Dark Roots: Childless In The City

I like kids. Not enough to have one of my own, but I like them. Especially the ones that can walk, talk, and fetch me Diet Coke. When I was a kid, children were a form of cheap labor — “Take out the garbage!” “Clean your room!” — and we did not commingle with adults. This was especially true during parental cocktail hour when we stayed in our bedrooms. Adult interaction was limited to teachers, neighbors, 7-11 employees, and the somewhat creepy Girl Scout troupe leader. Nowadays, the single digits have access to places only card-carrying adults could once tread. Several times a week I am subjected to a handful of sticky, germy children who have infiltrated my adult yoga class. For close to two hours, I endure their sugar-induced cuteness as they practice unassisted handstands with exclamations of “Mommmmm, look at meeee!” This is totally appropriate behavior on a playground, but until I am allowed to blow smoke rings during junior’s Gymboree class, stop ruining my chi during vinyasa. My most embarrassing child/yoga moment? When a young boy loudly told his dad I had a hammertoe when I inverted into a headstand (I think the lil’ tyke meant “camel toe”). After pushing through my need to immediately die, I complimented Pops on his parental skills.

But most disturbingly, the pro-procreation movement invaded the most personal of spaces — the doctor’s office. My decision to live child-free was constantly questioned by my ex-gynecologist. If you are stuck with a limited HMO plan, you have a pitiful handful of gynecologists to select from, so for three years my doctor shared an office with three obstetricians. The waiting room was not only filled with pregnant women, but also their other offspring, husbands, and future grandparents. Believe me, normally I am joyful when a friend or relative is pregnant. But at the doctor’s office I always felt like a vegan at a pig roast — grounded in my beliefs but not understood for them.

The highlight of these visits was the litany of questions my doctor asked about my sex life, which always lead to me defending my childless life. When I was engaged the doctor would tap the face of her Rolex, reminding me that there was little time left to bare fruit. When I became single and celibate, I was lectured on the joys of single parenthood and, yes, even adoption. And when I finally got back in that saddle and my sex life picked up steam again, the doctor practically did a little dance and reminded me that I still had time to get knocked up. Was she channeling my grandmother? Eventually I decided my doctor and I had to break up. After interviewing three doctors for the new position, I am happily seeing someone new.

I consider myself lucky. I have great friends and a cool family who stand by my decision to live childless. Maybe it’s because I always pick up the tab with all the dough I am saving by not procreating. My desire NOT to have kids is not an indictment against adults who adopt or give birth. I just don’t want to live a child-centric life. Egocentric…well that’s another story.

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