Mum's (not) the word

Me to the old man sitting in his front garden: "Isn't it the most glorious afternoon?"
Old man: "Yes but your peace is about to be shattered"
Me: "Oh, I'm sorry, what do you mean?"
Old man: "Aren't you walking down to the school to collect your children?"
Me: "No, I don't have kids. My peace is going to remain intact well into the evening, and the next day, and the day after that"
Old man: "Lucky you!"

As I walked into the village, wading my way through hip-height, snotty-nosed, screaming kids, and parents with expressions of defeat on their faces – I took a moment to let the old man’s words sink in…

Lucky me.

When I enter Tesco (which I try not to do as it’s a place that numbs my soul) and hear a mother absolutely losing her shit at her two kids or a toddler letting out a high-pitch squeal that feels like it could burst my eardrum, I think…
Lucky me.

When my friend tells me that her and her husband have had four weeks straight of no-sleep due to their baby keeping them awake crying all night…
Lucky me.

On long-haul flights, when the four-year-old behind me is throwing an all-night tantrum that makes me want to murder both child and parent, I reassure myself that I can get off the flight, but the parent will not be able to give the child away when the plane touches down…

Lucky me.

Most of the time I feel very lucky that my husband and I have chosen not to bring a child into the world. Life is more peaceful, that’s for sure.

Raising kids is hard, we all know that. But choosing not to have kids is also challenging – for very different reasons. And it feels strange to even write about the difficulties of choosing to be child-free, because I imagine that the majority of people with kids will be all, ‘Um, what is there to complain about?’…

As a woman, I feel like I don’t belong. I’m not a career-woman and I’m not a mum. I’m category-less. Trying to make friends is almost impossible at my age because most women are too busy comparing birthing stories, doing school runs, going to parent-teacher nights and arranging play dates.

I did try to join some groups on Facebook for women without children but soon found out that they are either full of women with ‘fur babies’ (otherwise known as cat or dog owners) who like to obsess over their substitute children or women who are anti-kids who like to post a lot of angry feminist-style comments.

If you’re a parent, you pretty much have a road map that tells you what you’re going to be doing for the next twenty years. Your role, on this earth, is to keep your kid alive and that will consume the majority of your time. Your kid provides you with meaning – a reason to get up each day.

For those of us without children, the path ahead is less certain. Yes, we have a whole lot of freedom and peace, but what do we do with it? Where do we derive our meaning? How do we know what direction to head and what goals to set ourselves if we’re not doing what the majority of humans are doing?

As a woman, if you don’t put all your eggs in the ‘becoming a mum’ basket, where do you put them?

It’s not the worst dilemma in the world to be facing. It’s an opportunity to get creative, to think outside the box. There are limitless possibilities waiting to be explored and no school pick-ups to get in the way…

Lucky me!

I guess I’d just love to have a few other childfree women around me to share this lucky feeling.



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