I’d like to think that as society, we have reached a place where a woman’s value is not dictated by the number of children she bears. But sadly, I think I am very much mistaken in that idealistic viewpoint.
It’s no secret to most people who know me that I am very firmly in the anti-breeder camp. This does not mean I drop kick small children when they unwittingly crawl across my path. Some people seem to struggle with the notion that I am nice to the children who form part of my family (both blood and urban) and in fact even love these children, yet do not want children of my own. They think I’m just saying I don’t want children to make myself feel better about the fact that I don’t have any, and let’s face it, the eggs ain’t getting any fresher. Why do women do this to each other? Is it so very hard to accept that someone else does not want to reproduce? There are many reasons why I don’t want children. To start off with, they’re kind of dull. And annoying. They’re expensive. And there are far too many humans on this planet of ours already; I don’t feel the need at all to increase that number. I’m not judging the people who do (unless of course they can’t actually afford to look after their kids, then I judge away) – it’s just not for me. And yet apparently this makes me selfish, or ‘unfeminine’. Really? Do we have such limited views of our role as women that we define ourselves by the simple biological capacity to reproduce? No offence, but it’s not exactly a skill. And men do it too – after a certain age, a woman who doesn’t want children is just entirely implausible, and not very appealing, to a lot of men. Of course, my heart goes out to the women who do want to have children and can’t – it’s one of life’s bitter ironies that people like me, who don’t want kids, are perfectly able to (according to my gynae…more on him later) while many who are desperate for the little critters are incapable – but alas, me popping one out just for the sake of those who can’t isn’t going to alleviate that situation.
So, if I’m so confident and comfortable with this choice, why even write this post? Well, I guess it’s because people’s reactions to my choice get increasingly stronger as I get older, and I just wonder how many other women out there don’t really want children but have them anyway because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Back to that gynae. All smart girls go for an annual check-up and I had mine recently. It’s the second time I’ve seen this doctor and I find his reaction to me, and mine to him, quite perplexing. The man is judging me. Big time. I have never had a medical professional so blatantly confront me about my childlessness and react with such utter disbelief when I say I don’t have children or have any plan to have children. So much so that I find myself fobbing him off with some mutterings about being single so that he will shut up and stop lecturing me about how I should be breeding up a storm in my perfect uterus. Which is a lot less honest than I typically am, and makes me wonder how less forthright girls would cope. Maybe he’s just trying to make extra cash out of me – after all, it’s a lot pricier to be pregnant, with all those check-ups and scans involved, than it is to pay him a visit once a year just to hear about how awesome my reproductive organs are. But the look on his face, and that of his nurse, is pure incomprehension. Like there is genuinely something amiss with a woman who doesn’t want a baby. And I’ve heard it from so many other people – the whole “as soon as you turn 30 your biological clock will go into overdrive” story (I’m turning 33 this year and that sucker is still silent) or even better, the “it’s just because you haven’t met the right man, and when you do, you’ll instantly want to procreate” line. Well, I’ve been in love and it still didn’t make me want to breed, so I think that’s some faulty reasoning right there. Why can’t we just accept the possibility that there are people in the world who really are not designed for parenthood? And just get on with it. I think the best experience I ever had was with a former colleague who was waxing lyrical about the fact that she would not have to attend a work function because she could say she had to get home to her kids, and that I should really have some children so I could use the same excuse. When I said I didn’t want children, her response was “But I thought you were a nice person?!” So….my desire to remain childless makes me a bad person, but her promoting having kids just to get out of work is okay…right? Some more faulty reasoning, perhaps.
Of course, if my birth control ever fails me and I don’t take the gin and hot bath route, there will be many, many people who will be endlessly amused by that little twist of fate. But here’s hoping it never happens. And that no matter what choices each of us make, we realise that there’s a lot more to being a woman than the ability to have a baby.