"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!