About five months into our relationship, my boyfriend mentioned he once thought very seriously about getting a vasectomy.
I was shocked and appalled to hear this, and not for reasons one may think.
My first thought was, "Ouch."
I cringed at the pain and discomfort he would have felt from the procedure, as well at the large medical bill he'd have to deal with.
But, I was not taken aback by the potential of having children with him "sealed" from me permanently, should our relationship work out in the long run.
I don't want kids.
That may be nontraditional, and it is not a decision I made lightly. It's not for any brushed-off reason, like wanting to travel, having the freedom to sleep in or not having to face stares from inconvenienced strangers when my kid wails and throws tantrums in public places.
It's just not for me, as simple as that.
Do I feel bad about it? No.
I'd feel worse for the child who would have to call me "Mom" if I let society dictate whether or not I have kids. The bottom line is it is not fair to have a child with neither financial stability nor the personal desire to do so.
In my mind, it is a plain injustice to willingly subject a child to be raised under such circumstances just because having children is "what you do," and because as a woman, I am biologically built to do so.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five women in 2010 chose not to have children, compared with one in 10 in the 1970s. Childlessness is an upward trend, and that should be okay.
There is a new collection of essays which sheds light on this very topic by both male and female writers titled, "Shallow, Selfish, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids."
Published earlier this year, the book is a compilation of strong voices that continue the cultural conversation on the overwhelming pressure of pursuing parenthood.
To parents who feel offended and enraged by those who choose not become parents, Meghan Daum, editor of "Shallow, Selfish, and Self-Absorbed," argues,
Celebrities from Dolly Parton to George Clooney have said they don't want children (though rumors of Clooney's wife, Amal's pregnancy may someday negate this).
Oprah Winfrey doesn't want children. Would Oprah, arguably the most omnipresent female public figure in the world, be the media queen/über-philanthropist she is today if she had kids? I cannot imagine how many times she must get asked why she does not have children.
When pushed to answer the "kids question" during a recent interview with Charlie Rose, George Clooney replied, "It hasn't been high on my list."
And, why do we care so much? Why is this topic so taboo that we cannot simply give a to-each-his-own approach?
I prefer a barking dog to a screaming baby, and that's my prerogative. Just because the closest thing to motherhood I plan on experiencing in life will be for a creature that has four legs and is covered with fur doesn't mean I don't have a heart.
I feel lucky to be alive in a time where having children isn't a requirement to living a full life.
To those who choose to make drastic lifestyle changes in order to have children and can carry that responsibility on their shoulders, good for you. Being able and willing to do that is a big effing deal, so congratulations to you if that is what makes you happy.
Everyone's definition of happiness is different and open to interpretation. Whether or not children are a part of the criteria is up to the individual.