I never really understood dolls as a child. I had plenty, of course, as all little girls do. I do remember playing with them at times. I'd dress them, carry them around and, once, I even think I took one on a pram ride to the park. These memories don't spark much joy and I vaguely recall that I was only doing this because all the other little girls were doing the same. I also always had the distinct feeling that these dolls were watching me which was a little unnerving...
Now, barbies were another story. I adored my barbies. I'd spend hours dressing them in many a colourful outfit and take them on adventures. I loved the fact that these were 'grown-ups'. They could get up to far more interesting things than babies.
This mindset has not changed much as I got older. I would encounter babies and young children occasionally, but I never had the urge to engage with them. I also had no idea how. I remember once having a baby crawling towards me and I promptly bent down starting tutting as I would to entice a cat. The baby looked rather startled, quite rightly. Don't even get me started on the dreaded 'would you like to hold him/her' question. No, not really. Apprently, no is not always taken as an answer. I have had small humans thrust upon me on more than one occasion. Each time I am that cliché, arms out-stretched, out of my element grown-up. Just praying that nothing oozes on me.
Having said all this, for a while there, I thought I would have children. After all, this is what everyone does. My parents had four. There must be something in it. However, as I approached adulthood, it occurred to me that this was, in fact, my choice. Lives could be lived without reproducing. I remember the complete sense of relief that washed over me when I realised this. My life opened up before me and I finally felt like I was going to spend time exactly as I wanted to. Without the dreaded school run that, for some reason, always made my stomach turn.
I was worried to communicate this decision at first. I was afraid I would get judged. I am used to being considered rather odd now, being a vegan and a minimalist (just for starters), which you can read about in a previous blog post here. But I was young. Eventually, I started slipping this statement into conversation - 'I'm not going to have children'. It makes me angry that this is often not accepted. It requires a surprised, even startled reaction. People think I have made a terrible mistake and are not shy in telling me about it. I have suffered the patronising 'Oh, that's just because your young', 'you'll feel different when you are older' or 'wait until your maternal instincts kick in' for years. At the age of 28, this is wearing a bit thin.
Parents, in particular, cannot fathom why I would make this choice. Apprently, once you've had children, you cannot imagine living life without them. Even if it is not your life and is, in fact, someone else's entirely. The saying 'thou doth protest too much, methinks' comes to mind. Perhaps, deep down, these parents are envious of my child-free life. Just a little. Not that they would ever admit it of course. Even to themselves
I don't feel I need to explain myself further than I just don't see enough upsides to negate the downsides in having children in my life. However, I do have other reasons. I am not entirely bereft of maternal instincts, I have just directed them towards animals. I relish caring for these wonderful creatures. I have so much love to give and there are plenty of deserving animals out there to keep me busy. I have always planned to have my own animal sanctuary one day and this is still very much the case. Besides, I am passionate about sustainable living and personally don't think I want to bring another human into this overcrowded world. Even if any child of mine would likely be a nature nut anyhow...
My lifestyle choices also make children more challenging. I enjoy living minimally and being free to move whenever I want. Both of these reasons are why my partner and I are building a tiny home (which you can read about here). I'm also selfish with my time. Beyond caring for my fluffy creatures, I want to spend time doing other things I really enjoy. I am unlikely to want to work full time for many years, as I don't need much income to live comfortably. I want to go out and explore nature encumbered, absorb myself in creative hobbies, practise yoga in peace and have a home that is always serenely spotless, with the odd mucky pawprint. If that makes me a monster in some people's eyes, I'm ok with that.
Before I close this blog, I want to make it clear that I don't judge those that choose to have children. I have many friends that plan to do so and I am so excited for them. I will enjoy engaging with my loved one's offspring, and think I would rock being the barmy nature auntie, just so long as I can always give them back. What I do object to is the negativity women receive when they make this decision. I want all women, and men for that matter, to know that they have a choice. It is totally up to them how they live their lives. Societal expectations can keep walking in my opinion.
Another comment I often get is 'who will look after you when you are old?' Well, if I live even half the life that I expect, I imagine this will be the least of my worries. I won't regret a thing.