I am a woman “of a certain age.” (Love that expression, it says everything…and not much at all.) Never married, no kids. A modern-day spinster. And I’ve got a pretty fantastic life. I’m good at dating, and I have a successful career in marketing that has brought me a vacation home, an active social life, and travels around the world. I have great relationships with my family and a fabulous circle of good friends. I support charitable organizations with my money and time, and adore my 11-year-old Yorkie, Danny.

A lot of people wonder how a “fantastic life” could be possible, though, given that I haven’t done what every woman is not only supposed to do, but is apparently driven to do: marry and give birth. What’s more, I’ve done this by choice. I’m not anti-husband nor anti-child, but I don’t think they’re for everyone (really, how could anything be for everyone?), and I never felt they were for me.

For what it’s worth, I’m not the only one actively choosing not to have children. Thirty years ago, only 20 percent of women in their early 40s had no children; according to the US Census, that number has now doubled.

People often assume that if I’m not married it must be because I couldn’t pull it off. (Not true.) But not wanting kids? There’s clearly something wrong with me. I mean, why was I given a uterus if I wasn’t going to use it? Just saying I’m not a mother, by choice, is a really good way to slow down a conversation in polite company. I don’t usually offer the “by choice” part, though, because it really shouldn’t matter. (Well, I don’t offer it unless someone comments in a way I find annoying, which is usually more of a tone thing.)

Some people—usually women—seem to take offense at my chosen child-free existence. It’s one thing if I couldn’t have them (“poor thing”), but to not want them? It’s as if I’m challenging their decision to have them. I’m not. I don’t really care about their decision. (Okay, sometimes I am curious.) Every now and then I come across people who have kids but don’t seem to enjoy it, and I do find myself wondering why they bothered. Maybe they should have given it more thought.

And I’m not making this up. Here’s something I’m finding rather interesting: lately there’s been a rash of studies and articles about how some people are finding that raising kids can be really hard and rather unfulfilling. Maureen Dowd wrote a column last year about women being increasingly unhappy and cited a study that found that “the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children.” And I think the title of a recent article in New York Magazine: “All Joy and No Fun—Why Parents Hate Parenting” pretty much says it all.

Should this stuff really be a newsflash, though?  Kids are cute, wonderful, and delightful, but they’re also expensive, time-consuming, and a lot of work. And sometimes, when they grow up, they lose the “cute.” (Both articles talk about how unwilling people are to admit that they wish they hadn’t had kids, or that their kids were helping destroy their happiness, so I won’t belabor this point).

And we do know that nursing homes across the country are filled with people not being visited by their kids. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if parents who are “concerned” that I don’t have kids are really members of the misery-loves-company club. Just a thought…

Anyway, without further ado, I thought I’d share 14 of the 67 reasons why not having kids has worked so well for me.

My Yorkie, whose haircuts cost more than mine, is really about all the additional responsibility I can handle. When I leave the house at a moment’s notice and stay gone all day without walking him, I call the dog-walker and he takes care of it. People might frown if I treated my kid that way too many times.

I can watch all kinds of inappropriate TV shows whenever I feel like it, without worrying about who I’m emotionally scarring (other than myself).

I like to cuss.  F&^% and its derivatives are some of my favorite words. It’s not cute when kids do it, though. This way, I don’t have to answer for the duplicity.

Similarly, I can download the “explicit” version of songs from iTunes and don’t have to censor when I play them.

If I have too much to drink, it’s okay.

I can laze around the house all Saturday morning with the newspaper, coffee, and the remote control. (No soccer games to go to.)

When I come home exhausted from work or wherever, nobody’s clamoring at me and wondering what’s for dinner. (Okay, sometimes the dog is.)

I can give my friends on the telephone my undivided attention. I’m not (Stop it, Billy) constantly interrupting my conversation (No, I don’t know where it is) to talk to others (Tie your shoes) on my end.

I like to walk around the house naked.

I am able to hold a conversation without peppering it with constant references to my kids.

