Having recently overcome (have I?) internal struggles with the decision not to have children I was wondering what I would be leaving behind in this world when it is my time to go. For most people it is their offspring and whatever personal fortune they have amassed, for a few it is something ground-breaking like the discovery of gravity or a lifetime spent fighting for a higher cause, for others it may be distinctive works of art, literature, music. ‘What can I leave behind?’ I asked. ‘Why do you need to leave anything?’ came the reply. I don’t really know, but it feels like I should have something to commemorate my time on this planet, however long that may be. Seeing as there won’t be any children or grandchildren with any fond sugar coated memories of me. ‘I’d like to save an endangered species or something’, I mused. A wry smile was the response to that one. I know, highly unlikely given my career choices thus far and not having money to start over again, again. But hopefully I do have time on my side, time enough to do SOMETHING. To live a good life, to not just sit and rot inside and do nothing.
At almost 40 I feel like the time to have children has passed. I know plenty of people are having babies at exactly this age, or even older, but I don’t think it is for me. My friends say you will never regret it, but you might regret not having one. I’ve never really felt maternal, teaching hundreds of children didn’t make me want one of my own, I love my nieces but I like going home to my dog after visiting them. I don’t particularly coo over babies. I definitely don’t coo at them when they are older! All I hear are people moaning about how tired they are, how their kids piss them off, ‘mum probs’ is a whole world on the internet… Of course they all say it’s worth it though, the love is overwhelming and I’m sure the bond is magical. And I won’t have that, it’s my choice, but it’s not been an easy one. Because you’re expected to reproduce, your friends start settling down mid-twenties and you can’t find ‘the one’. They all have their families and lives, they get busy with school and Mum groups and play dates, and it can get pretty lonely out there on your own. I have found someone I want to spend my days with now, but as I said, I think the time for having children, were I ever going to, has gone. I don’t want to be 50 years old with a 10 year old trailing round with me, mistaken for being Grannie. To be 60 with a child barely out of their teens. ‘I think you can’t decide because you feel like you’re supposed to want one, that’s what you’re expected to do, and that’s what you’re struggling with’, he said. He was right. I often feel there must be something wrong with me because I just don’t have those urges, never have. I want to live near the sea and have animals and a vegetable patch, I want to be creative, to have quiet to read my books, to not watch cbeebies for several years. And yes I will be set apart from my friends because that’s what happens when they all have little ones and you don’t. But that’s not a reason to have them. To have a child to give you a purpose isn’t fair either. I need to find my own purpose. Perhaps it would in a way be easier to be told I can’t have them, then the decision is out of my hands, I can cry and it’s not my fault, it’s just the way it is and I can’t be judged for it. Although why I should be bothered by other people’s judgments is another matter entirely. I often think of the injustice though when there are so many wonderful people that desperately want children but can’t have them versus those that pop them out one after the other and don’t even take care of them properly. Parenting is not a game, it’s hard work. It’s all or nothing. Perhaps more people should think or act more carefully before getting impregnated- do they want them, can they afford them (another big reason for me not to!), are they willing to do everything they can for them, will they teach them and make them into the best people they can? If any of the answers are no, then perhaps use contraception! Some people just don’t give a shit though and life is probably easier for them because they don’t give a shit. Now who’s being judgey?!
The world is not a kind place, it is difficult and scary and confusing. It is expensive and competitive, it is dangerous, it is cruel in so many ways. Conversely there is love, there is the sun shining over the sea on a clear day, there are friendships and laughter, many wonderful places to travel to and experience. There cannot be bad without the good. Is it enough to bring yet another person into this over-populated, supply dwindling, damaged planet though? News articles are always telling us how difficult it is to be growing up these days, that the pressures are immense, that technology is ruining childhood and that we’re going into meltdown. But maybe your child could be the one to save the world (or a facet of it)… Perhaps, unlikely though. I just don’t feel the need to satisfy a primitive urge (that I seem to lack) to procreate. Maybe the few of us that make this choice are natures way of trying to cut back the numbers. Someone has to.
People keep telling me I’m not too old to have a child. Physically perhaps not. Mentally definitely not! I had a dream last night and in it I think I did have a kid. Constant barrage of baby pictures on social media. There’s really no escaping it. Look what you’re not doing, look what you’re missing out on, how great is this…
A wise friend said once you make your choice and accept it, it becomes a lot easier and you just get on with living. I guess I haven’t made the choice concrete enough. I don’t even know if I could have a child. Another worry to add to the long list would be the risks of being a ‘geriatric’ mother and implications it could have on the foetus. Could be fine. Like most things in life, you just never know. And my thoughts spiral to think that because I’ve said I don’t want children, if I did end up having one would I be punished, would karma intervene and make the child ill or disabled to serve me right? Melodramatic I know, such are the whirrings of my mind. Probably shouldn’t over think things so much, over complicate things. Should just do them. Never know what’s going to happen blah blah blah. Less thinking, more doing. Bit like my ‘diet’ mantra, eat less, do more. Keeping it simple.
I have a tendency to lean towards the blue end of the happiness scale. I’ve been better, in the last few years, but I know it is there. I don’t want to inflict that on a mini me either. Or risk tipping back into the blackness I’ve been known to visit because of the demands and tedium of being a parent, or simply because the hormones and chemicals in my brain send me that way. (Not that having no family to look after doesn’t have its tedium or glum moments, it most certainly does- and both have joyous times too, I know, don’t be mad at me).
For me though, I know that no one greets you like your dog, spinning around and tail wagging furiously, toy in mouth, so happy to see you. Hello Mummy I missed you! It is the best welcome and cannot fail to put a smile on your face. My dog is just delicious, he’s the best thing in the world. I used to think people were mental when they referred to themselves as Mums and Dads of dogs. But I understand now, and maybe being a dog Mummy is all I will ever be and I completely love it. And maybe that’s just what I am supposed to be, or do, and I’m happy with that.