The Kid Questions…

Jess Ann Kirby shares her thoughts on why she doesn't want kids at the moment and the societal pressures that women face on an everyday basis

Every week, at least once a week, I get the kid questions. Do you want kids? When are you having kids? Are you ready to have kids? Won’t you be lonely without kids? I like to think I’m pretty open about most parts of my life. I understand there’s an expectation to share much of it. But I also don’t think I should have to share ALL parts of my life (nor should anyone else). To be honest, I continue to be surprised by how often I get the kid questions. More often from strangers than friends and family. Having a child is a huge decision. A deeply personal one, and not something that can be answered with a simple “yes I want to” or “no I don’t.” There’s a part of me that wants to answer the question with “none of your god damn business,” because honestly it’s true. At the same time, I want to encourage a dialogue and hopefully spark a new way of thinking about the reasons people make the choices they do.

When I share my response to these questions publicly with all of you, I get many of the same messages from women who like me, don’t have children. Some are my age, some are 20-30 years older, but they all share the same sentiment, “people keep asking, I’m tired of answering.” There’s also an entire subset of women with one child who often share with me that people constantly ask when they’ll have another. No one is ever satisfied.

I’d like to think that I have more to offer this world than a set of ovaries. I do not say that as an insult to mothers. So let’s be clear about that, just because I’m unsure about having kids doesn’t mean I think less of anyone that does.

I’m 33 years old. Yes I realize having children gets harder as you get older. Quite frankly, that doesn’t give me a sense of urgency to have them. I’m still figuring out who I am, my purpose in life and what I want out of it. Right now, I’m focused on my relationship, my pets, and my career. I am, plain and simple, not ready to have a child. I don’t know that I ever will be. Everyone’s favorite response “you’re never ready.” That’s fine, maybe that’s true, but I don’t feel comfortable bringing a child into the world unless I feel 100% positive it’s what I want.

So you don’t like kids? Many assume this must be the case if I’m not dead set on making a baby. Quite the contrary. I was a nanny for most of high school and college. I have little cousins and friends with kids and babies that I love spending time with. Just because I don’t want my own doesn’t mean I don’t like children. It’s like saying someone doesn’t like dogs because they don’t have one. It’s a huge responsibility and a life altering decision that should not be taken lightly. And if you don’t like dogs, I find that far more concerning than if you don’t like kids. Also for the record, I consider Nora, Fuji and Hunter my kids, and I’m not joking.

It goes both ways, many say not wanting kids is selfish, but I could argue that some people decide to have kids for selfish reasons (like when a person says, “but who will take care of you when you’re old?” or “what about you’re legacy?”). It’s a personal choice. My decision to have (or not have) kids is complex. I think about financial stability, our planet and the environment, my career, ability to travel, personal goals, freedom, control over my life, my relationship, overpopulation, lack of social safety net and support for raising a child, etc. It’s not a black and white issue. I’m not saying these are reasons you shouldn’t have kids, just that these are all things I think about.

What if you regret it? Yeah, maybe if I never have children, I’ll regret it, but maybe I won’t. The same can be said for having a kid (and yes there are women who admit to regretting it). We can go round and round, but I don’t want to live my life worrying about things I should or shouldn’t do based on what I might regret. For the record, there’s also women that didn’t have children and don’t regret it.

There’s an almost false sense of open mindedness right now. People talk about the power and freedom of choice but at the same time expect everyone to make the same decisions. The moment anyone strays from “the norm” it’s seen as a threat. The notion that a women can’t have purpose without a child is incredibly narrow minded. Not to mention, having a child isn’t always a matter of choice. Asking a woman if/when she plans to do so is completely ignoring the possibility that she (or her partner) might not be able to.

If you have kids or want to have kids, great, good for you. But just because it’s what YOU want, doesn’t mean it’s what someone else wants. So the next time you get ready to ask someone when or if they’re going to have kids, maybe don’t, if they want to talk about it, let them bring it up. We only get one life, shouldn’t we all do it in a way that brings us fulfillment and joy, whatever that looks like.

And as for the marriage piece, we’ll save that one for another day.

80 Comments

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  1. julie says:

    Well said! Also, great photo of the two of you!

