All around me, my friends and neighbors are having kids.
And why shouldn’t they? Minneapolis is a great place to raise a family. It's one of the main reasons people move back to Minnesota after their youthful sojourns in Boston, Chicago and beyond.
I hear it all the time: “Well, we wanted to raise a family, and this is where I grew up. So we came back.” Which is great. More power to anyone who wants that from their lives in Minnesota. I can see it would be a wonderful place to raise a gaggle of babies who can weather our harsh winters while rocking adorable plaid onesies.
But you know who has two thumbs and doesn’t want that? Me. I’m childless by choice and I feel pretty great about it.
I know some people are on the fence about whether or not they want kids, but not me.
I was an awkward kid and had a really hard time making friends early in life (something I touched in my previous essay for 10,000 Takes).
As an adult, I worked hard to find and build a group of friends who appreciate my unique brand of weirdness and ribald sense of humor — people who see me and accept me for who I am. Having searched so long and hard for that sense of belonging, I feel deeply protective of those relationships.
If I had a kid, everything would change — I see it changing already for my friends with new families. In fact, that’s what helped me realize I want to spend my time nurturing and protecting those friendships more than I want a child.
A great piece of advice I heard from a parent once was: “Don’t have kids unless you feel your life would be incomplete without them.” I don’t feel that way, but I know some of my people do. I want my community to be my baby.
For my partner, the choice has more to do with financial stability and personal freedom. Every time we see our friends struggling with managing jobs, kids, a car seat and the ability to poop in privacy, we look at each other and say: “Oh, man. No thanks. A world of no thanks!”
Kids forever change the focus of your life. Gone are those lazy Saturday mornings spent lounging in bed with the cat and a good book, followed by brunch at noon … do you remember brunch?
My partner and I don’t want to give up the delicious freedom that comes from having a whole day ahead of us, accountable to no one but each other. Sleep another hour? Sure, why not?
As you may (or may not) have gleaned, I am a gay lady, which makes matters simpler. Try as I might, there will be no “whoops” moments for me. If I wanted to start a family, it would, out of biological necessity, be a very deliberate act involving hormones, IVF and some serious cash.
Or, at the very least, it would involve a turkey baster and a generous friend.
Either way, this would need to be a very intentional act. Not everyone has that kind of luxury. I’m just privileged to have so many barriers between me and such a big, life-altering transition as parenthood.
As an adult, the most valuable coin I have to spend is my time and energy, and I understand that my parent friends are spending it all on their kids. That feels perfectly appropriate. But for me, I have plenty of extra time and energy, and I want to use it creating opportunities for my “family” to gather and connect.
I will happily plan the party, make an enormous batch of soup, clean the house, set out crayons and paper for the kids, and make tasty snacks that meet the myriad dietary restrictions of all of our friends. All my guests have to worry about is showing up.
My partner and I are in our mid 30's now. With so many of our friends starting families, we are really seeing the fruits of our community-building labors. The summertime bounce house party I throw for my partner is a hit with kids as much as their grown-ups. Our annual “spookstravaganza” Halloween party has a family-friendly time from 6 to 8 p.m., and we host a pumpkin carving night the week prior for parents who may not be able to attend the big party due to baby responsibilities.
This year, we’re planning a holiday cookie decorating party — a sprawling Sunday brunch where loved ones can gather, let the kiddos run wild, and still be home for nap time.
The stresses of parenting can be super isolating. By taking responsibilities for gathering people, not only am I (selfishly) getting to spend time with those I love, I’m also creating the ancillary benefit of giving my parent pals some stress-free time to socialize. When you are overwhelmed by the demands of child-rearing, dropping into a supportive environment while also having a mimosa is a real treat, one I am delighted to provide.
And when we’re not hosting parties, my partner and I are leveraging our DINK (dual income, no kids) status to take advantage of all the lovely activities Minneapolis has to offer: art festivals, concerts at First Avenue, late-night dates featuring manhattans and snacks at our new favorite gastropub.
Our long-term plan is to channel some of our kid-free savings into a lake house just outside the Cities. I’m dreaming of a huge compound where all our friends can join us. I’ll settle for a sweet little cabin on one of our 10,000 lakes, so long as there’s a guest room.
And not only for our grown-up pals, as nice as that sounds, but also for the kids.
Here’s the thing: I don’t want kids for myself, but I love my friends’ kids. And I love the idea of hosting those kids at the cabin and inculcating them with my love of Minnesota. My partner and I can get our gay auntie on with just a wee taste of the parenting life, and we can help our friends remember life before kids. By my calculations, everyone wins.
Kate T. Moore is an educator, community builder, classically trained chef, hostess with the mostest and founder of Family Dinner Minneapolis.
ABOUT 10,000 Takes: 10,000 takes features first-person essays about life in the North Star State. We publish narratives about love, family, work, community and culture in Minnesota. Got a story to tell? Send your draft to email@example.com.