The very first mitzvah given in the Torah is p’ru u’r’vu, be fruitful and multiply. This is actually only incumbent on men, even though you can’t have kids totally asexually, out of respect and recognition of the fact that historically pregnancy and childbirth were potentially dangerous events for women. A man didn’t put his life on the line every time he got pregnant or gave birth, but a woman in the ancient world does. (On a side note, it’s so embarrassing how the U.S. has the lowest ranking of infant and maternal mortality in the West, thanks to how so many OBs refuse to use evidence-based medicine and are completely unfamiliar with a normal, physiological childbirth, instead treating all women like the less than 10% of high-risk patients! One of the umpteenth reasons I will be using a midwife when it’s my time to have kids.)

Last summer I went to a very interesting, inspiring women-only talk on love and relationships in Judaism, by Sara Esther Crispe, who is a very well-known speaker in the religious community. Among other things, she talked about how there are alternate ways to fulfill the mitzvah of p’ru u’r’vu. Even if you are never blessed with children, or if you choose to be childfree your whole life, you can always be a teacher, a leader, a writer, an artist, a musician, a dancer, etc. That’s still leaving behind a legacy and using the talents and passions Hashem gave you to be fruitful and multiply in a way that doesn’t involve making offspring. After all, plenty of great community or religious leaders and scholars have never had any children, yet who in his or her right mind would consider a great rabbi, scholar, nun, or teacher who has touched the lives of countless people in many generations and produced many intellectual or creative works to be barren?

I’ve been childfree much longer than I ever thought I’d be. Being old-fashioned, I never deliberately postponed marriage and parenthood. Since I read so many old books and watched so many old films, I guess I old-fashionedly assumed it was still normal and common to automatically marry your childhood sweetheart soon after graduating high school or college, and to start having kids right away. Little did I know that most modern teen relationships don’t last years and years, and that six months is a long-term relationship to the average teen! But being childfree so much longer than I’d expected has given me so much more time to devote to my creative endeavors. Aleksandr Isayevich didn’t have the first of his three sons till he was like fifty years old (his second wife, now his widow, was twenty years his junior, but they both met as full adults instead of, say, at 20 and 40 or 16 and 36). That gave him a lot of time to devote to writing, even if he was a lot older than average when he had kids.

Even if, chas v’shalom, I never have biological offspring and am even unable to adopt, I will always consider my writing to be the proof that I’ve been fruitful and multiplied in a different way. My manuscripts are my babies, and the process of writing, revising, transcribing, and editing them is just a different type of labor. It’s not an overnight process. And some people aren’t meant to have offspring. If I truly am unable to have my own kids, I’ll cut my losses and concentrate on my creative legacy. (I think it’s hilarious how the loopy woman whose sycophantic friends got my old website deleted thought I was still celibate and wanted eight kids. Lady, you were reading stuff that was REALLY out of date, written in the first few years of my having that website, not any of the things I had written over my last two and a half years or so of having it! Guess she totally missed all of the stuff I wrote about my unofficial fiancé, being on the Pill, and preferring an only child. And I’m far from the first one who’s stumbled onto or been told about her website and proceeded to have an extremely negative reaction to it, within the bounds of free speech. This woman needs to stop throwing tantrums whenever she finds criticism of her opinions and just move on, like a normal person does when encountering an opposing opinion. When you put yourself out there in a public way, you’re inviting both positive and negative feedback. Don’t go public if you can’t handle any words that aren’t sugar and spice.)

One of the main plots in my Russian novel is the fatherly love Ivan feels for Amy’s daughter Tatyana, raising her as his own from the night she’s born, even though she’s not his blood. Sometimes you have a child through love and not blood, the same way you can be fruitful and multiply in a way that doesn’t involve replicating your DNA at all.

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