Like many folks, I have regrets about some of the decisions I’ve made in life – but there are two that I will never regret.
One of those decisions was made in my late teens, when after some serious thought I realised that I was an atheist.
The other decision was made earlier than that, when as a kid I thought that when I became a grown-up, I didn’t want to have kids of my own.
I didn’t have a horrible or rotten childhood, but by the age of 10 I had no desire to ever have a family. It was simply a case of lifestyle choice – being a parent and raising children held no interest for me at all.
The older I grew, the stronger this feeling became. When I was 17, I was deadly serious about wanting a vasectomy – although my parents pointed out that no doctor would perform that operation on someone that young.
My thirties are almost over, and my mind remains unchanged about not wanting children. I still haven’t had a vasectomy, but in the last year or so I’ve thought about it again because past the age of 40 the last thing I want to be – and unexpectedly – is a father.
Over the years, I’ve copped some flak for my mindset. It’s amusing to recall that when I was a kid, one of my younger sisters was angry at the time because I was the last male in our family and my not having kids would mean the end of our name. In senior high school a friend very seriously called me selfish, and in my early twenties when I told a female workmate that I didn’t want kids, she half-playfully slapped me and scolded me.
Still, for a long time it was interesting to note that many people I encountered had the notion that parenthood was a given – something that everyone did eventually.
The most I have ever felt bugged about this matter was back in the early 2000s when popular Australian columnist Sally Loane wrote a pair of newspaper articles that smugly criticised people who were child-free by choice. It was one of the few times in my life that I was compelled to write a letter to a newspaper (I don’t think it was published, though).
Ever since mid-2007 when my depression was diagnosed, I’ve felt extra relief that I’ve never had children because I hate to think what having the black dog as a parent could have done to me and a family. True, in an alternate child-filled reality I may have been compelled to seek diagnosis and treatment earlier, and become a better person much sooner – but as I’ve finally come to learn during the past few years, dwelling too much on the past only wastes time.
My siblings and some friends have children whom I genuinely adore and like, but ‘Uncle’ is what I am happy to remain and always will be.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