Childfree Weekends

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I thought I’d do an upbeat post about my weekend. For me the biggest benefit of being childfree is the weekends. My working week is exhausting. I work about 44 hours over 4 days as a Primary Care doctor in a large practice serving a deprived population with a high prevalence of ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, and elderly. Two days out of that week I try to go to the gym before work, which involves getting up at 5.30am….I is not a morning person!! My working week is sleep, work, eat, repeat, so I really like to try and get a balance at the weekends. I try to catch up on my sleep but also have some fun too! I love that the most responsibility I have at the weekend is caring for my two rescue greyhounds.

As a side note, I really do admire parents who balance their busy working weeks around childcare, doing homework, school events and clubs. I genuinely have no idea where they get the time or the energy. I’d be a zombie.

This weekend was a bit different as my husband was working, so it was just me and doggos Bobby and Lucy.

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On Friday night I went to the pub with a work colleague for a couple of beers then got a reasonably early night. I was up bright and early to go to a ladies weight lifting club at 9am the next morning, It was only my second visit but I’m really enjoying it. It’s just a small group of girls looking to get fit and learn how to weight train. We have a proper giggle on Saturday morning and once I’ve finished it’s only 10am and I’ve already done my work out! Home for a hot shower then straight back out for a dog walk.

 

I take them to my favourite country park and I listen to a Podcast called The Reproductive Left. This is a really cool site and has a bit of a medical slant which I obviously find interesting. Feeling cold but refreshed I head home and then head back out to get my hair cut and have a wander. I pick up some candles and small Christmas presents to have on stand by in case I forget anyone!

After getting my hair done, spending the hour or so reading trashy magazines and drinking tea, I head home. We live in an old house with high ceilings and large windows. It’s our first winter in the house and it is bloody FREEZING! I stick the fire on and huddle under a blanket until N gets home.

N is oncall, so I open a bottle of red and have a couple of glasses while we have a TV dinner and catch up on netflix. We are watching Line of Duty – I’m a sucker for a good crime drama.

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I’m pretty knackered so I head to bed before midnight and don’t wake up until 08.30. Bliss. I get up and meet my friend at the dog park with her Springer Spaniel Archie. It’s baltic (translation: Northern Irish for cold!) so we don’t stay out long, but I think you will agree from the photo, the views were stunning! We head back to the city and get lunch then go to the local park to tire out the dogs.

After my friend heads home I just get some essentials in then settle down to write this post with a pot of tea. N and I are off to Holland next weekend so no need to do a big shop. I can’t wait to blog about our trip away. We are going to Rotterdam and Amsterdam – places I have been before and love so I am looking forward to sharing my tips!

Pretty quiet weekend all in all, just what I needed. Normally if N is off it features quite alot more booze….!

Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to grab the week ahead by the horns!

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Being Childfree and Friendships

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One of the reasons I started this blog was to have an outlet for some of the emotions I was experiencing whilst making my decision to not have children. I have very few friends I can talk to about this who truly understand how it feels to be in your 30’s and childless-by choice or not.

One of my dearest friends lives in Australia. I actually met her through my husband, who’s best friend is her husband. We were so lucky to meet and forge such a great  friendship, as before they moved half way across the world we probably spent most weekends together. It is a relationship which encompasses everything essential to a good friendship – love, laughter, a similar life stance, similar interests and a deep understanding of eachother. Recently this couple so dear to us have been through a really tough time. He was diagnosed with cancer which was really scary and hard, with a gruelling treatment regime which left them unable to have their own children. Before this I think they were in two minds about having kids, but it’s nice to have a choice right? Their experience is very different to ours and I have no doubt it caused heartache. She has had similar experiences to me in that her friendships have changed irrevocably since everyone started having kids and they didn’t. We have had to find other ways to fill our spare time and turn to other people and things for emotional support when required. Both our marriages are stronger for it I think. But we frequently wish we were geographically closer so we could lend eachother that support.

