Mama Don't Preach: Thoughts on Respecting Parenthood Decisions

The Way We Were

And while we're doggedly running round and round it, we can talk about all the things we miss from our old lives. Like going to movies or the theater or the ballet. Like enjoying a leisurely meal at a restaurant. Like getting up in the morning and going to the gym without first negotiating with your spouse for your 40-minute parental leave.

I'm not complaining. I wanted to be here, gazing into my newborn's eyes instead of, say, getting all dressed up and going to the spate of black-tie shindigs I get invited to each spring. The little fella may not say much yet, but he's already a better conversationalist than most of the tablemates I've been compelled to chat with at such events over the years.

Taking a Stand

But parenthood as panacea? I'm not buying it, and neither should anyone who's not really into the idea of being a mom or pop.

I'm here as a new parent to stand up for all those nonparents out there -- the ones who haven't yet made up their minds about kids and the ones who definitely have -- and proclaim that there is nothing wrong with not having children. I did it for more than three decades and led what I'd consider a pretty rich life, filled with learning, love, travel, adventure, laughter...and other people's children.

You're not being selfish. Your life won't be empty. And you're certainly not destined for a sad, lonely end. People can find meaning in their lives in ways that don't include progeny.

So the next time some well-intentioned parent harasses you about your decision not to have kids -- or at least not to have them yet -- just let yourself off society's hook, go out and live the life you've chosen with no regrets. Find fulfillment by climbing a mountain, jumping out of an airplane, taking a job in Asia or, hell, reading the Sunday paper without interruption. Then tell us breeders about it. And feel free to gloat.

Maybe Baby

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor at Salon. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

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