Children did come along in the series but only much later. These women seemed to have it all – the wardrobe, the shoes, the bonds of female friendship, the ideal jobs, and apartments, and no-strings-attached sex lives. Children would only hold them back from living their lives to the fullest as New York City dictated. But what happens when the women get older, become established in their careers, and forgo children? Ms. Bushnell, now in her sixth decade and without children, describes the feeling as being “truly alone.”
Whatever her reasons were for the absence of children in her life, I’m sorry it’s so painful for her to realize now and contend with those kinds of emotions.
I saw the same "Sex and the City" attitude while living the majority of my 20s in Washington, D.C., experiencing the undercurrent of a society pushing women to get ahead in their careers and place marriage and family on the backburner.
I always wanted children and thankfully have two of my own but the freedom that comes without children is understandable. In today’s modern world of student debt, no paid parental leave, a seemingly less desirable pool of mates, and careers that demand flexibility and focus, I can see where postponing becoming a parent looks pretty good.
This seems to be a popular sentiment. The fertility rate in this nation is plummeting and women are choosing in record numbers not to have children. A Pew Research study finds that today, 1-in-5 women are childless, double the number than in the 1970s.
Despite more women of childbearing age in the United States, demographers are stumped as to the reasons why women are choosing to have fewer or no children. Some point to the growing number of women who are completing higher education, are the breadwinners of the household and are postponing marriage or not getting married at all.
A Morning Consult poll from 2018 asked childless Americans why they did not want children: more leisure time, a good partner to reproduce with, and financial security were the top reasons these people were choosing a child-free life. But what about the emotional response to a childfree existence that author Candace Bushnell is now dealing with?
She says that “...now I do see that people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don’t.” Yes, parents are forever anchored to their children. Serious responsibilities come with raising children and parents sacrifice their own wants and needs on a daily basis to put their children first.
"Sex and the City" devotees are now in their late 30s and 40s – do their lives mirror the characters Bushnell created? Did they pursue careers and friendships and dreams sans kids? The show certainly made that lifestyle look appealing. What it didn’t show is the regret of forgoing children.
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to understand where Bushnell is coming from. Some days, as a parent, I yearn for those child-free years of travel and sleeping in and saying yes to getting together with friends without the complicated logistics of taking care of children. Bushnell fought back against societal norms that expect women to, at some point, have children and raise a family, and she’s not alone.
Actress Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha in "Sex and the City," revealed that her work schedule made it nearly impossible to have children – and she never did. "Sex and the City" devotees are now in their late 30s and 40s – do their lives mirror the characters Bushnell created? Did they pursue careers and friendships and dreams sans kids? The show certainly made that lifestyle look appealing. What it didn’t show is the regret of forgoing children.
The regret of not having children is a heavyweight to carry. It’s almost not fair that as women, our fertility declines with age when we are finally realizing what we want in life.
I am sad for those women who realized too late they wanted kids of their own and I hope they are not judged harshly for pursuing a life they initially desired but have come to regret. I have close friends and family who chose not to have children for various reasons and their presence in the lives of my own children is priceless and I am happy to have them anchored in a unique way to my life. They are supportive and loved and treasured, just as I hope Bushnell is to the people who care about her in her own life.