Travel is one of my passions: I work so I can fund my next trip. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. to major cities and small towns, and around the world. I want to go everywhere, and I pretty much can, because my time and my money are my own. I spend my dollars however I want without having to consider if it could be better spent on my child’s braces.

Firm-ish boobs. No stretch marks.

I can date whoever I want without worrying about his effect on my kids. If I had kids, I would have to make more responsible choices in the men I bring home.

In 1998, I quit my job because I decided I wanted to  work for myself.  (Actually, I didn’t want to work at all, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen). I thought about it seriously for only a couple of  weeks.  Didn’t matter, I was tired of being expected to show up at work every day at 9a.  Suppose I didn’t feel like starting work until 11:30a?   Clearly the answer was to make my own hours. And I did, for nine good years. Not having a business plan or client might have been a tad irresponsible if I’d had to consider somebody’s welfare other than my own.

I have to admit, though, I do miss being able to use my kids as an excuse to get out of stuff I don’t feel like doing. (Sorry, Annie’s got a fever/recital/homework.)

Other than that, though, I’m good.

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  • Shiromi January 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Hi, loved your article. I’m working on a childfree article myself. I am married, for 11 years now, and neither of us have any desire to have kids. lol, I wouldn’t have thought to put cursing as one of my reasons its great to not have kids, but so true! Glad to see fellow childfree women happily living their lives!!

  • Sara December 29, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Wow, so glad to come across this! I dont know if I am in the certain age category (okay, probably) but this is ME. While I am in a long-term relationship at the moment (its continuation yet to be determined) I dont plan to ever marry and dont want kids. I just dont want it. It’s funny how some folks dont understand that…its not as if saying “I dont want to be a teacher” or “I dont like celery” are unacceptable. WTF people?

  • Josie November 20, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Wow! I wish I was brave enough to say “by choice” instead I offer “but I have a dog” when people then look lost for something to say.
    I think I’m on the same path as you- although a lesser one. Here in Oz I’ve downsized the house, shop less (!), quit my job as a teacher (will do emergency teaching at my old school though) and returned to uni to learn French.
    I have never been happier.

  • drpatallen November 16, 2010 at 8:45 am

    One of the questions I love asking new patients who have not had children is “Not every woman wanted to have children. Did you ever really want children?” Many women tell me that this is the first time that someone has asked them this question in a purely factual way.

    So many of my most fulfilled and happy patients are those who have chosen to have a life, not just have children.

    This essay provides an opportunity for women to think about how we judge other women who choose a path different from the expected.

  • lori Ferguson November 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    very well done!

  • Tara Dillard November 15, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Only 1 of my girlfriends is childless by choice. Her life is fabulous.

    My choice failed (or succeeded?); infertility. Not the life I planned, it’s better.

    At a church holiday luncheon a woman asked me how many children I had. Then audaciously asked, “What do you do with your life?” Ironically, church is where I’ve had the most disheartening encounters about childlessness.

    Childlessness allows me the freedom to develop my beloved career, travel, enjoy deep friendships, spoil my pets, do pro bono work, fully develop myriad hobbies, & etc. And, I live above my real economic capacity, kids are expensive, la-ti-da.

    Judgement from the church ladies? Ha, tell them now, with great confidence, “God’s choice.”

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara Dillard

  • Andrea November 15, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I am a parent with 2 grown sons. No regrets etc etc BUT know soo many of my peers who were terrible parents, never available, always complaining that I asked myself “why did these people choose to do this if they obviously don’t like being parents?” and now the kids are grown, they have no relationship with these young adults and they cannot understand why?. Sooo I applaud Eleanor Wells and her very smart unselfish decisions!

  • ChildfreeNYC November 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Wow Eleanore, I love this and cannot believe how much it sounds like something I would write about myself!! I’m sure you’re a little busy to join the new meetup group that was created for similar reasons, but if you’re at all interested: http://www.meetup.com/ChildfreeNYC/

    Now, if I could only figure out how to do what you did and start my own business that will pay for my manhattan mortgage!!! Good for you!

  • Elizabeth W November 14, 2010 at 10:45 am

    This reads like a road map to the future I want for myself. Well done!