Sunday, August 22, 2010

Non, je ne regrette rien

"No!  I will have no regrets."  These words, sung by Edith Piaf, ring in my ears like both a ballad and a battle cry.  You see, since the days when I was but a child myself, I have known it to be true that I have no desire to have children.  What I have not always known is why, and consequently, I have not always embraced the thought.  

When I was young, my wild imagination let my dollies act as friends, and when playing house, the coveted position of mother was never sought.  I wanted to be an astronaut, a doctor, a pharmacist, a scientist, or perhaps, Annie Oakley.  I was a happy child, full of giggles and mischief, independent and strong-willed, but sensitive, nonetheless.  There has always been within me a love for animals, nature, and humankind.  I read wondrous tales of heroism and adventure, and longed to resemble my great-grandmother, Clara, in any way.  She passed before I had a chance to meet her, but the stories of her are grand, and the letters she left behind tell of a woman with spirit, ambition, intellect, sensitivity, style and class.  

For so many years it was hard to recognize what kind of woman I had become, for my focus was on defending my position to not have children.  I struggled with the concept and found myself trying desperately to want to raise a family.  The comments and criticism that came with my attestations left me angry, hurt, and confused.  Even more harmful than that, especially when I was seeking acceptance and trying to fit in with the adult world, was the stinging realization that I was not, and could not be, normal.  I was asked by strangers when I would get married and how many children I would have, to which I could not tell a lie.  It would have been easier to smile and answer with a socially acceptable response, but lying to others for the purpose of being accepted made me a traitor to myself.  So many times I was asked, and so many times I asked myself, "What kind of woman does not want to have children?"  It was as if I were a serpent-haired monster, a baby-eating devil.  For more than a decade, without knowing the answer to the question,  I was discontent, defensive, and robbed of certitude. 

Today, I am a woman who closely resembles her great-grandmother, albeit with a bit of a learning curve in the disciplines of style and class.  What I have found within myself is contentment in knowing the answer to the question: that one can possess the qualities that would make them a good parent, but that does not, by any means, require them to become one.  Without children, I am able to give my time, love, and attention freely to those in need.  My life is simple, serene, fulfilling, and genuinely beautiful.  Non, je ne regrette rien!


  1. This is so true to me too :) never felt a mother, except to animals.. :) no children no cry. Thanks, Lori!

  2. Hi Lori, even as a mother and one who wishes she had at least a few more children, I totally understand that everyone's desires are different and that they are also unique to one's person. Whether it be one's stand on abortion to one's affinity for religion or politics, I feel that you owe no one a damn explanation or to feel defensive, it is your choice, unique to you for your own reasons.

    It used to be that I thought that women who didn't want to have children stemmed because of some lonely, horrid childhood, filled with abuse and sadness, but getting to know you and your stories of your sister and outdoorsy family fun, I realize that this is not your story. I also have met many people who, with the type of childhood that I mention, do have children and either regret the choice or pass along their unhealed anger to their undeserving offspring.

    Although I can say that I do believe, as I practice, that one can be both a mother and give attention to those in need and, if done well, will teach their children to care for others alongside, but even caring for those in need does not need to be a reason not to have children of one's own. It is simply that, a choice, for any reason, and balk to those who question you or look at you cock-eyed or think there is something wrong.

    Even mothers have their own defenses - stay at home moms versus working moms, homeschooling moms versus those who send their children to various pillars of education...there will always be someone to tell you that your way is just quite simply not the norm, not the preferred.

    A better study in contrast would be to question those mothers, like the Duggar Family, who feel that 19 children and counting is a sound decision, considering not just the footprint on this earth but their children's lack of personal time with their parents and children raising children...or the mother in Brazil, perhaps in many developing countries, who leave her children to care for each other so that she can nanny a rich woman's child...those are truly the children who are crying, though they may not say a thing.

    I am privileged to know you and your ability to stand on your own two feet, true to your owe no one an explanation. Make the most of the future you envision. With or without children, we all grow up fast.