To be thirty-eight, childless and unmarried is to be some sort of social misfit. But I am no Miss Havisham.
These days we’re allowed to have it all; a career, husband and children. But what if you don’t want it all? The assumption is there must be something wrong with you. Why else would you reject convention?
Some mental derangement perhaps or physical deformity; couple of bodies in the cellar or an overly familiar relationship with a cat; that would explain it. And of course you must
secretly be desperate and grieving. Heaven forbid that it could have been your choice.
I love my family but I’m too selfish to have children. I’m a great auntie but I’d be a terrible mother. I don’t believe in reproducing just because you think you might need someone to look after you when you get old, to push your wheelchair, I’ve already bribed my niece to do that. Why have children just because you can, because you want to?
Am I the only one who thinks that having children is the single most important decision you will ever make? Marriages can be undone, jobs quit, houses sold, puppies abandoned at rescue centres, hair dyed and tattoos lasered but once you have a child there is no sticking a stamp on it and sending it back.
In all likelihood it’s not just the child that’s for life, it’s the man too. Even if you divorce him, even if he emigrates, dies or just plain disappears you will still be looking at half of his genes in the face of your beloved offspring.
There is a large part of me that thinks that having children is just self-centred. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It doesn’t prove something about your worth or the strength of your relationship. It’s not big and it’s not clever. Look at this world, the billions of children born to misery and pain, famine and war or just good old-fashioned neglect. Children desperate for loving families, who grow up wanting because their birth parents didn’t think it through and the child-wanting couples for whom only a brood that shares their DNA will do. I don’t need to add to the planets burden.
The world is my very own oyster and I don’t have to share it. I didn’t give up my free-wheeling 20s to crayoned walls and breast-pumps, I travelled but not to have something to tell the kids, I did it for me. Now in my 30s I am free to fly to Rome for some gnocchi whenever I choose or maybe just quit my job and return to education.
I’m not lonely or alone. I have wonderful people in my life, people who make me laugh, challenge me, argue with me, push me, trust me, love me and rely on me. I am fulfilled. I am certainly richer and far less sticky than my childbearing peers. I am no Bridget Jones, I am happy, just as I am.