Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pamelli A., Age 41

Is the idea of having children something that you are open to, or were open to at some point in the past? Is the fact that you don’t have children the result of a deliberate decision or just the way your life happened to work out? If it was a deliberate decision, can you tell me something about how you made this choice, the circumstances, your reasons, whether it was easy, hard, etc.?

Since I was a little girl, unlike my other school friends, I always knew that I didn't want to have kids. I never felt attracted to children, even as I was a child. I could never conceive of the idea of getting pregnant. The whole idea terrified me. All that hormonal change, the huge belly, the stretching of the skin, going into hospital, having a Cesarian or , worse, giving birth. I could never find the idea appealing and I always envied men for being able to just 'have fun' and leave all the boring , suffering, ungrateful work of child bearing to women. Perhaps if I were born a very wealhy man I would consider having a child. As a middle class female, I'm sure my life would be miserable and I wouldn't have the slightes fun in ANY of the stages of motherhood. I simply haven't got the maternal urge or instinct or whatever it is they call it. I also always felt there was something wrong with me, or strange , for feeling like that - until recently when I found my first childfree site " Happily Childfree" . It was a great relief to know that I'm not alone in my way of thinking and feeling.

What are the three most important factors that influenced your decision to be childfree? Do you enjoy being childfree? If so, why? If not, why not? Are there any bad things about being childfree? If so, what are they?

First I never wanted to GET PREGNANT and suffer all the physical disconfort and torture that that condition involves. I didn't want to ruin my body - at least not until I'm definately OLD. Secondly, I think that unless someone is a millionaire, having children is a great financial drain on anyone's account. Thirdly, I believe the world already has too many people and that it today it is actually a very unselfish ( not to mention ecological!) thing to remain childfree. Finally, considering the WORLD we live in, I think it is also a very charitable thing not to impose life on THIS planet on anyone else.

Please describe the kinds of reactions you have received from others in response to your not having children. How supportive and accepting have your friends and family been? How accepting do you feel society as whole is of the voluntarily childless ("childfree") lifestyle? Do you feel childfree individuals suffer from unfairness, prejudice or discrimination in society? Do you feel there are common misconceptions about childfree individuals or the childfree lifestyle?

In my native country (Brazil) most people seemed somewhat surprised and I believe deep down disapproved of my decision. Here in America I suffer less prejudice but maybe that's because at this point I'm already past 40 and my husband 50. There is definately prejudice against childfree people. Human beings are so vain that most people can't conceive of eventually just leaving this planet without leaving their super precious and unique DNA behind them. I also think some people believe that by having children it will be easier to face the concept of death. For my part, I'd just rather enjoy life withou them as best as I can and not worry or think much about the 'later'... But the truth is , there is always a price to pay when you want and insist on being different and not following the crowd. Society forces people to act alike. To eat the same kind of food, drive to work, wear certain brands, have certain appliances, have children. Anyone who goes out of the norm is looked upon as some kind of society freak or in the best of cases, selfish and individualistic.

In retrospect, how do you feel about your decision to be childfree? Do you still feel the same way as always on this issue? To date have you had any regrets? Do you think you may have regrets later in life? Is there any possibility you may change your mind about having children at some point?

I've always thought this way and I believe I always will. Every month when I get my period I can't help but give a sigh of relief. When menopause comes, for me it will be just a greater ocasion to enjoy my sexual life with no longer any fear of getting pregnant by some horrid biological accident.

Have you had any childfree role models during your life? Please explain.

None whatsoever. I was always alone in my view and attitude in this subject back home ( in Brazil). I had never even heard that there were other women like me in the world until I found "Happily Childfree" recently...

When you compare your life to the lives of women you know who have children (family, friends, co-workers), how would you evaluate the advantages, disadvantages, and overall life satisfaction associated with each kind of lifestyle?

I think every person has their priorities and the things that make them happy. I know some women who - from my perspective have a horrible, mediocre, boring life full of limitations BECAUSE they have become mothers. However , some of them are quite pleased with their lives and enjoy motherhood. They would be miserable otherwise. I , on the other hand, would be totally miserable if I had THEIR lives!

Do you perceive that there are any dominant messages expressed in our culture about having children? If so, what are they?

We definately live in a childcentric planet. Everywhere. In every culture and country. People are taught to have children, expected to have them, considered 'abnormal' , selfish , vain etc... if they don't . There is a general brainwashing in human society concerning the importance of having children, family etc... But at least in America the concept of childfreedom is picking up and more and more people are beginning to accept it even if they don't agree or empathize with it.

Do you feel these messages are for the most part accurate, inaccurate, misleading or something else? Please explain.

The media , everyone usually sends the same messages. Children are beautiful. They are the future. Have them. We'll approve of you if you do. It's part of human nature. It's part of the human life cycle. The whole idea is still very Medieval but at least today , those who don't share it and follow it are spared from being burn't at the stake. At least some progress has been made since the 1200's ...

Have any parents ever spoken to you about the "downside" of having children or told you if they had to go back and do it all over again, they wouldn't have kids? Have any parents expressed that they are jealous of you for being childfree? If so, please describe the conversation(s).

Nobody ever told me they were jealous but I've heard a mother say she understood my decision and wouln't have had children herself either if she could go back in time. Most people , however, will not say so even if they feel it. I guess once the 'event' has taken place, most people just try to convince themselves that they've taken the right decision and don't regret it. It's like having a son killed at war. They always try to convince themselves that it was all for a 'good and noble ' cause . They need that belief to go on living without feeling even more miserable with the choice they've had.

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