‘I asked 3 women why I should have kids. It made me decide not to.’

Every time I think of having children, it feels like a bunch of veins have gotten all tangled up inside my body and closed around on each other, right at the base of my stomach. 

I'm not being brave or selfless or being morally righteous when I say that I won't have kids. 

I'm not having children because it genuinely feels like the right thing to do. 

Last week, I asked my sister why she had kids and if I should have them. 

She didn't really have an answer. Her eldest daughter, a four-year-old, was born to a cousin who couldn't keep her so all my sisters share the load of raising her. Her second was a happy and welcomed surprise who was born about a year later. In one case, my sister chose to be a mother and in the other, she embraced it excitedly.

But that didn't make it easy – motherhood, that is. Choosing to be a mother, when she had the choice to turn her back, tells me she was ready to step up to the plate even though it was hard.

I wondered if I'd be as brave, or as selfless, if the opportunity presented itself. If a baby came to my doorstep, could I do it?

For some, the answer is clear.

Watch: Be A Good Mum. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

I know I can love children deeply and intensely. I'm a girl raised by her kid cousins and when I was old enough, I'd take babies from their parents' hands and lie next to them while they slept.

But I don't feel like I want to be a mother and I'm not sure why. Deep in my gut, I know I am making the right decision. Overpopulation, climate change, a lacking maternal instinct and my desire for freedom are really the main reasons I would ever choose to be child-free.

I asked another parent a few weeks ago if they could see me having kids and she laughed slightly before nodding. 

"Of course I do," she told me. "Why? Have you met someone?" 

"No, I haven't. And why? Why is 'yes' so easy for you to say?"

"Because no one," she started as she looked at me, "absolutely no one thinks they'll be the best and most wonderful parent. Everyone is scared. You might believe you're unique in thinking that you'd be making a terrible mistake. But you're not, Shannen."

But you don't get it!, I wanted to shout. Except she did get it – of course she did. And still, the answer wasn't comforting enough.

Read more from Shannen: 'I was a 'mum' for 10 days and now I want to apologise to parents everywhere.'


So I asked my mother. I asked her why she wanted me. If she ever regretted it. If having my sisters and I ruined anything for her.

Yes, she wanted me. Of course, she regretted it sometimes. My sisters and I absolutely did ruin things for her.

She could have been a professional netball player, my mum tells me. She could have travelled overseas, or fallen in love with someone better, or worse, or different. She could have been someone else entirely and of course, we ruined it for her, she said. 

But we changed her life, she told me. 

She loves me more than she could ever regret having children, she said. 

If she had to trade the life she could have had for us again, she would still choose us, she added. 

But she doesn't want me to choose. She wants me to live a long and fulfilling life. With no inkling of regret.

"Don't have children, unless it's for me," she finished. She's slightly joking when she says this. "Because I would really love more grandchildren. But if it's for you, don't do it."

Listen to this episode on being child-free by The Quicky. Post continues after audio. 

I tried living with a baby for 10 days about a year ago. I shook with excitement. It was like my whole body was vibrating in anticipation. Silently, it was a secret test I was making myself take to see if I really had what it took to be a mother, a parent. If I failed, I would be content with a career and maybe a partner, and a family filled with nieces and nephews, and my friends. If I passed, then maybe... I could be a mum one day.


If there had been a grading system to measure myself up against, I would've failed miserably.

The baby loved me but didn’t like me, and when she did, I still couldn’t do anything right. If the milk wasn’t too hot, it was the bleeding finger I’d caused by choosing the wrong time to use the restroom. If it wasn’t the way I brushed her hair, it was the fact I swore multiple times, on several occasions, for varying reasons, while she was within earshot.

I know I won't be a mother but still, sometimes, I see a teenage girl holding hands with her mum, and I turn green with envy. A little boy will kiss his mother on the cheek and my insides turn mushy and I am filled with longing.

Right now, I'm finding women who are choosing to be child-free like I am. I'm looking for more women who can convince me I won't mourn a family life when I am older. More people to tell me I will be fine.

It feels slightly wrong to mourn a choice I've made while I'm still young-ish and able to undo my decision, but this one won't waver with time. 

Because when I look at my future, it doesn't include children of my own.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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