Often times being childfree is framed as this remarkable freedom. We can sleep in, roll around in our bed full of money, travel to exotic places every other week and have zero stress at all. We are the epitome of selfishness and don't care what anyone thinks about it! Granted there are perks of being childfree, like sleeping in and I'm sure my stress level is lower than a mom of 3 littles, but as with anything, there are also struggles that come along with the decision to remain without children. Making a choice that is so against the 'norm' presents its own unique challenges.
1. No One Believes You - People have a bad habit of dismissing us when we say we don't want children. It's met with "You'll change your mind", "You have lots of time, you don't have to decide now", or "Oh you never know!". We do know. We know that we experienced infertility in our marriage, that we looked into adoption and medical intervention or that we had long discussions late into the night about what our life would look like without kids and how we can be intentional with this decision. None of us come to this decision lightly or on a whim, we considered every option out there and decided that being childfree is the best suited choice. Please believe when we say we don't plan on having children, we don't plan on having children.
2. People Assume You Hate Children - Just because we don't want to be around them 24/7 or have them living in our house, doesn't mean we dislike them. My husband and I have 2 nephews and a lot of our friends have kids that we love spending time with! There is nothing more heartwarming than snuggling with a brand new baby or laughing at some of the hilarious things a toddler will say. My friend's son is like a little old man, exclaiming "oh dear" or "that's so cute!" and I just love being around him when I visit her. That being said, I can't say I'm sad to give them back to mom and dad when they're throwing a temper tantrum or a mysterious oder starts to waft. We do like kids.. just in small doses.
3. You Lose Friends - As life moves forward and your friends have children, some of those friendships do disappear. It takes effort and time to upkeep a friendship and some parents just don't have the time or energy. It gets harder to make time to see each other, especially time without the kids around. We do the best we can, on both sides I'm sure, but more often than not those relationships dissolve as your paths go in different directions. We value the parents who don't forget about us when they have kids, and understand that some friendships are only for one season of life, but it's tough to say goodbye to those people either way.
4. It's Harder To Make New Friends - I've gotta say, the one thing I really envy when it comes to parents is you more or less get built in friends. Your kid likes another kid? Boom. You're friends with their parents. 5 people you know all having babies close together? Boom. Automatically besties so you can share in the 'misery' together. Not only is it difficult to make friends as an adult, but it's even more difficult to find other childfree couples. Childfree/less people might have more freedom and money to do this, but it's often difficult to find people to spend that time or money on.. since everyone needs a babysitter. 5. Life Caters To Large Families - This one might seem kinda petty, but I feel like I have to empty rotting food out of my fridge every week. It is so expensive to buy food as a 2 person family. To buy a 10lb bag of potatoes is $2.00 but to buy a 1lb bag of potatoes is $4.00. WHY?! First off, we would never be able to finish 10lbs of potatoes, even if we ate potatoes at every meal. The struggle is so real when it comes to food portions. On top of that we deal with silly things like our health insurance. The price remains the same if it is just the 2 of us or if it was us and children. We are paying enough to take care of 2 adults and multiple children, but only actually using the 2 adult amount. Little things like this are just small daily frustrations that just grind my gears. #endrant 6. Your Schedule Is Empty - That's what people assume. Not having children does make our schedule a bit more flexible, but that doesn't mean we always have free time. We have a bible study group with another childfree couple, and between the four of us, scheduling is near impossible. Don't just assume because we don't have kids that we don't have anything to do. Childfree people work, volunteer, embrace the free time by filling it with hobbies or even just resting. Our time is just as valuable and important as anyone with children, even if something isn't specifically 'scheduled' in.
7. The Church Falls Short - More often than not most churches cater to families. Whether you are childfree by choice or childless by chance or circumstance, its a struggle to find a place to fit within the church. I do believe that children are a gift, but I also believe that parenting is a calling, and not every calling is for every person. Many people have experienced Christians using the bible as a weapon, claiming you are going against God's plan for your life if you don't have children. Connection is difficult when you don't have diapers to talk about, and even down to sermons, referring to women as wives and mothers, as opposed to just 'the women of the church'. 8. You Can't Be Tired - Suffering is not a competition, but it sure seems that way. I'm sure we've all seen, or even shared the memes that say something along the lines of "That face I make when my friend without kids says they're tired." I get it, getting up at all hours of the night is exhausting but I haven't slept well in 6 years, I am literally always tired. Yet the memes just keep coming. I cant be tired, busy, run down etc. because a mom out there is more tired than me. Truth: someone is always going to have it worse than you, but it still doesn't mean what you're going through isn't difficult. 9. I'm Viewed As Selfish - The reason I'm not having children isn't so I can live a life of luxury. As an adult I still have responsibilities. I am responsible for caring for my husband, my cats, my sister, etc. The decision isn't about being able to focus on myself. A large part of our decision to remain childfree was discussing how we were going to use this opportunity to pour into the lives of others. This blog is one way, connecting with my fellow misfits and outcasts. I volunteer for my church and work with a few ministries doing graphics work. My husband volunteers at a local Christian cafe and also in our church band, on top of being an elder and running his business. We have allotted for margin in our lives, a decision I would make with or without kids, but we have also allotted for helping others and being able to be generous with our time and resources.
Any lifestyle you choose will have pros and cons, and being childfree isn't all roses and vacations. Choosing to be childfree has struggles just like any other lifestyle choice. What have you found the biggest struggle is in being childfree? Let me know in the comments!