Welcome everyone! It’s week six of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your continued support. Every week the post is the most read on my blog and I receive emails from people wanting to take part and DMs on Instagram that people are finding this so helpful. This week I’m delighted to welcome our fifth guest story, Leicia. Leicia does amazing work in promoting a childfree life, including writing over on her blog and talking about it on radio. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
We Are: Leicia & Dan, 33 and 42
Home Is: Leeds
I Do: Communications for the NHS and Dan is a buyer for an electrical wholesaler
I believe that having children is a lifestyle choice – and it’s never one that has appealed to me. I’ve never had that urge to have children. Babies don’t make me broody, and as much as I love my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids, I’m really pleased that I can hand them back at the end of the day!
When I was younger I thought that one day I would wake up with the magic “womb ache” that some of my friends have had, but it never happened. Not in the slightest. I’m 33 now and as the years go by my desire to remain childfree only gets stronger.
My husband and I have bought a lovely home, take regular long-haul holidays, spontaneous city breaks, eat out all the time, enjoy quiet weekends and time to pursue our own hobbies – and we love our lifestyle, and our freedom. We’d have to give all of that up if we chose to have children. I’m not saying you can’t do some of those things as parents – but it’s a whole lot harder and a whole lot more expensive.
We don’t have parents nearby to be babysitters on-tap (my in-laws live in Spain and mine live around a two-hour drive away), so childcare alone would mean we wouldn’t be able to afford where we live – let alone all the added luxuries we enjoy. The idea of changing what we have now for drop-off and pick-up routines, weekends spent ferrying children to football classes, gymnastics classes, birthday parties etc whilst trying to squeeze in rare date nights just doesn’t appeal.
I understand it does for some people and that’s great! I fully support all my friends and family that do! I’m an awesome babysitter! I throw a fantastic baby shower! I spoil my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids whenever I get the chance. I just don’t want my own.
We are more than happy being a family of three – which includes our cat Brian of course.
When people hear that we’re childfree by choice, they are usually surprised, often bemused and mostly patronising! It’s mostly people we don’t know very well as opposed to friends and family, who are very supportive. Some of the most common reactions are…
‘You’ll change your mind’
‘You do. You just don’t know it yet’
‘You’ll regret it when you’re older’
‘It’s different when they’re your own’
When I was younger it was never really something I had to address, but when I met my husband (seven years ago) I found people thought it was OK to suddenly be so concerned about my reproductive organs. ‘When do you think you’ll have kids then?’ they’d ask.
We’d go on holiday and when we returned people would say ‘Enjoy this time while you can – it’ll all change when you have kids!”. It ramped up when we got engaged a few years ago – whenever I was around another pregnant woman at work, people would gesture at my stomach and say ‘You’ll be next!’. When we got married, people got even more brash about it ‘Don’t wait too long. Tick tock!’.
I used to shrug it off but a couple of things happened that made me start to react to those comments very differently; 1) I had a friend who was desperate for children and struggling to conceive and 2) I had a friend who had suffered multiple miscarriages. I thought, imagine if I was in one of those situations and getting comments like that?! How damaging that could be. So, I started telling people that they shouldn’t ask that question and that in fact I didn’t want kids (not that it was any of their business).
I also started talking more openly about my decision to be childfree – becoming increasingly annoyed at the current narrative around childfree women; no we don’t hate children, no we’re not all crazy spinsters, no we’re not all waiting to meet the ‘right man’, no we’re not selfish.
And, contrary to popular belief, people who choose to be childfree have thought about their decision very carefully and aren’t prone to change their mind.
I also started blogging and tweeting about our personal experience of being married and childfree (@Childfreeblog) and have taken up opportunities to talk about it on local radio and in pieces like this. I want women to know it’s completely normal if they don’t want kids and I want people to stop asking women about their reproductive parts! If someone wants to share, they’ll tell you. If they don’t, don’t ask.
We love our childfree lives and hear experiences from friends and family members that are parents that reaffirm our decision on a daily basis! I share some of the funniest stories in my weekly blog.
Since starting to tweet and blog about being childfree I’ve found a great community of other men and women who feel the same. I get lots of messages from women who say that they have been made to feel abnormal or weird and that reading my blog helps. I also get lots of messages from older childfree couples who say they’ve never regretted their decision. Other friends have ‘come out’ (so to speak) that they are childfree too, but have never openly admitted it before for fear of being judged negatively.
What I’d really like to see is more accurate portrayals of childfree women and couples in tv and film. I’d like female celebrities to stop being asked when they are having children and I’d love to see an advert for a pregnancy test where the couple celebrate a negative result!
The main challenge on being childfree is being challenged for our decision (mis-judged, patronised, not taken seriously). I hope to dispel the childfree myths and call out those that are insensitive to both the childfree and the childless in my blog. It’s not OK to ask women when they are going to have children, or use phrases in the media like ‘If you’re a parent you’ll understand…’, or to use ‘childless’ as an insult (which is often directed at leaders without children without knowledge of circumstance).
I hope by speaking about it, other people that feel the same but have been similarly judged will feel better. I’m not trying to sell the idea – being childfree clearly isn’t for everyone. I respect other people’s decision to have children, in turn I’m asking them to respect mine.
Thank you so so much to Leicia 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 Leicia’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.