I’ve never been very vocal about my decision not to have children but I thought perhaps it’s time to come clean. Neither the hub or I have ever had a baby wish. I grew up on a farm and was exposed at a tender age to animals giving birth and the whole reproductive thing was bloody, messy and scary. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the lambs when they were fluffy and gambolling around and I could give them the bottle. Just that whole birthing bit and hands up you-know-where, I didn’t care for.
Au Pair Experience from Hell
In my twenties, on a youthful whim, I decided to broaden my horizons and become an au pair for a Spanish family one summer. I spoke only broken Spanish and was often left in charge of a little boy, aged four whom I couldn’t communicate with and whose idea of fun was torturing the family chickens by pinning their wings to the grounds with bricks. In the evening he used to cycle around the dining table, squeaking over the wooden floor while his parents and I ate in silence. It was like a scene from a Luis Bunuel film. Remember Damien in The Omen? Well, little Pxxx bore him an astonishing resemblance. Every morning he lunged at me with his breakfast knife and fork and even ambushed me in the garden, whacking my legs with a fishing rod! The little tyke. If I forgot to lock my bedroom at night he would come into my bedroom and ransack my cupboards. He even found my contraceptive pills once, strewing them all over my room with disdain, as if they offended his nascent Catholic sensibilities. I was 21 and the thought of being permanently lumbered with a kid like that was frankly, horrific. Despite the fact that the family did their best to make me feel at home, I was overjoyed when term started and I could get back to doing weird stuff at art college in London.
Regrets, I’ve had a few…
Very occasionally I do feel a pang of regret. Only today coming home on the metro there was a darling little girl with blonde curls. Her mother really engaged with her physically and emotionally and I sensed the strong bond. Something that I’ve missed out on. Much of the time though I see parents treating their children as annoying encumbrances and kids adopting extreme behaviour to get mummy and daddy’s attention. We have neighbours just across the garden from our flat. They have two kids who frequently row with each other. These fights often reach ear-busting crescendoes. The parents’ energies are totally consumed by their domestic chores and policing the kids’ outbursts. Hand on heart, I can honestly tell you I have never, but then never ever, seen either mother or father smile or laugh once. So if I do ever get regrets all I have to do is go out on the balcony and take a look at how it could have been…
There, I’ve said it and now you know!
You are not alone. I have to come out too and say that I made a conscious decision not to have children. I’m sure there are pros and cons and we might have missed out on things. But I certainly have no regrets and frequently ask myself why people chose to have children when I see them battling with all the parenthood issues. I love the Spanish kid’s “nascent Catholic sensibilities”!
Thanks Vanessa, while musing whether to publish this or not I found quite a few blogs about people deciding not to have children so that gave support. It’s a tricky issue to raise because it’s such a sensitive, personal matter but one I think, that more people than you imagine can relate to.
Good one! Actually I rather admire couples who decide not to have children. So many jump into it without proper thought, then with so much heartache afterwards. And have you thought of those many couples who break up when the children grow up and leave home? (me, for one!) Speaking for myself – it’s a wonderful and a mixed blessing. Like much in life, for that matter.
Thanks Sally, for your unswerving support here. It’s a deeply personal choice and like anything in life there are positives and negatives. I’m sure your grandchildren bring you a lot of joy though!
Hi Angela, I found this to be a brave post. Well done.
Being an Italian mamma and grandma, I have to confess that when I was a young mum, surrounded by herds of others gushing milk and enthusiasm, I found it hard to understand the few I knew who actually chose not to have kids. (Fortunately mine were only horrible brats for a short while and have turned out all right.) Now I find it hard to understand how anyone – and in particular my daughters – could cope with kids and the massively increased pressures of life, work, safety and so on. As you say, it’s a very personal choice – in my case I often wonder if it was a bit of a copout choice – having kids – and now grandkids – has always given me an excuse not to to other stuff!
Thanks, Paola for your support! I’m sure that the perceived threats are a lot worse now but I wonder if the world is really less safe for children? Undeniably there are horrendous pressures on kids growing up now and many of them increased by social media. I’m glad that the internet didn’t exist when I was growing up, for all its benefits I fear it robs children too soon of their innocence.
As for that excuse for not doing other stuff, I think you’re judging yourself much too harshly!