Receiving any award is always an ego boost. When I heard the International Committee for International Childfree Day (August 1, 2014) chose me for their inaugural “Lifetime Contributor Award”, I had mixed emotions. Why wasn’t I honored as their, “Woman of The Year”? Did they give me this as a pity party knowing I faced cancer this year? Finally, the word “Lifetime” made me feel old! Then I re-thought the whole thing.
It’s an honor! I’m proud and feel excited to be worthy of this first time recognition. When I think of the 40 years or more I’ve fought the battle against pronatalism, faced so much in losing a job and being called ” perverse” after being on “60 Minutes”, had to cross picket lines when I had speaking engagements and the loss of friends, I sigh. Thinking back, it was all worth it. (Well maybe not the loss of a job as my pension now reflects the years I couldn’t teach!)
People keep telling me the choice not to have or raise children is accepted now and there’s no need for all this support. Really? How I wish this was true. If you could read the daily letters I get telling me they thought there was something wrong with them because they had no maternal or paternal feelings, you would cringe. If you could see how many accolades I get for fighting the fight, you would be surprised. If you could hear how many face being shunned by their families due to this personal choice, you would know we have a long way to go.
Internationally, pronatal influences are epidemic to have children. Religious and cultural expectations make it one of the most important things anyone can do whether or not they are parent material or know any of the realities in what it takes to be an effective parent. Where are any support systems for the childfree lifestyle? Are they ever mentioned in any schools? No! But students are still seen carrying around hard boiled eggs in a basket to teach the responsibility of being a parent. (I can’t make this up!) Where are infertile people taught about choosing childfreedom as a viable and rewarding choice and not being a victim of the barren tsk tsk tsking society.
If you think not having/raising children is accepted, tell your friends and family you are not having children. You’ll probably still hear: you’ll change your mind, isn’t that selfish or why get married?
There may be a few who say, “That’s your own personal choice”. I feel proud of knowing that can happen and feel I had a part of raising the global consciousness.
We have a long way to go. As I age, I hope there are more to carry on and get this wonderful award. The more we feel safe and proud to say, “I’m childfree by choice”, the more children have a better chance of children being born or adopted into the lives of people truly aware of what it means to raise a child.
At 71, I can say, without a doubt, I have no regrets. Childfreedom is one of the sweetest, fulfilling lifestyles anyone can have. I’m proud to be given this award and vow to continue to fight pronatalism.
**First posted on Marcia’s site.