I might be eating my words in a few years’ time but I highly doubt it – I don’t want children. There are many things I plan to do – work, travel, study, maybe get married (can take or leave that one, too, really) but having children simply does not occur to me. This confuses people. Everyone wants kids, don’t they? Especially women! No. In fact, I am convinced there are a number of people out there with kids who didn’t really want them. That’s not to say they regret it now they’re here. But, who knows, maybe they do; they’re hardly likely to say it out loud! There is such an ingrained assumption about children in our society, it’s just what you do. To the extent, I suspect, that a lot of people don’t even think to question it.
Those who are open about not wanting children – especially women – are often accused of being selfish or immature. Then there are the old you-don’t-know-what-love-is and your-life-will-never-be-complete arguments. These points are probably true – IF YOU WANT THEM!! How is not having something you don’t want, lacking? This argument is based on the idea that you MUST want them, you just don’t know it. Therefore, you need to have them anyway in order to realise this (‘’you’ll like your own!’’). That is a risky business. Permanent, life-changing, body-altering business. My favourite is: “You’ll change your mind’’ (when you meet the right man/your biological clock starts winding down/ all your friends have them). This was irritating but not entirely unreasonable when I was 18 but I really am getting quite close to 30 now and it still doesn’t even occur to me to think about it. I imagine my future and all it might entail, and children just are not there. So stop it, it naffs me off.
I’m about to make this worse. Not only do I not want children of my own, I don’t actually like them very much. I feel no pull towards children whatsoever, not even babies. Well, babies are ok but I won’t ever go gooey over one. I don’t enjoy being around children – they make me uncomfortable and most of them are annoying. I just can’t relate. The response most people have to kids, I have to animals. Hopefully, this proves I am not the cold, selfish ice-queen I have thus far probably appeared.
I do worry what will happen when all my friends start having them because something is bound to shift and I will find it frustrating. I’ll try. I’ll do my best to be interested and stay in touch but I’m never going to be an ‘auntie’ or the first person to offer to babysit. I won’t be overly thrilled about meeting for coffee at a play barn rather than prosecco at a nice bar. But I’ll try. Then again, any of my friends who would actually go the effort of keeping in touch once a baby takes over their lives probably know this about me and won’t hold a grudge.
The whole pregnancy/giving birth aspect is part of what puts me off. What is this mystique around it anyway? It’s a physical feat, certainly, but the miracle it’s made out to be? It’s just biology, really. It’s not at all fair that there are people desperate to experience it and, for whatever reason, aren’t able to while here I am, so far as I know perfectly capable of falling pregnant whenever I want but with no intention of doing so. I can sort of see the appeal of adoption. But it’s such a long, stressful process you would have to really want a child to see it through.
So, to all of you (especially the women because somehow it’s weirder for us) who feel this way, I urge you to start admitting it. There are more of us than we think but we often keep quiet because we get gaped at and asked stupid questions. As with most things, if we say it more, it becomes normal.