When Women Of My Own Generation Question My Lack of Desire For Children, I’m Surprised.
Wombs. Apparently, everyone else is happy to discuss mine now that I’ve reached ‘a certain age’.
It isn’t even a generational thing. I expect my granny to ask me about marriage and children because that’s how her generation was raised: find a man, get married, raise 2.4 children in a nice house, and hope to god you reach a nice pensionable age.
I am shocked, however, by the number of women my age who constantly ask me when I’m thinking of having children. What surprises me most is their reaction when I respond with, “I don’t think I want any.” Responding with honesty has made my life harder, but why should I whisk over a truth simply because it’s easier for another person to hear?
My view is that it’s my body and therefore my choice. I am lucky to be in a relationship with a long-term partner that wants the same things as I do, and neither of us are really sold by the idea of becoming parents. We both agree that we would be fantastic at it… but right now, it’s not something we feel we need to do.
I have spent years wrapped up in mixed emotions about the desire to have children – or in my case, the lack of. I have friends who are mothers and they are simply amazing. However, the want to procreate just isn’t in me. I don’t well up or become mushy at the sight of a new-born, but show me a photo of a kitten and I become so high-pitched that only dogs can hear me.
The real question though, is why do I feel so guilty when I tell people that, quite frankly, I simply don’t want children? More importantly, why am I made to feel guilty with the responses I receive?
“But don’t you want leave your mark on the world?”
“Who’s going to look after you when you’re older?”
“You’ll feel differently about children and motherhood once you’ve had your own.”
And the ‘best’ response I’ve had so far:
“Why would you want to be so selfish?”
My decision to abstain from parenthood doesn’t seem selfish to me. I used to respond to these intrusive questions with, “Oh, we’re not thinking about that right now.” It made my life, and theirs, easier.
Increasingly, women and couples of my age are choosing to either have children later in life (and who could blame them with house prices, rent and cost of living seeming to rise every single day) or choosing to not have them at all.
Should we not be supportive of everyone’s life choices, even if they seem completely removed from what our own ideal life is? Even better, if you’re thinking of asking someone about huge decisions in their life, then maybe just don’t. If a person wants to discuss something huge like their children – or lack thereof – with you, they’ll do it.
Motherhood isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for me. At least, not right now. I reserve the right to change my mind. But until I get that overwhelming feeling to produce offspring, I’m going to stick to raising my two cats. They’re enough of a handful as it is.