'Time' Magazine's 'Childfree' Life Article Shows Moms What They Are Missing

Say What!? 77

As someone who has not taken a vacation in the seven years since my twins were born -- a real one that involves lying in the sand in a bathing suit -- Lauren Sandler's Time magazine cover story about life being better without kids seriously struck a nerve.

My daughters aren't only the best thing I have ever done, they were a hard-won prize that came with one of those harrowing IVF stories we are all accustomed to hearing now. When motherhood didn't come easily to me, I was devastated, depressed, and distraught. The idea that the thing I most desperately wanted in my entire life might never happen was equal to annihilation. Yes, that real and that intense.

I hate being away from my girls. But this summer they have been lucky enough to spend weekdays at day camp in the country with grandparents and a babysitter running the ship while my husband and I work. And I am slightly horrified to admit that for the first time maybe ever, I can see the appeal of the child-free life

Like all working moms, my day is book-ended between school drop-off and when the babysitter leaves. I am home often. Most nights, I'd say. And it is not a sacrifice. I want to hear about school, spend time with my goofballs, read them Rainbow Magic books before bed. I fall asleep with them more than I'd like to admit. But there you go. I just did. I would go so far as to say there might even be a bit of co-dependence going on between me and my daughters. Hence the vacation problem mentioned above.

When the summer started, I worried that I would miss them so badly and that they would miss me so badly that this experiment would fail miserably. I watched friends send their slightly older kids off to summer camp for seven impossibly long weeks and my heart broke for them. For the record, they have spent every day since trolling their camps' website for photos of their children looking happy that they then email around as evidence that their pain is worth it.

More from The Stir: An Open Letter to New Mom Kate Middleton

The first week that my husband and I were in the city, my girls called a lot. One of them would cry in the mornings because I wasn't there. Then, the calls tapered off. And something happened. My husband and I met for drinks at 9:30 p.m. I started staying up late and watching movies or reading. Reading! I met friends for dinner -- is it worth noting that these friends happened to be of the "childless" variety? I worked late -- the way I used to in the old days. It felt right. It felt normal.

I found myself saying goodbye to my munchkins on Sundays and secretly looking forward to the start of the week. Driving away from my girls, I felt downright giddy.

The truth is, my enjoyment of this time is in part because I know it is temporary. I know that in a matter of days, my husband and I will be back to doing the full-time parenting, the drudge work, the refereeing, the cuddling, the playing, and the answering of precocious questions that make me squeeze them so hard I could cry.

If this child-free life were in fact my full-time life, no matter what Lauren Sandler says is a statistical trend, or what the women she interviewed insist they prefer, I would be miserable. I think a lot of moms would agree. For many of us -- if not most -- having children is having it all.

Do you think you would have preferred a life without kids?


Image via Time magazine

77 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

cleig... cleigh717

I got started young and always thought I wudnt have kids. Until I had my oopsie! My son and my daughter r the light of my life. If I didn't have my oopsie, I probably wudnt be going to college ryt now, or be married bc I nevr really saw myself doing that either. My alternate life probably wud have elapse like a relationship merry go round with a really sucky pay wage. Yes, I am very happy with my real life and wudnt trade it for regular vacations at all!

jalaz77 jalaz77

No. Some days, like today I second guess the parent in me. I don't feel Like a good loving parent because I argue with kids all day, break up arguments, potty training, nursing a 2 mo old...I just wanted to walk away for 24 hrs. Just feel like a referee some days. I would still do this all over again. I just really need to learn some relaxing techniques.

Andrea Byrd Plate

My husband and I got married young and waited for eight years to have kids-during that time we went back to school, worked on our careers, traveled to Europe and seriously questioned whether we even wanted kids.  I realize that doesn't work for everyone, but I loved those child free years and don't feel like I missed out before having kids.  I also feel confident that my husband and I will be able to enjoy a good child free life when the kids leave the nest.

nonmember avatar Ember

I'm very glad you have a life that is meaningful and fulfilled. But please don't make the mistake that your way is the only way. Those women, the ones "she interviewed insist [who] they prefer" being childfree, feel exactly the same way. Your way is right for you, but it is not the RIGHT WAY nor is it the only way. I can't imagine bringing a child into an over populated world anymore than you can imagine not having your children. The really great part is that there are no rules, and we are free to make that choice for ourselves.

Knitt... KnittyTina

It's interesting to think about, but I do prefer having my kids.  My husband and I lived together for awhile, got married, and had a few years without kids and it was nice, but things were kind of monotonous.  We would go to the bar several times a week, eat out all the time, and see every movie at the theater.   After awhile, it got kind of boring because there was no adventure.  I see having kids as more of an adventure and I'm always taking them places to go explore.   Before we had kids, we never went to the zoo or the art museum, now me and the kids are there all the time.  I feel like there is always something new around the bend and something new to get excited about with them.  Even though I'm getting older, I feel like my kids are keeping me young.

nonmember avatar Allison

Ember, hit the nail on the head for me. It is the same kind of choice. Yes, most people prefer have children but I think it is just as acceptable to not have them as it is to have them. I think the bigger issue is that it's the people that that aren't having them "should" bc there are so many people that shouldn't are (with out pointing fingers).

PRIMA487 PRIMA487

Some don't want kids just as badly as those who do.I've always known I just didn't have the patience to handle kids,and I never regretted it.

nonmember avatar kaerae

If you're really happy with your own choice, you wouldn't judge others for theirs. It's a preference, nothing more. There are generous and selfish parents and generous and selfish non-parents, one more dumb thing to argue about.

nonmember avatar loli3

The Times article offers valid support for leading a child-free life. I never planned on children but have two sons. It's been character building and I make the necessary sacrifices by instinct. (You just can't help it when you are a Mom.) I have to admit, I love them more than myself and I'm so lucky I enjoy their company - but it has been beyond financially challenging. The pressure is relentless and contributes to major mental stress and anxiety. It's not a money vs. kid thing once you have kids because you can't imagine life without them, but it is incredibly, incredibly taxing just to keep a roof over our heads. (I am a single Mom - but not by choice.) Knowing the challenges, I can't fault for not making the choices I made, and I'm sure many childless people put their energy into other wonderful things. For example, my kids' aunt is childless by choice, and she has been wonderful with my kids - by choice. She spends time when she chooses to, but it is with her full energy. I feel like I am half baked all the time.

nonmember avatar julie

As someone who has never been able to have kids, i don't like it when people assume you are selfish and that all you do is vacation and eat at expensive restaurants. We don't do those things. We have pets so most of our time and money goes to them!

1-10 of 77 comments 12345 Last
F