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What if we change our minds?

By Victoria Fryer 

As much as I try to avoid the conversation of being childfree, it inevitably comes up. People want to know if we have children or when we’re having children. The topic comes up among friends and among family. And with all of the “Just you wait, you’ll change your mind” clucking, I often lead to the more fervent declarations of “No, I will not. I do not want children.” But what happens to the people who do change their minds?

A woman in my extended social circle used to say that she didn’t plan to have any children. I appreciated having at least one other person who understood me when I felt I needed to defend my choice. It made me feel a little less alone in a circle of friends that almost all had children. And then she announced her pregnancy. She had changed her mind, after all.

Though I was very happy for her, part of me felt a little disappointed that I was losing my one ally. That was a selfish feeling on my part, of course, I won’t try to deny it. Maybe some of you have felt that way before? But it also got me thinking about what would happen if I changed my mind—or, even, if I had an unplanned pregnancy.

First of all, I can’t imagine the level of negotiation that would take place at home. After all, having children is a huge decision, and living in a marriage predicated on the decision not to have them, could turn things completely upside down. And—though I know that it’s not important what other people think—what would other people think?

My acquaintance never said anything that could necessarily be used against her after announcing her pregnancy. She didn’t “hate children,” as some childfree are accused of. She never said she thought she’d be a horrible mother, for one reason or another. She never even said she lacked a maternal instinct.

Sometimes in giving people reasons for being childfree, we can say things in a joking way that people don’t forget. I know I’ve said things like, “Oh, I’d be a horrible mother!” or “I can barely keep a plant alive—how could I possibly take care of a child?” It’s not that I actually believe these things, but they act as deflections for a question that deserves a much deeper answer than I wish to provide.

So I worry about that sometimes. I’m 99 percent sure that I won’t change my mind, but I know just enough about life to recognize that anything can happen. If someday I become pregnant, will people whisper about how I never even wanted children? Would I be under greater scrutiny for having done something I claimed that I’d be bad at?

Do any of you ever think of things like this, or are you all so sure in your child-freedom that you don’t feel you have to worry?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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