Children… I don’t want children.
When I was 16, I walked into the doctor’s office and asked if I could have all my bits removed because I didn’t want children. I was told that I would get over that, that I didn’t know my own mind yet, and that someday that clock would start ticking. I’m 42 years old and still waiting for the clock to be installed. I don’t quite know where my clock got to, but it’s not there. I have this vague idea that I was off at a rock concert on the day they were given out…
The thing is that over the years I’ve been told the most stunning things because of my complete lack of maternal instinct: that I am not complete; that I’m not a ‘real’ woman; that I will never know ‘real’ love; that it’s just a phase I’m going through; that I am somehow less of a person; that I am selfish; that I am a threat to other women; that I will never know how the joys of raising children would enrich my life well beyond anything I could ever experience as a child-free person. The only one of these I would consider as being possibly true is that it is just a phase. I used to become quite upset when people told me it was ‘just a phase’, and I would tell them that I didn’t like fish fingers either but they don’t tell me that’s just a phase… and then I realised that for many women, it IS a phase. I realised that it was perfectly logical for people to think that one day I would change my mind. It happens all the time that women don’t want children in their 20s or even their 30s and then later, the clock starts ticking. So, fair enough I think, I’ll give you that one. Thankfully, at the age of 42, people have finally stopped saying that one.
The other ones, however, I take exception to. I won’t go into the long and rambling rant about how I am a fulfilled person, and I have plenty of wonderful things in my life, and how ‘dare they’ force hegemonic conceptualisations of womanhood on me. What I will say is this: I don’t have a maternal instinct when it comes to human babies. Give me a puppy, and I go all gaga, give me a human child, and I am befuddled. I have no idea what to do with a human child, and I have no inclination to learn. I used to say that not having children was my choice. I’m not so sure it was a choice. I didn’t choose to not be maternal, just as other women do not choose to have screaming biological clocks. Does that really make it a choice? If so, then I think I made the most sensible choice for the future of any poor child I might have forced upon the world. I wouldn’t fancy growing up with a mother with no maternal instinct, so I don’t think it’s responsible for me to have children under those circumstances.
I hear many child-free people rant at parents for various things, one of the most recent things is ‘why should I pay for your children to (insert thing here)’… it’s usually to do with tax breaks that parents get, or school bonuses, or baby bonuses, or something the government gives out to parents. Let me tell you why we should do these things for parents: children are the future of our country and as a community, we need to look after all of the members of the community and give each and every one of them the best chances and opportunities they can have. It really is that simple. I am one of these child-free people who wants to go to the government and shout at them that they need to invest more money into public education. I want to scream at them that child-care costs are far too high, and a disincentive to women returning to work. I want to yell at them that single parents have it difficult enough as it is without removing money from their households. Maybe I’m odd, I don’t know.
In any case, children are not for me. They never have been, they never will be. And be glad – seriously, you wouldn’t want someone like me trying to raise a child. There are enough fucked up people in this world already.