Prompt Images

The unholy trifecta of the media, select members of my family—with the notable exception of my parents—, and heteronormative American culture insists that marriage is the gateway to children.

Here’s a hot take: it’s not.

My partner Shea and I are getting married in the fall, and, without skipping a beat, the question that follows the prerequisite “Congratulations!” and “Where are you getting married?” is “Are you having kids?”

Seriously, Susan, cool your damn jets.

We’re not even married yet. How about we enjoy our wedding first and see where life takes us? And why should marriage be a permissions-only prerequisite to having children?

Today I’m setting the record straight:

No, we’re not having kids for the foreseeable future.

Firmly planting our flag in the “no kids” camp has made the dichotomy of people that want to vs. don’t want to raise children even more stark.

Since our engagement, I’ve noticed that the majority of my friends and colleagues that don’t want kids tend to refrain from forcing their opinion on others. Those folks that I’ve encountered that champion the Kids are amazing, why wouldn’t you want to have them?! side are a different story: saying “no” isn’t satisfactory for them. My reply of “no” unlocks a Pandora’s Box of uncomfortable and unwarranted interrogations that I’d prefer not to touch with a 10-foot pole.

What follows is an incomplete and growing list of their questions:

  • “Oh well, why not?”
  • “You say that now, but you’ll change your mind!”
  • “Kids are the best part of life!”
  • “You’ll feel different in a few years, believe me.”
  • “Would you conceive naturally or adopt?”
  • “What are you going to do, then?”

What are we going to do? Whatever the hell we want, that’s what.

Shea and I are very career-oriented people, and we’ve worked our asses off. Shea’s thriving in his job as a hair stylist, and I’m contracted to write my first novel. In the meantime, we’ve bought a house and taken on increasing amounts of responsibilities at work. We’ve got a lot going on, and the last thing we want is to introduce kids into the mix.

Don’t get me wrong; I like kids.

I was a karate instructor for many years, and I have kid cousins, whom I adore. Theoretically, Shea and I having a child of our own in some distant future seems nice. Heck, we’d make a cute AF kid if in some alternate reality we conceived without intervention.

However, the day-to-day reality of child rearing seems less than ideal and extremely anxiety-inducing: changing diapers, driving them to activities, paying for college. Then, there come the logistics. We cannot conceive “naturally,” and in vitro fertilization is prohibitively expensive. Adoption? Maybe someday, in some distant future if we change our “no kids” plan.

For some people, having kids is baked into their life plan, and that’s absolutely fine—not that they need my approval.

But raising a child would seriously prohibit our momentum and restrict our ability to travel, to write, to live relatively autonomously. I’ve seen the outcome of when someone feels that obligation to keep having kids as part of the marital (and in some cases, religious) expectation—and it’s not pretty.

Right now, Shea and I want to focus on ourselves and our happiness. We want to travel and to live unencumbered by the responsibility of raising another human being. Together, we’ve surmounted countless challenges—medical transitions, moves, transphobic family members—so we’d like to stabilize our lives and be happy where we are. Is that too much to ask for?

I’ve promised my parents they’ll be great grandPAWrents to some wonderful doggies we’ll adopt. Bless them, not once have they questioned our decision not to have kids.

After all, our lives are more than the script that societal expectations have written for us.

Shalen Lowell

Shalen Lowell is an author and poet from southern Maine. They were also voted least likely to be an ENTJ Slytherin, but here we are.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more