My Ovaries Are Only for Show, Thanks for Asking

I always knew kids weren’t for me. Not that I hate kids – a popular misconception about those of us that don’t reproduce – but I lack the urge to produce or raise any, my house is not childproofed and I will not cross the threshold of a Chuck E. Cheese.We childless military spouses can be an elusive bunch and unmotivated to attend typical military gatherings. Yet I was lucky enough to find a man, a soldier, who loved me more than the concept of a nuclear family.

As I entered my military spouse life I wondered if not having children would be perceived as odd…but at the age of 25, I never thought it would be a virtual crime.

“Although it may seem like every military spouse has kids, it’s not true. They’re just a little more difficult to find,” said Katie Parlin, a military spouse of 9 years who parents a cat, Roger. “You’re more likely to find childless military spouses at non-military functions.”

Truth.

We childless military spouses can be an elusive bunch and unmotivated to attend typical military gatherings where the third question after our name and when we arrived at said base/post is how many kids we have.

Case in point, although I felt the FRG wasn’t for me, the first time I attended a meeting, I was subsequently bombarded with more questions about my ovaries than a decade of gynecologist appointments had yielded.

When asked if I have kids, my default response is a simple no. I believe that being clear and direct might dissuade those that are asking why no one is living in my uterus. However, for some inquisitive (eh-em, annoying and intrusive) individuals, no is not enough of an explanation.

The script follows a similar pattern each time: starting with “not yet, huh?” and I firmly reply “not ever.” Next is “well, you’ll change your mind” and I defer again. The final plot twist has only occurred a few times as I’ve crossed into the mid-30s age bracket, but involves the interrogator audaciously telling me that I will regret not having kids. The curtain falls as this stranger and I look at each other, realize there is sadly not a middle ground on this issue and we walk off stage.

Believe it or not, one of the most egregious instances took place at a military treatment facility. I was there because of a persistent flu-like bug and my husband had driven me because I was so light-headed. As we sat with the nurse doing the initial intake, she asked if we had children.

I replied no.

She asked if we were going to have any and in my feverish state I simply answered no again, rather than confront her nosiness.

She paused for a minute and then turned to my husband and asked him if he was OK with that, implying that if he was not, he should leave right then, my fever be damned? After staring at her incredulously for a few minutes he replied that he was, of course, OK with that and then, catching on to our joint death stares, she proceeded with the appointment.

To be fair, these interactions have also happened to me during a pedicure, checking out at the grocery store and at a myriad of other civilian locations…but there is something about the military culture that, pardon the pun, creates a breeding ground for reproductive scrutiny.

Of course that’s only highlighting the negatives; so with a Pharrell Williams-esque vibe, a decade of insight and a legitimate smile on my face, I want to tell you, you’re not alone if you choose not to procreate. Even in the military.

It is a choice and it is a valid one, despite what anyone might say to you. It neither makes you a better person or a worse one. It just makes you different from the perceived normal.

Another military friend recently told me about a group she belongs to called Child Free at Bragg that was formed in order to connect military spouses without offspring. It offers a way for these women to discuss bridging the divide between the childless and the mom faction without judgment. How great is that? I mean, there are hundreds of MOPs groups at every installation, but a social group for military spouses who aren’t mothers…it’s flat-out overdue.

We childless military spouses can be an elusive bunch and unmotivated to attend typical military gatherings.

At the end of the day, I like me. My husband and I have a great time together. We have dogs that we sort of (read: totally) treat as four-legged kids. We both work, we cook often and eat a little indulgently, we go the gym, we drink too much wine, we fight, we laugh and we like our life. While I cannot debate the merits of different formulas for infants nor do I have a stance on Common Core, I can engage in conversations about tons of other topics, not just what was said on Fashion Police. So, in short, we’re normal and, dare I say, a great couple to befriend.

I also don’t think I am alone; the couples I know without kids are as equally awesome as the larger military families that I’ve encountered. We are content and being content is about not only liking who you are, but also being secure in the decisions you’ve made.

Furthermore, I have many friends, and, luckily for me, family, who just don’t care about my decision to not be a mom. I’m still the same sarcastic, loyal, funny and loud girl/woman I’ve always been.

The best example of this is my 90-year-old Nana who always tells me “not everyone has kids and that’s OK” and encourages me to travel more – granted, her love is not surprising, but vocalizing that support is pretty damn progressive of her.

