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Feminism / Health / Parenthood / Self Care

I’m Choosing to be Childfree, and I’m Not an Anomaly

" Being childfree does not make me a kid-hater or empty. Instead, it’s one of several choices I’ve made for my life."

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Written by Stephanie Laurenza.
Art by Egor Evlev.

I text the latest installment in The Guardian’s childfree series to my friend Rachel: “FINALLY. Maybe now we can talk about how sometimes, women just don’t wanna.”

The Atlantic, Time and The New York Times got in on it, too. I started to feel seen and heard in a space where I previously felt alone and defensive. Could we consider that having children is not the sole purpose of a woman’s existence?

Intrigued by the possibility we’d start exploring the opinions of women who chose the opposite of what was impressed as the standard, I responded to The New York Times’ May 2021 survey following the census results showing the second-lowest decade of population growth since 1790. “Are women simply delaying children, or forgoing child bearing altogether?” the NYT pondered.

But what about those of us who decided not to have kids, pre-pandemic or otherwise; those of us who opted to be childfree, just because we don’t want kids, ever. . .there is an us, right?

Just one month later, the NYT published Why American Women Everywhere are Delaying Motherhood, pointing to the brokenness of America’s systems exposed by the pandemic. To be clear: I wholeheartedly agree that America consistently does wrong by its mothers. No guaranteed parental leave; no universal pre-Kindergarten program; child care often costs more than a mortgage. The American system wasn’t built to support women, which becomes extra apparent for women in a parental role. COVID heightened the stacks against us. . . but they’ve always been there, especially for women of color.

But what about those of us who decided not to have kids, pre-pandemic or otherwise; those of us who opted to be childfree, just because we don’t want kids, ever. . .there is an us, right?


I’m in my early-thirties, married to the love of my life, both of us with decently-paying, stable jobs. We’re also first-generation college students from a downtrodden Western Pennsylvania town befallen by the double-punch of abandoned steel mills and the opioid crisis. I have the bonus of being a child of addicts, hiding from constables and using my tips earned at Hoss’s Steak & Seahouse to ensure our utilities worked.

Despite this, I wasn’t always against having kids. My experience often served as motivation to have children (I can break the cycle! I learned what not to do!). Facebook’s Memories feature recently reminded me of when I was 21 and my answer to, “do you want kids?” was, “absolutely.” I remember telling friends I’d take their kids for them if they found themselves in The Family Way.

Somewhere between 21-year-old Stephanie posting surveys on Facebook and current day Stephanie scrolling on Facebook, the “absolutely, yes” dissipated. Maybe it was how long Jon and I spent living paycheck-to-paycheck after college. Maybe it was finally not living paycheck-to-paycheck and realizing how much we enjoyed life with one another.

I enjoy reading, he enjoys playing video games; he loves fishing and I love floating with a drink in my hand. I also really, really like my sleep. The idea of waking up even ten minutes before I positively have to is repulsive to me – how could I possibly be expected to get a whole other human ready for the day?

There are those who say holes they didn’t even know existed are filled when they become Mothers. While I respect this, I cannot imagine navigating the interruption children would bring to my life – which isn’t even glamorous. I enjoy reading, he enjoys playing video games; he loves fishing and I love floating with a drink in my hand. I also really, really like my sleep. The idea of waking up even ten minutes before I positively have to is repulsive to me – how could I possibly be expected to get a whole other human ready for the day?

I can see why some call this selfish. But is it selfish to center myself in my own life – a life I worked hard for? I have plenty of titles: Friend. Sister. Wife. Aunt. College Graduate. Contributing, Functional Member of Society. These are good enough. I am good enough.


I can see why some call this selfish. But is it selfish to center myself in my own life – a life I worked hard for?

I have two nephews and four nieces, as well as a smattering of children in my life who call me “Aunt Steph,” and younger cousins whom I seek out at family events. My heart overfloweth when Nolan excitedly declares my favorite color (purple); when Lexi calls me Aunt Hippie; when Gavin asks me Very Serious Questions™. Mist sneaks into my eyes when I think of McKenna and I hand-in-hand, or the day when Aria ran to me with her arms outstretched.

I was babysitting when I was ten. I was a nanny in college, and those two girls were our flower girls. I actually love kids — I just don’t want them. My ovaries do not weep, and I do not find myself wistfully staring at children at playgrounds or in grocery stores.

I’ll let you in on a secret: despite the lack of innate desire to be A Mom, I still want to be in the conversation. I read reports on Pennsylvania’s School Districts and creep through threads about parenting advice so I can ask questions like, “How’s potty training going? Have you tried the Naked-For-48 method?” Sometimes this knowledge comes in handy: when I met newborn Anna and burped her, Rachel was amazed. “None of my other friends would know to do that,” she said. Yes!, I thought, I can totally still be a part of this.

I actually love kids — I just don’t want them. My ovaries do not weep, and I do not find myself wistfully staring at children at playgrounds or in grocery stores.


Saying “no” to having children is about protecting my peace. I worked my ass off to escape endless instability in search of peace. I still work my ass off in search of peace. I go to therapy, I take Celexa, I do yoga and watch reality TV and drink wine to help my mind and body find peace, too. Quite frankly: I am not willing to have this peace shattered.

And so, just as I say “no” to having kids, I’ll continue to say “yes” to other experiences: vacations, happy hours, naps, dinners out where the only mess is when my Italian-fueled-hand-gestures inevitably cause a spill.

While I’ve bucked several stereotypes in my life, this is maybe the best one. Being childfree does not make me a kid-hater or empty. Instead, it’s one of several choices I’ve made for my life.. . .Similar to the choice I’ve made to own three cats, so I guess one childfree stereotype still applies.


About the Author

Stephanie Laurenza –
No longer a Girl, kind of a Woman, trying to be a Writer, definitely not a Mother.

Stephanie Laurenza works in communications for a manufacturing company. When she’s not strategizing to tell the company’s story, she’s daydreaming about the stories SHE wants to be telling (and/or drinking outside somewhere). She resides in Pittsburgh, PA with four cats and a wonderful husband (whom she grew up across the street from – really!). Her passions include reading, writing, reality TV, coffee, red wine and spending time with the people she loves (…bonus points if it includes the aforementioned drinking outside). Find her on Twitter at @StephLaurenza.

Follow on IG: @steelingstephanie | Follow on Twitter: @stephlaurenza


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