I’ve known Amy for 15 years, and somehow this was the first time we’ve discussed our childfree lives. We chatted about gender roles, having dreams, wanting families, and the importance of dancing. I was delighted to finally sit down and really dig into Amy’s story (and some sushi).
Hi Amy! So lovely to see you. What made you decide to say yes when I asked if you were interested in sharing your journey?
Hi! Well, there’s a lot of pressure for people to fall into gender normative roles, and I wanted to talk about it.
Women are expected to want children, and to be excited about carrying a child. In reality, not everybody gets the same choices at the same times, and I think that’s important to recognize.
Not everybody wants to climb Mount Everest, and not everybody can!
So, why are you childfree?
I’m 38, a lesbian, and single. I want a wife and family, but it doesn’t seem like it’s on the road map at this time.
I’ve been thinking about adoption, but I’m not sure where that road starts.
Who says it has to go in that order?!
It’s true! And it’s not going in that order, so Universe you win!
Do you feel pressure from people in your life to explore other parenthood options?
I do not. Both of my brothers are married with kids, so that took a lot of the pressure off me with my mom. But I don’t think she would have put the pressure on me anyway.
Friends wise, they know where I’m at. I don’t think any of them expect anything from me in that way.
Do you have a lot of friends who have kids?
I do, and the more people who come into my life the more they’re starting to have kids. It’s great. I’m so happy to watch people get the families they have dreamed of. Some people have really struggled with it.
Has your relationship with them changed?
Obviously I can’t see them as much, but I’ve been able to keep my friendships pretty intact.
I think most of them are happy to have someone come over and hold their children. Which is also great!
I can go and enjoy somebody’s kids and then give them right back.
For me those moments are a little bittersweet.
Of course. I see people who seem like they have a good thing going, and the kids are cute, and I think I want that.
But also, I see that I’ve been conditioned to want that life. I have friends who travel the world, and sometimes I want that life, too.
There’s a part of me that always wants something more, or something else, but I think the practice of being in the moment and having gratitude is important.
I try to focus on all the good things that my life provides, and searching for where I can do the most good.
To me the idea of having a family was along the lines of “keep your eyes on the prize,” but in reality, there is no prize. It’s just life.
Yep! You can have a dream, and you think you know the way to get there, and your life takes you in an entirely different direction. And maybe you pick up another dream along the way.
It’s hard to be open a new dream.
Letting go is so hard. And I think the dream of having a baby is a lot more difficult because biologically there is something within us that tells us that we should be procreating.
You have to let go of a piece that is chemically, biologically a part of you.
It’s much easier for me to let go of my dream of being on American Idol.
<Joking> I’m so sorry to hear that didn’t work out for you.
Do you feel that your path has changed your relationship with your body?
Well, my idea of having kids has changed. For a long time I said I didn’t want kids, and part of that was that I never had any desire to grow a child inside of me.
And then coming out and being a lesbian, I thought, “Well I don’t have to be the one to carry it!”
So I never really thought about it like that. The whole body issue thing didn’t have much to do with it.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced being childfree?
I think just coveting other people’s lives, and having to accept that it might not be in the cards for me.
What are the best parts?
Having so much freedom. And not getting sick all the time!
Plus, I can’t imagine how hard it is to have to worry about another living creature on that level. I don’t even have pets!
Is there anything that you wish society viewed differently about childfree women?
More celebrations for women who don’t have children! We celebrate women who are about to get married, or about to give birth as though that’s life’s big win. We need to change that mentality, and recognize that it’s all a big win, no matter what life path you’ve chosen.
And we need more celebrations for single women!
I absolutely agree!! What are some positive things you do for yourself?
I go line dancing! It’s the best. In the last few years I’ve focused a lot on finding things that bring me tons of joy, and dancing happens to be one of them.
It started with tap dancing, and I loved it. I thought I could never learn choreography, but I absolutely can.
I started doing Crossfit, something I judged so hard for a long time but I’m the fittest strongest and happiest I have been in my life. I learned to do things at 38 that I could never do when I was a young athlete and never thought I could do. I can do pullups now and climb ropes. My biggest takeaway from all these new activities is that we really can do what we set our minds to. One step at a time and that which you judge you will likely do, so give things a chance. Don’t judge and live and let live. You might be talking yourself out of the best experience of your life.
I’ve become one of those California spiritual hippy-dippy people, and it’s great. My spiritual path started in my sobriety, and it’s been so helpful in kicking addiction. I’ve met so many people who were able to change their lives by turning to a higher power.
Ultimately, There are probably a lot of people who are more sad about not having kids than I am. I want to say to them that I love them. And remind them to be gentle to themselves, and try to find a bigger purpose in all of it.
That’s the big existential question that so many of us ask. If I can’t do this very fundamental biological thing, what can I do?
The answer to that is: Literally anything you want. You just have to let yourself dream and start with a few steps toward it.