I’ve been feeling uneasy recently about a subtle societal misogyny going on.
An old school friend of mine has recently come to a personal decision not to have children and I am really pleased for her: a feeling of relief has replaced the antithetical turmoil that exists in many of us when we remain undecided and unsure whether parenthood is right for us. What has surprised me is the response of society to these wonderful declarations of fulfilment and happiness in independence.
Speaking with others about this issue, it’s clear there are a raft of misconceptions about this valid option to not have children.
“You still have time to change your mind” - I am happy with my mind thanks and I’d like to point out that you cannot change your mind once you’ve had children
“Aren’t you worried you will miss out on the experience” - No. But I can think of millions of experiences that you will miss out on with a dependent in tow.
“In having a baby you become a woman” - The nineteenth century called: they want their female oppression back.
I’ll leave you to imagine the rest. Why do we feel the need to offer anything but support in these situations?
If you find yourself married, like I, you may have encountered the family planning questions we are subjected to in this society not long after your “I Do”. This seems to be targeted mostly towards women. I’m ashamed to say that I put very little thought into having children, we were lucky enough not to have experienced many fertility challenges and so arrived my daughter and son within a couple of years of each other. This was something I guess I just assumed I would do, that everybody did and everybody enjoyed. I’m going to be bold and say that we may have been mis-sold an ideology here people: I find it nothing like I thought I would.
Being a parent will limit your time for self care - think rustling up dinner while harbouring flu or a sickness bug, think cancelling on friends to manage poor bedtime routines, think relentless tiredness and busy schedules. Parenting means putting someone else first every time. It can put a strain on your health and well being.
Having the freedom to save and spend how you like - even if you buy very little, or second hand like me, the weekly food bill grows bigger as they do and more families are having to rely on food banks through this period of austerity.
Your decision reduces environmental burden humans have put on the planet - we have finite resources and consuming them faster than they can be replenished. This alone is the reason some women are choosing to go #childfree and the cultural shift is something to be celebrated.
Complete freedom to engage your interests and passions, whenever, wherever - a stalemate appears regularly in our household where the kids don’t enjoy what I enjoy and vice versa. Give me a trowel and packet of seeds over colouring pencils or lego blocks any day of the week. Sometimes I need to be selfish! And I just have to add, I didn’t enjoy homework the first time, let alone revisiting Romans and multiplication the second and third times. At least the kids and I agree on this. An innovative little media production that warrants an evening with your feet up highlights this area in greater detail:
Its your decision. Its your life. Who is anyone else to say otherwise. This article made me contemplate my own journey to adulthood and reflect on the challenges that exist for me as a mother. I can’t deny the depth of love I have for my two wonders. But I have nothing but support for women who decide kids are not for them, and I openly admit that some days life with kids is not for me either.
Let’s end this subtle societal misogyny, kick our envy in the teeth and show support to our sisters who make the choice to be childfree.