parent opinion

'I'm pretty sure I don't want to have children. But the world is telling me I must be wrong.'

Listen to this story being read by Katie Stow, here.

I'm well aware I'm meant to be thinking about having kids. Like, all the time.

It's what my friends are discussing and planning for, it's what my family is nudging me towards, and it's what society has been drip-feeding me for years. And I get it – I'm a woman on the verge of her thirties in a long-term, committed relationship with a man. I'm the exact target market for this conversation.

But the thing is, I'm pretty sure I don't want children.

Watch: Five women share why they decided not to have kids. Post continues after video.

Video via The Guardian.

Now, this isn't because I don't like them, or I don't think my partner would be the most brilliant dad, or that a child couldn't logistically slot into my life. It's just that for me, the cons outweigh the pros. 

And perhaps also because there's a sentiment getting thrown around on the internet that having kids blows your life up.

And I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way. Instead, just that it's a change that impacts every aspect of your life. As it should! Bringing a baby into the world means that your daily life, your relationships, your career, your happiness, your stability and your sense of self is shaken up in such a dramatic way. All or some of these aspects could be dramatically improved, of course, but the fear that they will do the opposite is what holds me back.


You see, I really like all of those aspects of my life. I love my daily routine; I love my relationships – with my partner, my friends, my family – I love my career, I feel stupidly happy a lot of the time, I feel like I have at least some of my life under control, and I know who I am as a person and what I stand for.

So when the question of kids pops up, another phrase internally screams at me: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

You see, people like me who are figuring out what the next chapter of their life looks like have a strange vantage point these days.

When my mum fell pregnant with me, she was living overseas, away from family, and didn't have many friends around who were parents themselves. Sure, she knew people with kids, but she didn't see their daily life in such an unfiltered capacity. And because of where she was living (and it being the early 90s), she didn't have on-demand access to TV shows, chatroom forums, parenting podcasts, birth stories, and an endless stream of user-generated content from real mums in the thick of raising kids. 

She kinda went into parenthood completely blind. And while I'm sure that came with its own batch of fears and a very steep learning curve once I arrived on the scene, I am rather jealous that this was her reality.

Instead, I'm 28 and have consumed more content about pregnancy, birth, the newborn stage, sleep deprivation, maternity leave limitations, postpartum depression, teething, baby-led weaning, the terrible twos, daycare costs, competing for school places, loss of identity as a mother, the mental load, tragic childhood illnesses, raising teenagers, the impact of social media on kids, the heartbreak of your children growing up, the loss of income and superannuation that most mums have to deal with, the strain parenting can have on your relationship, the isolation, the overwhelm, the good bits, of course, but oh so much more about the bad bits. 


Knowing, consuming, and processing all of this information leaves my pragmatic brain with nowhere to go other than the 'no kids' camp.

And while I'm leaving room for a change of heart or a hormonal surge that takes over my body and brain, yelling at me to get pregnant ASAP, for now, I'm fairly sure that children aren't on my to-do list. 

Because of where I work – at Mamamia, if you hadn't guessed – I've become used to a certain respectful boundary, fenced around squeaky topics like pregnancy, fertility, grief, and intimacy. Sure, there's a sense of over-sharing that happens every day, because what we do is physically share women's stories all day long, but all of that chatter is underlined with a casual, comforting 'you do you' attitude.

There are people in the office who have kids and want more of them, some that have one and are done, some that have none and are trying, some that have none and are pretty certain they'd like to keep it that way.

While all of those individuals have their own stance about what they want to do with their reproductive organs, there's zero judgment about what anyone else wants to do. Their body, their life, their choice. 

Perhaps it's because we've seen so many directions a woman's life can go through the stories we publish, and know that there are not always choices involved – in fact, often having a choice about whether you're having kids is a privilege in of itself – and that, more often than not, a woman's brain is riddled with guilt already and decision fatigue is just another weight she carries around on the daily. 


But where I went wrong is assuming this is the logic running through everyone's minds. 

I've recently started sharing my whole 'I'm probably not having kids' conversation with my friends – bringing it up in response to their questions about what's next in my life. Either from pals who are in the same spot and are curious of my plans, or mates who have had their own children and want to hear if I'm joining their team in the future.

One such conversation happened over dinner with some good friends of mine.

We were sharing a delicious bowl of pasta and sipping on some chardonnay, catching up on life and updating each other on what was new in our world. It wasn't an out-of-context question, but one friend asked, "So, what timeline are you working towards on the kid-front?"

"Oh, I actually think that we might not have kids at all. We've spoken quite a lot about it, and feel pretty comfortable that kids may not be in our future," I replied. "At least that's what we've decided on for now."

My friend immediately started to cry.

She has three gorgeous children of her own, who she's raised beautifully and built a brilliant life for. She obviously loves her kids, and to be honest, if I was tasked with raising them myself, I'd be chuffed with my draw of those three. But I was so surprised that she was tearing up over my announcement.


"Woah! Why are you crying?! I'm okay! I'm not sad about this. I haven't ruled anything totally out, but this is just where I'm at right now," I rushed in response. 

And then she said this:

"But... you'd be such an amazing mum."

My heart sank. That was such a beautiful thing to say – a massive compliment that I know she was giving me because she truly believed it. And I love her for that – her faith that I'd do a good job with parenting, that I'd give it my all, that my potential future child would be 'lucky' to have me. 

But I had no idea what to say back. 

And I still don't.

I've had a few more occasions like this since, ones where my friends have gone so far as to question the seriousness in my stance, suggesting that I'll probably change my mind one day. Maybe when more people around me have kids. Maybe if I find out something about my fertility. Maybe when it's too late for me to change my mind. 

And that does scare me. I think it scares anyone tossing up a giant milestone like this. 

Will I regret it? Will I resent the choice I'm making now? Will I miss the boat? Will I get left behind while my best mates move into this life stage? 

Those are questions I am asking myself constantly, but I still keep getting drawn back to the gut feeling that motherhood probably isn't for me. And while the world sometimes makes it seem like I must be categorically wrong for feeling that, I have to trust my gut. 

Feature Image: Supplied.