Is a question I get asked a lot.
This blog post has been a long time coming. It’s been sat in my drafts folder for a year and edited beyond belief, but, here it is, a version I’m happy with; a version that covers everything I want to say and one that won’t offend *too* many people.
So, kids. It’s a tricky one isn’t it? Firstly I would like to start by telling you a little about me in case you are new to BowBelleBlush. My name is Emma, I’m 36, happily married to Adam (8 years married and 16 years together in total) and I am childfree by choice. It’s not a big deal is it? To some people, my decision not to procreate is like I’ve walked in on Christmas morning and shit on their xmas pressies.
It’s sad that we live in a world where there is so much judgement. I understand that people get judged on a daily basis for their life choices but I can only speak about the judgement that I have received for wanting a life without children. I have no idea why my choice offends people so much. Choosing a child-free life is deemed controversial. Still now, even in 2020.
Believe or not I’m not a child-hater which is usually associated with not wanting kids. I actually quite like a select few kids. Joke, kinda 😂 some kids are great fun. I love spending time with my mates’ kids, they make me laugh, I have a ball with them but then I can hand them back.
I have massive respect for anyone who chooses to have a child. It’s such a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly. Another point that people can’t get their head around is that child-free people, loathe those who have kids. Nope, I’m actually not bothered by other people’s choices to recreate. I’m made up for my friends who become parents, it makes me so happy to see them happy. I feel like society (or just the ‘childfree by choice’ Facebook groups that I’m a member of) pits all of us against each other. No idea why.
I’ve known for quite a while that having kids wasn’t the life for us. I remember when I met Adam at the tender age of 20. I told him 3 months into our relationship that I didn’t plan on having kids. I knew he was ‘the one’ and knew we were getting pretty serious pretty quickly so I lay everything on the table. He was fine with that. Obviously. I’ve not changed my mind since. Obviously.
I’ve never been particularly maternal, never had this wanting to be a Mum. Never really imagined my life with kids in it. I toyed with the idea for a while in my late 20’s but I think that was the pressures of society. Most aspects of daily life are geared towards this perfect set up of a family life with kids. What if you don’t want that life? Society generally assumes upwards of the age of 30 you’ll probably have kids. So with that in mind whatever you choose to do, kids will be included. I’m talking; family friendly pubs, kids eat free, holidays, amusement parks, family tickets for attractions etc. I’m not moaning that these things exist, I’m simply stating how society tends to be aimed at the assumed nuclear, 2.4 childrened family.
The style of life we lead simply does not allow for a life with children. I enjoy my lifestyle and I’m not too keen on the idea of it changing. That’s not to say that’s the reason we don’t want them. Other reasons include; our disposable income would deteriorate at a rapid rate, freedom, career, the pressure of raising a child, state of the world and simply because I just don’t want to. It’s only in the past 5 years or so that I’ve been fully confident to voice my true feelings when asked about having kids. Motherhood is a choice. I would love to be able to share my opinion on it without being vilified for having one.
When you mention to people that you don’t want kids, the reaction I have received is often met with astonishment and dismay. (I would just like to point out that I’ve had reactions from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers). Believe or not, I’m old enough to know my own mind. I’m baffled that people who barely know me seem to know my own mind better than me! Imagine when these people tell me they’re expecting, I wouldn’t dream of responding with “Ooooooo, are you sure about that?!” You know why? Cos it’s none of my damn business. So, why are my reproductive considerations anyone else’s business?
As well as the reactions you may receive some of these insults. I’ve listed my favourites below.
“What’s the point of getting married?”
Errrr because I want to commit to spending the rest of my life with Adam.
“What does your husband think?”
He feels exactly the same.
“You’ll change your mind”
I may do, I probably won’t.
“You’ll make a great Mum”
I’m also a great cook. Doesn’t mean I want to be a chef.
“Who’ll look after you when you’re older?”
I’ll look after me.
“You’ll have an empty life”
And you’ll be knackered and mithered at times but hey ho.
and I’ve saved the best until last….
”You don’t know what true love is until you’ve had a child”
I do get fed up at times of having to justify my decision. In previous jobs I’ve been expected to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so the parents can have time off with their family. What about me and my family? A family doesn’t just consist of children. I got used to brushing off comments such as “ You don’t mind working Christmas shifts seeing as you don’t have kids do you?” Well yes Karen, I do mind actually. I mind a lot. I want to sit at home and celebrate Christmas with my husband and drink and eat myself into a stupor. If this was said to me now I’d stand my ground rather than brushing off these comments and questions like I used to.
I have the confidence to stand by my decision, finally. I may change my mind in the future, who know’s? But if I do then it’s our decision to make. To be fair I can’t see it happening but if it does happen then it happens and we will deal with it. Let’s just say, it’s not in our plans!
What about men in all this? They don’t seem to get the shitty end of the stick like women do. Why are people giving them hassle for not wanting kids? It’s ALWAYS the women that get criticised. I’ve never heard of a man being told he doesn’t know what love is until HE has a child!
Women are made to feel like failures no matter what choices they make. As women, I feel it takes us longer to feel content with ourselves and our decisions. No sooner have we made our choice, we are criticised for it. Usually by other women. Eyeroll aimed directly at Carol Sarler. If you happened to miss this gem she wrote for the Daily Mail (don’t judge – only Judy can judge me) back in 2009 about how company bosses were correct in distrusting women who didn’t have children, you missed a riveting read. Catch up on this ‘fine’ piece of journalism here.
We live in 2020 for christ’s sake. Let’s stop the judgement. Let’s support other choices. Let’s be thoughtful of how our words can affect others.
Stop and think.
The friend you know who just celebrated her daughter’s 3rd birthday; let’s not ask her when she’s having her next child. She may be suffering with PND, she may be already trying, she may be on her 2nd round of IVF.
The friend who tells you they’re adopting, don’t ask why.
Don’t criticise a mother’s choice not to breastfeed.
Don’t be the dick who complains about women going back to work after having a baby and when someone tells you they don’t want children, just smile, accept their choice and resist the urge to question why.
It’s none of your business.
See you on the next one,