Life Without Children: A Road Less Traveled

Parenthood might be the most documented lifestyle of all.

Money and religion have always been taboo topics for any casual conversation. Now, there’s another: What it’s like to not have children.

No longer the exclusive domain of the spinster aunt or the friend whose sister can’t conceive, it’s increasingly becoming a conscious choice for a variety of reasons. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome at age 25. I haven’t completely ruled out kids, but taking care of myself is a top priority  right now.

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“There are tons of treatments,” I’ve been told. “Or you can always adopt!”

I’m quite aware of the options. I know about women and their “angel babies,” a term used to describe still-births and lost pregnancies. I doubt I could handle such a loss. Some of their symptoms were the same as mine: irregular and heavy periods, pelvic pain, acne and oily skin, insulin resistance, depression, weight gain.

These days, parenthood may be the most documented lifestyle choice of all. Through the multiple Facebook postings of Ava’s Frozen-themed birthday party, those of us without kids get a glimpse of what it might (or should?) be like.

Ava hasn’t stopped singing “Let It Go.” So it’s a parent’s duty, of course, to throw her the coolest Frozen party since Elsa opened the doors to the kingdom. It was you, Mom, who posted that frantic message looking for a girl’s size-4 Anna dress. It was you, Dad, who hired an Elsa look-alike and had the backyard flooded to make an ice-skating rink. And, just so everyone could build their own Olaf, you both decided to bump the party to epic status with a snow machine.

Me, I don’t coordinate birthday bashes or playdates. I don’t pre-apply to prestigious preschools or post the sort of potty-training pics that lead even the proudest parent to wonder, “What is it like not having children?”

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Well, it’s different. It’s the option that’s never discussed. All our young lives we hear, “Just wait until you have kids of your own.”

Or not.

I work full time. I have dinner with my husband a few times a week, since he works two jobs. At night, I go to writers’ groups, cover assignments for a local newspaper, and hammer out freelance projects. On weekends, I don’t set the alarm—and not because I’m nursing a hangover. Too many drinks gives me a migraine.

Our fixer-upper home routinely tests our patience and bank account. We laugh a lot, and I love cooking for friends. We don’t travel as much as we’d like, and there are no lavish shopping sprees.

I don’t feel the need to make my child-less life sound glamorous. I can still love kids and decide not to have any. In doing so, I can leave the door open for a miracle. I believe in such things, just like I did when I was young. I revel in a child’s sense of wonder. Perhaps my life is so full without kids because a part of me still is one.

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Katie Bambi-Kohler would happily accept an invitation to a Frozen-themed party.

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