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Living Child Free

aidan

I don't have children, and probably never will. I've never had the motherly urge, or felt panic as the biological clock moved forward. At my age, the clock is in alarm mode and there's absolutely no sense of desperation or yearning for a child. Even as a young girl, I never dreamed of a wedding, the white picket fence or kids. I was motivated by new experiences, new sights and new senses. Always with my nose in a book, reading about some distant place or culture rather than feeding baby dolls with imaginary bottles. In some ways, I've always been a wanderer, a free spirit who doesn't wish to be tied down. I like the freedom of a child free life, the ability to decide at the last minute to pack my bags and go with no hesitation or worries.

The truth is I love children, and am surrounded by them at all times. Almost every weekend, I'm at my sister's house spending time with my nephew - the little rascal in this photo. A five year old genius who constantly amazes me with his sense of wonder, his curiosity about the world and things around him. I mentioned before that my mom comes from a large family, ten siblings who have produced a lot of offspring. So, I also have a lot of young cousins and I visit them frequently. For me, it's enough at this point in life.

Sometimes my nephew will pack his bag and spend the weekend at my apartment. A sort of adventure to the "big city." We stare at the Washington Monument from my window, watch airplanes land at National Airport from my balcony, read books and play in the pool. By Sunday evening, I'm completely exhausted and crave peace and quiet. I send him home to mommy and return to normal life with great pleasure. Throughout the week, I speak to him and other cousins on the phone numerous times. Constant contact with the little ones.

apt

When I first started this blog, the thing that amazed me most were the messages I would get from men who suggested that I must be "miserable" without children. It's not "natural" for a woman my age to be unmarried and not have a family. The implication was that I'm some type of flawed or selfish human being for choosing this lifestyle. To me, the more selfish route in life are those who get married and have children merely to conform with societal norms or perceptions of what a woman should be. Women who have children because it's expected, and then simply ignore them, pass them off on nannies and, in the end, produce damaged adults.

If you regularly read my blog, it should be clear that I don't subscribe to traditional views of womanhood. In my mind, a woman's place in the world should be what she wants it to be. Just like a man. This is not some crazy feminist statement, and I respect those who choose the path of housewife and motherhood. These women are the champions of the world, carrying so much responsibility on their shoulders. I count my own mom in the category. She had me at 20 years old, and worked the night shift for many years so she could be with my sister and me during the day. To this day, she remains a huge inspiration in my life.

I'm not opposed to children, and perhaps I'll meet a wonderful man in the next few years and feel the urge to have a baby. Those who know me constantly say I would be a great mom. Despite what some of you think, I am in fact a very caring, thoughtful and nurturing woman. I care deeply about children, and represent neglected and abused ones in the family court system free of charge. I've prosecuted "dead beat" dads who failed to pay child support, and found homes for children who were living with drug addicted and abusive parents. Those who harm innocent children - in my mind these people are the worst scum of the earth.

In America, women in my position are not viewed as abnormal. Fewer women are having babies, and those who do are having them at a much older age. An unmarried woman is not seen as some type of damaged goods. In fact, there are many single women who remain youthful and lively in their 40's, 50's and onward. I count myself in this category. Running around with my partner in crime, causing trouble and having fun as often as possible.

tree copy

It's my perception that this is another big difference between Russian and American cultures, but maybe I'm wrong. How would I be perceived in Russia as a 40 year old, childless woman? For those who have kids, how did it change your life?

In the end, I feel no obligation to procreate or get married for the sake of others. In the words of the great American poet Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry that I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Comments

( 131 comments — Leave a comment )
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fesma94
Aug. 20th, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
How would I be perceived in Russia as a 40 year old, childless woman
I don't know about Russia today ,I live in Israel more than 17 years . In this country if you childless woman almost all will feel sorry for you,but not blame. My son has certainly changed my life.I'm so happy when he ask me:" Daddy,I need your help please".
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: How would I be perceived in Russia as a 40 year old, childless woman
There's no need to feel sorry, unless a woman really wants children and can't have them for some reason. I feel the same joy when Aidan asks me for help, or shares exciting news with me. He will finally start kindergarten in a few weeks, and I'll be there with my sister, mom and other families members to see him off on his first day of school. Certain to shed a tear. :))
But she must want children. - xpo_xpo_xpo - Aug. 21st, 2013 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
cherez_dorogu
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hear frequently that it is high time for me to have baby. And a lot of deprecation if I admit that we are not planning kids as things stand now. But the opinion of some outsiders should not be my problem, I think.
Actually, my attitude has much in common with yours.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
I thought you were male! I'm so happy to see another woman shares my love for curvy, adventurous roads. :) I remember your avatar of the roller-coaster road in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
(no subject) - cherez_dorogu - Aug. 20th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
togliatt
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
every person on this earth has his mission in this life
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
I agree, but I'm not sure what my mission is yet. :)
(no subject) - togliatt - Aug. 20th, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
gella_key
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
You know, much has changed in people's attitude towards unmarried and childless women in Russia in recent years. Personally I and my childless female friends of the same age (something over 30) don't feel much pressure. Even when this year I visited a rather remoted small russian town, I didn't face much judgement for being still single and not having babies, not even from my relatives with children, so it's much easier for us here now :-) Although our moms are somewhat worried about our future, but moms are the same everywhere :-)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:56 pm (UTC)
I feel no pressure from my family about kids or marriage. They understand my personality, and there are plenty of other relatives having babies (including my sister).
(no subject) - gella_key - Aug. 20th, 2013 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
dys206
Aug. 20th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
> How would I be perceived in Russia as a 40 year old, childless woman?

