by Naomi Chadderton
Earlier this month, a Sydney-based TikToker when viral for her list of reasons why she doesn’t want to have a baby. In the lengthy clip, the 21-year-old cited everything from the apocalypse to the prospect that she won’t like her offspring. Just like Maria (albeit almost 15 years older), I too am pretty sure that I don’t see children in my future, yet it’s not due to a fear of the end of the world that I’ve come to this decision but, more simply, as was Maria’s number one reason: because I simply don’t want to. To me that’s a good enough reason. To all those other people who question my lifestyle choices? Not so much.
There’s an insane societal pressure on women to become mothers, yet do you ever hear anyone ask parents why they want children? Of course not, because that would be rude. So why is it so acceptable to ask someone why they don’t want children? I recently got engaged (yay me!) and with that comes the inevitable: “so when will you be having kids?”. So shell-shocked that I said I don’t think I will be, one close friend even tried to change my mind by explaining that I MUST have kids. “Why’s that?” I asked. “Is the world going to suddenly end because I don’t push a small child out of my you-know-what? Will all my hair fall out? Will I die!?” Her answer? “Well no, of course not, but who is going to look after you when you get old?” Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure there are still plenty of desolate mothers in this world, so I personally don’t think a baby should be considered a golden ticket to a pleasant retirement. My advice for that would be to invest in your friends. And if worse comes to worst I have a beautiful niece and nephew who I’m hopeful I can count on to have my back.
Now you’ll probably have noticed that within this article I’ve said I’m ‘pretty sure’ I don’t want children – I haven’t ruled it out 100%. If we’re looking at percentages though, I’d say I’m at 98 and at almost 36 years of age, I’d say that’s pretty conclusive. It’s not always been this way though. In fact, growing up I imagined I’d do the whole 2point4 children thing with a cute dog and white picket fence (those last two are still non-negotiables), but as I entered my mid-twenties I realised I probably felt that way more because it was something that was expected of me more than because it was something that I actually wanted. And it seems I’m not alone. A recent study has shown that record numbers of women in England and Wales are reaching the age of 30 childfree, with more than half (50.1%) born in 1990 without a child when they turned 30 in 2020 – the first generation to do so. That’s almost three times higher than the lowest number of women ever to be childfree at 30 - 17.9% of those born in 1941. And yes, while many of these women will go on to have beautiful families, the study also showed that growing numbers of women are never becoming mothers or having only one baby.
I really, really like my life. I like having the freedom to jump on a plane at a day’s notice should the mood strike. I relish my Sunday morning lie ins with a good cup of tea and a copy of the Sunday Times Style magazine with the relaxing sounds of Radio 2 playing in the background. I love nothing more than relaxing on the sofa after a hard day’s work with my only argument being what show to watch on Netflix with my partner. I love having a pretty home where I don’t need to cover my sofa in case someone gets their sticky hands all over it. Some people might call that superficial or selfish and that’s fine – everyone is entitled to their opinion. In my opinion the selfish thing is having a child when deep down you know it’s not something that you really want. I think that’s unfair on both mother and baby. What’s more, even with the best parenting, it’s a gamble how the child will turn out, so for me a quality of life, a happy marriage, hard work and (hopefully) retiring early enough to pursue my passions is where my focus looks set to lie.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m in awe of all my friends who are mothers, they do something truly amazing and selfless for all the right reasons, bringing up brilliant children who I’m sure will go on to change the world. The same goes for my nephew and niece who I love to pieces and adore spending time with. But you know the other thing I adore? Giving them back at the end of the day, snuggling on the sofa and getting a full night’s sleep. If that makes me selfish then so be it. Everyone tells you that having children creates immeasurable joy, but I’m already very happy, and I can’t see a reason to change that.