Childless by Choice: Sheila’s Story

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Sheila Olson, 37, is a Marketing Communications Manager for a large financial services company in St. Paul, Minnesota and has been married to Todd Olson, 38, for 10 years.

I was raised in a small city (population 9,000) in north-central Wisconsin. I lived with my parents and two older sisters. My grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins were nearby. It was what I consider a very typical Midwest upbringing. I remember fantasizing about having a little brother or sister, but not so much a child of my own. I did play with dolls and when I was pre-teen I did a fair amount of babysitting. But, thinking back, I didn’t enjoy the babysitting.

I don’t hate children and I love my husband enough that if he desperately wanted them I might be open to motherhood, but, I’ve never had the desire to be a mother. I’ve witnessed parents with children with behavior problems and disabilities. Their life is not easy and I’d have a hard time with it.

I remember telling my college roommates that I would never have children and they didn’t believe me. That was more than 15 years ago. I’ve never felt like this is something I need to publicly declare. I don’t hide it –I am open and honest with my decision and do not mind talking about it if someone asks me –but it is a choice just like any other choice in life.

Almost all of my friends have children. They have gotten used to my choice; however, they still make comments that show they have a glimmer of hope that I will change my mind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “But you would be such a great mom.” I interact with them the same as everyone. When we get together I don’t mind if they talk about their children – I know it is their life. I prefer that their children aren’t always with us on social occasions, but I understand the reality of the situation. A good friend had a baby just this morning. I’m absolutely thrilled for her.

I have one sister that invited me to her ultrasound when she was pregnant with my youngest nephew. She thought it would give me the desire to be a mom. I was also present for the birth of that child. Witnessing those events made me believe that pregnancy and childbirth is a true miracle – it is amazing. But, it didn’t change my mind. The pain and screaming didn’t help.

I will say that I would truly like more friends who do are childless by choice since we would certainly have more in common and more time for social interactions. Those are hard to find. In fact, that is the hardest part about being child-free.

I enjoy the fact that I have time, freedom and more hours to dedicate to my career.The ability to travel at a moment’s notice is also a plus. No worries about my children being bullied, misbehaving, getting bad grades, getting sick, etc. I have strong empathy and couldn’t handle those things well. I have more hours to dedicate to my relationship with my husband. We are not stressed or tired from child-related issues – we don’t fight over who gets up in the middle of the night,whochanges a diaper, who drives the kids to their events, etc. We are even able to sleep in on most weekends if we desire. My husband travels a lot for work and may be out of the country for two weeks straight. I certainly miss him, but I don’t feel contempt that I am home taking care of the kids by myself.

I’ve never considered that being childfree means I have a lack of places to give my love.I have three nephews and one goddaughter. I love them as if they are my blood. They know that they can always count on me. I give my love to my family, to my friends, and to my pets- currently one cat that I consider family. In addition, I can volunteer time and money to nonprofit organizations.

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