HAYLEY FROM TUNBRIDGE WELLS WONDERS WHY CHOOSING NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN PROVES TO BE SUCH A STICKY CONVERSATION TOPIC
Mother’s Day can be tricky for a whole host of reasons, and I’m not just talking about getting the right balance between the ‘made-an-effort’ gifts and the ‘just grabbed the sparkliest thing in Paperchase’ time savers.
Awkward conversations tend to rear their ugly head around this holiday when the question of motherhood, or more precisely my aversion to the role, is addressed. You see, I am not a mother, nor do I ever intend to be; a choice that, in my eyes, should not have to cause any more fuss than choosing whether or not to have sprinkles on my ice cream. However, it would seem that my decision sends others bristling at the very notion of a woman who doesn’t want sprinkles.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for motherhood. It is safe to say that it is what got me here today, and I will be forever grateful to my mother for persevering through what is arguably one of the hardest jobs in the world, tantrums and all. But I have seen One Born Every Minute and Call the Midwife and, now that we are well into the sixth series, I think there’s very little I don’t know about childbirth.
It’s just that whether a woman is a mother or not a mother, and how she arrived at either of those states, is not small talk. It is as big talk as you can get. So why is it that when Mother’s Day rolls around so many people feel the need to probe or even placate those of us without children?
Generally, I find dialogue runs a lot smoother when assumptions are avoided.
‘When you have little ones…’, ‘When do you want children?’, and ‘How many are you planning to have?’ are all common conversational obstacles I find myself avoiding, as the truthful answer of ‘none’ just seems to be read as a bold political statement or personal offence. How dare I not want to share in the magical, enlightening and transcendent experience that is parenthood?
Mothers – please let it be known that I am not snubbing your lifestyle. Far from it. You should have a day where all of your hard work and efforts are celebrated, (365 of them if possible). But it isn’t a job for everybody and it shouldn’t be a default goal.
I find it odd that the discovery of my choice inevitably elicits prompts of: ‘but you would make a wonderful mother.’ It is hardly evidence-based. When someone tells me that they have never been interested in taking up the oboe I don’t feel the need to reassure them that their rendition of Tchaikovsky would have been lovely.
I have never understood why parents seem so driven to wish their state on others. No, I don’t particularly feel like I will be missing out on a grand human experience, no, I don’t think I’ll be changing my mind any time soon and no, I don’t think of myself as some transgressive, child-hating witch. I actually really like children, I just don’t want any of my own.
So for all the amazing, loving and devoted parents out there; may all good things come to you this Mother’s Day. But remember – you don’t need sprinkles to enjoy your ice cream, so if people could just stop forcing them on me, that would be great.