One of the kids at my job: "Do you have kids Ms. Kim?"
Them: "Why not?"
Me: "Because I just didn't have any."
Them: "That's sad."
Me: "No, that's good!"
Them: "Well I think that's sad."
Coworker: "Awww, she's a such a sweet child - cause she wants kids one day! That's a good kid!"
When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to have children of my own. I wanted to be loved unconditionally and needed by someone. I wanted to pass on my love of reading and writing. I wanted to raise them the way I was raised. I wanted to teach them about my religious beliefs and Kwanza.
I had planned out how I would have kids. I'd fall in love, get married, then have my family. I was eager to graduate high school and then graduate college so I could look for my future husband or wife.
At 19, my boyfriend at the time brought something else to my attention when it came to starting a family: he didn't want children because he didn't want to pass on his mental illness to them, and I realized that I was so focused on what I wanted to give my future children that I didn't take into account all the bad things I would pass down to them too.
I don't want to pass my depression on to my kids. I don't want my kids to look like me. I don't want my kids to have any of my personality traits. I don't want my kids to have my bones or my girls to have my enormous chest size. If I had children, there's a large chance I'd pass these things onto them.
As I got older I kept running into people who found it odd that I didn't have kids yet. I started to feel like something was wrong with me. Other girls had similiar future family plans that they had long since abandoned. Why couldn't I will myself to abandon my plans?
Closer to 30 I began to question if I really should have kids. Studies came out often talking about once your 35 then it's highly likely your kids will be born with defects. Did I want to take that chance on top of passing on all my unpleasant genes as well?
How would I deal with living a childfree life when no other women around me are living the same way? I'm tired of being out of step with the world around me.
Why can't I just be like everyone else?
I hadn't graduated college nor found a life partner. And I still hadn't traveled or become a writer like I wanted. By the time I turned 35, I didn't know any females who weren't mothers. I had no role models to ask how I could even live a fulfilling childfree life. Every message drums in how truly great having children is. I halfway agree, but I also feel like maybe I don't have to have kids to have a fulfilling life anymore.
I always just had other things to worry about and work on than having kids. School, work, pets, bills, transportation, leisure, friends, family. Perhaps I could just have my goals and aspirations in life.
Maybe I could even find love, have everything except kids. Maybe that's enough for me.
So I started joining "childfree" groups on Facebook, just to see if I was really childfree or just childless. I came across a lot of childfree people who hated children. Maybe I wasn't Childfree then since I don't hate kids. I love kids! My whole life has been educating and spoiling people's kids! If circumstances had been different in my life, maybe I would have had kids. I figured I was just childless then.
I then started to come across people whose lives were empty without kids or they couldn't have kids for whatever reason. I wasn't sure if my life is empty without kids, but I feel like if I knew others who relate to that, my life could still be good without kids.
My city put together The Not-Mom Summit a few years ago, for those who are childfree and childless. I was thrilled. I finally found a place full of people who were going through some of the same things I was. I had role models to see how I can actually lead a fulfilling life without kids - despite the constant shaming and pressure from others to have them.
Turns out I am childfree. I'm just a childfree person who doesn't hate kids. I don't have to have children to be happy in life, and that's okay. I feel sorry for the child who feels sorry for me because I don't have kids. I'm glad she knows what she wants at such a young age. I thought I did too.
Maybe one day she'll find herself living a different life than she planned for too.