On not being ‘normal’…

This is a beautiful and honest piece of writing from a wonderful reader who would prefer to stay anonymous today. She was worried about ‘upsetting’ people, but I can’t imagine that something as well thought through and from the heart as this post could upset anyone.

It’s posts like this that make me proud to be a part of AOW, proud to be able to share this with you, proud to know this woman and call her my friend…

Recently I’ve begun to feel like an outsider. More so than I’ve ever experienced before. On AOW & twitter and in the non online world the babies are announced by the week, if not by the day. Increasingly I’m surrounded by conversations to which I cannot contribute.

I wonder why I don’t want the same things as them.

I’ve cried many tears of joy at other people’s announcements. I could not be more thrilled for each and every person and the excitement and happiness they are filled with.

I wonder if I’m missing a gene.

I joke about being an outsider. Of being drunk in a corner like Patsy from Ab Fab, being climbed all over by swarms of children while everyone around me chats weaning and schools. I prefer this image to one where I’m joining in those conversations.

I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.

I always assumed that one day I would have a family. My gynaecologist told me at 25 that if I wanted children I should do it immediately. I chose not to. I decided that never was better than now. I became incensed that anyone should have the right to so casually tell me to make that kind of decision.

I wonder if I’m selfish.

I’ve thought about this condition. The fact it had been inherited. The fact that if I had a daughter she’d probably be faced with the same problem, the same pain, the same decision. I’ve thought about the world and how difficult a place I sometimes find it. The decision to bring a life into that feels like a choice that should not be mine to make.

I wonder if I’ll regret it.

When I see people I love struggling with infertility my heart reaches out to them and I want them to have this thing they so desperately want, but I can’t empathise with their sense of loss or grief as it’s not something I’ve ever felt. I know I’m lucky.

I wonder if I’m a sociopath.

The thing about saying you don’t want to have children is that other people always tell you you’re wrong, that you’re missing out, that you’ll change your mind. That conversation would never happen the other way around.

I wonder if they’re right.

I’ve never said never. I’ve always said that one day I might change my mind. That day hasn’t yet come.

I wonder if it is already too late.

The idea that it might be still doesn’t affect me. I don’t mourn what isn’t, what might never be. I don’t feel as though there is anything missing from my life as it is.

I wonder if that’s strange.

I can’t count the times I’ve been asked about when I will have children or had it alluded to at work, in interviews, over countless dinner tables. I can tell people don’t believe me. People tell my husband (who shares my views) that I’m lying to him, that he should watch out, that ‘all women secretly want kids, even if they say they don’t.’ I know what our families expect of us, of me. We’ve told them to be satisfied by a dog.

I wonder if one day I’ll be left behind.

I have strength in my convictions but it’s not always easy to go against the grain, to feel like the world wants different things from you, to feel like a disappointment, like an outsider.

I wonder if it matters.

 

 

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Family, Friends and Relationships, Health
13 interesting thoughts on this

13 Comments

  1. Posted April 28, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I think what matters is living your life in a way that’s true for you. Don’t worry about what you think other people might think of you and your decisions or your circumstances. Wouldn’t it be a wierd – and boring – world if everyone did exactly the same as everyone else?

    I don’t have children and, like you, I’ve been asked (or, pointedly not asked) why, or when. Whatever the reason people ask, I think it’s an odd question and I’ve never asked it myself. I tend to just say something non-committal and smile, then turn the conversation elsewhere!

  2. Posted April 28, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    THIS.

    I am currently wondering if I didn’t write this in my sleep and submit it because oh my goodness this. I have never read something which sums up my thoughts so well.

    I am not having children. I simply don’t want to. I never have, and neither does my husband, and we’re quite certain we never will. We have small families – we know this may mean we could be lonely in old age.

    I don’t have anything much to add, other than to say you are not an outsider. How can you be when I’m the same? Yes, we may be the minority but you are definitely not alone. And think of all the fun ‘aunt/godmum’ things you might get the chance to do – whilst having the ability to hand the kids back at the end of the day, knowing you’ve enriched their lives a little bit.

    Writer – If you are going to be Patsy I’ll be Edina and we can both ignore Saffy together, yes?