  2. Lynn says:

    I agree totally! Very well said indeed. I married very young and I’m much older than you , Jess. At 20 a year after getting married to my “dream man” from a good family, I had my first baby. Two years later, my second. It was what I dreamed of. To be married, two kids, 2 dogs and a station wagon. I was so unprepared. I learned quickly how to cook and take care of those little , always in need of attention, cute little people. people and still had a clean house , good meals, and managed to look pretty good. The only problem was that I was the only one all in the marriage and just
    about everything. So , my career came years later when my husband left me for younger, greener pastures and the kids were young and not grown. That was long ago and I wish my mindset had been less in the clouds and I knew myself better. I hate to say I’m sorry about any of it because I’m grateful for so many things I
    experienced .
    Right now I have my adorable three fur kids and my own interests and I’m still learning who I am and what I love in life. I guess when you are a public figure you open your life to hearing things that really aren’t people’s business. But you also get to hear and share so many warm and good stories and get feedback about all of the great things you are doing and how much joy you bring to others. You are such a great couple and so inspiring. I look forward to every post. Someone once told me that what people thought of her was none of her business, and it’s really quite true❤️ Keep up the amazing career and be happy Jess.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support Lynn. You are a sweet soul and I wish you all the peace and happiness in the world.

      • Lynn says:

        Love you Jess and your perfect as is family . I’ll follow you exactly the way it is meant to be because it helps keep me sane and straight on the path to what I too hope and inspire to be. ❤️ Lynn

  3. Lia says:

    Love this explanation even though I’m slightly annoyed on your behalf that you had to give it. I so enjoy following your blog, Instagram and you tube. I find your content to be truly inspiring and different than a lot of what is out there. Thank you!

  4. Sara says:

    We’ve struggled with my 13-14 year old boy for over a year now (he is finally turning the corner). To say he was a pain in the ass, is the biggest understatement I have muttered recently.

    I have continually told my 20 and 21 year old daughters to have pets instead of children, which is probably just as bad as people asking you if you are having them.

    Pet vs. children: Pets are just as hard, but always love you. Children…maybe they love you😍.

    I have two male co-workers that were voluntarily sterilized in their 20’s as they thought the world was too “f’d” up to bring children into. At the time, it really made me think about and ultimately respect their decision making process.

    Personally, I don’t think “are you going to have kids” is that personal of a question but more of a natural opener for a lot of people. It’s when you feel judged that it becomes personal.

    Love your blog always.

  5. Jess Z says:

    🙌🏼YES! Not being a public figure, I still get asked constantly by friends, family and new acquaintances alike whether my husband and I are going to have kids and all I ever want to do is roll my eyes at the question. We got married young so people think we’re at (or passed) the age where we should “start a family.” But my two fur babies and my husband are all I need to call family at this point, and I think that’s perfectly okay! You keep doing you! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  6. Kellie says:

    Couldn’t love this post more. Why do people think this is any of their business? That it’s, of course, a given that you will want them. But most importantly, your point about it perhaps not being the person’s choice to not have them, meaning that being asked about it is potentially a very, very painful experience. I truly don’t understand how others don’t think about that. Would love to hand a copy of this post out to the next person who asks this question.

  7. Anna says:

    Yassss! Well thought out & said. There is a place & time to ask someone this question. Like you’re getting to know a new coworker and you’re talking about your life, relationship, goals, etc. Even then the key is when someone says “No” or “Not now” to kids, the correct response is “Ok”. Not to question their feelings, not to convince them they’re wrong or will be filled with regret. Accept someone’s decision to live their life differently than you!

  8. Adrianna Taeschler says:

    I love this post so much. It completely pisses me off that people think they have a right to ask you such deeply personal questions (and I don’t mean just you because you put your life out there). It’s none of their business and their opinion doesn’t change how you or someone else want to live their life. I’m 28 and engaged and always wanted to get married. I dread my wedding day because I already know that people will be asking me when we will have kids, just like before I got engaged they asked me when I was getting engaged. It’s ridiculous! And infuriating. I was never the girl who planned my wedding (I HATE wedding planning more than anything and can’t wait for it to be over) and always knew I would and everyone said when you get engaged that will change. Well it didn’t. I know myself well enough and I feel the same way about kids. I don’t think I’ll ever fully feel like I desperately want them and that’s the only reason I feel I should – like I couldn’t live my life without having them in it. I could go on for days about this but I completely agree with you and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to have kids to feel a purpose, fulfillment or a future. I hope this post helps others and I’m always happy to know I’m not alone with these feelings <3

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you Adrianna, I agree it’s always nice to know there’s others going what we’re experiencing in our own lives.

  9. nina says:

    As someone who also experiences this question (and the marriage one) on a weekly basis, THANK YOU for putting this opinion in the public sphere! I relate to every word of this post and could add so many thoughts in support of what you are stating. It has become as common a conversation starter as the weather and it’s unfortunate that those asking don’t stop to consider just how personal and complex a question they are posing. Let us know if you ever come up with a response for them, I still turn red and fumble over my words trying to explain without sharing more than I’m comfortable with.

