As a childfree by choice, 48-year-old woman, I have never had one ounce of regret around my choice. I love my childfree life and live a very fulfilling existence. I have two businesses, travel the world, have 3 dogs, keep fit, have a social life, own many pairs of Jimmy Choo’s and enjoy a glass of wine or champs (or a bottle) whenever the mood takes me. I do what I want when I want.
So how do women who have fabulous lives, still get told that their life is meaningless and empty because they don’t have kids? And not surprisingly the criticism comes from parents, media, and society. We live in a pronatalist society and are told when we are just babies ourselves, that having kids is normal and your role as a female. We have dolls thrust upon us and told one day you too will get married, have kids and live happily ever after. Geez, it’s in just about every fairy tale we are read as kids. Some might say this is brainwashing at its best.
Media and Hollywood do nothing to help this brainwashing. Women are often portrayed as desperate to have kids, empty and unhappy without them and god forbid, unfulfilled as a woman. I take great offense to this. This is a massive assumption to make. It is the equivalent of saying that all men like sports. It is just not true. Does that mean a guy is unhappy if he doesn’t play football? It is so ridiculous! We are all different and make different choices.
So many movies portray women in their late 30’s and 40’s in a way that makes it seem they cannot possibly be happy or fulfilled. Take Instant Family as an example. Now, I love a good chick flick but the message in this is that your life is empty and incomplete until you have kids then you are become happy and fulfilled. I call bullshit!!
In the movie, Pete and Ellie (aka Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) were living happily as a childfree couple with a growing business and a dog. Then she sees a video about fostering and gets to pondering if they need a child to make them complete. For years they never questioned their choice but because they were maybe in a rut, they thought a kid would fill that gap. Movies like this do nothing to help undo the myth that motherhood does NOT equal womanhood.
I do not envy the lives of my ‘mummy friends’ one little bit, not for a second. Not for a nanosecond. I do not want to spend my money on school fees and unnecessary stuff that advertisers tell parents they need (most of which they don’t). I don’t want to spend my time taking kids to soccer and ballet. I don’t want to have to choose between going out with my girlfriends and staying at home and looking after a child. And guess what I am happy! Very, very, happy!!
Some might say that the way I spend my time is meaningless and empty. Society places no value placed on travel, experiences, watching Netflix, shopping, reading, being driven to reach great heights in your career, writing books, spending time with people you love, walking the dogs or being able to donate more to charity. To the world, these are all selfish, meaningless pursuits that make you less of a woman. After all your job is to be a mum!
Uh, but you forget that I contribute just as much as a parent, if not more, in society. I have more disposable income and donate time and money to charitable causes that mean a lot to me. I pay lots of tax (a good chunk of which goes towards looking after your kids), I keep businesses afloat with my spending on travel, wine, clothes, furniture and shoes. I mentor younger women, I write and help educate others, I offer sound advice to your kids when they need it and I provide a different perspective. Am I an empty person for doing all these things? No. I am not! I am a contributing citizen, just like any parent.
Just because I am childfree by choice, doesn’t mean I am rich, that my life is perfect and that I float around in my own little fairy tale existence. I do not pretend that my life is all sunshine, roses and unicorns. It is far from perfect. I have responsibility, challenges, crappy days, anxiety at times, pressure and stress.
Just because I am childfree, doesn’t mean I hate kids. I love spending time with my nieces & nephews (real and adopted).
Just because I am childfree, doesn’t make me selfish. I am living life for me. After all, it is MY life.
Just because I am childfree, doesn’t mean you can make judgmental statements, tell me I will regret my choice, and that I don’t know real love.
Just because I am childfree doesn’t make me an empty shell of a woman.
If us childfree women are all so unhappy and live empty lives, why do we have such big smiles on our face?
When will the so-called ‘sisterhood’ start to actually exist? We hear all this talk about women supporting women and something called the sisterhood and I find most of it to be crap. If it existed, then why do mums still criticise and judge non-mums for their choice. Heck, they even criticise and judge each other. Women always have an opinion about other women and what they are doing, the choices the making, how they look, what they wear and everything in between.
In a world in which we are told women can do anything or be anything, I should be allowed to be childfree and not be critized and told I live an unhappy, meaningless, empty existence, don’t you think?
Tanya Williams is the author of A Childfree Happily Ever After, an Amazon #1 Best Selling book, that brings the childfree conversation to life, lifts the veil on how childfree women are treated in society and share the true stories of women from all walks of life.
You will find the Childfree Happily Ever After community here https://childfreehappilyeverafter.com.au/