By JAMILA RIZVI
The idea of having a baby downright terrifies me.
Biology tells me that this is my time for breeding. Television and advertising tells me that a white dress and a bundle of joy are all that is standing between me and perfect contentment. And society tells me that buying a house, settling down and having 2.1 kids should be top of my To Do list at this age.
But it wasn’t until this weekend – when my closest girlfriends brought the issue up – that it actually became front of mind.
There are six of us and we’ve been friends since forever. We became friends in our teens, when being the same age, going to the same school and living nearby, meant we had enough in common to form a solid bond.
10 years later and we’re all at completely different stages of life and while we love each other to bits, the sneaky creep of expectation is now upon us. And that expectation is that we’ll all have kids.
Our conversations about pregnancy or babies or child rearing are framed in the ‘when’ and not the ‘if’.
Two of the girls are married and solidly on the ‘let’s have a baby’ bandwagon and two others are fast heading in that same direction. But the remaining two? Well, we’re… not.
And it matters. It’s not like the other differences between us all – differences in jobs, or homes, or incomes, or relationships. This one is a whopper.
There is this absolute expectation that we’re all planning to have a family at some point in ‘the future’ and all of a sudden that ‘the future’ is, well… now. And that expectation is starting to grate.
My other child-skeptic friend and I engage in Kevin-Rudd-esque denials of our likelihood to have children before we’re thirty. “I’d be more likely to win the Boston Marathon”, “I’d be more likely to fly to the moon with Richard Branson”, “I’d be more likely to marry Colin Firth”.
We keep these conversations just between the two of us; worried that we’ll be seen as selfish or overly ambitious or unloving by our peers. This is entirely ridiculous as our friends are about as non-judgmental as they come. But the pressure to procreate and to procreate on time is immense.
The underlying message the world gives us is that it’s selfish to be a woman who doesn’t want children.
Mean, cold and selfish.
When Senator Bill Heffernan labelled Julia Gillard as ‘deliberately barren’ in 2007, the implication was that she’d done something wrong. That something about her was missing, devoid, unnatural.