Hannah Blum is a 39-year-old corporate executive living in San Diego, California. Motherhood isn't her thing.
Sadly, she keeps encountering people who want to offer their sympathies to her — even during a routine trip to rent a movie at Redbox.
"After a bit of small talk with the guy in front of me in line, I told him that I didn't have any kids," Hannah said. "He was shocked that a woman like me didn't have kids and looked at me with pity to say he was 'so very sorry.' But actually, I just don't want kids."
You're a mom? Cool. We all love moms. But what about the women who choose not to be mothers?
It doesn't matter if its online or offline, it's almost impossible not to see imagery of motherhood at every turn.
Witnessing a woman caring and nurturing her children is a beautiful sight, and the world is undoubtedly a better place due to the great ladies who take motherhood seriously.
But more women than ever are choosing not to be mothers at all. In fact, the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey in 2014 noted that over 47% of women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 do not have children — the highest percent since the government began tracking that information.
Sadly, stigmas exist about what it means to be a child-free woman in America, so I asked Hannah to provide her thoughts on the situation.
1. She doesn't want any pity.
Experiences like the one at Redbox happen quite often, and when Hannah's child-free life is revealed to people, they react as if she revealed a terminal diagnosis or that she has a screw loose instead.
"It's not that I'm unable to have children or can't find a man," Hannah said. "I'm just extremely happy with my current lifestyle, and it's frustrating when society doesn't understand that."
2. It doesn't mean she hates kids.
Hannah grew up in a family with six children. Not only that, but by the time she was 15, she babysat her 2-year-old twin sisters and her 3-year-old brother while her parents enjoyed a their weekly Saturday night date. She loved it.
"I bathed them, sang to them, read to them, fed them, kissed their boo-boos, you name it, I did it," Hannah said. "And it was fun for me."
Even today, Hannah enjoys spending time with her friends' kids. She's even pretty good at soothing crying babies because she had plenty of experience when she was a teenager.
In other words, she loves kid time but doesn't want it all of the time.
Today, she enjoys coming and going as she pleases, sleeping in on weekends, and watching her beloved New England Patriots play football uninterrupted. "I'm thankful that I can enjoy my friends' kids as often as I'd like, but I also enjoy some me-time," Hannah said. "By not having kids of my own, I have that choice."
3. It doesn't mean she's selfish.
This is the big one.
Oftentimes Hannah and her child-free friends are labeled as selfish. Being a good parent means putting your kids' needs before your own, right?
Hannah looks at it a little differently.
"I'm the friend who will pick you up in the middle of the night because your boyfriend broke up with you," Hannah said. "I also volunteer many hours a week cleaning garbage from our oceans, working at homeless shelters, and raising money to find a cure for cancer. That doesn't seem all that selfish to me."
Shouldn't we celebrate people who don't want to be parents?
Parenting is hard. People with and without kids know that. Moms and dads deserve all of the credit in the world for taking on such an important task.
But if an individual feels that he or she doesn't want to raise kids, shouldn't we be glad they realized that before trying to have a baby?
That alone makes the world a better place.