no kidding

Every now and then I am reminded of how different my life is from my child-free friend's. And when I say different, I mean worlds apart. Like Mars and Pluto. ~ Jane Suter

My entire life I have known that I did not want to have children of my own. I just don't. Plain and simple, no more, no less. I just have never had the desire to have children. I don't hate kids or people that have children, I just want to be child-free. Thankfully I have a husband who shares this life goal and we plan to have many wonderful child-free years together. The older I get the more I realize I stick out from mainstream society regarding the desire to have children. Most of my friends have young children or are anxious to have children and I have experienced the gap it can create. I simply cannot relate to them about children and they cannot relate to me about permanent child-free living. I know it is not on purpose. I know our friendships are still strong and we share many wonderful events together, with and without their children. I know we respect each other's decision to have or not have children, but the reality is we are fundamentally different on a major life choice and desire. They are very busy raising their kids and I am busy finding ways to celebrate being child-free. Despite our differences we love each other and value each other's friendship, and I love that they love being parents. It is wonderful to see them so happy with their children but sometimes I wish I had more friends who were like me, who have made the decision to remain child-free. It would be great to have more people my age who are interested and able to have frequent adult vacations to exciting new places, spur of the moment road trips on weekends, and share split-second decisions to have a date night on a weekday evening. It would be great to have friends who can also sleep in and stay up super late, who can swear whenever the mood strikes without worrying about little ears, and who routinely eat things like cereal for supper just because they feel like it. Unfortunately most of these things are just not options for adults with young children because having children requires more planning, more "adult" behaviour, and more scheduling. Lots of times I feel like the teenager who never really grew up when compared to many of my friends with kids. The truth is I am still a responsible adult, my husband and I are still a "real family" despite there only being two of us, and we are good citizens, just child-free by choice. But that one small difference - child-free by choice - can greatly impact your life and set you apart from other adults, and sometimes you feel alienated.

Often when I meet new people my age who also don't have children I wonder if they are child-free by choice and if they plan to stay that way. I want to ask them if they are like me, if we share the same child-free life goal. I want to ask but I don't want to create a pro-child or anti-child discussion, so I usually keep my mouth shut. Most child-free by choice people remain quiet on the subject, simply letting people think they can't have children due to biological reasons or that they will have kids eventually, just not quite ready yet. They usually do this to avoid the immediate questions and strange looks. There can be a lot of judgement from parents who misinterpret you and your decision to not have kids. They think it means you hate children, which is simply not true for many child-free people. Most actually enjoy children, rather enjoy other people's children. This judgement can make you feel like a freak at times, but when you go home and the conversation plays through your mind again you know deep down you are following your heart and making a decision that is true to you. I imagine the same feeling goes through a mother or father's brain when they think about their kids, they most likely always knew they wanted children, and know that by having children they are following their heart too.

For quite some time I have always thought it would be nice to have a big social group made up entirely of child-free adults. A group where we can all get together and talk, to laugh, to socialize with other child-free people, a club for child-free adults. This club would not bash parents and their choices to have children, but instead celebrate a child-free lifestyle and all it entails with others who have made a similar choice. Parents have tons of these clubs available to them - mom groups, children play groups, single parent groups, PTA, etc so why not have a group specifically for adults who have decided to refrain from having children? It turns out this already exists. Recently I stumbled upon an article about No Kidding!, an international social club for child-free couples and singles. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Winnipeg chapter listed on their website. Wow! A group in Manitoba that I would completely fit with! How exciting! I fired off an email to the group to find out about activities and how often the club gets together, and how to become a member. Much to my disappointment I have not heard back. I am left wondering if No Kidding! Winnipeg Chapter is still in existence. So Manitoba friends - have you ever heard of No Kidding! Winnipeg Chapter? Do you know if it still exists? Do you have any updated contact information? This child-free Manitoba adult would love to have some more information, and perhaps make some new child-free friends in the process.