On Being Black and Childfree
Sometimes I wake up and I am immensely overwhelmed by the black childfree experience
By NaBeela Washington
Photo Credit: Ogo
‘Is there any reason that you don’t want to start a family?’
‘It sounds like your own personal neologism’
‘Give it time, you’ll change one day’
‘You’re just too young to be thinking like that now. Who will take care of you when you're older?’
Childfree - the word that seems to damn me every time. The phrase that, if uttered boldy, leads to a long list of shaming and interrogation. I become a suspect in the case of ‘how could you not want a family’ or ‘how selfish are you’.
Personally, I don’t remember playing with baby dolls thinking that maybe one day later in life it’d be a living breathing entity that would dominate my entire world view and identity.
I don’t remember ever viewing motherhood as a way to fulfill myself and satisfy my existence; I’ve never felt a calling to be a mother.
I don’t remember ever craving the opportunity to carry an unborn child for nine months; I can barely fathom the sound of a child’s scream or tantrum in passing.
I do remember wanting to always put my career first and appreciating the ability to wake up late on weekends or travel as much or as little as I pleased without much obligation. I also look forward to how much money I’ll save in the long run as a result of my decision.
I remembered not enjoying the reality of what it takes to raise a black or biracial child. To protect them day and night, losing sleep and sanity so they can survive this cruel world.
I remembered how difficult it already was for me to pay my bills, juggle graduate studies and work, and somehow find the time to go out to social events, despite my introverted nature, and nurture my passions.
I remember the intense fear that would rise up along my spine as I jokingly named future kids with past partners, and how I just couldn’t find my voice to speak up and say ‘ I’d rather not start a family’.
Sometimes I wake up and I am immensely overwhelmed by the black childfree experience; how utterly alone I feel in my choice to not want children. Somehow, I suffer almost daily persecution from couples in passing, coworkers, or even friends. They constantly question my views and desire to be and remain childfree and at the end of the day, their comments and concerns sting. They make me feel inadequate or even more alien than I already feel being a black woman.
But despite all of this, I am proud to be childfree and black, no matter how many times I have to explain it on a Tinder date or defend my choice to a stranger or family in-progress. It takes a great deal of confidence to go against traditional beliefs and defy the opaque subjectivity of society and I am proud of who I choose to be and others that join me in this lifestyle.
Kids aren’t for everyone and that’s okay.