Tuesday, 8 November 2011

If I'd never wanted children

In my next life, if I'm not a beetle, I want to be someone who doesn't want children.

I've been imagining it.

Not that I didn't have children.  That's a totally different imagining.  I'm nearly 35 now.  We started trying to have L when I was 29.  In the parallel world in which we didn't conceive we've now had six years of trying.  Six years of disappointment and doctors. Probably thousands of pounds of IVF and other treatments. Possibly now wondering when we get too old to adopt. Wondering when we give up.

I can imagine perhaps only a tiny bit of that life, only a minute part of that heartbreak; and I am so, so, endlessly grateful that that wasn't us.

So don't think about that.  Think about a life in which I didn't, you didn't, want children.

Because that's what we mean, isn't it, when we have those guilty, secret thoughts?  The ones we have at 8.34 on a Tuesday evening when we're trying to write a blog post and someone appears because there's a moth in her room.  Or when she bites her sister.  Or when a nappy leaks.   Or when you have to turn down champagne, or a wedding, or the volume.  The thoughts that say: "What if I hadn't had children?".

Imagine that life.  Two incomes.  No children and no regrets.  Late nights.  Classy (and not so classy) bars. Exotic holidays. New restaurant openings.  Country pubs.  Muddy walks with people who want to be there.  Weekends spent in bed.  Reading Sunday's paper on Sunday.  The cinema.  Dry-clean only clothes.  High heels.  Sheer tights.  Filling other people's children full of sugar and then not having to clear up the mess.  Pretending to be interested in stories about poo.   New paintwork that stays new.   A small car.  Dangly earrings.  Sleeping off a hangover.  Finishing a cup of tea.

It's another life.  And it's a life that, sometimes, I yearn for.  But it was never a life I could have had.


  1. I have a friend who has this life - by choice. She has nieces and nephews but no desire to have her own. When we go there she has ornaments out, candles burning and we smoke indoors. No toys, just grown up clutter and another holiday on the horizon. It's another world....

  2. It would become very boring, very quickly. A weekend alon eis enough to realise life simply must be stuffed to the gills with little people shouting "muuuuuuuuum" or "brown owl"!

  3. I remember that life - since I was over 40 before having my kids, I had it for quite a long time. I still miss it, and think about 'what if' occasionally (well actually quite a lot), but I wouldn't change anything.

  4. I did my utmost to make the most of my pre-kids time. I went on 6 foreign holidays in the year before I had Orla. That was nice. I knew I may be entering a bit of a foreign holiday desert after I had her. Also maxed out on live comedy, theatre, going to see bands, eating out, general lazing in bed with newspapers and books, and it was delicious. I did enough that I made my peace with the drought afterwards, and well I have gone and moved to a foreign country and that's a bit like a giant holiday...so I can't complain.

    I have the 'it would be nice sometimes to have my old life back' moments. I want to do things for just me sometimes, but I know that I'll be able to do more of them again once they are a bit older. Art galleries and my two for example don't mix. Seeing Hamish almost touch a Warhol with a grubby hand nearly killed me.

  5. I can't believe that I could complain that I was running out of time when I did not have children! Me & The Girls

  6. We chose not to have children. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, but the right one for us for a lot of reasons. And I often dream of what it would be like to have them. I get a small taste of it when I get the chance to spend time with my three lovely nieces. And I do like my life. It's great to be able to choose to spend the day in bed, to go to the cinema and theatre. To read the papers uninterrupted on occasion. But with that decision seem to have come other types of busyness, listening to friends with children, supporting single friends facing illness or a lonely future, trying to fit in some volunteering, I know that many parents do all this too and can't imagine how they fit it all in. A couple of good friends have suggested that my choice was selfish. I struggle with that perception a lot. And part of me will always ache to have another life as a mother. But I will look back on it and know it was full, loving and, I hope, worthwhile.

  7. We're pregnant now, and am already being bombarded with advice from parents to 'enjoy this time' before the babies arrive.
    We understand the choice we have made, and we have made it consciously. We understand the sacrifices that are on the horizon, and also that we will probably moan about it once we're faced with it.
    I do also completely understand people who choose to go child-free. The lifestyle and freedom is something I will miss. But maybe one day (in our 50's) perhaps we'll regain a bit of it again... if that's what we want.

    No matter which path you take, you'll always wonder what could have been... it's human nature, "the grass is greener" and all that. You're not bad for wandering what you're life would be like if you choose to have kids, not have kids.. it's normal.

  8. I would like to have several lives, in parallel universes, all at the same time. Is that allowed? Sheer tights. Yes. Whatever happened to sheer tights?

  9. Nikkii - just think about it... no stretch marks, exhibitions, leaving the house in less than twenty minutes. In all seriousness though, does your friend ever wish she were you, I wonder?

    Kelloggsville - not sure I'm with you there! I dream of weekends alone! (although I'm sure that will change as they grown and (hopefully) become just a little quieter!)

    Jude - that's it! I wouldn't change it, and I know that it was never a life that I, being me, could have had, but doesn't it feel like it would have been lovely? (although as anonymous says, maybe no-one else's life is ever all it's cracked up to be)

    Fiona - Oh! Galleries! I desperately want to go to the Leonardo exhibition, but I never even got round to looking at the website, much less trying to work out the logistics of doing it with four in tow!

    Me & the girls. Quite!

    Anonymous. Thank you so much. And I'm sorry if I implied that a life without children would be a life without care, because of course you're right, it would have its own stresses, equally difficult to cope with at times. Interesting too that not having children was not an easy decision. I think I'd imagined that I would (could) have been someone who didn't even have to think about that hypothetical decision, but maybe that's an impossible dream too...

    Hermione - thank you for coming over, and for commenting. I really hope that you enjoy your baby as much as I have enjoyed mine, even if I do whinge about them from time to time.

    Iota - Parallel lives... Oh please. There's a post in there. Definitely. But perhaps it's more about the constants than the things you'd change....?


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