W. and I have been married five years. We have no children; nor do we intend to ever have them. Now, I know, to the gleeful breeders of the world, the phrase “childless couple” sounds so sad and bleak—as though everything in our house is gray and cold and we are just this joyless, old couple drably dipping soupspoons into our bowls of hot water and potatoes every night.
Not true, of course.
Whenever we meet one of these gleeful breeder-types, and they find out that we don't have or want children, it always seems to startle and amaze them, as if we just told them we don't want oxygen or food.
“Why not?!” they'll inevitably ask.
For the record, I'm not offended or even irritated by that inquiry. It's just that I think the wrong people are asking the wrong question. Shouldn't we be asking you why you do want children? Think about it. I don't have to change anything about my life in order not to have kids. On the other hand, parents of a newborn baby have to change their entire existence, if not essence. Asking us why we don't want children is like me asking why you don't want a barbell piercing through your urethra. One does not ask a person, “How come you don't climb mountains?” One asks mountain climbers why they do. Not that I would begrudge you breeder mountaineers for climbing Mt. Kidimanjaro—just don't act like I'm the one who needs to explain himself.
That said, I understand the norm is to reproduce and that childless married couples are something of an enigma, so I am happy to tell you why I don't have or want children:1. Kids are Messy: With toddlers, there's far too much puking, burping, spitting, spewing, leaking and pooing for my liking. I already spend too many of my waking hours cleaning the hairballs and dander that my cat dumps all over my house. I'm not about to add a serial secretor to the mix. 2. Babies are Born Bad: Right from the start, they're bellicose, reckless, greedy, impatient, dishonest, selfish, annoying and more narcissistic than the most narcissistic adult you've ever met, times 1,000. I don't know about you, but I spend most of my life avoiding people like that.3. Children are Life-Changers: Parents always say that life as you know it comes to an abrupt halt when you have a child. Well, I don't want my life to change. I like my life just the way it is. The day begins with a cup of hot coffee and ends with an ice-cold beer, and nowhere in between those two moments of bliss are there any halfling banshees trying to flabbergast my day.4. Paternal Instinct: I just don't have it. Never have. I don't see the baby in the carriage and think, “Aww, he's cute. I wish I were a father.” I look at the baby in the carriage and wonder how many kittens he's going to torture when he gets older.5. Too Many Bosses: My work life is chock-full of bosses. I really don't want another one. And what are babies, after all, but tyrannical household supervisors who do nothing but make messes for you to clean up and bark marching orders in an alien tongue.6. Kids Cause Worry: Whenever I'm in the presence of children, I spend the whole time watching and worrying about them injuring themselves. It really is an obsession. I have a particular issue with the corners of coffee tables which, honestly, the way my nieces and nephews horseplay around that thing, it's a miracle they have any eyeballs left. Another issue that causes me high anxiety is when a child plays with a pet. It could be the most loving, docile puppy on the planet, and I will still anguish because, in my mind, every animal is capable of tearing a child's face off for no apparent reason, and every child is stupid or evil enough to provide one.7. Creep Factor: Sometimes I wonder if procreation is really just a way for people to manufacture more people to love them. I find that creepy.8. Kids = More Present-Buying: Like everybody else, W. and I have a lot of presents to buy on birthdays and holidays. Between us, we have four parents, eight siblings, 12 actual (or honorary) nieces and nephews and a shitton of friends. The last thing we need is to create another person to buy presents for.9. Good Memory: I remember what I was like as a teenager. I remember how selfish I was; what a prick I was; what an obnoxious, careless, lying, conniving, vandalizing, burgling, drinking, drugging, dangerous-to-myself-and-others, juvenile-delinquent douchebag I was. And I was one of the good ones. I don't want to take the chance of bringing another monster like me into the world.10. Kids are People Too: Friends, please don't interpret this article to mean that I hate kids. That's not true. I like kids. I just don't like them more than anybody else. Children are not divine cherubs to be idolized and aggrandized by over-doting adults at the expense of others. Kids are people, too, and like most people, they can be tolerated only in small- to medium-size doses. The problem is, when you're a parent, there's no such thing as small- to medium-size doses—hence my decision to remain childless. Makes sense to me.Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.edwindecker.com.