You have always preferred animals to humans. You don’t have any desire to raise a child — but you are perfectly happy filling your home with as many animals as you can safely keep inside.
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to understand why you would rather have claws scraping across your floors than babies crawling from room to room. In fact, most people you meet don’t even ask whether you want children. They simply assume you are going to have them.
When you mention how late you slept over the weekend, coworkers will say, “Enjoy that now because you will never feel rested again after you have children.” When you buy a house, they will say things like, “The kids are going to love the big backyard.” Or they will say, “Which room is going to be the nursery?” No one considers the possibility you might not be interested in having kids of your own.
If you try to explain your animals are the only kids you need, they will argue with you. They will see how good you are with your pets, they will see how well you take care of them and how much love you give them, and they will comment on how you would make such a good mother. They will try to sway you into having children of your own.
At the same time, there are people who will get offended about your comparisons between babies and pets. They will get annoyed when you refer to your pets as your children. They will roll their eyes when you talk about how hard it is to raise a puppy or kitten because it’s easy in comparison to raising a screaming baby.
Even though you understand there is a difference, even though you understand how hard they work to raise their children, you wish they understood how much you care about your pets.
They are family. They cheer you up when you’re upset. They make you feel less alone when no one else is around. They are your best friends. They are perfect in your eyes. You don’t know what you would do without them.
Your pets are not practice for when you have a real baby. They are not placeholders until you can get yourself pregnant. You have pets because you love pets. You love them more than anyone else in your world.
Even though you don’t need approval from anyone, even though you don’t care what others think, constantly defending your decision not to have children gets annoying. There are family members, friends, and even strangers who will ask whether your partner is okay with you refusing to have kids. They will ask who is going to take care of you when you’re old. They will ask why you are making such a selfish decision.
Some people will make you feel bad about making different decisions than them, even though you respect their choices. Even though you have never said a bad word about them choosing to have kids. Even though you have never told them they should have stuck to pets instead.