They told me I’d change my mind about never marrying when I met the right guy. And they were right. But they should have just taken the win and stopped there. Because even though I married an amazing, kind, loving guy (and even after nearly eight years of marriage) I’m still 100% sure that I’ve made the right decision not to have children.
For some reason though, people still ask if we’re going to procreate. I’ve taken to telling strangers who mention it that my uterus is barren and that we just can’t have kids. This tends to shut them up for a bit while I enjoy watching them wriggle in discomfort (because, really, how rude – though that’s a whole other ejo right there).
There was only ever one time I seriously contemplated motherhood and it was right before I shipped off to the USA at the ripe old age of 26 to spend 12 months as an au pair. Yep, that year of looking after someone else’s kids beat the desire to be a parent right out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the kids and still do. As though they were my own. But I was disavowed of the notion that I could give of myself so completely and selflessly to little people for the rest of my life.
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me when I say I don’t want children and interpret that as meaning that I don’t love kids. I actually really do (and would LOVE to be an Aunt – no pressure Mari and Pieta!!). I find children fun, and funny (hilarious, in fact) and truly fascinating and I enjoy spending time with them and being around them – it’s a bit of a novelty for me I guess. So, on the one hand that old cliché of enjoying kids but more enjoying being able to hand them back is quite true for me. On the other hand, I also sometimes find that when a small child I love wants me to hold their hand or give me a hug and a kiss it stirs a deep, almost painful, longing in a place somewhere behind my solar plexus. An ancient desire or need or instinct to be able to experience that connection on a more intense and personal level. But I have had enough experiences with children to know that this feeling of potential regret, while strong, is not as strong as the fear I have of potentially ever regretting having them.
I am currently on a trip with David to the USA and not only have I managed to catch up with both the kids I used to look after way back in the day (shout out to all-grown-up Holly and Daniel – I love you guys), but I am currently staying with one of my most beloved friends, a girl I met right after my year as a nanny and whom I’ve been friends with ever since. And, guess what, she has two little boys aged four and six. Spending time with them has been awesome, especially since the last time we saw them was over three years ago and their little personalities have developed so much since then. But I admire the hell out of their Mum/Mom for having the patience of a saint. They’re pretty damn well-behaved kids but there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve wanted to just run away to my room, leaving the madness behind. My friend doesn’t have that luxury. She has to deal with the demands, the needs and, of course, the occasional tanty. And she does it with such grace and aplomb that all I can do is just sit back and tip my hat to her.
And that’s kind of what scares me a little about parenthood. Let me tell you how my kids would be raised. Pretty well from birth they would wake up when it suited me, go to bed at their scheduled bed time, brush their own teeth, clean up after themselves and respect my personal space. My children (should they be so lucky to be born to me) would be ready on time for school (after making their own lunches), never be sick and they’d stick close to me when we went out in public. They would do well at school, make friends easily and be super-polite to everyone they met. They’d be quiet, calm, obedient, little robots that would clean the house while I was at work and make me a stiff drink when I got home. Now ask me again when I’m going to have kids.
Most of my closest female friends are mothers these days. And they are all truly incredible at doing one of the most difficult, time-consuming, personality-crushing, technically proficient, love-sucking jobs in the world and still being funny, interesting and bloody fabulous human beings.
Better them than me.