I have said since the age of maybe nine or 10, that I didn’t want to have children, and I’m still regularly told I’ll change my mind or regret it later.
But with age has also come an even greater understanding of why this life-changing decision must always be yours, and yours alone.
As a woman in her mid-30s, I’m even more acutely aware of the expectations that society puts on us all but especially women, when it comes to having children. Being a mother is often viewed as the epitome of achievement for women, with those of us not following that path seen as everything from strange and worthless, to selfish and unfulfilled.
Having a child is a monumental, life-long commitment; pretty much everything else in life can be undone but once you bring a life into this world, there’s no going back.
We all need to remember, not just in relation to motherhood, but life choices in general, that we know ourselves better than anyone else, we all know our own limits, and this is what I have come to realise more and more clearly as I progress along my childfree path.
Nobody else knows exactly, first-hand, how certain situations, experiences or people make you feel, and on that basis, nobody can really tell you, ‘you’ll be fine, you’ll figure it all out once the baby arrives, don’t worry’. For example, I know that loud, unpredictable situations and people make me anxious, and children fulfil both of those criteria. Likewise, as an introvert, I value quiet time and more importantly, I need it. I can enjoy a family gathering or having people to stay over at our house but I still need the option to step away, to avoid feeling completely drained, and you can’t just step away from a child when they need you.
Pressure from family and friends can be hard to handle, but it’s not them who will have to raise the child they so desperately want you to have. It’s also not them who will have to provide financially for them, support them emotionally and deal with any troubles they have in life. I would urge you to keep this in mind too, when the inevitable question of, ‘when are you going to have another one?’ starts to come after the arrival of the first.
As people around us start to have children, it can sometimes feel like there is something ‘wrong’ with you if you don’t want to have children. I know I’ve thought in the past, that perhaps something is missing from me internally, in my nature, but the truth is, we don’t place this much emphasis on other life options. I went to university but other friends didn’t, a friend of mine has a dog but I don’t, some choose to work office jobs whilst others run their own businesses like I do. In general, nobody tells us any of these are wrong.
It all comes down to what you want from life and what you feel a pull towards, an understanding of and a passion for. In a world full of catchy phrases and hashtags like #LiveYourBestLife, it has to apply to all areas of life, so don’t let other people live it for you.
If you feel that deep internal desire to be a parent and that it would bring an extra layer of happiness and fulfilment to your life, then follow that call, as long as everything else falls into place too of course – financial stability, living arrangements, your own health etc.
Always remember though, that having a child will ultimately have the biggest impact on your life, so trust in the fact that you know yourself best, and whichever choice you make, you will make the right one for you. Because that’s what it is, a choice, not an obligation.
About the author
Having been a professional writer since 2003, Erin has written in a freelance capacity, and also spent four years in-house at a luxury concierge membership, where she wrote, edited and curated content across three continents covering music, theatre, art, travel and dining.
Following redundancy, she set up her content marketing mentoring business in 2017, and as of 2021, she is also the founder of The Childfree Lounge, a membership for women embracing a childfree lifestyle.
Speaking out and creating this membership is about positivity, friendship, connections, education, support, reducing loneliness, increasing confidence, and allowing all women to proudly own their lives and decisions. Erin hopes to change the conversation for and about childfree women, to reduce judgement, and make it more inclusive and positive.
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