So I’m Not a Mom

Being a childless woman in your thirties isn’t always easy. I mean sure, I can sleep through the night, drink tequila on a Thursday and decide without any planning to go line dancing or ice-skating, if those were things I wanted to do. But there are downsides to my childlessness: namely, the presumptuous comments of some (of course, not all) mothers I speak to. Because I’m not one of them, I must have a wonderful life. I have such freedom, after all. I must have boundless energy. If I say I went out to the pub for a drink with friends, I’m met with ‘imagine being able to do that’. If I say that I feel a little tired because I’ve had so much overtime, I get ‘just wait till you have kids.’

Shockingly, there are women who are my age who simply don’t want to have children. That’s totally fucking fine. Not every woman has to be a mother. Not ever woman wants to be a mother. That doesn’t make her selfish or vain or proud. And what about the women who can’t have children? I can’t imagine how much senseless comments like the ones I hear on at least a weekly basis must hurt them.

Women who don’t have children are still loving, caring and compassionate. We’re not any more or any less selfish than anyone else. We have as much empathy as the next person. I remember telling someone once that I was anti-capital punishment and their response was ‘you’d think differently if you had kids’ as if I’m somehow incapable at arriving at a reasonable conclusion on the matter because I’m lacking some kind of empathy or sense of outrage that is unique to parents. Lately, I told some colleagues that I was re-reading the novel Room by Emma Donoghue. The plot is admittedly disturbing and the subject matter is dark and distressing. But it is also a well-written novel, about issues (kidnapping, rape) that occur whether we want to think about them or not. My colleagues (whom I really like, respect and get along well with) told me that they couldn’t even bring themselves to read the book. Fair enough, I thought. It is a tough read and not for everyone. But then the conversation turned into six mothers versus me. They told me that because they’re mothers, the thought of reading such a novel is particularly disturbing. I agree; it would be very difficult and you would naturally think of your own children in such a situation and that would be enough to cause you to avoid such narratives. But they didn’t stop there. I was met with comments like ‘you’ll understand when you have kids’ (which I probably just should get tattooed on my forehead) and ‘ god imagine being able to read books like that!’ I was made to feel as if I was some sadistic, voyeuristic sociopath who thrives on the suffering of fictional children. I just choose not to shield myself from difficult realities in life. Paintings by renaissance or impressionist artists can be disturbing and convey great suffering but they can still be beautiful. The same goes for literature and for movies. Appreciating them doesn’t make me some kind of psychopath.

And just because I don’t have children does not make me immune to outrage, shock, pain, compassion or disgust.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m having a go at mothers or motherhood. Most mothers I know (my friends and my sister and sister-in-law, for example) serve as great inspirations to me. They’re exactly what I aspire to be if and when I decide to have kids. Even the mothers that do pass thoughtless comments don’t do it out of malice or spite, I know that. Mothers can be wonderful, resilient, kind, beautiful, brave people. Non-mothers can be just as wonderful, just as resilient, just as kind, beautiful and brave.

We are all women, different and the same, and we need to support each other and each other’s choices.

34 thoughts on “So I’m Not a Mom

  1. Ritu says:

    Janey. Let me give you (((hugs)))
    Just because aren’t a mum (yet) means nothing. Ultimately we are all humans with the same emotions. Some people just get tied up with thinking they are special because they are employed/married /parents. Don’t sweat it. You’ll get there in your own time! 🤗💜

  2. dweezer19 says:

    Hmmm….first of all, well done Janey. I understand and empathize. While I am the mother of four terrific young men, I am not the typical mother type. I had to be separated from three of them for lengthy periods of time while they were growing due to custody arrangements. I had very judgmental women both mothers and not exclaim with distate, “How could you ever let that happen?”, as if it were completely my design or fault. The end result is my boys got to know their father without blaming me for not being allowed the opportunity to realize what a jerk he is most of the time-all on thier own. They still love him. There is nothing (and everything) magical about being a Mom. Each new decade produces new and mproved mothers who often think they are the first ever, the most conscientious and innovative mothers since the dawn of time. Motherhood used to be a given, something women did to increase the population, produce young help on the farms and simply for lack of birth control availability. It is the luxury of the modern woman to be able to choose whne-or if- she wants to have children. I applaud women who, like yourself, are discerning about bringing more people into the wotld. I had my first at 21 and my last at 30. I wanted to still be young-ish when that last one made it out on his own. That was my desire. I will say, however, that raising a child at 30 was in so many ways easier than the first. I was more mature. Less anxious or selfish. But waiting too far into years produces an often too tolerant or blaise approach to raising a child, at least from what I have observed. My friends in their forties who have a single child have pretty much raised it like a grandchild. Only you will know when the moment is right; or if it is thrust upon you at some point, you will make it just right. As for waiting dor the right time financially that is a farce. We always adapt our lifestyles accordingly, children or not. Only now that all my children are grown and gone do I wonder at how we made it on our income in the early days. Just look around your classroom. You will know good and true parents that way, not by how much they talk about having babies. Any mammal can do that. Babies are beautiful but beautiful adults are a treasure. Hugs!

    • janeybgood says:

      This is such a wonderful comment Cheryl and so sensible and rational, which is all I want to hear from others! It must have been difficult for you to be separated from your sons like that but it sounds like you ultimately made it work. You are right; you have to find that right time for yourself. My sister had a baby at 18, and she made the most wonderful mother then and again when she had children later. I suppose there isn’t ever the perfect time to have children. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel completely ready. I just want to be able to make my child happy.
      Thank you again for your wise words. They have given me wonderful perspective! Happy new year to you and yours 🎈💕

  3. Gary Lum says:

    *Hugs* Janey
    The words in the meme at the end sum it up perfectly. Humans are quick to judge. I hope at the time you choose when you feel comfortable, you and your partner can welcome a new life into the world to love, nurture and cherish.

