From “Difference Maker” in the New Yorker:
I came to see these years as the beginning of the second act of my adult life. If the first act—college through age thirty-four or so—had been mostly taken up by delirious career ambition and almost compulsive moving among houses and apartments and regions of the country, the second was mostly about appreciating the value of staying put. I’d bought a house in a city that was feeling more and more like home. And though I could well imagine being talked out of my single life and getting married if the right person and circumstances came along—in fact, I met my eventual husband around the time I was matched with Kaylee—one thing that seemed increasingly unlikely to budge was my lack of desire to have children. After more than a decade of being told that I’d wake up one morning at age thirty or thirty-three—or, God forbid, forty—to the ear-splitting peals of my biological clock, I would still look at a woman pushing a stroller and feel no envy at all, only relief that I wasn’t her.
I was willing to concede that I was possibly in denial. All the things people say to people like me were things I’d said to myself countless times. If I found the right partner, maybe I’d want a child because I’d want it with him. If I went to therapy to deal with whatever neuroses could be blamed on my own upbringing, maybe I’d trust myself not to repeat my childhood’s more negative aspects. If I understood that you don’t necessarily have to like other children in order to be devoted to your own (as it happens, this was my parents’ stock phrase: “We don’t like other children, we just like you”), I would stop taking my aversion to kids kicking airplane seats as a sign that I should never have any myself. After all, only a very small percentage of women genuinely feel that motherhood isn’t for them. Was I really that exceptional?