  10. Kate Holmes says:

    I take my mantra straight from Amy Poehler: “Good for her, not for me.” You can be supportive and joyful of others decisions (in this case, to have a baby) while still acknowledging that it’s not the right fit for you at this moment.

    Repeat after me: Good for her, not for me.

  11. Donna Stubbs says:

    As always, very well articulated. Thanks for contributing to an important dialogue.

  12. Kristina says:

    Amen sister! If someone asks me this one more time. I’m going to go off on them!

  13. Laura says:

    I am 48 now so luckily people have stopped asking, but I was in your shoes not so long ago and can definitely relate. Love what you wrote and it was beautifully said.

  14. Meg says:

    When I was pregnant with twins, I was shocked by how many strangers, co-workers, and folks I barely knew asked me outright if I my twins were conceived naturally. None of their damn business!

    Not sure why people don’t respect privacy on these issues!

  15. Whitney says:

    The piece about the fact that some people CAN’T have children is huge – how incredibly painful it must be to go through (if you want to have children), and for people to be constantly asking why you haven’t had them yet! Let’s just stop people.

  16. Jane Martin says:

    Well said. I always get the question when I am around babies if I am going to have more even though after 2 I have been very vocal that the baby factory is closed.

    I think mothers struggle with the fact that we are more than a set of ovaries or a slave to our biology. We have other interests other than our kids social lives. Well at least I do.

    I am amazed at what people feel is appropriate to ask. It is not something I ever ask anyone because of a number of reasons some which you shared but also fertility issues can make it a touchy subject.

    Besides there is enough people in the world having babies there is no need to pressure anyone else!

  17. Lolita says:

    It’s not easy to just be who you are… we hear « be yourself » everyday but I personally feel that if I don’t make the choices people expect me to make, a lot of people are ready to judge me. I’m 33 and I would like to have a kid but starting a family doesn’t fit into my life for now and I do love my life ! My family is my boyfriend and our dog and it is already crazy around here everyday dealing with being freelances and all… keep it up ! I had never read your posts before and I loved it ! Let’s support each other instead of being judgemental for a change ❤️

  18. Lauren says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is such a gift that you are willing to expose your private beliefs and thoughts with us. As one of your followers, I think it’s important to point out that the question isn’t always intended as “you should” as it is a genuine question– what do you think about it? The fact that you took the time to lay out some of your (very rational) thinking is exactly why I, as someone who is also undecided about whether kids are in my future, would be inclined to ask. It’s helpful to hear from other women who aren’t as tied to the traditional life path; at times, those people can feel few and far between in our real-world relationships. You offer us a point of connection, like a friend to weigh in with a fresh perspective. Thank you for that!

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you for pointing that our Lauren. I think you make a good point that the questions may sometimes come from a place of curiosity. I think the more important thing to remember is in asking the question you may be raising a topic with someone that’s painful for them to discuss. Or in offering your thoughts or opinions about a person’s choice, you’re simply projecting your own feelings onto them. I’m happy I am able to offer a different perspective on this, I hope it helps people on both sides see the complexity of it. xx

      • Lauren says:

        Definitely– I’m sensitive to the fact that children isn’t always a choice. In the same way it’s inappropriate to ask, “So, did you mean to get pregnant, or was that an accident?” it shouldn’t be a common conversation topic with people you don’t know. There’s a lot that can be difficult: sickness, a partner that doesn’t share your views, financial hardship, mental health, history of abortion and miscarriage, and even just fathoming someone’s dependence on you (this is an awesome article I just read about that responsibility: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/08/14/mothers-as-makers-of-death/). Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for addressing this. We’re all just grappling with it as much as you are, just in a less public way. You rock for handling it well!

  19. Kelsey Middleton says:

    This what such a tasteful way of telling people to mind their business! I friggin love it! I get this question all the time and it bugs me as well. I’m 30 years old. I’ve been the product of a broken home and my sister is currently raising a son on her own. Do I want a kid? Idk..I think about all those things you mentioned and I am having so much fun finding out who I am. Why shake things up? I am just as happy as they are now. Thank you for writing this post!

  20. Jill says:

    👏👏👏 Perfectly written. Wished all these years I had this printed out and could have just handed this out to all the people who asked me this question. Well done.❤️

  21. Lindsay says:

    Amen sister! My husband and I decided early on in our dating relationships we didn’t want kids for all the reasons you listed above plus the genetics of having mental illness on 3 sides of our family. We’ve been together 19 years and have a plethora of nieces and nephews around us to love and then give back to Mom and Dad. 😊 thanks for a great post!

