I’m going to start adding some interviews to my blog to give people a wider range of information and opinion.
As I’m sure people are aware, custody battles are probably the most difficult and vicious part of family law. People love their children dearly and want to spend as much time as possible with them.
So, I found it interesting that there are entire internet sites devoted to life without children. There’s even an Ottawa-based group. In fact there’s even a blog dealing with this.
Here’s an interview with Kim Kenney, who is BellaOnlines Married No Kids Editor.
Q. Can you just give me a little background on the site? Did you start it? How many members? When was it formed?
A. An earlier version of BellaOnline began in 1999, and subjects have been added as necessary. I dont know exactly when MNK (Married No Kids) was added. I took over in April 2003. There werent that many articles posted by the last editor, so almost everything you see today is my work. In 3 years I have grown the site from fewer than 100 subscribers to almost 800!
Q. Can you give me a little background on you and your husband?
A. We are both originally from upstate New York. I have a BA in History with a minor in Creative Writing, and he has a BA in both History and Piano Performance. We both have MAs in History Museums Studies. We have been married for 5 years. We have two adorable twin silver tabby cats, who are enough for us to handle most days! We are very career-driven. We are both lucky enough to love what we do. Few people can say that. I hate when people say that the child free are selfish, because we spend hours and hours doing things for the community through the museum we work at, volunteering, etc. Anyone who knows me would NEVER use the word selfish to describe me.
Q. When did you decide that you did not want to have kids and what was your reasoning behind that decision? Was it your decision? Husbands? Or both?
A. I have often wondered about the exact moment I decided I didnt want kids. It wasnt an a-ha! moment, thats for sure. When I was younger, in my teenage years, I always envisioned my boyfriends and I married and made up names for our future children. I was caught up in what society expected of me. It was always when I grew up. I met my husband in graduate school, and I have one entry in my journal about what a wonderful father he would make. And once in a drugged-up stupor after major surgery, I yelled, We can still have babies! But that was all before we were engaged. I think when the reality of marriage and family hit me when I was finally old enough I realized that I just didnt want to be a mother. Looking back on it, everything just felt right for us. My husband and I never really talked about it we just sort of agreed. He is really good with kids he is the Director of Education at the same museum where I am Curator, and he deals with kids all the time. I want NOTHING to do with kids!
Q. Do you ever think that you will change your mind and want to have kids?
A. I have no doubt that kids are not for me. Not for one second have I ever considered changing my mind. I value my life exactly the way it is. I have more time to devote to my career, my marriage, my hobbies, and many other things. My husband and I know we cant afford to live the lifestyle we aspire to if we have a family.
Q. Are your friends and family supportive of your decision to not have kids? Have any of them also chosen to not have kids?
A. My family accepted our decision much easier than my in-laws did. My sister-in-law has two children and doesnt understand our choice AT ALL. She thinks I am the one who is holding her brother back from his destiny to be a father. In truth, we 100% agree on this topic. I try to keep in mind that my mother- and father-in-law have never met someone who doesnt want kids, so they arent really sure how to take me. Mostly we just dont talk about it. I think my family knows me better, and knows that I have always had strong opinions and a clear path for my life. They arent surprised that I dont want kids. As my mom always says, You didnt like to play with kids when you WERE a kid!! I always preferred to hang out with the adults while they talked and drank coffee. I did my stint as a babysitter in high school and hated it. But that was the only employment available to a 14 year old! My friends have mostly been supportive. I am 30 years old, so most of my college friends are in the thick of pregnancies at the moment. It is tough because we have less and less in common as they become more centered on child rearing. The new moms I have stayed close to are the ones who are well-rounded, who still have a variety of interests, who dont spend ENTIRE conversations talking about their children. But we also live far away from friends our age everyone is scattered to the four winds. We live in a different state than we grew up and went to school, so we have a whole new group of people here. In truth, most of the people we hang out with are 20 years older than we are. Some have no kids, and others have kids who are grown up. I dont mind talking about teenagers and 20-somethings lives. That is more closely in step with my life. It is talking about young children that bores me¦
Q. Do you feel that some adults have kids just because they feel like they have to in order to fit in with the rest of society?
A. I think that some people are meant to be parents, and having kids is the only way they can fulfill their hopes and dreams. I think some people dont realize that having kids is a CHOICE. They get sucked into the Hallmark/Kodak moments and dont think about the reality of raising a child in todays world. It is tough. Some realize it too late, and others never do. They dont like their lives, and they dont know why. There is a lot of pressure out there to conform to societys definition of normal. That pressure can take its toll on anyone, for many kinds of decisions. It might be something serious like keeping a homosexual in the closet or subliminally coaxing people into parenthood. Or it may be as simple as manipulating us to buy certain products, watch certain TV shows, etc. Popular culture is far more powerful than most people realize. You can never underestimate it.