  4. pensitivity101 says:

    I get this. I always wanted a big family, but it just wasn’t meant to be. For years, my family believed I didn’t want kids. They could not have been more wrong. I resigned myself to not being a natural mum at 27. It was one of the reasons I fostered, but not babies, teenagers, as I felt I had something to offer.
    I miscarried in 1996, the year my Dad died and I saw my 40th birthday. Just one of those things but apart from my work mates, we didn’t tell anyone.
    I see family members with their mixtures of broods and subsequent generations, and in some instances, I cringe, glad they are not mine and embarrassed to be related to them.
    However, who am I to judge their upbringing or examples set? They don’t want anything to do with me, so to feel likewise seems fair.
    Your time will come when you feel ready, and not under pressure from other things or worse, people telling you you should. You are right, we are all different, as are our circumstances. Happy New Year Janey. May it bring you peace, good health and joy. 🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      I think it’s wonderful that you have fostered and I really admire you for that. It’s something I have often thought of doing myself. I’m sure it’s not without its challenges though!
      I’m so sorry to hear that you miscarried. That must have been so difficult for you.
      I often wonder if I’m cut out for motherhood at all. I like my quiet time 😂 I guess I’ll know someday!
      Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I really appreciate it! Happy new year 🎊🎈

  5. LonerBlood says:

    Well said.
    As prepared as some people may seem, I don’t think one can be truly ready to take care of another human; it just sort of happens, and all the other things fall into place.
    There typically will be financial issues, unless you’re waiting to become wealthy; even people with means have their crap to deal with.
    If you want a bubbling lil bubb to cuddle, love, and cherish, don’t wait too long. They are a treasure, money or not.
    I had one at 34, the other at 43… they just happened, and we couldn’t have done it more perfectly (even though it wasn’t pretty at times, we’ve made it through).
    Best to you, Love.
    Happy New Year!

    • janeybgood says:

      Thank you! It’s lovely to hear that. I suppose it’s all about just taking that plunge, isn’t it? I know that if I actually fell pregnant, I would be delighted.
      I have to say, you’ve made it sound rather appealing! I know it must be very challenging at times but it seems to be worth it! Happy New Year 😊🎈

  6. Erika Kind says:

    Who is to tell you what to eat for breakfast and who is to tell you to have children or not? It is every person’s/couple’s decision or it is simply life that decides. We are 7 billion people on this planet and every single one has the right to their own lives in exactly the way they live it. My sister-in-law had her first child with 38 and the second one with 42. My other sister-in-law has no children at all because they decided not to have children and I know that other women could not have children. But each one of them lives exactly the life which is simply perfect for them. All is well and so are you. There will always be people who think that others need to live upon their rules or imaginations… but that is their problem!
    Have a happy and healthy New Year, Janey!!

    • janeybgood says:

      Thank you Erika, this is what I needed to hear! Everyone lives their story differently. If we all followed the same script, life would be pretty boring! I hope you are enjoying the new year!

  7. Reticent Writer says:

    Yes to this – very well said! I hate it when people make you feel like less of a person because you don’t have kids, or that the love you hold for your family/friends/husband/partner is nothing compared to parent/child love, or they look at you knowingly and say “you’ll get it one day”! I still get these “helpful” comments even though people know we’ve been trying for 2 years to have a kid and it’s what we want more than anything! This is such a relatable post. Thanks for sharing x

    • janeybgood says:

      Totally agree! I don’t know if these people intend on being so condescending but it’s just so annoying and smug! I will send you all the positive and happy thoughts I can and wish you luck in your efforts! I know a couple who tried for three years, and then had twins so don’t lose hope. Happy New Year 🎈

  8. hopelesswonderer says:

    This was lovely to read. Theres no rush on anything like this at all. I’m 21 and everyone at work keeps going on about how I’ll be having children and im totally not ready for that, One of my other colleagues is 53 and she just had a baby through IVF and she is doing incredibly. Age doesn’t define when you should have children, its when your ready and I think putting your mental health first is a very wise move 🙂

  9. Whitney says:

    I discovered your blog at 0500 at this morning when I couldn’t sleep. And this post cracked me up – I’m a 30 something in the same boat. Well… similar. I don’t ever want a pooping, screaming, needy, mini version of myself. But alas, I am informed time and time again “you’ll change your mind” or “you don’t understand, you’re not a mom” or my personal favorite demand from my now ex-mother-in-law… “you have to have a child in the next two years while I’m still alive to meet the baby.” She was adamant she’d be dead by 62. Thanks, but I’ll stick with my dog that doesn’t talk back, is always happy to see me, and I can cage her while at work without the pesky consequence of getting arrested. I choose what’s good for me, not society, now matter how atypical those decisions may be viewed!

    • janeybgood says:

      Good to meet you Whitney! Haha, yes to allll of this 😊 I totally get it. It’s just the presumption that we somehow have to have kids in order to be completely fulfilled as women. Ugh! Thanks for your comment, made me smile

  10. Lindsay says:

    As a woman in her late 30s that likely can’t have kids, I can very much relate to this post. When I tell people I don’t have kids, I get the “don’t worry, you will soon” response. It’s not worth going into detail about my health situation, so I just ignore it. I would love to be a mother, but when people find out I’m not having kids, they treat me like I’m an unempathetic sociopath. I also find I don’t get invited to as many events because I would be the only one there without kids – as if that somehow means I can’t hang out with “those people”.

    Whenever you have kids, IF you have kids, it’s your body and your time schedule. Whatever you decide to do will be right for you.

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