    • Jessica says:

      Wow 19 years. Congratulations Lindsay that’s incredible. Thank you for reading and for sharing your own story. xx

  22. Kelsey M. says:

    You go girl! I appreciate and understand 100% of everything you expressed here. I’m 28 and single af. So many people ask me if I’m dating, when I think I’ll find someone and start a family. Truth is that I am focused on myself right now. I am going to law school and changing up my entire career. I don’t need to set myself to any sort of timeline. I feel fulfilled with my friends, adventures, and the new career I’m starting. Marriage and kids doesn’t need to be the #1 goal I have for myself. Follow your heart and thank you for opening up this dialogue!

  23. Allison says:

    I’m only 25 and can’t yet relate to these questions and pressures personally, but my mom had me when she was 42 after having married my dad when they were younger than I am now. They waited 17 years, lived their own lives, dealt with questions of ‘why not kids? why not now?’ – but my parents, in my opinion, were much wiser and had so much more life experience than all my friends’ parents… it was a great experience for me as their kid! If you do ever decide children are something you want, they will be so lucky to have you. And if you don’t, it’s not anyone’s business; you’re still gaining that same wisdom and experience for YOU!

    As an aside, I’m so glad you use your platform for posts like this. They’re SO important, and I’m sure so many women who ask ‘when are you going to have kids?’ just to fill the air will think twice about it after reading.

  24. Shannon says:

    Jess, so beautifully written! I too agree that these questions can be deeply personal, judgmental and should’t be asked. Everyone is always looking for the next thing these days; I think it is a great reminder to stay present, enjoy the moment and mind your damn business! 😉 I’ve dodged the engaged questions after 11 years with my boyfriend-recently engaged and not even 5 hours later- “when’s the wedding?” It never stops… next up it’ll be “when are you having kids?” DO YOU is my motto!

  25. Andrea says:

    Thanks for the post Jess! As a 36yr old married without kids (except 2 furry ones) I completely resonate with this. I have no burning desire to have kids, but remain open to the idea. Like you, I think about it from a lot of different angles. Luckily, I don’t get asked this question very often!

  26. Mary Gwen says:

    This might be my favorite post you’ve ever done! As a 24 year old in a long term relationship with a man I adore, I get asked all the time about when we’re going to get married and have kids. It not only makes me feel pressured to conform to someone else’s timeline, but also makes me feel guilty for not wanting those things. I’m getting ready to graduate with a doctorate. My partner and I both want careers and opportunities to travel. I also worry about the environment, overpopulation, and availability of resources. These concerns used to make me feel selfish or heartless, but I am encouraged by your post! I am neither selfish nor heartless, I am just not ready.

  27. Jeannie says:

    Thanks Jess… always keeping it real and honest. It’s no one’s business and quite frankly get annoyed when people keep asking. To your point it’s not a black and white decision. It’s so complex and only you know how you feel. Why can’t people just mind their own business! Thanks for this refreshing post because too many people are afraid to speak their minds these days!

  28. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU for writing this. I am 32 and engaged and already getting this question from coworkers, extended family and acquaintances. I would never ask this deeply personal question of a woman who was not my close friend or close family member. How is it socially unacceptable to ask a woman “what age are you?” Or “how much do you weigh?” yet most find it perfectly acceptable to throw this kid question around like it’s as flippant as asking “what did you eat for lunch?”.

    My partner is actually not able to have kids due to a hereditary condition (at least not in the natural way, he’d have to have a surgical procedure done and I’d have to go through IVF). Several times I’ve wanted to snap back at these nosy folks and tell them these details and make them regret/feel bad for asking, but have caught myself. Maybe next time I’ll respond with a sassy preface like “That is a deeply private question that I don’t typically respond to, but since you seem very curious to know” and then get into the private and scary medical details they weren’t expecting. Maybe that would make them think twice about throwing that question around to any women again.

  29. Irina says:

    I found myself thinking that I don’t mind the question. I am not yet asked, but, if I were and when I’ll be, I’d like to answer using nuance, like you did when you explained the factors you’re considering. Rather than feeling awkward about it, I think I’d be happy to perhaps start such a conversation with folks. It’s my impression many people think there’s no other way than having kids as an adult and don’t take the time to consider the implications of and reasons for having a kid. And they may never do so if someone doesn’t bring those issues up. Yet, the issues don’t go away and we’d better talk about them (overpopulation vs aging populations, environmental factors, safety net, finances, etc.). 🙂

    • Lauren says:

      I feel similar to you. I do find the question to get a tad annoying, but beyond that, I find it mind-blowing how little people have seriously thought about the complexities of having children, beyond the immediate future. Things like the financial impact on their life, the impact on their relationship or marriage. What if they have a child who is born with a severe physical or mental disability? How will our political climate impact their children? How will the environment hold up in 50-100 years? Will they be able to afford education?

