This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things. This is the story of Audi and her choice not to have children. I know that family and child-rearing can be an emotionally charged topic; please keep all comments respectful.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
name is Audi and I’m 42 years old. I live in San Francisco with my
husband, 2 dogs, and a Chuckwalla lizard. I’m a scientist in the biotech
industry, and among other things I make hats, brew beer, travel, and
attend all sorts of interesting events in my beautiful city.
How old were you when you decided you didn’t want children?
pretty much always known. I remember at about 8 or 9 years of age
thinking about what my life would be like as an adult. I always pictured
myself as a professional career woman, but never as a mom. I never
played with baby dolls or dreamed up names for my future kids. In fact, I
didn’t even really enjoy the company of other kids all that much. When I
was in my late teens or early twenties I started actively thinking
about getting a tubal ligation because even then I was very sure I
didn’t want children.
What lead to your decision to be child-free?
were a few times when I thought my ex-husband was going to eventually
win out and get me to agree to starting a family; primarily I thought
this because I figured I wouldn’t be able to save our relationship if I
didn’t. But ultimately I had to make the decision to let come what may
with the relationship and stay true to my own needs and desires. Our
relationship might have survived, but it was a huge learning process and
ultimately led to me realizing that if we didn’t agree on something as
fundamental as children, then it wasn’t the right match to begin with.
He might have been the right person to have a relationship with, but not
the right one for a lifetime commitment. Big difference.
How have the people in your life responded to your decision?
remember my mom once telling me that she felt she’d failed as a parent
because I didn’t want kids, and at the time that hurt a lot. But she’s
since come to accept my decision and is incredibly supportive now, as
are the rest of my family and friends. But it has obviously been an
evolution; people are much less likely to take you seriously if you’re
saying you don’t want kids at age 22, but now at 42 I think most people
are as convinced as I am that my mind won’t ever change.
really what it comes down to; the people who care about you don’t want
to see you make a decision you’ll later regret. Most people that I talk
to about it now (parents especially) tell me how lucky I am to have such
certainly about it. My good fortune is not lost on me either; I’m
deeply grateful for the clarity with which I’ve known that children
weren’t for me. It makes everything so much easier.
What steps have you taken to remain child-free?
35, after many years of dealing with various forms of hormonal birth
control, I had a tubal ligation. I first asked my doctor for one at age
22, and was told he wouldn’t even consider it until I was at least 30.
At 30 I discussed it with a few different doctors and was again denied;
one even told me I would need my then-husband’s written permission to
get one. And while I understand that women who proclaim not to want
children often later change their minds, it was still infuriating that I
had to wait so long and advocate so vehemently for a choice that was
100% my own. However, the past is the past; I got my tubal and I’ve
never once felt the slightest pang of uncertainty or regret about it.
has your decision to be child-free affected your relationships –
romantic and otherwise?
it was tough at times. When I was newly single at 36, I figured that
men my age would feel the way I did, but I was shocked at how many still
wanted and expected to have kids, even when dating women their own age.
Eventually I met my husband online, which was a much easier way to
screen out people who wanted or had kids.
Friendships have sometimes
been tough; there have been several friends who I lost touch with when
kids entered the picture. It would be one thing if I even remotely
enjoyed being around children, but I just don’t. A couple times I came
to the painful conclusion that the friendship wasn’t worth keeping if
every time we got together I had to listen to hours of talk about
preschool or daycare or soccer practice, and if I couldn’t talk about a
trip abroad or a concert without getting a comment suggesting that my
life was meaningless and selfish.
However, my friendships with other
child-frees or people with older children have grown ever stronger, and I
expect that some of the people my age who started families many years
ago will eventually re-emerge and become interested in other things
besides child-rearing. Relationships are always a process.
sure there are some people who have told you won’t feel fulfilled
without children. How do you respond to that? And where do you find
your feeling of family and community?
I’ve heard that a few times, primarily from people who don’t know me
very well. It’s amazing the presumptions people make when it comes to
the life choices of others. I’ve never taken that sort of comment
seriously, and in fact I feel like it’s only someone whose life is
who would say it in the first place.
It’s a narrow-minded person indeed
who thinks the only way to fulfillment is reproduction. I’ve got a
great husband and two beautiful dogs who fill my days with plenty of
love and affection; I’ve got lots of amazing friends who I cherish and
enjoy spending time with; I’ve got my parents and two sisters and
extended family that I love deeply, and I’ve got a whole wonderful city
full of interesting people that I can interact with every day. San
Francisco is a great place to be child-free and I feel incredibly
fortunate to be living here.
What advice would you give to others facing questions about their reproductive choices?
the best advice I can give is to know yourself and stay true to your
own wishes. Making the decision whether or not to have children is huge
and life-changing; don’t do it lightly and don’t let anyone else do it
for you. Once the decision is made then own it, don’t apologize for it,
and don’t put up with people saying you should’ve done otherwise. Being
happy with your choice is the surest way to convince others that you
Are any of you childless by choice? Or doubt that you’ll have kids?