Sorry, but in Russia they would say that you wasted your life.
But there are child-free women here. Take my sister for example, she is a little older than you are and she is single and perfectly happy with her life as a single and childless woman. It makes our mother unhappy though.
When I meet someone I know but haven't seen for a while one of the obligatory questions to me is "How's your sister? Did she get married?" But it is not such gender-asymmetric as you think because I get such questions about myself too (I am a guy).
In Russia many people just don't believe in things other than family, like it's the only real thing, real value. It's not only cultural, it's historical. Many greatest ideas turned into nothing, many things didn't pass the test of time. For a man or a woman who is looking for some reason in their life there is not so many choices. So yes, many Russians think it is only natural to find their happiness in marriage.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
It's interesting a Russian man would encounter the same questions about being unmarried. I didn't expect this. Family, of course, is still a very important part of American culture and values. As it should be. But the word "family" has many meanings. I don't believe in the concept of a nuclear family. I support single women adopting children, and even same sex parenting. A family can consist of something more than a husband/wife/child. What matters is that there is love and support, not neglect.
(no subject) - plushevii_zaits - Aug. 20th, 2013 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dys206 - Aug. 21st, 2013 03:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - plushevii_zaits - Aug. 21st, 2013 05:21 am (UTC) - Expand
new_forester
Aug. 20th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
My daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me, but I know plenty of people who don't want to have kids and are happy doing other things. To each his own. Although, I have to say that I find it unfortunate for the humanity that so many smart and educated people choose to remain childless. This slowly erodes the gene pool. I wonder, if eventually we will end up with a world portrayed in the movie "Idiocracy".

Edited at 2013-08-20 07:01 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of this film, but looked it up. Interesting concept, I'll be sure to watch. Yes, it sometimes seems those who are prolific at procreation are precisely the type of people who shouldn't be having children in the first place. Wow, that's a lot of words starting with "p" in one sentence!! :)
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
efeiya_grassie
Aug. 20th, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
In a small town a girl of 21 will be asked about marriage first of all. I'm 27.5 and still childless. And most of my relatives are worried about it. To tell the truth, they have great problems, and seem to have a kind of sadistic delight inventing problems for me too :)

I have a very devoted and loving husband, we had our 5th wedding anniversary in May. We want to have children. I personally had the motherly urge when I was 15 - yes, as early as that! But I understand the great responsibility of this new status. So I did my best to bring my children into a friendly world. Now I think, I can afford this.

But planning a child is still an "innovation" in Russia. Most children become a surprise for their parents. Girls are very often afraid of abortion. I've never wanted to find myself in such a situation: to deliver a baby in order not to loose the ability to have children. My mother did so, and this is an ugly and sad experience.

I think, we have so many curious "stakeholders" because of the "barrack syndrome". Our parents and grandparents rarely had a flat for themselves. So we are supposed to be a part of their family. And you can guess, who is supposed to be a boss :)))
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC)
"But I understand the great responsibility of this new status." You're a wise woman!

"Who is supposed to be boss." :)) Russian man, of course? This will be a topic later in the week. Russian men vs. American men. Stay tuned! :)
(no subject) - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 21st, 2013 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand
There was nothing about you! - xpo_xpo_xpo - Aug. 21st, 2013 10:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: There was nothing about you! - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 21st, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: There was nothing about you! - qi_tronic - Aug. 21st, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: There was nothing about you! - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 22nd, 2013 05:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: There was nothing about you! - qi_tronic - Aug. 22nd, 2013 08:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: There was nothing about you! - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 22nd, 2013 09:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anna_potapov - Aug. 21st, 2013 03:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 21st, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
amandakysses
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Sister having babies?!?!?! Please elaborate. Immediately. My mom always wanted children. But she didn't have me until 27. She figured she would be the cool single aunt to all my cousins. That sounds like an exciting life. To each their own. I think it's so good that people wait until they know they really want children, until they have their adventures and their careers so that when children come they feel happy and blessed and can be devoted amazing parents. I've wanted to be a mother since I was 16. Hopefully someday soon, but who knows when or how it will happen. Marriage and children don't need to go hand in hand either. Everyone should follow their own path, find their own joy. I always wish you continued happiness no matter how it comes to you. Loves! Xoxo
amandakysses
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:39 pm (UTC)
PS- that boy is my favorite! He really is a genius. He blows my mind all the time. Love him! Kiss Aidan for me.
PPS- gotta love Robert Frost!
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 21st, 2013 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 21st, 2013 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - efeiya_grassie - Aug. 21st, 2013 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
moonrainbow
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
This is a lifetime question "what do you leave behind you" and it is a very personal choice. I have no big family surrounding me and feel very uneasy when I imagine myself in an old age totally alone. So I absolutely need kids, and my own kids. But you do have a big family - perhaps this settles all those thoughts down as you see kids around you and know that you will share part of yourself with them.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
I know I'll never be alone in old age because of my large family. You're right, I think it plays a big role in my feelings on the topic.
mybathroom
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
>>How would I be perceived in Russia as a 40 year old, childless woman?
I think, the most Russians would feel sorry for you (not me!). And I think, you do the right thing - you are the one who you want to be.

