I just read this great post on not having kids, and wanted to add my half-paisa.
I'm 35, so this does come up. In fact it comes up a lot, much more than i'd want, or have the energy and time to deal with.
And I'd like to qualify that I like kids, specially once they're walking-talking human beings. Before that, i tend to fear that they will break, and that the parents will kill me. But once they're human, i get along with them just fine, and beyond the first gap-mouthed stare (kids are smart, they know this smiling face is attached to a fundamentally strange person), they seem to get along just fine with me.
And i'm very glad that many of my friends have kids, the whole aunt thing really appeals. Its just that i don't feel any impulse to reproduce, myself.
So the problem is not me, or, thankfully, my partner. The problem is the rest of the world, who severally feel that this non-reproduction is an act of social subversion, and needs to be discussed. At length.
'How many children do you have?'
(You'll be surprised at how often i get this. The assumption being that someone of my advanced years would naturally have multiple kids. I love this one, will answer 'none' if its a doctor, or 'eleven', if its someone i wouldn't mind pissing off)
'Why don't you have children?'
(None of your business, but if you insist on knowing, i'm sterile. Also, i have nightmares about IVF)
I don't know if i'm sterile, but lots of women are, so the statistical probability certainly exists. And from what i know of IVF procedures, anyone would have nightmares about them.
'Is there a problem?'
Accompanied by a 'you can talk to me' look. I HATE you-can-talk-to-me looks, unless they come from people i can actually talk to. And no one i can talk to would ask me this question.
The ideal answer is 'yes, there is a problem, actually, its people like you', but i've never used that. I usually describe fallopian tubes, and family histories of complicated and fatal pregnancies. None of which is true, of course. I would certainly not put my family's privacy on the line like that.
'Doesn't your husband want children?'
Implying that i'm a selfish bitch for getting in the way of my husband's dearest wish. My desperately unhappy husband, who is hiding his displeasure behind a perfectly calm, even cheerful facade
My answer here depends on how soon i want this conversation to end. 'No, he'd rather have dogs' will shut most people down (ha, ha, she's FUNNY).
Otherwise, a level stare and a 'No' will do it. You have to stop at the 'No' though, because any attempt to explain this will be taken as a sign of wavering.
'When will you have children?'
(Probably never, but if i do, i'll be careful to keep them away from you. I want them to grow up with a sense of other people's privacy)
'Why don't you want kids?'
Now, really, i would like to know how, and why, comparative strangers feel that i should discuss this with them. Does it seem like something at the social interaction level of current affairs? or the weather? Both of which i would be happy to discuss, at length.
But they don't want to talk about those things, they want to know why I (being a complex, multi-layered, public/private being) don't want kids. I'm supposed to explain, and justify, and bare my soul. Like hell i will.
And its not that complicated anyway, I'd just prefer not to reproduce.
Why is that such a big deal?