Plenty of women choose to live child-free lives, and tons of other women aren't able to have children of their own. Whatever the case, people all too often tend to make assumptions about women who don't want or don't have children for one reason or another.
Here are nine myths about a child-free lifestyle, busted.
1. You get to travel the world with no restraints.
Just because a woman doesn't have children doesn't necessarily mean that she can travel all the time. Many women deal with other restraints, like health complications or financial issues, for example. And many other women are still caretakers for their families, like their aging parents or their partners, which means that they still have others to think about even if they don't have children.
2. You're available to hang out all the time.
People too often assume that, just because some women don't have children, they're able to say yes to anything and everything — all the time and at the drop of a hat. But that's just not true. Just because they don't have to pick the kids up from school or squeeze in doctor's appointments for their kids (which are totally valid reasons for not being available!) doesn't mean that they have all this free time. Chances are that their time is filled with other things like work, fitness and activities that they enjoy like traveling or book clubs or volunteering work they may do, etc.
3. You should have a super accomplished career.
Society spreads the notion that, if a woman doesn't want children, it must be because she's focusing on her career. But the reality is that some women don't want children or a career; many women are perfectly content doing exactly what they're doing, getting by to support their lifestyle as it is and aspiring for nothing more. And that's totally OK!
4. You can stay late at work and work weekends.
Just because some women don't have children doesn't mean that they're always around to stay late at work or available to work weekends. Sure, it's tough for mothers to work long and odd hours. But childless women, too, have lives and families and obligations outside of work.
5. You're able to save so much money.
It's no secret that children cost a lot of money — extra groceries, kid's clothes, doctor's appointments, childcare, college, etc. But women without children have expenses, too. And it's not fair to assume that, just because they don't have children, their savings accounts should reflect a higher number. One's financial standing depends on a variety of factors, including income, lifestyle, debts, etc. And some women without children may be affected by other factors.
6. You must not have a maternal bone in your body.
Some women really want to have children and can't because of health complications. Some women can have children and really love them — but they're excited to be aunts and mentors for children in their life and don't want children of their own for a whole host of reasons (they can't afford them, they don't want to bring children into this world, they are focused on their careers, they don't want to give up their total independence, etc.). Just because a woman doesn't have children or does not want children does not mean that she's not maternal. (Though, yes, some women don't identify as maternal. And that's OK, too!)
7. You don't care about having a family.
Some women simply see consider their family as their partner, their pets, their friends, their siblings, etc. Women don't need children to have a family.
8. Your weekends are yours to enjoy.
Just because childless women don't have to go to soccer games on the weekends or take their kids to camp or manage parenting and their workloads that probably spills over onto the weekends doesn't mean that they don't have other weekend obligations. Childless women still have friends and family they care about and, often, care for. This means that they may be spending their weekends taking care of others or even appeasing others by saying yes to plans they're not totally down for or putting in work for their jobs against their will, too.
9. You'll probably change your mind.
People too often assume that childless women will eventually change their minds about their lifestyles. Well, some women can't have children. And other women truly don't want them — that's OK and valid and fair and allowed and to be respected, too.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.