Another good friend of mine is 31 years old and single. We met at university. She is an accomplished surgical registrar and an incredibly intelligent, funny, thoughtful person. She tells me she frequently wonders if she made the right life choices by choosing to pursue her demanding career, maybe if she didn’t she would be married or in a relationship by now? But she loves her job, and rightfully feels she shouldn’t have to sacrifice a successful and rewarding career to have personal happiness too. She is beginning to accept that it may not happen for her, and she’s ok with that. She expresses the same frustrations as me ,that as your friends have families, you suddenly become expendable. You have to fit around their schedules, and often feel you will never have an adult meal out after 7pm again. You spend time listening and empathising with them about an experience completely alien to you – having a child – then find this entirely one sided. It is almost as if they feel you couldn’t possibly have anything of significance happening in your life because you don’t have children, or maybe they just don’t care anymore?

I may sound bitter, but sometimes this is how I feel. I’m not a needy friend. I never needed to see my friends every week, or text them every day. But I do expect to get emotional support from them. I do expect to listen and be listened to. I do expect to be made to feel important to them, even if it’s just for an hour once a month. I do need more than just my husbands company to thrive.

So if you have children or are going to have children, don’t forget about your childless/childfree friends. They miss you. They still want to have a relationship with you, and your little one. But we won’t wait forever, so please, just take that one minute to drop us a text, ask us how we are, no one is so busy that they can’t do that.

My Choice

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So I guess the best place to start my blog would be how and why I have come to be childfree by choice. I recently listened to a few podcasts around this subject and the experiences and opinions of other childfree women were so varied and interesting. I will write about the podcasts I liked the most with links in another blog entry – I will also be doing a couple of book reviews too. So much to write about!

I have known for a long time – perhaps my whole life – that having children wasn’t something I wanted for my life. My parents were wonderfully caring and I was incredibly lucky to have a happy childhood. My mother was very maternal with us. I went through my teens just assuming I would get married and have kids because that’s what people do, especially when you grow up in Northern Ireland, and especially when you are a Catholic.

I think the first time I really thought about it was in my early twenties. I was with my then boyfriend staying with his brother and sister-in-law for a weekend. They had just had a little boy, and naturally were completely enthralled by him. So much so they thought it was appropriate to put him on the dining table in his little rocker seat while we were eating dinner, then show us a video of the mother breastfeeding for desert. I was, literally, horrified. I couldn’t believe how oblivious parenthood had made these people to normal and polite social recourse. Or that they thought this was interesting or endearing to anyone except them. From that day onward I decided I REALLY didn’t like parents. Or babies. (Please note, I no longer have this blanket view-I was 20 afterall!)

But then again, I was young, I would change my mind – so everyone told me. I split up with the boyfriend in this story and met my now husband when I was 23. He didn’t want kids either. We were finishing medical school together and had big plans for the future. Parties to go to, exams to pass, careers to nurture. This was the theme for the next 6-7 years.

Fast forward 9 years from our first meeting. We both miraculously finished our training, got married and are home owners. In most peoples’ books we are the definition of financial and emotional stability. Yet, the desire to bear children evades us, for different reasons. He has a disabled sister and has witnessed the strain it has put on his father and late mother, and has decided he cannot and will not take that chance. I have spent my entire twenties dedicated to a career which has demanded huge amounts of time, and emotional and physical sacrifices. The hours, the shifts, the missed family occasions and the stresses of  making life altering decisions when you are 24 and exhausted and scared. I have finally come through the other side and feel all those hours of hard work are paying off. To take several months off then have to return potentially less than full time really is not an attractive option for me.

But I am not a one dimensional “career girl”. I love travelling, I love having rescue dogs, I love having time to myself and the freedom not having children allows me. I really like not having to stress about childcare and pick ups and schedules. My mental health relies on time alone, long walks, adequate sleep, regular exercise and time to reflect. 

All this would fade into the background if I was taken over by the unmistakable pull of maternal urge. However, it’s not happened – at least not to any degree of significance or for any length of time. Biological clock? Mine seems to be broken. Statistically, in 3-5 years my fertility will fall sharply. Even with this knowledge, I remain unchanged. This is why I don’t want children-I just don’t desire them. In my experience, this is the reason other people really do not understand.

A Fresh Start

I haven’t written anything in forever! Feel really guilty about neglecting my blog, even though hardly anyone reads it. I guess I use it to process thoughts and feelings, and by not contributing that probably means I haven’t been giving time to myself.

We went away for a few days to Holland in December, which was so much fun, but unfortunately came back to find our house had been broken into. Obviously this was very stressful and unpleasant. Then Christmas happened, and January has been a blur. So here we are in February and I haven’t written for three months!

I thought a good way to start my blogging for 2018 would be to set out some goals and thoughts for the year ahead. Not resolutions as such, but things I want to improve to focus on this year. So here are my 2018 goals:

  • Make health my priority.  I’m going to be 33 years old this year. My BMI, to my shame, is 31. I have 40% body fat. I probably drink too much alcohol. This year I am going to focus on my health. Not to be a certain size, but to give myself solid foundations for the next stage in my life (though looking hot in a pair of leggings would be an added bonus). Losing weight and getting fit just gets harder with age. Now is the time to do it. I’m a general practitioner by trade. I know that losing even 10% of my body weight will lower my blood pressure, reduce my risk of fatty liver disease and diabetes, and improve my joint health. I started weight lifting in September and love getting stronger. I can now do 10 full press ups! My next goal is to lose 10-15kg, but more importantly, shift fat from my waist and viscera and reduce my body fat percentage. My short term goal for February is to reduce my alcohol intake to 10 units a week (I haven’t got a problem but I would often drink 2 bottles of wine a week plus maybe a few beers, which is seriously interfering with my weight loss).
  • Dedicate more time to my relationship. I’ve been married for 2 years and with the same man for nearly 10 years.  He is my best friend and I can’t imagine my life with out him. But boy, have we had a tough year this year. We moved house and we both took on alot more responsibility at work. Our neighbours have been giving us noise problems and we have bickered constantly about this and finances. We have been unkind to eachother and spent many a night going to bed on an argument. Clearly, this could be better. In 2018 I am going to try to be more empathetic and kind towards my husband.
  • Friendships. I am going to spend time with people who make me feel happy. I am going to give my time to people I can have a satisfying and reciprocal relationship with-I’m lucky to have many people in my life like this. I am not going to waste time or energy on friends who don’t bother to get in touch, or who clearly don’t feel our relationship is important enough to spend time and emotion on nuturing. This has happened to me on a couple of occasions over the last year or so, and I’ve spent alot of time and energy being hurt about it and wondering what the hell I’ve done wrong. Well, as Cher from Clueless would say, I’m outty.
  • Be kinder to myself. Lets finish on a positive note. I am going to be kinder to myself. I am going to rest more. I am going to stop sweating the small stuff. I am going to spend time doing things that make me happy and spend time with the people who make me happy. I am going to stop looking so far ahead and be more mindful of the moment.

So there are my goals for 2018. As a doctor, I know life is short and can throw you some god awful lemons. Always make time in the day for a hug with someone you love.

 

Welcome to No Kidding-let me introduce myself!

Welcome to No Kidding. My name is Emma. I am a 32 year old woman living in Scotland. I am married to a brilliant and funny man and have two rescue greyhounds. I work full time as a Doctor for the NHS.

I created this blog after many months of deliberation, but not having the confidence to go through with it. For many years I have known I do not want to have children. After getting married, turning 30, and many of my friends and peers starting their families, the decision about whether to join in or not became consuming. I started to feel isolated and peripheral, and I wrestled with my choice almost on a daily basis.

That’s when I started to search for blogs, podcasts and books about being “childfree”. I sought these out in order to make myself feel less alone in my decision, and to hear women speak about their experiences-all unique and yet familiar. As brilliant as these resources were, almost of them were created by women based in America. I really wanted to hear from childfree women within the UK. I suspect there is less available because the “childfree” movement was originally coined by Americans, and us Brits don’t analyse or vocalise our private thoughts and feelings as openly as our transatlantic friends.

So I thought, “stop waiting for someone else!” I have always enjoyed reading and writing, and needed a way to make sense of my situation. My marriage, friendships, and position in society were all changing-some for better, some for worse. Writing could help me make sense of some of it.

Don’t worry, it won’t all be serious. I will also be writing about my dogs, my job and the unique insight into people it allows me, travel, and whatever takes my fancy.

I hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing from you.