Childfree African is starting an interview series of people who identify as being African and are committed to being childfree.
The first interview is with 29-year old Lauren Holmes, a yoga teacher from Texas.
How do you identify?
I am a straight African woman of the diaspora.
How long have you know that you are childfree?
I didn’t know the name for it but I’ve known since I was pretty young, five or six. I could never picture the white picket fence and the kids, just me and he husband or a dog or something.
I didn’t tell anyone, though. I kept it to myself because I knew it wasn’t quite what I was “supposed to” want— I grew up in a very Christian household where the traditional gender roles were pushed pretty heavily. Women were supposed to be submissive, and all that jazz.
As a result, I thought I was probably going to have children, just because it was so expected and so ingrained that I didn’t think there were any other options.
When I got older, when I was in high school, the issue wasn’t even really on my radar. I grew up in small town where sex ed was nonexistent. Like, 20 girls that I graduated with were pregnant, or had had kids. When someone got pregnant, all I knew was that I didn’t want that.
When I was a sophomore in college, I met my (now) husband. We had started dating and he said he wasn’t a big fan of kids. I was so relieved. That was when I realized, “hey, this was a choice a couple can make!”
I had no idea there was a community or even groups of people that didn’t want to have kids, because where I grew up up, you were considered an adult when you had a child. Which is a little ridiculous, because I have 16- and 17-year old cousins who have children. Family members ask me when I’m going to grow up, and… I’m an adult I work, I pay taxes.
How do people react to you, a black woman, choosing to live a life without children?
Not well! [chuckles] When I tell people I’m childfree, I might as well be saying “my husband and I are monsters.” The reaction is so visceral sometimes. It’s like people are wondering what’s wrong with us… Did we have horrible childhoods? Were we abused?
I just like my house quiet. I don’t’ want to step on Legos. It’s just not an ideal lifestyle for me.
Do you have siblings?
I have two half-brothers, one brother has 13 kids. The other one has four. I remember when the Maury Povich show, where he does these “are you the father” things, I used to live in fear that my brother would appear on there.
I’m my mom’s only child, she wants her own grandbabies. So, even though my brothers have children, it hasn’t taken the pressure off the expectation for me to have kids. This is especially the case with my husband’s family. He’s the eldest, and his family keeps asking when he’s going to have a baby, because there’s this idea that the family line will crumble if he doesn’t.
Do you have any support systems?
Other than random Facebook groups, I don’t really have any kind of a support system. We’re in an interesting situation because my husband is in the military, where it’s expected that you have to have a huge family. We only know one other couple that doesn’t have children. Every other couple we know, and even single people have children because it’s part of the military lifestyle. Everyone has five or six kids, but I try not to pass judgement.
It would be great if we had a black childfree community. We live in a condensed, predominantly white area. It’s hard to find black people in general let alone black people that are childfree. We’re kind of isolated right now. We’ll be here for another six or seven months.
What do you dislike the most about being a childfree African?
I can’t stand the judgement. The rest of it is awesome. We go where we want, at the drop of a hat we can decide where we want to go. I love that. The only thing I dislike is the judgement that we get and the isolation that we feel.