As I stood in line at our local grocery store waiting to check out, I found myself between two very odd realities. One was the beautiful face of Oprah on the latest People magazine cover with the words “The 5 Moments That Changed My Life”. In this article, she talks about her choice to never marry and to never have children. The second reality was standing right in front of me. A sweet couple and their about 2-year-old little girl paying for their groceries. This happens all the time. I find myself standing there watching their life and wondering, “could I ever see myself in those shoes?” Even more, I wondered “is being childfree selfish?”
So, back to Oprah’s reality. I didn’t read the People interview, but I recently read an article from the Daily Mail that followed. (Read it here.) As I read through it, I was a bit shocked because I guess I never really knew much about Oprah’s personal life. Reading through it, all those comments about selfish childfree people fell apart. I suddenly had a deeper respect and appreciation for Oprah (if that’s possible) and she rose even closer to the top of my list of role models.
Let’s break down how she has taught me to be child free by choice and still be selfless.
Making Regrettable Choices
Well, it’s no lie that those who don’t have children ask, “will I regret this?” The answer is, maybe. That’s the thing about making big decisions with your life. You know that it’s what you want now, but you’ll never know if it’s what you want later.
Here’s where Oprah outshines us all and just slays in all her goddess ways. Oprah says she has no regrets! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the most successful woman in history regrets nothing about the marital and family decisions she’s made. But, how can I compare a billionaire to just normal little me? Well, she didn’t make these decisions as a billionaire, she made them when she was grinding her way to the top.
To her credit, working 17 hour days and putting all she had into her career, made committing to a relationship and to children unfair. Some may say choosing a career over a family is selfish, but is it? Look at what Oprah has done with her fortunes and her life. She’s incredibly giving and supportive of charities she believes in and she’s done so much for the community to give rise to women and minorities.
One must then see that giving up a family and marriage to create a life that can help millions is far from selfish – it’s sacrifice.
Choosing to Let Go
Does this shock you as much as it did me? Since 1986, Oprah has been in a monogamous relationship, never got married, and never had children. That’s a long time to commit to someone and never take “the next step.” And unsurprisingly, Oprah has proved it’s possible to love and not have to conform to the idea of marriage or children.
As Oprah was building her career, there was a clear time commitment she just couldn’t make to her beau – Stedman Graham. She knew that if she wanted her relationship to work then trying to make a marriage work while simultaneously maintaining her career would mean added pressure where it wasn’t necessary.
If we’re honest with ourselves, marriage takes a lot of work. That’s why marriage counselors have jobs. That’s why the number of divorces is so shockingly high. Those couples who just can’t make their marriage work have probably tried everything they can, but in the end, we all have our own personal journey’s through life and oftentimes, making it match up exactly with someone else’s is tougher than it should be.
What absolutely amazes me, is Oprah recognized this immediately and her thought process wasn’t a selfish one, it was a SMART one. She made the same decision when it came to children.
My favorite quote from the interview – ‘Doing the Oprah show allowed me to see the depth of responsibility and sacrifice that is actually required to be a mother. I realized, “Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is,”‘ she said.
Choosing to Give Back
Motherly instincts aren’t rare to even those who don’t want children. Honestly, I get those instincts often. They come, they pass, they don’t affect me long term. My eye is still very much on a different type of lifestyle.
However, when they do arise, there are ways to satisfy the feeling. Oprah has shown us how! By sponsoring the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, she became a mother figure. She gave younge girls a better future. She became a role model and a hero. It’s a great example of someone giving back without raising their own children.
After all, sometimes the motherly desire is just to feel loved, give love, and to help someone grow positively. I get this feeling even with my nephew and nieces. It doesn’t necessarily have to be lived out through having my own children.
How to Break the Childfree Selfish Belief
For one, let’s stop trying to make people conform to one way of life. I’m still kind of in shock that I’ve made it this far in my life without knowing Oprah’s truth. It truly is inspiring and helps me feel more confident in building a happy life, full of my own successes that I’ll be truly proud of later in my life.
As a couple that is loving life currently, Ryan and I are definitely aware of the criticism that exists for our lifestyle. However, we know that while right now we may feel a being childfree is selfish for not contributing to the world with our own kids or enough charity work, our goal is to do so much more as we get older. We’re not shy about talking about potentially adopting later in life and when we’re feeling really inspired, we talk about how we can help children and families with better education. We aren’t selfish people, we just want to give in other ways and aren’t quite ready to do it all now.
Being childfree can really be a selfless act, yet it may be hard to see that right now. But, keep an open mind and just wait…