So maybe we can all follow her lead because if you don’t have kids and aren’t planning on it, you’re still fabulous – and with a viable passport, ready to board the next last-minute flight.

My Ovaries Are Just For Show, Thanks For Asking – NextGen MilSpouse

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12 COMMENTS

  1. So true. Your experiences mirror my own. I mean, “family” activities mean for those with kids, which is fine. But you know, that’s not what makes a family. Even the child free events all the other wives talk about is kids (and that’s awesome but you know, there are other things you can talk about). That doesn’t bother me, what bothers me is the condescending looks I get when I jump into the conversation. Excuse me, my cat does that too, or my niece, or for sharing my sister’s labor story, I just wanted to be part of the conversation. If I wanted to Reddit on my phone while being excluded from conversation I’d just stay home and do whatever I wanted instead, but I do want to be friends with other spouses, I get lonely too.

    And yes, childless military couples are out there. But in my 7 years and counting as a milspouse, I’m friends with only 2 other couples that don’t have kids. That’s it.

    • Exactly! We have two maybe three couples that are without kids…at this point. And that could change again. And yes, even at kid-less events, the moms do go off and it is tough when you’re left just sitting there in the minority. Should you be in my neck of the woods, we can go look at Reddit and discuss it together. LOL.

      • That’d be awesome! You wouldn’t happen to be in Korea would you? We are PCS’ing there next month.

        • Ha, no but that sounds like an awesome adventure! I wish you the best over there 🙂

          • Bummer. Yeah it should be, if we survive the PCS. It’s driving me nuts lol.

  2. Denise Haeussler

    Great article Melissa! I’m always looked at funny when I say I don’t have kids, I don’t know if we will have them, I work full time and I’m in the Air Force Reserve. I get blank stares and other military spouses not knowing what to do or what to say to me. I’m happy there are other’s out there who share my views.

  3. I have kids but I totally can understand why people don’t want them. I could see how it would be hard in a Military spouse community. I think there is a childless group here where I live too.

  4. I’ve just now found this website. I dig it thus far! Lots of sass and honesty, totally my style! My husband and I were married 5 years before having our daughter and had many of the same experiences. Even now when we tell people we are committed to only having one we receive a whole new varied of advice and opinions that we appreciate less then the “advice” one waiting to procreate. I used to say I wasn’t cool bc I didn’t have a kid! I feel you on this

  5. A little late to the post, here, but I just found it and loved it! When people ask me about children, I respond with, “we’re happily childfree”. It works better than a simple “no”, because it usually doesn’t invite questions along the same vein. I follow up with something like, “Have you read any good books/seen any good movies lately?” Most of the time, people just don’t know where to go with the conversation after hearing an unexpected answer. But we’re all human, and in this case, we’re both military spouses, so we’re bound to have a common ground somewhere. Some of my favorite military spouses have had large families and loved mothering, but understood and respected my decision to never parent.

  6. I am in a slightly different situation, but have virtually no military spouse friends because I have no children at home and I even live on post! If anyone asks, I tell people my kids are grown and on their own (I’m older, married to a younger guy) but will pull out pictures of my grandkids if asked. Still, I don’t get involved with the FRG except to receive an occasional email newsletter, and everyone in my husband’s unit is either single, or married with a pile of kids. We fit into neither category, so we mostly keep to ourselves. It’s a solitary life, that of a childless military spouse.

    • Hi, I’m a senior military spouse. My husband had been active duty for 28 years. With only furry kids I can tell you it’s always been lonely except finding the few who don’t judge because mostly people are jealous. They’re jealous you can travel off season, jealous you’re not paying for everything they are for kids and you have money to do things they can’t. They see it, get bitter. They see your cleaner, quieter house and it’s an issue. I’ve heard all about it. And the woman who thinks her kids will take care of her when she’s old is naive. Because of all the older people I know, the majority are estranged from their kids relying on friends and investments to help them through. The reality is, make friends outside the military. Live off base. Make friends because of your hobbies, interests, not your spouse’s job. In the end it is more rewarding for you.

  7. I 100% support your decision not to have children. I know the Military culture puts a lot of pressure and I’m sorry for that. As the mom of girls, I always get asked if we’re going to try for a boy.
    There’s also a lot is weird resentment from some spouses towards those who work full time. It’s almost like it’s not 2018.

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