I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with a wonderful couple, Vicki Righettini and Nathan Meyers, who were interviewed in Families of Two. They have been married 26 years now, and currently live in Boston. Vicki works as a choral arranger, playwright, and fiction writer. Nathan is a software developer and member of Imagica, an award-winning adult theatre-on-ice group. I still love this interview quote from Vicki: “We have given birth to many things in our marriage-we just haven’t given birth to children.”
They were gracious enough to answer a few “decade later” questions:
What were your reasons for choosing not to have kids, and how would those reasons be different today, if at all?
Nathan: We didn’t feel the urge to be parents. It’s not a “lifestyle” choice (I don’t really care for that term) – you should only start a family if it’s something you’re burning to do, and we weren’t feeling that fire.
Vicki: Added to that for me is the fact that I didn’t have the greatest childhood. So I can’t say I have a lot to recommend it. Plus, I’ve always been more focused on my life as an artist than anything else.
Over the last ten years, was there ever a time when you revisited the idea of raising children?
Nathan: No. Vicki: Ditto! Though I will add that when I fully entered menopause there was a momentary twinge — not that I suddenly wished I’d had kids, but that I hated no longer having the option of eternally saying “no”!
Looking at society general, in the last decade what have you observed about being childfree in our culture?
Nathan: I haven’t noticed a difference over time – not that I pay much attention. But, having moved across the country since our interview, we’ve certainly noticed a geographical difference. Compared to the west coast, life in New England feels much more family-centered. People here spend much more of their free time engaged with their families versus outside activities. For us, that’s made it much harder to meet and keep friends.
Vicki: I’m not sure it’s more accepted. Almost all the childfree couples I know are around our age (we definitely got the message on zero population growth!). If anything, I’m seeing *more* children. That may be a function of living in family-centric New England. I can see how the pressure of not wanting to be an outsider (like us) could be enough to induce someone who’s been ambivalent to decide in favor of having kids. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure most people give it that much thought. It seems to be more a matter of when, not if.
What advice would you give couples who are trying to decide whether or not they want to become parents?
Nathan: I know I’m bucking a major trend here, but if you think you want them: don’t wait too long. Honestly, I have no idea how anyone over 30 finds the energy or endurance to raise children.
Vicki: If you can see yourself being happy, fulfilled, or complete doing anything else, do that. Parenting is not the only way to create.
And create they have. For example, when I interviewed them, they talked about the theater company they once started called Open Heart Theatre-how it “required us to support each other and maintain the ability to do an infinite amount of work to bring art into the world. Many people benefited from what we did at Open Heart.”
They are a great example of the many ways couples can co-create beyond biological offspring~
Thank you, Vicki and Nathan!
What ways have you seen couples living the childfree life co-create together?
It was great to read about Vicki and Nathan ten years later. I really liked your quote from Vicki which said: “If you can see yourself being happy, fulfilled, or complete doing anything else, do that. Parenting is not the only way to create.”
I so agree with this statement. Last year I began studying to learn how to make nice costume jewelry, and this year I have made several really nice pieces for myself and of course for family and friends. It has become a real passion for me, even though I discovered it at 50+ years of age. I couldn’t have done that when DS was a baby and small child, because it requires a lot of time to oneself, both for design and putting the jewelry together. And even with all the precautions I take with cutting jewelry wire, there are still times when small pieces land on the floor which are hazardous to little ones. DS is now a young adult, and has quiet pursuits of his own. He likes having time to himself as well, so it is now possible.
Would I have become a parent if I had discovered the joy and fun of creating handcrafted jewelry in my 20’s or 30’s? I have to say I really don’t know, but at this point it doesn’t matter much. I do know that I’m very glad DS is way past the baby, toddler and terrible twos stages. 🙂
Yes, I think that Vicki is so right on. A lot of couples have the desire to create something together, and the default is so easily a child, given what we see around us and the messaging that that is what we are supposed to do together. But so many couples create other things together, from businesses, to everything under the sun that has to do with their shared, avid interests. Me–My husband and I have renovated a few old homes..we share the interest in bringing back places to what they were originally–to its true state. That is just area we share-but in that arena we have “re-created” some cool old places that will be enjoyed by many for many more years…..well, actually not all…last January, one vintage cabin we restored went down river in a flood–I am not kidding! So Sad.
Thank you for posting this Laura. I am glad to see a couple who have been together for 26 years and have created such a wonderful life together. This example has given me hope as a childfree person in today’s society that I am capable of doing so much more with my life.
Thanks–it is one reason I do posts like this–happy childfree marriages going the distance!
Many couples in my extended family are childfree, and I’ve seen them create some wonderful things together, one being a family-of-two-owned farm. My significant other and I have extremely disparate interests and passions, but we’ve created wonderful memories together. I feel we’re much closer to each other than couples with children in a way that I can’t truly describe. It’s the best feeling in the world to know I’ve found another kindred spirit. I can’t possibly see how children would bring us closer together; if anything, I can see us drifting apart, like so many parent friends I know. We’re together because we want to be together … not because we have a biological agenda to fulfill. That’s the true measure of enduring love, in my humble opinion.
“We’re together because we want to be together … not because we have a biological agenda to fulfill.” Lisa Marie, so well said!