    L xxx

  3. Posted April 28, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Another one who feels like this piece could have been written by me. I actually wrote a similar-but-less-articulate post on my own blog on this subject recently. Every word of this makes sense to me. And I too worry that I must be ‘selfish’ because surely to prefer spending my money on nice holidays and gin, rather than nursery fees and baby clothes, is crazy and wrong?! But it’s absolutely how I feel. And I really, really love the sentence ‘The thing about saying you don’t want to have children is that other people always tell you you’re wrong, that you’re missing out, that you’ll change your mind. That conversation would never happen the other way around.’ YES THIS. If I said to any of my constantly-popping-out-babies friends ‘are you sure you’re making the right decision?’ I would be considered to be a horrible, heartless person.

    Ahem, I’m rambling, but please know you’re not alone.

  4. Posted April 28, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    This is a wonderfully written post and I want to reply but struggling to find the right words. I wish that the whole concept of ‘society’ didn’t make people feel like outsiders. Sometimes I think it is a case of slight ‘oneupmanship’ – if you don’t have or want children you are constantly asked why not and told you’ll change your mind; if you are having child then you’ll be told that’s it, your life is over, you’ll never go out again. Neither viewpoint is welcome or even necessarily correct; I think people have a hard time accepting that other people have different views or lives to them and they’re not always interested in finding out more.

    As the above commenters have said, what is important is living in the way that’s right for you. It sounds like you and your husband (I bet he doesn’t get half the comments on having children that you do – and there’s another issue in itself) are really happy in your decisions and that’s what matters.

  5. Posted April 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the typos and etc…

    I am another in the same place. It is very difficult sometimes I don´t even want to say it outloud because I don´t want to hurt some close peole as my parents, that never have said anything to me, but that I know they would be so happy with a grandchild. Some times I think about them, and that little part don´t sounds to bad, but then I come back to my reality and I don´t like kids, I can be with some of them and actually enjoy them (for 10 minutes), but I can´t imagine my life with a kid, baby, school, kid parties, etc. I am just not a baby/kid fan. And with years passing (I am only 30, yes only, because now 35 is normal to me to have kids) people around me is having kids and yes as the post says: I am the not normal person in the room. For my luck I´ve a couple of friends that thin more&less like this, for the momento.

    Anyway it is definitely not easy, and social complex, but we area more than you think out there :)

  6. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted April 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    erm… why the heck would you be a sociopath for not wanting children?!?! There are plenty of children in the world (a few too many in fact!) so well done you for not contributing to overpopulation!

    I’m being trite, but seriously, eff those people who say you’re lying, eff those people who think its OK to ask you about it when its NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!

    Go Team No Kids!

  7. Katielase
    Posted April 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    This is such a great post. Obviously I’m not in quite the same place (totes awkward for the 31 week old foetus inside me if I were), but I still think it’s important to say that you’re 100% normal, and anyone who feels they have the right to comment on your life choice, or somehow imply that you’re lying about what you want (because women are so manipulative, we always lie about baby-making, right?), should Knob. Right. Off.

    I also have to say that even as someone who is having a child, I did identify with parts of this. Especially this sentence “I’ve thought about the world and how difficult a place I sometimes find it. The decision to bring a life into that feels like a choice that should not be mine to make.” Obviously ultimately I came to a different decision, but I struggled massively with this, and it made me very unsure about having children for a long time. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s not always clear how difficult or easy the decision to have children has been for people, because once they go ahead and do it it’s not that socially acceptable for them to say “I was really unsure about this, and actually at times I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing” . And I don’t mean to imply that you might change your mind and go for it, I just mean to say that your feelings aren’t necessarily as uncommon or abnormal as they seem to you, even if for other people they result in a different eventual outcome.

    Either way, you’re absolutely not a sociopath, you are quite wonderful and quite awesome, and you have the right to live your life as YOU choose. Again, people can knob off if they don’t allow you this right.

    KL x

  8. Caroline
    Posted April 29, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    I’m coming at this a bit late – but I’m another who feels like you wrote this for me! I feel exactly the same way – and I mean exactly. From just not feeling that desire that others have, occasionally thinking it might be the wrong decision, but not having that worry me enough to change my mind – and everything else you said!

