A Life Without Children



Call me a bad mom. Judge me if you will because, yes, I can imagine life without children. I can imagine life without my four year old daughter. There I said it. Hunt me down and throw stones.

When my difficult-to-console, high-needs baby was about 8 months old, I was talking to my boss and I asked him if he and his wife had planned to have twins and then a third child shortly thereafter, or if it was totally unexpected. He said it was unexpected but that he wouldn’t have it ANY other way.

“You wouldn’t?” I asked him. I looked at him strangely. Somehow I couldn’t fathom that. He couldn’t imagine his life without three children under the age of six? Was he on drugs? He looked back at me equally as strangely knowing that my intonation had suggested that somehow I could imagine life any differently.

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It was as if I had somehow turned into an alien or grown horns or divulged that I belonged to some strange cult.

“Well, I can.” I stated matter of factly. “I can very clearly and very vividly imagine my life the way it used to be and, YES, I can imagine having that back.”

Being the respectful guy that he is, he let my clearly uncaring, crazy, selfish expressions of anti-motherhood go. We would agree to disagree and would get back to work.

As the years passed, I noticed a common theme. People who had unexpectedly had children suddenly couldn’t imagine NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND their life without this wonderful, bouncing, loving, ball of joy who never cried and was the epitome of the perfect baby. I could only imagine two scenarios for this clearly delusional state: one, they were so sleep deprived they didn’t know what they were talking about or, two, their husbands were doing all of the nighttime parenting and they were eating bonbons and watching soap operas while their babies were at daycare.

Because I could image my life FOR WHOLE MINUTES AT A TIME without my baby. If I allowed myself to, I could imagine my pre-baby life very vividly. I remember watching reality television for long periods of time, sometimes nightly, uninterrupted. I remember going to the refrigerator and pulling out food and making myself a nice meal that I could eat on the couch, uninterrupted. I could imagine, very clearly, those wonderful evenings when I would call up a friend last minute and we would go dancing. I would get home late, have a snack, and go to bed. If I tried, even for a second, I could remember the blissful full night’s sleep that I had, in my own bed (without an infant peeing and pooping and throwing up on my clean sheets), and how I slept through the night without waking up, not even once. Oh, to have those days back again.

But it doesn’t stop there. I could also remember, if I gave myself permission to do so, the lovely runs that I would take with my dog for the three mile loop by my house – without having to arrange for a sitter and without the guilt of leaving my screaming child behind – or the bike rides that I would take on that same path, my hair blowing in the wind, my mind free, my body happy. If left unattended, I would even being to imagine my previous life as better than it actually was.

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Do I love my baby? Of course. Would I ever let any harm come to her? Of course not. I’d throw myself in front of a moving anything to prevent a hair on her head from being hurt. I’d given my life to her for the past three years, after all. I’d given up my sleep, some of my health, the majority of my free time, and quite a bit of the best parts of the food on my plate (that’s always been a tough one). But I have done so willingly. I love my child more than anything on this planet.

Yet, there is still the question that is raised when these parents say, “Oh, but I wouldn’t have it ANY other WAY….So then I ask myself, “Would I?” “Would I do it differently if I were given the option?” Would I go back in time and undo what had been done? Would I trade in this beautiful amazing, smart, creative, and extremely entertaining little bundle of joy who holds me as the most important being on the planet and vice versa?

When asked this question by myself or anyone else, I always pause. Because I CAN imagine the life I used to have. I can imagine the freedom and the joy and the lack of responsibility and the way that life was all about me. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad.

Related post: I Never Wanted Children


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  1. Paige says

    I can too….we adopted. So we chose these crazy life by every sense of the word. The good does out weigh the bad most of the time. But tonight, while I listen to my 10yr DS say his best friend’s name who’s sitting within arm reach a million time in a hour, I remember quiet Saturday nights…..and miss them. 8 more years to college.

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  2. says

    Sure I daydream about how my life could be without kids or a hubby. I'm quite certain I would be on a beach somewhere right now. Sure I miss the freedom I had before. But I would never trade what I have now in this tiny 2/1 house for all the gold in China. Or wherever there's gold. It's not here, I wouldn't work 50 hours a week waiting tables if there was. What is here is more love than I ever imagined when I did have "freedom". I imagine my life without kids, it would probably be great, but not as great as this.

