If you don’t have kids, you’re missing out. Your life is less.
As a 35-year-old who has been happily married for 11 years, this statement has been spouted to me more times than I’d like to count. Especially around the holidays, there is this overwhelming sense of pity for my husband and me that we don’t have kids, that we don’t experience holiday magic.
But I’m here to say: Our lives aren’t less magical because we don’t have kids.
I know, I know. This can be a controversial statement. Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone who has children or saying I can understand what that undoubtedly magical experience is. I am not here to say my husband and I live a life of luxury (We do not. I know many couples with children who travel 10x more than we do, have a much better social life, and live in houses much more worthy of a magazine than we do). I’m not here to say having kids is a mistake or that your holidays aren’t magical if you have them.
I’m simply here to say that you don’t have to have children to have a magical holiday season … or life, for that matter.
Finding the Childlike Wonder Without Kids
Finding the Childlike Wonder
Without kids, certainly our holidays and lives look different—but the magic is still there. It just means we’ve stopped barring ourselves from experiences just because we’re adults.
It means that we find ways to make the holidays special, like adding a 12 days of stocking stuffers tradition this year for each other or baking cookies or making that horrid looking gingerbread house.
It means that we watch The Grinch with alcohol and whiskey instead of hot chocolate.
It means we go to the tree lighting just because we can.
It means that we go see Santa with our dog (when we had a dog who wasn’t afraid of Santa).
It means that throughout the year, we find ways to experience that childlike wonder that so many think we miss out.
It means we still go to the zoo several times a year or that I stand in line with the kids at Harvest Fest to get into the petting zoo as a grown woman—and I admittedly have a bigger smile on my face than the children in line.
It means that we go to parades and arcades and play the carnival games at Delgrosso’s and see fireworks and make each other Easter baskets. It means we play in the snow with the dog and still smile with glee as the local fire station carts Santa through the streets a few weeks before Christmas.
It means we buy Dunkaroos and popsicles and all the dream foods of children just for ourselves.
The thing is, we still have those experiences of magic and adventure in our lives. We still find ways to have the childlike wonder—it just looks different.
I’m not diminishing the fact that having children is a bond like no other and is something I can’t understand. I don’t know what it’s like to see your child experience Santa for the first time or take first steps or call you Mom.
Still, I’m here to say that a childfree life can still be a magical life. Really, I’m here to say that no matter what kind of life you choose, the important part is just that: that it’s the life YOU choose. Not society, not your family, not even your significant other. It’s the life you find happiness, peace, joy, and worth in. And that can be found kids or no kids; house or apartment; partner or single; cold or hot weather.
At the end of the day, magic doesn’t come from making choices others approve of or even understand. It comes from making the daily choice to find your own magic, no matter your circumstances, and to make your own adventures, big and small.
To Those Who Don't Want Children
I write this not to stir waves of controversy or even pity. I write this because I know somewhere out there is a woman in her twenties or thirties or forties who worries that because she doesn’t want children, her life will be less.
I write this because I know there is a married couple out there who is being hounded about children to the point they wonder if maybe they can’t find happiness with just the two of them.
I write this because I think social media tries so hard to pit the childfree against those with children when it doesn’t need to be that way.
There is not a limit or a recipe for happiness, for holiday magic, or for fulfillment in this life. There Is not one path that is better—there’s just the path that is best for you.
I think the more we talk about that, the more we understand that there are so many ways to live this life, the more we can be happy for each other and, most importantly, find happiness, real happiness, for ourselves.
Happy holidays, wherever you are in life and whatever you’re doing,
Author L.A. Detwiler
L.A. Detwiler is the USA Today Bestselling author of numerous novels including The Widow Next Door.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books