It’s a personal choice, and it’s my choice.
I leave myself open to criticism, mostly from baby boomers and those who set the pace of the world before them. Also from those with more ‘traditional values’ (I say ‘traditional’, but mean ‘archaic’). And from those that, for one reason or another, physically cannot have children. My heart goes out to the latter of the three. It really does. I cannot imagine what an affliction it must be to not be able to have children when you want to so very much.
That being said, I will no longer apologise for my stance on choosing to not have children. For so long, it’s something I felt as though I’ve needed to continually apologise for and justify to others.
‘I’m sorry I feel like I would be an inadequate parent.’
‘I’m sorry that I love myself more than the non-existent kids I don’t have.’
‘I’m sorry I didn’t blow $20,000 on university fees to have kids five years later and potentially give up the career I’ve been building.’
Truth is, I just don’t fucking want kids. And that’s okay.
The most frequent (well intended, but completely misguided) response I get from people when I finally muster that I don’t plan on having children is ‘oh, but you’re such a warm person! You’d make a great Mum!’ I say this is well intended but misguided because it’s an easy misconception to make – someone has an open and warm personality means they must be nurturing and maternal. I am a warm person because my family raised me to be a decent human being; because I like people and want them to feel good in my presence; because I want people to want to be around me. But this personality trait has no bearing on my child bearing capabilities. Yes, I am a warm and engaging person. I also lose my keys and/or wallet weekly. I often forget to feed myself regularly. I like to polish off a bottle of wine with dinner on occasion – sometimes without dinner.
I look at the world and the direction it’s heading in, and granted I am no psychic, but I ain’t liking what I’m seeing. Children are being sexualised before they’ve finished watching Teletubbies; the economy is as fragile as Charlotte and Gary’s relationship(s); and I’m not at Al Gore level of knowledge of the environment, but it’s not looking too peachy long-term either. Not only do I not want to have kids, but I cannot see why anyone would want to bring kids into this world. Is it a sense of nostalgia for the more carefree world us Gen-Y and Xers grew up in where we could roam the streets freely until the streetlights came on without fear? Is it the romanticised idea that ‘everything will be okay’ even if you have to work three jobs to support your new family because childcare centres have a 10 year waiting list and cost more than you stand to make at jobs two and three? Is it the beaten-to-death notion that ‘children are the future’ and can un-hole the ozone layer? And then there’s social media – I feel like it’s not until you hit that level of post-high school know-all pretentiousness that you actually begin to not give a fuck about it, but there’s still six awkward, uncomfortable and traumatising years of high school that are bad enough without Katie from year 9 maths calling you a fugly slag to your face, on your Facebook wall, and on their Snapchat story. I just barely escaped the rise of social media during high school, but it definitely scares me how damaging this could have been for my friends and I, and it still scares me for my cousins, nieces/nephews, and my friends’ kids. (See how friggen selfless I am?)
I, among many ambitious women I know, have grown up in a confusing time, where we’re encouraged to pursue academics and work towards high-earning careers because ‘hey, it’s 2016’, but then forced to fumble across something of an answer when someone bluntly asks why we do it when ‘baby will need their Mum around every day’. We’re forever being told we can have it all, but I’m not really sure that’s the case. We can have it all, but not at the same time and not to the fullest degree at which we would like to have it. Essentially, we can have around 75% – give or take. We are still in the position where we need to give one up to focus on the other – and I choose career. Along with drinking freely, late dinners in the city, expensive and unnecessary clothes, an investment or two, and travelling. Mostly career, but I feel like a few of the aforementioned lead into one another, so, ya know…
This is not a dig at women who choose to become Mothers. I admire Mothers so much for what they do – it’s, what I believe, to be the world’s toughest job with continually rising expectations and challenges. For those who choose to go down the path of Motherhood, I doff my cap to you – you’re a braver soul than I. It’s simply a job for which I do not deem myself fit. And that’s okay.
Oh, and to the people with the condescending tone telling me ‘oh you’ll change you mind one day. You’ll see‘ – fuck right off.