6 Things Every Childfree Woman Will Hear in Her Life
#1 - You're selfish.
My best friend became a mum when she was 21.
I vividly remember standing at her bedside and holding my newest nephew, admiring his perfectly formed face and impossibly tiny fingers.
As I swooned, my friend’s dad said, “You’ll be next, Liss.”
I shook my head and laughed, “Not anytime soon.”
Ever since that time, the comments have been relentless. If you’re over a certain age and you don’t have children, there’s a barrage of opinions, questions and comments that you’ll deal with on a regular.
I don’t really understand what’s selfish about having autonomy over my body. For centuries, women haven’t had this right. In many countries, they still don’t.
I feel very fortunate to be able to exercise my right to choose, and I feel very lucky to have access to effective contraception.
If designing my life as I see fit makes me selfish, so be it.
“So, you hate kids? ”
No, I adore children, but there are lots of things I adore that I don't have.
A horse, for example.
I don’t have a horse right now because I don’t have adequate space or funds. I volunteer at an equine rescue, so I get to enjoy the company of horses and ponies without having one of my own.
Similarly, I have more nephews and nieces than I have fingers and toes. I love to spend time with them, but I also love going home and getting my eight hours.
“You just wouldn’t understand, you’re not a parent.”
No, I don’t have personal experience of what it’s like to be a parent, but I can try to understand. I can listen. I can empathise.
We all have different realities, but does that mean we can’t understand one another unless our experiences are identical?
“Don’t you want to pass on your genes?”
I’m the youngest of five, and all of my siblings have multiple children. I think there’s enough of my familial genes in circulation.
Yes, from a biological perspective, gene propagation is the meaning of life, but our experience of the world is not purely biological. We are conscious beings with free will and unique powers of reasoning.
Passing on your genes isn’t the only way to leave a legacy.
“You’ll change your mind one day, you just haven’t met the right man.”
I love people’s conviction when they say this. It’s as if they know my mind better than I do.
My decision to be childfree isn’t because I haven’t met the right man. I make sure to discuss the fact that I don’t want children early on when dating because, understandably, it can be a dealbreaker.
So, I guess I’m never going to meet the ‘right man’ because he won’t get past date three.
“Who will look after you when you’re old?”
Maybe people that I pay. Maybe my partner. Maybe my friends. Maybe I won’t make it to old age. Who knows, right?
But I do know that when I worked as a carer for the aged there were plenty of elderly, very lonely, very wonderful people who had children they never saw nor heard from. Your kids are not a guarantee for old-age security.
We human beings are an opinionated bunch, particularly when it comes to the childfree woman.
Parenthood is an indubitably important job, and certainly one of the most challenging roles in the world. But that doesn’t mean you’re a lesser person because you choose not to, or because you cannot, embark on that journey.
We’re living through one of the most liberated periods in history. It’s time to let people make their own decisions about their bodies and, as long as they're not hurting anyone, leave them the hell alone.