I am one of the few women in Los Angeles who chose not to have kids. I am now 50-ish. For me, it was an easy choice; at the time anyway. I had a career as a special education teacher and I saw first hand how hard it is to have kids; how hard it is to be a parent. It scared me. And I honestly did not think I could do a good job teaching a child all those things you have to. Since I have a unique life, in many ways, I thought I would share with you what it’s like. I think you will see that as parents, you actually got the better end of the stick. In my view anyway.
D.I.N.K. (Double Income No Kids)
Yep. I am part one of a Dink lifestyle. I own a maternity, newborn and child photography business that is successful. All that money I earn is mine. All of it. There is no tuition, no kids’ clothes, no summer camp fees, no club sports, no candy sales, no Scouts, none of it. Of course, the business has expenses, (you would be stunned at how expensive it is to run a small solopreneur business), and then basic living expenses. But after that, I am able to be as irresponsible as I want to be. There is no one depending on me to save money for college, or for a rainy day. Spontaneous trips to Vegas, weekends at Santa Anita, a quick flight to Chicago to see the Cubs, it’s all there.
So far this all sounds spectacular right? It’s like being a college student with a never ending expense account from your parents. I will admit, that at first, in my 20s and even into my 30s, it was great. In fact, it was amazing. Especially when a large portion of your peers are not married yet with kids. But it gets tiresome. And after a while sporting events are not that amazing anymore, and quick weekend jaunts take their toll. They also lose their sense of taboo. You start to realize that every thing you do is all about, well, you. It’s a bit selfish. How many images can you post on social media of you gallivanting hither and yon while everyone else you knew in college became adults and has responsibilities? Whether that is good or bad, I’m not sure. But there it is.
Tenured College Dorm Life
While I did grow up enough to have a career and do all those responsible things, I never did grow up in other ways. Take domestic stuff, for example. I think most people, when they have kids, they try to keep a relatively organized house. They cook balanced meals. They clean, do laundry, take care of the yard. They do all these things with some kind of order and regularity. For me, that never happened. Now it could be, that even if I had had kids, I would still be a terrible homemaker. But I think that not being a parent allows you to live in utter disorganization. I think this promotes bad habits and fosters selfishness.
They only thing that has changed for me since college, is that I can’t take my laundry to mom’s house anymore. So what happens is, I pay to have other people do the things I probably should be doing….cleaning, cooking, yard work, basic upkeep on the property etc. I can’t be sure, but I do not think I would have developed such laziness with kids. Having kids keeps you sharper, more alert and self-sufficient; as I see things, anyway.
There is an urban myth that says most people have kids so they will have someone to care for them as they age. As a newborn photographer, I see new moms all the time. I don’t see aging by themselves as their motivation for having kids. But still, it is a question most of us have to face. And since I am farther along the path than most of you reading this, I can tell you: Don’t worry about it. If your kids care for you when you are old, great. But if they can’t or won’t, it’s OK. There are competent professionals all over the place who will step in when the time comes. So the fact that I did not have kids does not make aging or getting older any harder. So I would say that on the aging issue, it’s a draw. Kids or not, getting old is tough.
The Mother-Child Relationship
Here is where not having kids loses big-time. There is one relationship that is so critical, so meaningful, so profound, and so important. It is the subject of countless paintings, books and photographs; and that is the mother-child connection. It is so raw and inspiring that my studio offers an entire portrait package just for Mother-Child. Not having kids means you miss this. It means you miss the single most awe inspiring interaction on earth. You miss the basic “why” of the human condition. You miss all those times your child calls for you, and not dad. You miss the way your child holds your hand, or sits in your lap. You miss how they look at you when they see you are proud of them. You miss how safe they feel with you after a bad day. You miss the most basic life event. You could say, you miss Life altogether. (That may be too dramatic, but you get the idea). Of course, there are lots of elements to Life, but having kids is a big one. Not having kids takes you out of a major experience.
I don’t think there are too many moms out there who regret having kids. I really don’t. But you may wonder what it may have been like if you did not have them. And I can tell you, it has some advantages. It does. But at the end of the day, the most fundamental thing is not on your Life’s resume. To my mind, you are definitely at an advantage as a parent.
Katie is a maternity, newborn and child photographer in Los Angeles, 91042