A life without children is still a life

Like many other women I know, growing up, I was always gently nudged towards motherhood. When I was younger, I recall playing with baby dolls and make-believe games that consisted entirely of being a parent. Even now, at 25 years of age, I’m always told ‘when you become a mum’ or ‘when you have children of your own’. It makes me wonder why we are encouraged to settle down and have kids more so than to travel, have a career that we are passionate about, seek new experiences or even to be happy. Not to be misunderstood — I always assumed I’d want and have children when I grew up, but I’m nearing my mum’s when she had me and the truth is, I don’t know if I can see that role for myself.

We live in a society in which women are encouraged to marry a nice man, have some children and that’s not the answer for everyone. We are somewhat led to believe that children are the answer to all of our problems and that if a woman is childless, it could never be through personal choice. Some women cannot have children and some don’t want them. The phrase ‘start a family’ is a strange one. I view my household as a family unit already, despite the absence of children, and I think that is a belief that all women should get behind, whether they want children or not. There is immense pressure on women to procreate, to avoid being seen as an ‘underachiever’. Even in 2021, the connotations of the word ‘barren’ are incredibly harsh. A negative term to describe a woman who is unable to reproduce and, I would imagine this would have such a negative impact on one that it becomes a huge part of their personality, and I think this is wrong. There is a movement in which women reclaim this term to describe their fertility issues to empower themselves. Women often feel as if they are defective if they cannot conceive, and we need to challenge the stigma around not wanting/being able to have children.

Occasionally, I will see some quite adorable children, my insides melt, and I can completely envisage my future, but, more often than not, I think do I genuinely want children? Or have I been conditioned over the years to believe that this is the only route for me? I know, deep thought for a Wednesday! But it’s true, and I know I’m not the only one who has these apprehensions. I would much prefer to be valued for the goals I’ve already achieved rather than what the future may or may not hold.

I have a lot for which I’m thankful. I have a roof over my head, a job that I enjoy, a family who love and want the best for me and access to food and water, and for me, that is plenty. So I won’t dwell on whether or not I’m destined for motherhood and will take my fate as it comes. That sounds philosophical, but in reality, I did far too much worrying about my future and how others perceived me when I was a teenager, and I think I’m overdue respite.

In all honesty, women should give themselves a break and alleviate some of the pressure. If you know you want children, amazing, and if you know you don’t want children, also great. But if you’re not sure, like me, don’t worry about it, because you’re worth more than being somebody’s mother. Don’t undervalue your life and achievements if, for whatever reason, that never happens for you. Motherhood is a massive achievement, but it is not the only one.

I understand that for some women, the endgame is to be a mother, and the instincts are natural. I very much respect women who choose to become mothers, and I admire my mum more than anyone else in the world, but I feel that I am too selfish to have children at this stage in my life. Maybe that will change in the future, and perhaps that won’t, but I am happy with my life for now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: