I clearly remember the moment I had the life-changing realisation that I didn’t have to have children. I was enjoying a peaceful walk on a beautiful spring day in London. When the thought came to me it was so liberating and became a game-changer for me in terms of how I looked at my life choices and relationships from that point on.

How I got to this point of clarity was a long road though. Growing up in outback Australia it was never something that was talked about. Playing with my Barbies as a young girl, there was always a clear storyline – Barbie got married and had kids. This was the done thing, this is what little girls aspired to. It wasn’t if, but when you had kids. And it was something that I never questioned because I didn’t know I could.

During my 20s I was in a serious relationship and the idea of having children was always there in the background bubbling away. I was living out my Barbie storyline and yet again I didn’t question the idea that having children was what I was expected to do. I went through the motions of the relationship with the end goal being marriage and kids. That was what all my friends and family did and expected. Unfortunately, after 6 years the relationship ran its course and I found myself jetting off to London to start afresh.

Traveling halfway across the world opened my eyes to the different life choices that people were able to make. Living in London opened up a world of possibilities to me where I could travel extensively, meet up for drinks any day of the week with friends and pursue a career in something I was passionate about. But a spanner was thrown into the works when I met someone new and fell in love.

Being in my early 30s, all of those old expectations of having children came bubbling back up to the surface again. As much as I was enjoying my new life in London, my emotions for this person made me think I could put my nagging feelings of not really being sure if I wanted to have children to the side. When I look back now, I cringe at the fact that I would have had children for this person, despite my own misgivings.

Fortunately, I didn’t end up having to make that choice, but unfortunately the relationship ended up with me nursing a broken heart. Ultimately though, it also led to that beautiful spring day and that moment of realisation that changed everything. When it clicked for me that I didn’t actually have to have children I felt like I was back in control of my life. No ‘ticking clock’ meant I could take my time when it came to relationships. I was in no rush to meet someone and be in a relationship just because I was getting older.

My moment of clarity took many years to come to me. I had nagging feelings of doubt throughout those years but didn’t know I could question the social expectation of having children. When I finally realised there were many different life choices out there it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders and now in my early 40s I know I have made the right decision for me.

Shannon Black

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