      Things like this are at the forefront of my mind when considering having a child. It’s worth very serious and lengthy consideration, IMO. Just isn’t a simple yes or no for me. At all.

  30. Cassidi says:

    You sang the song of my heart, to the point that I am almost emotional at how true every word you said is. And I want to send this to every person that asks these questions!!

    Love your blog and your content.

  31. Kara says:

    I’m 34 and married with a kid and one dog. My current life fits pretty well in that traditional box. But… it was my choice. It’s what I knew I wanted. And that’s really, really important.

    No one should feel pressured to explain how they define their family and the choices they make for their family. This kind of B.S. is exactly why I hope my daughter grows up to be a feminist like her mama.

  32. Alyssa says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I just want to thank you so much for writing this post. I am 28 years old and am always being asked why I don’t have this urgency to get married and have kids. Like you, I am very focused on my career and am content with being an auntie for now! It’s hard to keep my composure when asked so frequently, but you’ve provided such a fresh perspective and made me feel less alone in this.

    Thanks for writing this post and for sharing!

    Xx
    Alyssa

  33. Heather says:

    Thank you for writing this post with such frankness and honesty! I relate to this on so many levels.

  34. Jess says:

    Hey Jessica, I just wanted to take the time to thank you for this post and others. I’m not one to comment on photos or posts usually, but I relate to you on many levels (ex. I’m also a 33 yr old with no strong desire for kids yet myself) and I truly appreciate the continued honesty of your posts. Thank you again 🙂

    Jess

  35. Beth says:

    Well said!!!
    I’d had both my children by the age of 27. My youngest left Primary school this July and will go to Secondary School in September. Last week I was asked by someone when I was thinking of having a third?!!! I actually laughed out loud. Firstly at why an almost stranger thought they could ask me such a question and because I’m 40 next year and enjoying that the kids are getting to be more independent teens and I get a little ‘me’ time back (to spend with the dog 🐕) couldn’t they see this??
    I would never dream of asking someone I didn’t know questions like this. Fab post!! Xb

  36. Jess G says:

    So glad you mentioned the “not being able to have children” piece. So many people don’t realize how difficult having children naturally is for some couples, actually, more couples than ever before. This question is a natural opener for people, yes, but articles like this one help to move the conversation forward. Why is it a natural opener? And should it be? Probably not! I have friends who have been asked this question when struggling with fertility and one after she had recently experienced a miscarriage. You can imagine how difficult it is to answer that when you are going through one of the most emotionally trying times!
    Thank you for providing a platform for honest conversations!

  37. Jen says:

    First of all, um, hello Ralph Lauren ad picture of you two! That pic is sizzling hot!

    It seems like this is the general feeling I get in our society right now on just about every topic. Everyone thinks that their belief is the best belief and that everyone else should agree and if they don’t then poo poo on them. And it’s annoying! 🙂

  38. Anna says:

    I highly recommend Glynnis MacNicol’s new memoir No One Tells You This. She writes on this same subject very eloquently( as you did)!

  39. Kari says:

    The notion of not having children unless/until you are 100% sure is exactly how I feel. When I shared that with a friend recently I think it really resonated, as she began sharing that as her own rationale too.

    Thank you for putting this out into the world, hopefully other women will feel as empowered by this post as I was!

  40. Taylor says:

    I feel like I could have written this myself.. actually, I HAVE written something just like this in my journal a time or two. It’s such a strange thing, because I always thought I wanted kids, but now that I’m on the verge of 30 I feel less urgency than I did 10 years ago. Being asked that question, by anyone, puts you in such a crappy position whether thats their intention or not – it isn’t always a hard yes or no, and it’s no one’s business, but you still feel compelled to explain your answer. It’s so tough. Thank you for putting words to something so many of us are feeling!

