Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What, no baby?

I haven’t ever wanted kids. Not even when I was younger, when everyone around me was either a child themselves or a parent and I assumed that all women had to have them. Because every tantrum, every complaint that ‘so and so got more than me’, every ‘I hate you mum’ that came out of my young mouth, made me even more certain that I never wanted to be a mother.

My plan until I entered year seven was to marry someone that loved kids, and make the husband and children all live in a different house to me. The husband could visit on weekends, and I would see the kids on their birthdays. But in year seven I met a very street-wise girl who informed that I didn’t actually have to have children. You can’t even imagine the relief. It was like all my dreams had been answered. In fact, I would go so far as to say they had been. What she didn’t tell me was how other people would react to a girl that didn’t want to procreate.

It was fine when I was younger. They would laugh, mess up my hair and say 'you’ll change your mind one day.' I didn’t mind that so much then because I was always changing my mind. Besides, when you’re young no one takes anything you say seriously, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

But now that I’m an adult, own my own house, am married, and know exactly what it is that I want (and children are not one of them), that sentence drives me crazy. Friends and family, who all know how headstrong I am and take every other thing I say as gospel, and know that when I make a decision it is set in stone, just will not accept that I am not having children. As if every single woman is wired the same way and wants the exact same things. I say woman because my husband, who dislikes children as much as I do, doesn’t have to deal with this. No one questions his ability to make clear decisions for himself, simply because he doesn’t have ovaries.

What is just as bad, and sometimes worse, is when people do accept that I’m serious, because the judgements they make are overwhelming. While they don’t come out and say it in these words (apart from my grandmother) the general consensus is that I’m selfish. 'Oh…well I guess being a parent is a lot of work', or 'So I guess you just want to focus on your career?' are the sentences that people seem to be most fond of using.

Not having children because I don’t want them is just as selfish as having children because you do want them. I understand that having children requires a lot of sacrifices, but if having children is what you want then I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make you a martyr. It just means that you went through with a decision that you made, and I’m going through with mine.

And the idea that a woman has to pick between children or a career is the most insulting idea ever. I know many mothers with amazing careers, and I’m managing to be as un-career orientated as a person can be. That doesn’t show any signs of changing just because I’m remaining childless. It’s not an either/or.

I don’t want children because I just…don’t. There’s no rhyme and reason to it other than I don’t like them and have no interest in them. I may have misused the word decision- I didn’t consciously sit down and write out the pros and cons. I don’t fight maternal instincts every day simply because I want more time for myself, or a ‘career’. I just don’t have maternal instincts. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

All I want is for people to respect the fact that I don’t want children. To stop making judgements about it based on misconceptions that should have died out a long time ago. And to realise that just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that I'm programmed to want a baby.

PS. The article title is taken from a book by Leslie Cannold, which is basically the antithesis is everything I have written.

pps. I'm so sorry I haven't commented back to people yet! I was in Melbourne for three days and now have an assignment/Joel's birthday/new dance class/coast trip coming up in the next few days...but once I'm back Monday I'll start being a better blogger again, promise :)