    I especially know what you mean about people asking “why” when you say you don’t want kids. It drives me a little bit mad, even when I recognise it’s not as usual as wanting kids. I was ready to hit the guy at a dinner party that questioned my career choices on the basis that “surely you’re going to need to start having kids soon?” – er, no actually. Like you, my husband agrees and we’re happy with our decision (despite what his workmates tell him!), which is often the reassurance I need that I’m not weird.

    So, that slight ramble over – thank you so much for writing this post. I also sometimes feel like I’m the only one that feels this way, and worry a bit about not having so much in common with my friends as they all have kids. But please be assured that there are quite a few of us out here that feel the same way. Viva Patsy in the corner swilling champagne!!

    cx

  9. anon
    Posted April 29, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Everywhere I look I see babies at the moment so, although I hope myself and my husband will join the world of parenting at some stage, we’re not there yet and I can totally understand how you feel. Deciding whether or not to have children is a massive decision; it is YOUR decision. There is no right or wrong choice. There is only the right choice for YOU. I hope the comments on here have shown just how un-alone you are in making that choice.

    I did feel sad reading that you find the world such a hard place to live in at times. I think this is true of everyone but I hope that the happy times outweigh those tough ones.

    xxx

  10. Caroline
    Posted April 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    What a fantastic post, and I am another one that identifies with it closely. In fact I wrote a post quite similar some time ago but never sent it in.

    I have lived with depression since I was 13. Now I’m 35 I know how to manage it but I still have bad days, just like everyone, unfortunately some bad days feel like the end of the world.
    This is part of my backstory – I’ve never wanted kids. Add the complexity of my mood landscape to this and the thought of having a child actually terrifies me. Sometimes I can barely get myself to work, let alone care for someone who is wholly dependent on me.

    I frequently wonder what’s wrong with me, and my Mum has often said ‘it’s different with your own’ when I say ‘ugh, children’. I still haven’t the heart to tell her that my cat is probably the closest I’ll get to having a dependent.

    I’ve also subscribed to the ‘never say never’ idea, however my biological alarm clock that everyone talks about is still absent.
    Fortunately I have a boyfriend who is of the same opinion, and so together we daydream about living together, getting a puppy and a VW van and going on trips mountain biking and snowboarding.
    Sometimes when I’m feeling lonely I wonder what I’m missing out on, what my purpose is. But ultimately I make my own purpose, which is to have more good days than bad.

    • Caroline
      Posted April 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Totally with you on the planning for pets and travels – my husband I do exactly the same, in a sort of excited and relieved way that we don’t have to think abut how to manage this with kids! cx

  11. Kate G
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    What a great post. You’re not alone, not in any of it. Your post resonates very strongly with me, specifically because I also feel judged (generally) when I am asked if I have kids and why not when I say no. I just dont get how people can even ask “why not” when they barely know me – and I feel it’s only those that do have kids that ask it. Those of us that dont have childeren whether by choice or not, know there is no easy answer.

    My standard response to “why not” is to ask – in a nice way – why do you have kids. If they are sensitve they usually realise that it was not a polite question and will generally change the subject quite quickly, if they are not they talk about themselves ad nauseum – either way its shifts the focus. Very few people ask that questiion without judgement – and its so nice to actually be able to talk if so.

    Seems to me all your wonderings are the results of comparing yourself to others. Hard not to do – but hopefully comparing / aligning yourself to some of us who are also not parents will change those wonderings for more positive ones – you are definitely not a sociopath :)

  12. Anon
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I am totally not interested in kids right now but I have been in the past and I know my husband wants them. But this is such a personal thing, and there are so many personal things we are considering that we come up against. There is a very high chance that any children we have will be adopted but when this has come up with my mother she pretends not to hear it because she is so opposed to that choice. You are not alone though. I think seeing SO MANY people have children for me when I am feeling at best ambivalent does make me feel a bit lonely though and I know that actually my friends are still my friends and will still be there but that we are at different stages in our life and that is okay. I just wish the assumption that we will have kids and we will conceive to have them would go away. We cannot say we don’t want children as somewhere in the back of our minds we do but I do wish people would stop basically asking when. Or deciding we need to buy a house now as once we do we clearly will then start trying for a baby. That is not how it works.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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