  41. Laura says:

    Thanks for this. It is so tough to handle this question. As a woman if you don’t have children or dare to say you may not that you are suddenly enemy #1 and need to be counseled or convinced you are wrong.
    I tried to have a child for 7 years and during those 7 years of doctors, shots and monitoring it never worked. It was a struggle that my husband and I kept private but the entire time we were going thru that journey we were questioned by people, some very close, others mere acquaintances over why we didn’t have children yet. While they had no way of knowing maybe it would have been nice to find something positive to discuss instead of asking questions about a topic that is so personal and really what answer do they want? I always try and laugh and think should I tell them thanks so much for asking me – I’m going to run it right now and have a kids now that you brought it up… Really?? What is the point of asking? In a world that is going thru such tough times maybe we could all think a little more in why this question should not be casually asked.

  42. Arianna says:

    I can’t even begin to explain how much this post resonates with me. I’m currently a nanny and honestly each day that goes by I get less and less excited about kids. So what if it’s for “selfish” reasons? Sorry I love to sleep and binge watch shows and have alone time! I totally respect moms even more so now because I care for children everyday. I 100% agree with you! Love you!

  43. Becca says:

    Right on! I wish more people thought even 50% as much as you have about having kids! It’s incredibly responsible and mature and not in the least bit selfish!

  44. Luz says:

    One small advice for talking about the subject of kids with a friend, is mentioning subtly (and not judgy) something related to the subject and let them take the lead. If they feel comfortable and in need of talking about it, I can assure you they will open up about what they want, what they fear and whatever’s on their mind. But please, try to go with open ears to let them know that you are not judging them for their life choices. And talking about your own issues with the topic always helps. If you think about it that is the best way to approach any sensitive subject.

  45. Lauren says:

    I so appreciate your transparency with this topic. My husband and I have been married for 2 years and while I do believe I want children, I am so tired of people asking when we’ll start trying (what a personal and graphic thing to ask!! My husband knows it bothers me so he always says “we’re practicing” ;)), how many we want, and so on. I always think, what if I was struggling with infertility and your incessant and insensitive badgering was making this harder? What if I can’t bring a child into the world right not because it is not financially responsible at this time? There are a million reasons why this is SUCH a personal topic. So thank you for acknowledging it ❤️

  46. Briana says:

    This is great. All of the reasons you listed for feeling unsure if you want children are the same reasons I think about. Aside from it just being annoying and intrusive when people continuously ask about kids, it shocks me that more people don’t realize how rude it is and how painful it could be for people who may not be able to have children. Blah!

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

  47. Sarah says:

    “There’s an almost false sense of open mindedness right now. People talk about the power and freedom of choice but at the same time expect everyone to make the same decisions” – SO TRUE. I’m never one to comment on blog posts, but this one really stuck with me! Thank you for your honest, open voice to us all.

  48. Well first I have to say… Well said! I found myself nodding along to every word. This is something I struggle with and love how you articulated your thoughts. My husband and I have been together for a while and we get this question constantly. It actually frustrates me that it’s just assumed that we want to have kids. That it’s just the next step that we’re supposed to take. There is so much more to think about (I agree with all of the issues you touched on) and whether or not I’m ready to commit myself to parenthood. Whatever we decide to do will be wonderful, either way. And I have to say, it felt so reassuring to read someone else’s thoughts that are similar to mine. It can be a lonely position to be in when most of your friends and family feel differently. Thank you for sharing! xo Bryn

    • Lauren says:

      Lonely is the perfect word for this. I cried to my mother in law last week. Not yearning for a child—rather yearning for a group of women who felt similar to me. It’s super hard being surrounded by friends who all have or are starting to try for children. I feel lonely and question myself, I question why I don’t feel the way they do, I question if something is wrong with me (I do know deep down that nothing is wrong with me). It’s just hard and lonely to be going down such a different path than most other people.

  49. Karen Donohue Fleer says:

    I think I’m a lot older than many of your readers. My options for having children played out a while ago. I never felt the need to have children — and completely support the decision not to. But your post touched me — and I wanted to say that now, in my 60s, I wish I had adopted a child. So many need and long for a real home; I could have provided one (even as a single parent), and I think my life would have been more meaningful and rewarding if I had done so. I am proud of the many animals I have adopted and loved. A child would have been a natural extension of that embrace. Just a thought.

  50. Ashley says:

    It’s like you looked straight into my brain and very eloquently put my thoughts to “paper”. I’m 32, have been married for almost three years and am utterly undecided on children. My husband also has no strong preference. Growing up I always imagined having kids but I also thought I’d get married at a young age like my mom. Coming into adulthood and having the dream to earn my PhD and be a scientist (which I did) made me realize that my childhood preconceptions weren’t realistic and maybe weren’t even my own. I’ve only now been out of grad school and post-graduate work for two years so I am still very much figuring out my own life and really just starting my career. I have two dogs and they are my fur-children. All of your points truly resonate with me. Thank you for taking the time to put together your thoughts and share them with us. Hopefully this will help others to see that their seemingly simple questions are not so simple at all.
    P.S. I lived in Newport/Middletown from 2013-2016. It would have been so great to meet you.

