Funny how this article by Clem Bastow got published on The Age website right when I’ve finally managed to achieve what I thought was the unachievable and have found myself in a relationship. A conversation with a work colleague meandered around to the topic of children. That’s when I got the Oh, you’ll change your mind response to my adamant position that I’m never going to have kids.
When I read Ms Bastow’s article, it was like she was reading my mind. Women who chose not to have children are either treated as if there’s something wrong with them which makes me decidedly grumpy or told that they’ll change their minds.
Uh… how about no?
Like Ms Bastow, I have zero maternal desire. I’m aunt to three nieces and one nephew and I love those kids to bits. But this doesn’t mean I have any desire at all to have a rug rat of my own. I’ve never had the desire. The only reason I ever said I would have children when I was younger was because it was expected of me to say just that. I’ve often been known to say that I must’ve been away the day maternal instinct was handed out because mine is so absent. Allegedly there’s a ticking biological clock that I’m supposed be hearing as my prime fertility years slip away but my response is what ticking biological clock? I simply don’t have it.
Of course, Ms Bastow’s article got plenty of comments (402 by the time they closed them) and it seemed to go three ways. Women saying “Hallelujah! Someone saying exactly what I’m thinking”, men telling her to essentially suck it up and deal with the busybodies and women telling her she’s making a horrendous mistake by not having children and that she’ll regret it when she’s older. The Age even got in on the act by publishing not one but two opinion pieces from the “you’ll regret it when you’re older” faction: one by Lyn Bender and another by Emma McDonald.
Both them espoused that same opinions that I’ve been exposed to before. Oh, you won’t know love until you’ve had a child. It’s what women are born to do. It’s not easy but it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do… blah, blah, blah. Make me barf! Why is so hard for society to accept that there’s nothing wrong with a woman who simply doesn’t want to have children? I refuse to believe that my only purpose in life should be to push out a sprog or two. I refuse to believe that I’m somehow a failure in life because I haven’t and won’t procreate.
Maybe I am missing out on something profound. Maybe I am missing out on some overwhelming experience of love. And I’m okay with that. I’m too selfish to have children and I have no qualms admitting that. I like the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s a luxury I’m not willing to give up. I like my life the way it is and I don’t believe I’m really missing out on anything by not having a kid. To be honest, the idea that I’d be 100% responsible for someone scares the crap out of me. I’ve only just worked out how to properly take care of myself.
Let me be really clear – this is my personal position (and opinion). I don’t deny that having children is a rewarding and enriching experience for those who do. I see my siblings with their children and it makes me happy to see them happy. I love my three nieces and one nephew. I’m sure my life is and will be better because they’re part of my family. I just happen to love and cherish the ability of being able to hand them to someone else when they’re being little monsters and I like not having to wash bits of food out of my hair.