As a childless woman, I am subjected to suspicion and wonder.
Even though I'm a strong supporter of children's rights, an ex youth worker who had children's interest at the heart of my work, a children's author who writes about strong and self-assured characters, I'm still meet with: "What's the matter? Can't you have children?".
I really don't need to justify why my partner and I choose not to have children. In today's society, the nuclear family has gone, and families come in all shape and sizes, with or without children. So why pressurise me because I'm childless? What happened to freedom of choice?
I don't understand why society still places so much pressure on women to have children. Surely having a child is a choice rather than an expected duty? If my partner and I have made a decision that we are both happy with, why should I have to justify myself to the wider society?
I could make a range of excuses - global overpopulation; poverty; or saying "I wouldn't want to bring children into this world". People would still look confused.
If you have no children, people give you pitying looks, wondering if you're infertile or if you've had a hysterectomy. In reality, my only explanation is that I don't want kids. People look appalled. They consider me selfish. No excuse is acceptable, it seems, so I make none.
There isn't even a word for a woman like me. 'Childless' suggests, that I am 'less' than others. Am I a 'non-mother'? 'Un-maternal'? All negative, reflecting society's attitudes through its language.
I'm an intelligent, articulate woman who is capable of making my own decisions in life. I should not have to deal with the sympathetic looks or the awkward questions. They demand to know my health history, the state of my reproductive system or they doubt that any 'real' woman doesn't want children. I can assure any doubters that I am a 'real' woman - a woman comfortable with the choice I have made.
Being childless is not a disease. In today's society, the nuclear family is a long-held myth - families come in all shape and sizes: same sex couples with or without children, lone parents, and couples like me without children. My partner is my family. But I'm sick and tired of being judged by society - people who treat me as though I've failed as a woman, because I don't have someone to call me 'mum'. Well, I haven't failed. I've just made the mother of all choices.