Q.What are some of the things you enjoy most about not having kids?
A. Most of all, I enjoy the ability to focus other things. I am not tied down to a family, which means I can plan a vacation anytime I want to, go out to dinner wherever I choose, buy a house without paying one bit of attention to the quality of the school district. I enjoy having time for my hobbies, extra income to spend on vacations and spa days, peace and quiet, sleeping in on Saturdays. Working in a museum is NOT a 9 to 5 job. We work a lot of weekends and evenings, which doesnt leave us a lot of extra time. I enjoy being able to focus my entire attention on my marriage. We have a stronger relationship than most couples I know, especially looking at those who have had kids. It is sad what it does to a marriage! More stress, less money, more hassles. And gender issues basically dont exist at my house. My husband does laundry, helps with the cooking, shopping, etc. There are no mother/father roles to fulfill. We love to travel and cook and go antiquing and lots of other things that people with kids have to give up for 18 years or more. I hate the idea of cooking a separate meal for a finicky kid, or staying up worrying because they are sick. I know I tend to be on the paranoid side, and I would have a kid in the doctors office for every little thing. (just ask my vet!!) I think the stress of parenthood would be too much for me to deal with. And thankfully, I have decided that BEFORE I accidentally or intentionally got pregnant.
Q. Does it upset you to think that you may never have a child and see him or her lose their first tooth, graduate high school, get married, etc.?
A. Nope thats what nieces and nephews are for!
Q. Do you like kids?
A. Not really. Especially babies. They make me extremely nervous. I dont know what to say to toddlers, and I hate when people make me hold their babies. I feel very awkward. Mostly it is because everyone who knows me knows I dont feel comfortable around kids. So when they interact with me, I feel like every eye in the room is on me to see what Kim will do. That just adds to my nervousness. Once they get into school, I am more comfortable talking to kids. I have more of an idea what to ask and what to say. I have seen lots of kids who are spoiled little snots, who act up and fight with their parents and I want NO part of that.
Q. Do you enjoy the free time that you have since you dont have kids? What are some of your hobbies, interests?
A. YES!! We have a 1969 Oldsmobile 442 convertible, so we spend lots of time at car shows in the summer. I spend a lot of time working on my two BellaOnline websites Married No Kids and Museums. I like to read and cross stitch. Since I live far away and I dont get to see them much, I spend a lot of time on the phone with my mother and sister. My husband is a pianist and has his private pilots license. We like going out for dinner, antiquing, visiting museums. We go on a big trip every year without fail to celebrate our anniversary. We are both very involved in the museum field we have both written two books, give programs in the community, attend conferences, work at all of our museums special events and programs. We have lots of irons in the fire! I am a member of our local Womans Club and was just initiated into the PEO Sisterhood. My husband and I are both involved in our car club too. I love my life!
Q. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?
A. I would just like to add that deciding to remain child free is something that is very personal, and is based on a persons or couples unique situation. No one has the right to make anyone feel wrong for that decision. I like to compare it to any other life decision, or likes/dislikes. No one seems to care that I dont really like dogs all that much, but they freak out because I dont like kids. It is just who I am. I dont fully understand what motivates people to become mothers, because I just dont have that desire, but if that is what they want to do, who am I to criticize? I have had the most problem with co-workers and strangers about my decision not to have kids. People who know me better understand. I love that look of bewilderment when someone asks if I have kids and I say no, we dont want any. They just cant understand it! Like they have never heard of someone not wanting kids! And in some peoples lives, it is possible that they havent. People often tell me I will regret my decision. I always say that perhaps one day, although I strongly doubt it, I will. BUT I would rather regret NOT having kids than having them. Once you become a parent, it is a life long commitment.
I get a lot of flame emails from anonymous people who tell me I will be old and lonely and will wish I had kids to come visit me. I speak at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and believe me, having kids is NO insurance that people will visit you! I even had one idiot who actually said where would you be if your mother didnt want to have kids? That one was the epitome of ridiculous. I try not to take it personally. In our anonymous, Internet world, it is so easy to say mean things and not have to say it to someones face. People say hurtful things through my MNK email all the time that I bet they would never say to me if they met me at a party or in the grocery store. It is part of putting your name out there with a cause you can sometimes be a target for a lot of misdirected anger.