Welcome everyone! It’s week three of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and I’m over the moon to be bringing you a new story from someone kind enough to share their thoughts and experiences on a life without children. This week, it’s the turn of one of my dearest friends, Michelle. Michelle and I met way back in the heady days of our youth in 2002 when we embarked on a PgDip in Journalism together. We bonded over a love of hot chocolate and ER and the rest is history. Here is Michelle’s story.
We Are: Michelle & Jason, 40 and 40’s
Home Is: Nuneaton
I Do: Having previously worked as an Editor and Commissioner for ITV.com for almost 10 years, I now run my own business as a Chalk Paint stockist and furniture painter.
Find Me: Instagram @shelleschic
Growing up I expected I would have kids one day, as I think most of us do. I’m an only child so I pictured two, preferably a boy first and then a girl. But as I became ‘a woman’ I wasn’t suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that I had to have a baby, which many of my friends were.
I was married at 33 and although my marriage didn’t last long, my husband and I were both on the same page about kids. We both had good jobs, a beautiful home and fantastic lifestyle where we could do pretty much what we wanted, when we wanted and didn’t feel inclined to sacrifice that freedom.
I remember when my friends started having babies. I was obviously thrilled for them, especially those who had struggled to conceive and so desperately wanted to be parents. But it also made me question – over and over again – why don’t I want that? Is there something wrong with me?
In truth those feelings only lasted a short while and I was fortunate enough not to have people constantly question me about when they were going to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet. Maybe they just sensed that it wasn’t really on the cards. My mum and I are very close and when I sought her advice, she said, “as much as I would love to be a grandmother, if you don’t feel with all your heart that you want to have a baby, then don’t do it.” This sounded like pretty sensible advice to me.
After splitting up with my husband I got together with someone slightly older, my partner Jason, who I’m with now. He has two grown up sons, 22 and 25, who I love to pieces. It’s like I have a ready made family without the full-on responsibility of being a parent – although I am always there to support them if they need me. The fact that Jason didn’t want any more kids worked perfectly in terms of our relationship. He loves his boys dearly but did not want to do it all over again. We are both very sociable people and enjoy going out or entertaining friends at home, without the inevitable restrictions of having a young family.
At 40, I have stopped feeling ‘abnormal’ about not having children. The world is a very different place now to what it was even 20 years ago, where women had less opportunities to be something else other than just a mother. We can do whatever we want and be respected and admired for so many other things in life, without having points deducted because we haven’t reproduced.
It’s tricky to list all the reasons why I am happy I don’t have kids without sounding like a child hater! But to be frank, every time I hear about a new parent’s lack of sleep or a toddler throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, I just feel a huge sense of relief. I know that’s not the whole picture. I know bringing a child into the world is a truly amazing thing and I take my hat off to each and every person who has decided to go down that road. But it wasn’t for me and I am no less of a woman for it.
Instead I enjoy a rich and busy life with my boyfriend and the absolute freedom to do what makes me happy, whenever the mood takes me.
Thank you so so much to Michelle for sharing her story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Michelle’s story, leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.