>>For those who have kids, how did it change your life?
My son brings a lot of joy in our life. It's miracle!
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Denis, I believe you're a great dad based on our discussions! Your love for your son shines through. :)
(no subject) - mybathroom - Aug. 21st, 2013 04:22 am (UTC) - Expand
lotu_s
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
There are doctors in the famous phrase: " do No harm", and in case of birth of a child, it is the responsibility of doubly. Some parents simply not allowed to have children. In Russia at this time often children are left to themselves because parents are too busy or work, or themselves and their problems.
The birth of a child should be internally prepared, really desire it with all your heart. Only Love can grow really a Man, and I agree it's not important here the traditional family or not.
Your question can answer this, this is Your life and Your choice.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
"In Russia at this time often children are left to themselves because parents are too busy or work, or themselves and their problems." Sadly, it's often the case in America as well.
When children have friends to play, - xpo_xpo_xpo - Aug. 21st, 2013 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
real_marsel
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
First photo is wonderful! You're so beautiful woman, your hairstyle is astonishing. .What about kids: fully share your opinion. A man must not have children. He does not owe. But if a person becomes schastlvym giving birth to children, and to wish good luck and happiness. I do not want to have children, but is a good nanny, because I have a little brother and sister.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Little brother and sister certainly keep you busy! Thanks for your compliments. "Hairstyle is astonishing." :) I have really crazy, curly hair. That's why it's always pulled back or under a hat. It takes a lot of effort to tame it. But it's part of my personality, and I like it.
Шэнон очень вежлива - andrey_kaminsky - Aug. 21st, 2013 05:18 am (UTC) - Expand
chanceux_n
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
I also childless adult woman. I've never been married and have no children. it was my choice. but ... Now panic starts .. I'm scared that I'll be alone all my life ... because of the biological clock ... time goes by and soon I will not be able to bear children even if I wanted ...
in Russia is really different attitude to single women without children. they are considered a failure. Now I also consider myself a failure. perhaps because of public opinion .. adult women who have never been married and have no children in Russia are considered second-class product and pathetic at others ...
I completely agree with your opinion regarding children and the responsibility to them ..
and I would like to feel the way you .. I want to be free from public view, but I can not ... I understand that my life as a woman, very soon be over and I'll be all alone ..
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
Your statements make me very sad! You should never consider yourself a failure for the reasons set forth in your message. I hope you find happiness, with a man or on your own. All the best to you.
(no subject) - lotu_s - Aug. 21st, 2013 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
noisy_kid
Aug. 20th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
I'm Russian, 24 years old, living in Germany. Everytime I go to Moscow to visit my parents and grandparents, all my friends and relatives start to ask me when I will finally get married and have children, saying "you are not that young anymore, you know, the clock is ticking!" I can only imagine how hard it is in Russia for childless women in their thirties and older, who have to listen to this every day. Unfortunately, many people in Russia are lacking any sense of privacy and just keep poking their noses into other people's business.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
You're only 24!! By this reasoning, I'm a dinosaur. :) You study in Germany, or went there for a job? I've traveled there, but only to Nuremberg. Beautiful city!
(no subject) - noisy_kid - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - noisy_kid - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Are you Russian man? :) - xpo_xpo_xpo - Aug. 21st, 2013 01:10 am (UTC) - Expand
south_of_broad
Aug. 20th, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)
The biggest difference between America and Russia is in a sense and a concept of a privacy. We accept each other's choices even if we disagree with them. Politics, education, family business, life style. We all have a right to choose whatever suites us the best. Russian society is built on many-many dogmas of what and how it should be. So if you and your life aren't within the " party lines" - God help you then .
My kids on the other hand came into my life against the odds. According to the doctors I wasn't suppose to have the babies. Just like that. Imagine their (and mine ) surprise ))) Twice) So, yeah, I didn't plan to have my kids, but I am damn happy to have them. Planned or not)

Edited at 2013-08-20 08:46 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 20th, 2013 11:01 pm (UTC)
My sister and I also were surprises! The stork was busy. :) Yes, I've noticed many Russians only see things in black or white. No room or tolerance for opinions or lifestyles which vary from the norm. My mind doesn't work that way.
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