I don’t want kids. I’m fine and completely okay with my choices—and so is my partner. But there’s one person who absolutely isn’t: my mother.
“I don’t just want grand cats, Zoe,” she told me at a party a few nights ago.
“I want grandbabies.”
For seemingly the thousandth time, I said no.
“If you want babies, you can have another one.”
I’m pretty sure what she said next was a joke, but I can’t be sure:
“Why don’t you just have a baby, and I’ll look after it!”
What a fantastic idea—that is clearly the solution to my “problem” of not wanting kids when mum wants grandkids. I get to continue my bloodline and “the family name”, without the hassle of changing dirty nappies. Except for the part where my child finds out their mum didn’t want them. FYI, mum, your grand cats cried when I told them they weren’t enough.
I am twenty-one-years-old. I’m a writer, in my third year at university. And I wish – I oh, so desperately wish – people would stop telling me I will want kids. Because I’m “supposed” to. Because it’s what everyone else does and what’s expected. Because I won’t be a real woman, and my life isn’t complete, unless I give birth. Please, stop telling me what I should do. It’s condescending, and it completely ignores what I actually want.
We teach our children that “no” means “no”; but when it comes to a refusal to have children, all sorts of arguments arise that are supposed to convince and entice me to squeeze a watermelon-sized human through my lady parts – and to look after said human for life. You’re only young, you don’t know what you’re saying, you’ll change your mind. Having kids is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I didn’t start living until I gave birth. They’re my greatest achievement. Won’t you be lonely?
Yes, I am young. And maybe I will change my mind, and maybe I won’t; but that’s my prerogative. Right now, and for as long as I remember, I haven’t wanted kids. Whether I change my mind down the track is beside the point: it’s this expectation that’s incredibly harmful, to women who don’t want children, and women who can’t. Can people please stop questioning my actions? It’s like my actual opinion doesn’t matter, only my ovaries. Stop being rude.