I remember telling my mum when I was 13 years old that I didn’t want children. She laughed and told me, oh darling, you’re so young, of course you don’t want them now, but you will.
Well the desire to not have children has only become stronger the older I get. I used to lie to everyone and myself by saying the maternal instinct just hasn’t kicked in yet and I am undecided, just to keep everyone happy and not sound like a lepper. But thanks to the feminist movement and women speaking out about their decsions not to have children, millenial women for the first time feel safe to admit we actually are happy living a child free life.
I battled with my decision thinking something was wrong with me. I would constantly should all over myself. I would say things like, I am a woman I should want babies, I should want a family, I should want to make my partner and my family happy. But that’s the problem I was shoulding all over myself. Shoulding yourself or anyone else for that matter is just shaming and needs to stop. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and especially something that goes against what you really want as a woman.
The moment I stopped lieing to myself and others I felt so free. I gave honest answers at parties to why I didn't want kids. I had women speechless looking me over like some weird alien they didn’t know how to communicate with. But I didn’t care anymore, I had finally come to peace with my choice and I was tired of defending it.
I rememeber when I was with my first boyfriend, we dated for three years, we had a house together and were very much in love. I remember I was late taking my contrcaeptive pill one night and freaked out. I went to my family pharmacist the next morning and asked for the morning after pill. My pharmacist laughed and told me I really didn’t need it, saying I had been on the pill for so long the chance of me being pregnant was extremely low, if at all.
The thing that shocked me was how calm my boyfriend was about the whole thing. He was making jokes saying how cute our babies would be. The thought of me being pregnant at 22 was absolutely horrifying to me and sent me into a panic attack, so I didn’t understand his calmness about it at all. Later we talked about it and it was because he knew he wanted to be a dad and he wanted to marry me and have children. So as much as it was earlier than planned, it wasn’t such a big deal for him. I lied to him and myself saying that I thought I wanted kids too but much later. I told myself my anxiety attack was just because I was so young and I probably would want them later.
However when I look back it wasn't my age at all. I already knew deep down I didn’t want kids, but I felt so guilty about having those thoughts as a female.
As time went on my friends started getting more and more maternal pointing out cute babies at coffee stores and talking about baby names they had thought of since they were 8 years old. Truth be told, I felt so guilty because baby names had never crossed my mind and so I forced myself to choose one to be a “normal” girl. I chose Audrey, as I loved the name and I also loved breakfast at Tiffanys and Audrey Hepburn as an actress and philanthropist. Ironically I did have a little girl named Audrey come into my life. My sister gave birth to a little girl earlier this year and named her Audrey. I laughed because she didn't know that was my fake baby name, but I also wasn’t mad at all. I was kind of relieved, because as silly as it sounds, I felt the pressure was off because my baby name had been taken.
I had different dreams when I was a little girl. I didn’t dream of a wedding or baby names for my future imaginary babies. I dreamt of escaping the country town I was in, traveling the world, having an amazing career and building an empire with a partner who was not only my best friend but my travel companion too. I imagined a life as we say in Australia, DINKS, which means double income, no kids.
I used to battle with this decision for years, as I knew it was going to be a harder life for me. Finding a man who doesn’t want children would be harder and what’s worse is that some men think you’re lying and that you will change your mind later, which only leads to heartbreak down the road.
There are recent studies showing there is a worldwide drop in babies being born, as more millennial women are choosing to opt out of motherhood. The studies also show that it’s the men who want children more than women. I wonder if men would want all these kids if they were the ones who had to be pregnant for nine months, give up alcohol and most foods they enjoy, damage their bodies and then give birth to a tiny human.
Whether you want children or don’t want children, it is such a personal and individual choice and it is entirely up to you. My sister loves being a mum and I love seeing how happy she is being one. But I never envy her life or feel I might be missing out by never having them.
So women who have children please accept that some of your female couterparts really don’t want them. Stop telling them they will change their minds, because this is shaming and making them feel like there is something wrong with their decision. And women who don’t have children and know you dont want them, it’s ok, there is nothing wrong with you. You’ve made that decision, so start creating an amazing life that doesn’t involve kids and please stop shoulding all over yourself.