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'I was trying for a baby for 3 years. Then at 36, I decided I didn't want to be a mum.'

Ten years ago, journalist and editor Farrah Storr decided she didn't want to be a parent.

At the time, Storr was deep in the world of glossy magazines. She loved her job and wanted to climb the career ladder. She was also married to her husband, Will Storr, a fellow British journalist. 

"It was a very simple exchange," she tells Mamamia's No Filter. "I walked into his home office and just said, 'I'm not sure I want to be a mother.' And I remember his response was, 'Good, because I'm not sure I want to be a father.'"

Up until the age of 36, Storr had always been interested in motherhood. She and Will had even been trying for a baby for three years, though without luck. 

IVF was the next step, and while looking down the barrel of hormone changes, career sacrifices, relationship strain and constant rumination on pregnancy, Storr felt she "wasn't up for the job of doing it". Their romantic life had been marred by conception sex too.

"It's very mechanical, isn't it? There's a very big goal at the end of it, so of course, it takes all the emotion and enjoyment away."

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Video via Mamamia.

Even once the couple had decided to be child-free, the uncertainty didn't immediately subside. 

They had no blueprint for what a life without kids in it might look like. So they had to create one themselves. It's exactly what Storr has been doing for the past almost decade — writing about being a non-parent, and detailing why more and more women are choosing the same path.


Now she and her husband are loving their child-free life.

"We very rarely talk about it. There was one time when he came home from work. He said to me, 'I saw a man today at the train station and this little girl went running towards him and she wrapped her arms around him. I felt a real moment of sadness,'" reflects Storr.

She's grappled with similar feelings herself, saying there is a "selfish sadness" in not seeing "a genetic combination of the two us".

"I did have moments like that when I was in my late 30s, when I knew time was passing and the door was closing. But it was a firm decision we made together. I think the strength of that decision is shown by the fact we didn't really ever talk about it again. Now though we'll wake up and say to each other, 'I'm really glad we didn't have children.'"

Although Storr is content with her choice, not everyone feels the same.

Enter the dreaded dinner party conversations.

"In my late 30s I would go to these dinner parties, and obviously I look like a woman of a certain age. So people very benignly would just say, 'Do you have children?' I used to bristle a little bit," Storr tells No Filter.

"My admitting that I didn't have children by choice would have to the world been perceived as me saying I didn't like children. I see that as very different to not wanting children of my own. I actually really like kids and I spend a lot of my life with them. I like kids, but I didn't want to be a mother."

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When Storr would explain that she wasn't a mother, and nor did she want to be one, she says she often felt as though she was in defence mode. Now, at the age of 45, whenever Storr is asked if she's a mother, she doesn't give a justification anymore. She just simply says no.

Fortunately, these awkward interactions often were with strangers or acquaintances. The stakes were low.

"I was lucky in that my parents, and my in-laws have been very cool about the whole thing. Obviously, they would like it if we'd have had children. Fortunately, they are grandparents already. Both me and Will are middle children. So I think it's the beauty of being a middle child, the pressure was taken off us completely."

If you're a girl or a woman who doesn't think she wants to have kids, there aren't as many role models for what your life could look like. Portrayals of happy mums are everywhere, but rarely do we see women who choose not to have children shown in a positive light. 

Through her writings and Substacks, Storr hopes to show the many ways a woman can live a rich, connected and fulfilling life without having children.

"The implied judgement is that you will have an empty life, essentially. But there is also no guarantee that having kids will be a positive experience. I know so many people who barely speak to their parents or who rarely even phone their parents," she says.

"Now at 45, the choice has pretty much been taken away from me, there's no longer a world in which I can fall pregnant naturally. Not being a mother isn't going to define my life. I feel pretty full and content."

You can listen to the full conversation with Farrah Storr on No Filter now.

Feature Image: Instagram @farrahstorr.

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