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    • Joan says

      You dont need kids to have that love, mother teresa the Dalai Lama have lived and served meaningful liives full of love and devotion that would not have been possible by having kids and contribiting to the over population of the planet. My youngest has now moved out and I can quite hobestly say that your waiting tables may be worth it to you but you only have one life, fill it with freedom and adventure love, serving other more than just your family, and fullfillment by joining the childfree crowd. Knowing what i know now having gone through what you have if i had my tine over i can honestly say my life would have been so much fuller and richer without kuds and i could of spent the time more wisely and helped a lot more people with sekfless contribution.

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  3. Robin says

    I completely understand where the writer is coming from. I had my son at the ripe old age of 39, so I have many, MANY years of freedom and independence to look back on and remember. I don’t forget for one minute what it used to be like to be able to waltz out of my cutely decorated city apartment in my fashionable clothes and do whatever I wanted, or sleep until 11 and have leisurely lattes in bed. But just because your boss (or whomever) “wouldn’t have it any other way,” doesn’t mean he doesn’t spend the same exact amount of time as you do, wistfully thinking back on those carefree days. I honestly don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Nice post and great honesty. :)

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    • Annette says

      I agree! Hubby and I often think back to when we were DINKs and had the freedom and money to run away for the weekend on a whim. We love our life with our kids, but it’s fun to look forward to being able to do that again someday.

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    • says

      Absolutely, Robin! I have often reflected on the fact that having my child at 41 made the transition that much harder because I had had so many years of singledom – good years that involved a lot of travel and a lot of activity. I’m glad there are others who have experienced the same thing.

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  4. Kiwi says

    Sometimes I wish we had waited a bit longer so we could have had more alone time, other days I’m glad we will have that alone time earlier in the later part of our lives. But there have been many a day where we’ve had the discussion of what our lives might be like with only us or even only 1 or 2 instead of 3 kids. I’d like to think that it is perfectly average to have these thoughts. Hope we’re right :)

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  5. Jasmine says

    It was brave of you to write this post and I hope you don’t get too much negative feedback. I think in part, trying to raise kids as a single parent does make it easier to long for your old life, especially when you bear the full responsibility and alone time is a pipe dream. I too started out as a single mom at 6 weeks pregnant, only to find out that I was having twins. All I can say is that amidst the blur of the first 18 months I grieved for my former, childless life. This parenting gig is a roller coaster of shit sometimes.

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    • says

      Griveving is a perfect word for it. And, yes, single motherhood adds a whole new layer onto the loss of freedom. I don’t know about other moms but the shock of parenting and the PPD that I experienced led me to a process of grieving, some of which include grieving my former life. Thank you for your comments.

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  6. says

    My husband and I have talked about whether we would have done kids all over again. I had 3 kids in under 5 years with my first husband. My husband has 2 kids with his first wife and we had a little surprise together. When money is short, again, and when there’s no food in the frig, again, and when someone has broken/destroyed/ ruined something that we can’t replace right away or at all, again…we can definitely imagine life without kids. We’ve said that we would have had dogs. And you know what? We both love our kids…more than anything.

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    • says

      Absolutely, Missy. It’s not so much would you swap your kids at the grocery dog for a big turkey as it is if one can imagine going back or if one ever longs for those days back. It is something that very few people ever talk about and if you show hesitance, there is immediate judgement.

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  7. Peggy Gleeson Cohen says

    life without kids and hubby…I am living it…hubs died and the best kids ever grew up and have their lives miles away due to jobs, deployments, college. I am now alone…if that is what you want..then toss in the towel now. Because there is no getting it back. If I needed a run, baby in secured and I ran ran with my stroller. If I wanted a bike ride, trust me, I was the the laughing stock of my neighborhood in 1980 because my baby had a helmet on when riding with me. I would put dog on leash, baby in baby bike seat with a helmet and off we would all go. Life is good. Enjoy it while you can.

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  8. Breann says

    thank you thank you thank you for this post!
    Knowing you had it good before tiny balls of fury entered your life screaming (especially if they’ve not stopped since) doesn’t make you a bad parent.
    I feel that we live in a world that if you don’t say every second how blessed you are and how perfectly thrilled you are to be cleaning vomit and poop every day for the rest of forever… that the judgement brigade comes out of every look and cranny to point fingers.

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  9. Tonia says

    Bravo to you! You have said the words that I have only ever said to my best friend. Can’t say them to anyone unless you want them to look at you like you’re a total loser. To admit that you would like your life just as much without kids does not mean you don’t love your children at all. I 100% believe that if I didn’t have kids, I would still be happy, just a different kid of happiness. Our first was a surprise and we decided to have another so he wouldn’t be alone. Some days I even question that decision. Others, it was the best decision in the world. So I suppose in the end, it all depends on what day you ask the question.

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