Being a mid-thirties woman with a husband, a functioning uterus and a spare bedroom in my house means that I am routinely subjected to interrogation about when I’m going to have a baby.
For the better part of my adult life I’ve responded to that question with a well-rehearsed ‘Oh, we just haven’t gotten around to it yet’ whilst nervously twisting my wedding ring and steeling myself for the inevitable clock-is-ticking diatribe.
The truth, and what I struggle to say out loud, is that we don’t want kids. Never have.
I utter excuses about our absence of offspring not because of a wavering resolution about it, but because I simply do not have the energy to endure the condescending lectures, smug judgement and pitiful decries of ‘Aren’t you scared you’ll regret it?’ or ‘You’ll never know what REAL love is!’
For the record, it’s not a decision that we arrived at lightly. It takes a colossal amount of courage, personal insight and maturity to excavate and examine yourself as a person, to confront your capabilities and limitations, and to honour your instinct in making a choice like this.
In fact, you’d probably apologise for asking such an intrusive question and then promptly drop the subject. There’d be no glaring down your nose and moaning “Having children really is the most fulfilling thing you’ll do in your lives.”
For us, it has been a joint decision. However, as the female counterpart in the judgement about procreation, rather than be accepted or even respected for embarking on a journey of deep contemplation and self-exploration, I am instead demonised and swiftly branded as cold and vacuous for not wanting to experience motherhood. In the eyes of many, I’m an anomalous abomination of womankind. If it were the year 1692 I’d probably be burned at the stake in the middle of a colonial village.
I’m not sure why it bothers people so much that I have no desire to have a small human pass through my vagina and subsequently be responsible for their physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and psychological wellbeing for decades to come, while simultaneously keeping my own life under effective management and being a decent wife, friend, daughter, employee and member of society.