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.