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A Response to Those Who Called Me “Selfish” for Not Wanting Kids

In January, Charlotte Emeljanow wrote “An Open Letter to the Girl Who Doesn’t Want Kids.” Some commenters called her selfish. This is her response.

I know what I want. I want to get married in a pretty white dress. I want to wake up every morning and kiss the man I love. I want to have a successful career in a job that I am passionate about. I want to eat my way through Europe, backpack through Southeast Asia and roadtrip from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. But I don’t know if I want children.

This isn’t because I don’t think I could offer a child a good life. Or because I am so young that I am still a child myself. This is because, for the first time in my life, I am choosing to live selfishly. For years I have done everything in my power to make everyone around me happy. In forgoing a life of motherhood, I am finally choosing myself above everyone else.

I’m sure it is still possible to do the things I hope to do as well as be a mother. I don’t doubt that there are women out there who have found perfect harmony among their selfish ambitions and motherhood. But it would be impossible to say that having a child doesn’t have to change you, because it does. Yes, I could very well still travel the world and have a successful career and be a supermom, simultaneously. But can I really say that as soon as the nurse puts that child in my arms, I won’t start rewriting my plans to coincide with the promise of their future? I know myself and I know that having a child, for me, would mean sacrificing my own dreams for theirs.

So yes, I am choosing to be selfish. But I am not ashamed of this. If wanting the things that I want and living my life according to my own terms makes me selfish, then so be it. It is not my responsibility to have children just because I am able to do so, and I shouldn’t feel guilty because there are women out there who want children but can’t have them. Wouldn’t it be worse to have a child out of biological obligation rather than not have a child at all? Isn’t it archaic to judge a woman for choosing to live selfishly?

I am a 21-year-old woman. I have made a choice about my life that may be controversial. Some people may not agree with me, or may call me selfish for making this choice. But it is my body, and it is my life, and if I were a man writing this post, would you even bat an eye? I think it’s important, especially now, to redefine what successful womanhood looks like. Becoming a mother is a choice, not a requirement. Being selfish is part of being human, not being a man. And having dreams is something that should be encouraged, not adapted to fit a child.

Charlotte recently graduated from an Honors BA in English Literature, and is returning to Western as a Graduate Student studying for her Master of Media in Journalism and Communication. Catch Charlotte as the Senior Editor of the Her Campus Western chapter. 
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