Have you ever found when you read about a subject, have a conversation with someone about it, see a programme on it, hear it on the radio etc. that for a short while after it seems to keep coming up again.
If you read last week’s blog, you will know that I have been reading the book ‘How to be a woman’. One of the chapters was on why not to have children. It was balanced by the proceeding chapter why you should have them. For those of you who know me by now, you will know that it is my personal choice not to have children. So these chapters resonated with me.
Anyway last Thursday we were having drinks with neighbours and I discovered my friend, who is the same age as me, does not want children and feels exactly the same as me. We like children, have friends and relatives who have them and we like spending time with them, but we are relieved to give them back.
Woman who chose not to have children are often labelled as ‘selfish’. What we want is freedom, to be able to do what we want, when we want. If that makes us selfish then, hell yeah, that’s why I don’t want kids. Interestingly both I and this woman work in very caring professions and she actually works supporting children. I guess what I am trying to say is that we are not monsters.
There is a great expectation on women to have children. Society expects it. If you say you do not want them, people ‘expect’ that you will change your mind. So low and behold after this discussion last Thursday, I spoke to a woman at work just yesterday who didn’t know I don’t have children, and we had the ‘expectation’ conversation. It was classic, text book even. She said all the clichéd things I have come to expect from this conversation over the years, and they are;
- You may change your mind
- You are 34, you still have time on your biological clock
- When you meet the right man… (in Miranda style, said to camera – “Rude!”)
- If there was an accident you would feel different, once you were pregnant you’d want to keep it. (Refusal and disbelief that you know your own mind – although I hate to admit there might be some truth in this.)
Why do we have to put up with this!? Humans are not Panda’s – as a species we are not dying out. The world is over populated, starvation and poverty rife. As a race we are socially dysfunctional, we commit crime and we are hateful to one another. (I also believe that there is as much love, bravery and honour – but that wouldn’t serve my purposes here). Women who do not want children should be thanked, congratulated, rewarded. It should be incentivised. In fact it is my understanding that in China it is, sort of. In relation to child benefit, if you have one child, benefit is available. If you have a second child that existing benefit is cut by half, if you have a third child you lose the benefit completely.
You are only validated as a woman if you have children, no matter how successful you have been in life in other ways. At your funeral someone is bound to comment; “shame, she never had children.” Women should be recognised as successful in our own right, why should those of us who are barren be somehow ‘less.’
I realise this is a bit of a rant and so I will end by acknowledging that it must be devastating if you are a woman who wants children and is unable to. I may get lynched for saying this, but its nature’s decision and perhaps there is a reason, maybe these woman are destined for another purpose – even if only to adopting and giving an unwanted child a home and the love they need. The world works in mysterious ways.