I’ve read more and more articles lately about the topic of women choosing not to have children. Whenever I see an article about it, the first thing I do after reading it is to scroll through the comments and see what other people think. A few years ago the majority of comments were quite critical, with words like, ‘selfish,’ being thrown around a lot. Now, the majority are positive, with many women chiming in their support for those who don’t wish to have children. Still, many say they’re sick of hearing about it. I gotta say, I’m not sick of hearing about it. The more women I see sharing their decision, the more empowered I feel about my own.
The decision to have kids is a familiar one, it’s something we’re all used to seeing. Deciding not to have children, well, that’s a little different. That’s the less common decision, the one that comes with a big set of questions and a whole lot of the unknown. We’ve all seen what happens when you have kids, but it’s not as easy to know what happens if you don’t. Will you be lonely? Will you regret it? Will you never know ‘real’ love?
I don’t want to have children simply because I don’t want to have children. When I take a moment to be still and listen to my heart, there is no desire to have children. When I think about my future, there are no children in it, just me and my husband. For me, it’s something that doesn’t come into my heart or mind at any time.
Along with the decision to not have children comes a whole set of questions and statements. The most common, in my experience, are, “You’ll never know real love,” and, “Don’t worry, I said the same thing. You’ll change your mind,” and, on the more aggressive end of the scale, “That’s selfish. Grow up. You’re going to be lonely when you’re old, have you thought about that?”
I just want to say this…. when I speak to someone with a child, I never say to them, “You’ll never know real freedom,” or “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll change your mind one day,” or “How selfish, don’t you know the planet is overpopulated?” I don’t say those things because they’re rude.
Another common question is, “How old are you?” When you give them an answer, the person uses that number to run some figures on how long you have until you’re physically unable to fall pregnant, before insisting, “You’re young, you’ve still got plenty of time to change your mind.” And that’s the thing that gets me, it’s always up for discussion. Having a child isn’t a decision for other people to weigh in on, it’s an individual one.
I can’t begin to imagine how it feels to love your own child. I’m in awe of the amazing parents I know and even those I don’t! (Shout out to all the mum’s doing their grocery shopping with their little ones in tow) I’ve seen the way my mum looks at my sister and me, the unwavering love she has for us. That feeling that no matter what we do in our lives, she will love us endlessly. I’m certain I’ve never loved anything quite as deeply and unconditionally as my mum loves us.
Still, I don’t feel jealous of it or as though I’m missing out by not having it. I love my mum’s love, but that’s her life, her love, and part of her journey. My life has different things in it and that’s okay because there isn’t a certain, pre-determined, set of shared life experiences we all need to have. Each of us is on our own journey and I trust, whole-heartedly, mine is bringing me exactly what I’m supposed to have in each moment. I feel full. I feel complete.
When I tell them I don’t want to have children, that I love my life and don’t want to change a thing, people often say, “You can still travel with kids, though, I mean, the world has changed a lot and it’s easier now. You could still travel and just take your kids with you, they’d be little citizens of the world. How cool!” That’s true, I could, but I’m not trying to fit children into my world or find a way to make it work because I don’t want to have children. I’m not looking for a solution because a problem doesn’t exist.
Not wanting to have children doesn’t make you cold and it doesn’t mean you dislike children, something I’ve heard many times. I adore my friend’s kids and I would do anything they needed. I love seeing my friends with their kids and I also love not having children of my own. I feel complete without them. I understand the comment could be made, “But you haven’t experienced that love, so you think your life is complete, but really, it’s not… you’ll know when you have kids.” That’s just it, I haven’t experienced it, so I can’t miss something I’ve never had. I’m happy just as I am.
I’ve spoken to my mum and my grandma about it a few times, mostly because I was worried I wasn’t a ‘real’ woman for not wanting to have kids. Both my grandma and mum told me the same thing, that neither of them had felt that way either and that it was totally fine not to have kids. My mum also told me she has no burning desire to be a grandmother and I shouldn’t feel any pressure to give her grandchildren. When I speak to my grandma, she always tells me she’s proud of me for not having children, that I’m living the life she always dreamed of and that I should hold onto this life I love. As she reminds me often, “Children change everything.”
I want to share my thoughts on the decision not to have children because I know I felt guilty about it for a long time. So many people told me I’d change my mind and I’d regret it that I started to feel really bad about it. I let their words get into my head. More and more women are now sharing their decision not to have children and I just want others to know it’s a normal decision too. You aren’t selfish or heartless, you aren’t less of a woman and you aren’t a bad person. We live in a world filled with choice and having children is one of them.
Whether you decide to have children or not, you are complete. Your life experience will be different, there’s no doubt, but you are in the exact place in life you need to be. You have made the right decision and your life will be full of love and wonder.
I just want to finish this by taking a moment to recognise people who don’t have a choice. Some will have their choice taken from them and go on to become incredible mothers in difficult circumstances. Some will have children and decide to share their gift with another family, which is how my sister came into our lives. Others will be unable to conceive, despite wishing for nothing more. The world isn’t black and white, there are so many unique situations out there and I think it’s important to be loving, compassionate and respectful of each of them.
So, here’s to all the incredible women in the world. You are powerful beyond belief, loving beyond comprehension and perfect, just as you are.
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Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.