Child-free by choice: How Cameron Diaz represents women like me
Cameron Diaz is baring all in her new film "Sex Tape" and stripping down in the latest issue of "Esquire" magazine, but revealing her view on motherhood is what's grabbing all the headlines. It turns out, there’s one thing a woman can attract more attention for than her body, and that’s her willingness to express an unpopular opinion — and then stick by it.
Because every woman of a certain age, famous or not, is always inevitably asked about her relationship, marital status and/or desire to be a mother and have children, Cameron, 41, ended up discussing the same old question about conventional expectations in her interview with the magazine. But her answer was anything but.
Turns out, she doesn’t want to be a mother at all. And, boom. That’s how Cameron Diaz became the patron saint of childless-by-choice women. Women like me. Women who don’t have children, don’t want to, and don’t see why that’s a problem for other people when it’s anything but a problem for us.
I’m the real person, real-life version: 35, happily married, ostensibly functional uterus, biological clock tick-tick-ticking away like a fertility time bomb, and I’m perfectly happy to let time run out. I’m child-free by choice, and after the decision to marry my husband and live our lives together, the choice to live child-free is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Our lives began when we met and decided to be together. We’re not waiting to have children to say that our lives are finally beginning. We’re living our lives to the fullest now and loving our choice.
My reasons for choosing not to have children are varied, many, and very clearly and carefully considered. Some of those reasons are financial, some pertain to my career, and many relate to my lifestyle. But the main reason I’m not having kids? I took a good, hard look at myself over a long period of time and realized: I just don’t want them. I’m just not interested. And that blows people’s minds —and the fact that it blows people’s minds in turn blows mine.
Put it like this: A person who says, “I really don’t ever see myself owning a dog. It’s not for me. I don’t want to care for it, I’m never home. I’d be a terrible dog owner,” would never be told, “Oh, but you really should! You’re missing out!” Yet someone like myself, who doesn’t want children, constantly hears, “Oh, but you really should think about becoming a mom!” (You can find more of the silly things people have said to me when I tell them I'm not having kids here.)
No one would force an unwanted dog on an unwilling owner, so why would anyone think that, just because other people enjoy parenting, someone who has no desire to provide for another human being would make a devoted and doting parent? (Also, guess how much more important a child is than a dog? Much, much, much more important!)
Speaking of dogs, there’s a woman who walks around my neighborhood dressed in no less than six shades of green (with her dog on a complementary green leash) at all times, and I swear, she gets a less confused reaction than I do when I tell people I’m not having children.
The lengths people — from older relatives to doctors to complete strangers — feel they must go to save me from my own potential regret never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for worrying about the regret I actually don’t regret at all, but surely you have something better to worry about than whether or not I’ll regret something when I’m 80 years old and we probably won’t even remember each other anymore!
Like many things — causes, diseases, or designer bags — it often takes a celebrity endorsement to raise public awareness. Cameron Diaz and I may not have too much in common, but I respect her for being a woman who’s earning her own money, controlling her own career, and living life on her own terms — while refusing to be apologetic for it. And while she may not have intended to be the celebrity leader of the Childless By Choice Movement, I’d happily vote to keep her in office.
Not all lives include children, not all childless lives are unhappy (just like many, many lives that include children are not happy ones), and all of those lives and choices are valid. I don't care if you have seven children, seven cats, or seven lunches in a row. What I do with my time, with my womb is my business. Living child-free is a real thing. And guess what? I’m actually happier this way. It’s pretty fantastic.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Cameron Diaz.
Tamar Anitai is a managing editor at MTV and writer living in New York. She has one husband, two cats, no kids, and no regrets. You can follow her occasional tweets at @tamaranitai.