  51. Kaylee says:

    Ahh this speaks to me so much! I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost six years now and we aren’t engaged and don’t have kids. I have been peppered on the regular “when are you getting married” “what’s his problem?” As if my boyfriend has a problem for not proposing soon enough for people’s standards or because we aren’t following the norm. I know that as soon as we get engaged it will be “when’s the wedding?” and then “when you having kids?”and then “when are you having another?” My response now is just “honestly we are just so happy in our life together right now” and that usually does the trick! You do you, boo!! Ps love following you xx

  52. Emma says:

    I’m sorry that you are asked this so frequently that you felt you had to writ it all out for us. Now you-and all of us who are in a similar boat-can link back to it with every invasive question! 🙂

    In all seriousness, I think it is incredibly valuable to hear from women who do not want or are ambivalent about wanting children, as each time it helps to disrupt the default assumption that every woman’s ultimate goal is to get married and have children. As you said about this “false openness”, our culture now says that women *can* have it all, but that we *must* have it all. We must have fulfilling careers, the perfect family, vacations with our girlfriends, and of course an excellent self-care routine. All of which are wonderful! But there is so much pressure to achieve all of it and show it.

    I work with children and have always gravitated toward caring for them, yet do not want my own. The number of times this has *shocked* people is pretty ridiculous.

    Anyway-thank you for articulating a differing perspective and creating a space for solidarity around this topic.

    xoxoxo

  53. Polly Fox says:

    I love this post! As a women and as a mom, I know kids are not for everyone. And yes, some women should not be moms. I see it every day. Regardless of what you do or don’t have (I had a women yesterday ask me, no girls? I have twin 12 yr old boys) women tend to judge each other for our choices. Kids are lovely, but not for the faint of heart. I love my little girl dog as a child. If we could just figure out how to extend dogs lives!! I love watching Nora and Fuji. I often wonder thiugh, with all that licking, how Fuji doesn’t have tons of hair balls!! Have a great weekend and Keep being you!

  54. BJ says:

    AMEN to every single word you wrote!!!!! Could not agree (nor could I have ever said it better than you) Thank you:)

  55. Erin says:

    I have always know that the thing I wanted to do in life was to be a mother. It is my calling. I have one son & am thinking about number two. And I have to say that I applaud you for being so introspective and thoughtful about such a huge decision. I think that having children can be selfish in the ways you mentioned, but it can also be incredibly selfish to bring children into your life & situation without being prepared to be the best parent you can be. I agree you’re never ready 100%, but in my opinion it should not be because you aren’t 100% committed to having a child. Rather it’s because nothing can prepare you for what it requires, & honestly a lot of parents aren’t ready for the sacrifice it is to have children. Being your best self as a parent necessitates a lot of unselfishness & a lot of self-sacrifice. I think a lot of people who make the choice to become parents should really have make the decision not to (or to wait longer) & their children suffer because of their poor decision. Not saying you have to be perfect to be a good parent, but I do think people need to be more thoughtful & seriously introspective about it. Maybe by starting a dialogue, people can start to view having a child was as more of a decision rather than as a default life circumstance.

  56. Hagar says:

    Hi Jess,
    I came across this inspiring post, while I was writing my own story about my decision to freeze my eggs (http://relocationotes.com/the-week-i-froze-my-eggs/)

    Thank you for sharing your very personal thoughts on this subject and open it to discussion.
    We need more voices like this in our world.

  57. Lucy says:

    I’m 33 also and 7 months preggo with my first. I thought about all the same things you did. And frankly, wasn’t entirely 100% all in on having kids at all. I was torn – there was a part of me that really wanted to be a mom and there was (perhaps still is) a part of me that would have been ok living my life with my partner, traveling and having the freedom to do as we please. I still worry that our lives won’t be our own in the ways we’ve come to appreciate. All that said, what my body is going through right now is incredible – I’m still amazed it’s happening and I’m growing a human and i really can’t wait to meet her. I say you do you but if you choose to do it, it also might surprise you 🙂

  58. Maria-Cristina says:

    Loved reading your post!!! I have two kids and honestlty wouldn’t change anything, love being a mom above everything else. But I do believe it is a decision that is not for everyone, and the hardest thing of all is being true to ourselves. Whether someone wants kids or doesn’t want kids is a personal decision, and just the fact that one has the courage to actually have an answer that comes from deep thinking deserves all the respect in the world…it is not the next logical step in life, it should be a decision made consciously and always being true to ourselves. What works for me does not mean it will work for the rest of the world. This crazy world of ours just loves putting pressure and satisfying their curiosity…to have the news first hand. So we learn along the way to ignore the constant asking of when, how many, what happens next… let them sit back and enjoy how everyone chooses to write their life story without scripts.

