Keturah’s Story: The simplicity of knowing you do not want children

Keturah KendrickLooking to pitch a story about childfree black women to a mainstream publication, a journalist friend asked me: “When did you know that motherhood was just not for you?” Any woman who is childfree by choice is familiar with this question. She is asked it often. If not “how old were you when you knew,” then “you are not old enough to know.” We black women who do not worship at the altar of motherhood are downright accused of lying when asked, “But, how could you just know you did not want children?”

The only answer I could supply for my journalist friend was, “Just like I knew I would have a second slice of cake at any birthday party I was invited to. Just like I knew I would be watching Reading Rainbow whenever that butterfly flew across the television screen, I just knew I would never have a baby in my belly nor a child living in my house.

I don’t know why this seems odd to people. I don’t know if mothers have spent their girlhoods with the opposite feeling. The inexplicable knowing that there would be babies playing with lego blocks next to them 20 years in the future when they were watching television. I just know that “realizing I did not want children” is not a memory I have. I did not realize I was a girl. I did not realize I was black. I didn’t have a moment of introspective contemplation and come to the realization that I liked to read. I lived to write. I just was: a black girl. A lover of books. A manipulator of words.

If I am to admit to having an epiphany, it would be the aha moment when I realized I was not supposed to say, “I don’t want children.” I have been reminded since I was in my early teens that a good black woman could voice doubt. She could say, “I am not sure I want children” or “I am afraid I would not be a good mother.” That was allowed. But by my late 20s I had come to know that an outright rejection of motherhood with no self-deprecation or shaky voice uncertainty made me an odd species of woman. Not an awful woman, mind you. Just not a completely human one.

I do not know if my friend will sell her piece to Harper’s Bazaar. I wish her well and not just because I want every black woman on Earth to be successful. I find it odd that many people still do not know what millions of women like me have always known: women who do not want babies do not need to give birth to babies to “make sure” they do not want babies. Trust us, we know. We have always known.

First published on March 14, 2018

Keturah Kendrick is a podcaster and blogger who currently lives in Shanghai, China. You can follow her on social media:
Twitter: @HappySingleGal
For her podcast, visit:
For her blog, visit:

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  1. Hi Keturah, thanks for sharing your story. Loved reading your book and I look forward to sharing my review of it once it’s published. As a black woman, yes I do identify with a lot of what you say. This obsession with babies seems to be a trait black people share, regardless of where they happen to be in the world, even though as we all know, times have changed and asking everyone to have children, particularly in an overpopulated world, no longer makes sense. Thankfully, the advent of the internet and social media, is helping change attitudes. Some people have been looking for someone to tell them that it’s ok not to want children and reading stories such as yours, will help them on their journey of living their lives happily childfree.

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