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I sometimes fear that the young parents in my life (my sisters and a growing number of friends) mistakenly assume that childless-by-choice people like me hold them in judgment. Kids are great for people who want them.

I like my life. I have no desire to be a mother. This does not mean that I look down on the women who happily make that choice. Just as some young mothers may envy my "freedom" (e.g., the ability to fly to New York to see a Broadway show without a second thought), I can appreciate the joy that their children bring, and I respect them for their decision to procreate. After all, if my sisters had not chosen to become mothers, I wouldn't have Liam, Bella, and Brian, three little people I love dearly and for whom I am grateful.

Bella ran by, a blur of black velvet and blue sparkles, a magical way to be snapped from my reverie. Three hours had gone by so fast, but both David and I felt the pressure of the tasks that awaited us at home.

"Let's wait until they do the cake," I said. "I want a piece of Dora." Children emptied out of the huge bouncy thing in the backyard and marched dutifully into the living room when "Cake!" was announced. I smiled to myself at the idea of emptying one likeness of Dora just to fill up with another.

I couldn't see the candles through the frenzy of short people huddled around the sugar source, which is why it took me a moment to catch on that after Bella had blown out her candles they were re-lit so that each child had a chance to do the same. Each spit-filled blow further diminished my desire for cake. That must be what I did to Bugs , I thought. Oh, to be a child again and to not worry about something like a little spittle-filled frosting .

I grabbed a chocolate-chip cookie from the cupboard to sate my sweet craving and, with regret, implemented our exit strategy, which began with a series of hugs and kisses from "An Baba."

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