  59. Meg says:

    Wonderful post!

    Once you’re old enough, they’ll stop asking. 😉 I’m I’m my forties, and while people ask if I have kids, once I say, “Nope!” no one then asks if I will.

    There is so much beauty and sorrow and surprise and wonder and grief on every chosen life path, and we literally can’t choose them all, so it’s okay to choose one thing and wonder about another. Some people act like this is some sort of proof a decision is wrong, but it’s just thoughtfulness. I honestly give very little attention these days to my decision not to have kids (that ship has sailed LOL), and I certainly don’t regret it, but I do realize there are life experiences I’m missing out on and that motherhood is wonderful in its own way, and I’m comfortable experiencing other types of wonderful instead. Glad there are different types on people in this world!

  60. Ryan says:

    YES to all of this! My husband and I are child free by choice. We also made the choice together for my husband to have a vasectomy after I went off birth control last year. We both love children, but both felt in our hearts parenthood wasn’t for us. We both love our careers, travel, our two rescue pups; and have the best time and great relationship with our niece and nephews. Although they validate our decison all the time 🙂

  61. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the article.
    For years I felt the same way and didn’t know if my decision would change or be the same as I age. But the questions kept coming. My mother was exactly the same way. We have had conversations that she said she never wanted kids but happy I am in her life. Most would take that as an insult, but I completely understand that feeling and love her more for being so honest.
    It’s been about 4 years since my husband and I have started trying. Life changes and so did our decision to have at least 1 kid. And it was our decision, not others with pressure, even though some will say it was them.
    Turns out we can’t “naturally” get pregnant with out IVF which isn’t in our price range. We could also adopt, (and many will hate me for saying this), but the only affordable adoption is one with drug abusing mothers. That is definitely a door I don’t walk to open. Yes those innocent children need a good home, but I do not have the emotional capacity or financial backing to give affected children the upbringing they deserve.
    I still get the questions of when are we having kids, but the “fuck off” response I was to say is so much stronger in my head.
    But I also struggle with the reality that something I didn’t want for so long I am now upset I can’t have. Talk about a mind fuck.
    But I stick with my default “we don’t want kids” answer because it is so much simpler than “one day” and the lecture about my age.
    Yes, it should be completely normal not to want or have kids. We also need to break the behind close doors attitude about infertility without the awkwardness.
    For the Noisy Nancys our there, maybe we should lay it all out when they ask. Maybe, just maybe they will be too scared to ask again when they know how loaded and frustrating that question is.

  62. Brittany says:

    Ok, I just read this and your newest post on style & comfort & they both resonate with me SO much, both as a mom and a blogger. I LOVED reading this! Even though I have 2 kids, I still feel so much pressure to have a third, both in the blogging world (it seems like everyone is pregnant!) & in regular life. I’m 31 & am finally getting back to feeling like myself & it’s crazy how everyone wants to know about more babies! Anyway, reading this made me feel better and not so alone in feeling pressured- glad to know it’s not just me who thinks about all these things! Also, thanks for making me feel less selfish about it- I love how you worded this post! You do what makes you happy 😊

    P.S. your pics make me realize I need to get back to New England ASAP! 💕🌊

    • Jessica says:

      Yes, so crazy how many other women (with children) have shared the same thing. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to balance blogging and being a Mom or working any job and being a Mom or just being a Mom in general, haha. Anyway, you do you! And yes, come visit New England, especially between now and the end of November, it’s the best time of year!

  63. Kim says:

    WOW Jess, I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote. I deal with this every week. My husband and I own a small Italian restaurant and some customers ask, “do you have kids, why wait, why don’t you have kids” and so on. I usually reply, “if it’s meant to be that we will have kids then it’ll happen” and “our 2 dogs are our kids”. Some people don’t take it lightly but I don’t care. At the end of the day, my husband and I are fulfilled and happy with our dogs and our relationship. I will definitely bookmark this post and reread whenever I get irritated with silly questions. Thank you for an amazing post! xo Kim

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you Kim. That’s so cool that you and your husband own a restaurant, although I am sure so much hard work. I totally get it, always nice to know there are others out there that feel the same though. Thanks for sharing xx