age is 1) not married 2) does not want or have kids 3) and finds it odd that they are not in a committed relationship.

    My mother is positive I’m going to end up a lonely old woman with too many cats and no friends.

    And as you pointed out, maybe folks are having issues with their own relationship status. Your single status with the ability to do what you want, when you want without having to worry about someone else is probably enviable to people.

    Good post.

  9. Unfortunately for my family, all the grandchildren turned out to be girls, strong willed, independent and none of us decided to reproduce. It’s for the best. There are plenty of people on the planet already, none are needed from my small clan: poor eyes, a penchant for awful haircuts, weak knees and heart and none of us could catch a ball in grade school. Who needs that?

  10. As my nest egg grows, I may buy one from the kid pound at some point in time (no parasites in my body, please and thank you). Preferably one that is potty trained with enough baggage that I could lay the blame of any future therapy on the heads of his or her birth parents. Unfortunately, my parnter has said that he would rather dip his “scrotum in sulfuric acid” than be a parent. So, it’s not likely.

    When in doubt, rent. Siblings and friends are good for baby rentals. I do so enjoy handing them back. Too bad you can’t do that with them once you buy and/or have them. Oy.

  11. Nope, I don’t want kids for the same reasons you mentioned. And being pregnant kind of creeps me out.

  12. In a conversation with my mom a few weeks ago, it came out that if money weren’t an issue, she’d have happily had 2 more kids – between #3 & #4 (6-year age gap there, when she found birth control that actually worked). What a shame…she’s a really, really good mom – great instincts – and pregnancy/childbirth were a piece of cake for her. My sisters’ friends often “borrowed” her because their parents were whackadoo (always fighting, always drunk, flighty and irresponsible, psychologically abusive…the list goes on).

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