Monday, 6 April 2015

Wot, no tot?

Do some people decide when they're young that they don't want children, and then bitterly regret it when they're older? Not as far as I know. Certainly not in my case (or Jenny's either).

I can't recall any time at all when I've looked at someone else's baby or child and felt a longing for a child of my own. I'm very content being me and I've never had any desire for a miniature me to keep me company.

It's not an aversion to children. Other people's children can be charming and inspiring and great fun to be with. Even when they're being grumpy and stand-offish, since I have no parental responsibility for the grumpiness, I can just be amused by their bad behaviour. Well, for five or ten minutes maybe - my patience isn't infinite.

I guess I never felt that having a child would add something essential to my existence, that it would give me something I didn't have already. I've always had a rich cultural and intellectual life that's more than enough to keep me happy.

I don't think my father ever really wanted children.  He spoke of having children as a "duty" and would get in terrible rages if me or my sister disappointed him in any way. But I don't think that's a significant factor in my own disinclination to have kids.

Even now, as I get older and it's possible I might get frail and needy, I don't regret the lack of children who could help me out when it comes to it. I'll cross that bridge as and when. In any case, I wouldn't want to restrict other people's lives with my own neediness.

So no regrets. I watch all the children trundling into the primary school a few doors away and I just wonder what it feels like to be a child, as I've long since forgotten. But I've no wish to be one of the (slightly anxious looking) parents.

There will now be a short intermission. Back in a couple of weeks or so.


  1. I for my part, thoroughly enjoyed being a parent, but I gave Elly life and not a life sentence. I gave her her wings, she is a happy and healthy adult and free to follow her own adventures.

    The creaks and cracks of age are beginning to appear, but they are mine and mine alone. I will deal with them, alone, as I have with every other obstacle that has come my way so far.

  2. Grannymar: You sound very philosophical about the drawbacks of getting older. More than can be said for some people who complain at length about every little ache and pain.

  3. I didn't think about having children when I was young and I'm generally not much of a kid person, even to this day. My husband loves kids though, and will often engage with children when we are out. I was happy to have children with him, but if I had married someone not interested in children, I might not have had any. Who knows?

    I love my own kids, but don't rely on them to bring me happiness.

  4. Bijoux: Interesting that with someone else you might not have had kids at all. I wonder what I might have done if Jenny had been really keen to have kids?

  5. I wanted one child and having her enriched our lives. We're still close, even though she and Torben live thousands of miles away. At times we rely on one another for support, and it's not all one way.

    I am grateful for being able to phone her last week when I was concerned by some eye drops I needed to take to correct an eye problem. Mostly I'm good at doing online research, but this time I was sick enough and feeling vulnerable that I was grateful for her doing it for me.

    We keep in touch via email and my blog posts during the week and the three of us (including Andy) talk for and hour or so every Sunday evening. It's nice.

    She and Torben have two dogs but no kids, and that's fine by us.

  6. Husband number one and I were not having kids. We got divorced, and I wanted one. I was going to skip off to the sperm bank.

    Then I married husband number two and had a kid.

    Husband number one had a couple of kids with his wife number two.

    Sounds like a dang story problem.

    I know a few people who are perfectly happy without kids. I think they have better marriages, too.

  7. Jean: It seems that she's a good friend as well as a daughter, which is as it should be.

    Susie: That's weird, that husband one didn't want kids, then married again and had two.

    I'm biased I know, but I also have the impression that couples without kids often get on better than couples with kids.

  8. Apparently he didn't want them with moi!

    No biggie. I like the kid I ended up with.

  9. I'm happy with my life and I have a great marriage. But being married and childless by choice makes me an oddity around here. People can be downright rude with their questions and comments. (This never happens to my husband, by the way.)

    And I'm a huge disappointment to my parents (I'm an only child) because I never gave them grandkids. As a matter of fact, they've sort of "adopted" a young cousin of mine who is having a baby next the point that they treat her more like a daughter than me. Sometimes I don't hear from them for months, while they shower her and her husband with gifts and time and attention. They even call the expected baby their "grandson" and have offered to be free day care for him after he's born.....which hurts, considering they never even paid me a visit or offered to do anything when my husband was going through cancer treatment a few years back. I feel that they've turned their backs on me for my decision not to have children. But I'm thankful for my husband, he's a wonderful man and the only family I really need. We love each other and our furry/feathered "kids" and have a happier relationship that most couples I know.

  10. Susie: Glad everything worked out okay!

    Jennifer: The way your parents are treating you, just because you don't have children, is downright mean and vindictive. Likewise their indifference to your husband's cancer treatment. I wonder if your cousin feels a bit embarrassed at the way she's being treated as a substitute daughter with a substitute grandchild?

  11. Hello Nick,

    Yes, it does seem to be regarded as something strange that one might choose to not have children. We made thIs same choice and have never regretted our decision.

    Over the years we have seen many of our friends become parents, all of whom declare that this will not change their lives at all. However, from where we are looking, their lives have changed beyond all recognition but we assume that they would not have it otherwise.

    Perhaps it is selfishness that makes us revel in only having to please ourselves in what we do and that our responsibilities do not include other family members. As you say, we have learned to be incredibly self reliant and shall enter old age in the same spirit.

  12. Jane and Lance: You're right that when people become parents, their lives change drastically with the addition of parental duties. They always put a positive spin on it, but I know there are some parents who secretly regret their altered lives.

    "Selfish" is a very loaded word, isn't it? Yes, those without children can be seen as selfish, but then again parents can be seen as selfish for bringing more children into the world for their own personal pleasure. I'm sure this argument will run and run!

  13. I had one child, Boy and I've been very pleased with that decision.

    I suppose everyone has an opinion - to have or not.

    It's your reproductive system, you've got to decide. I do get a bit concerned when people try to foist their opinions on other's reproduction, especially as they won't be dealing with the consequences, aka the child.

  14. Rose: I agree, telling other people what they should do about children (or abortion or sexuality) is a bloody cheek. As you say, decisions have consequences and we have to make those decisions for ourselves.

  15. I think I mentioned this before, but I'm old and can't remember things so well now.

    When my daughter got married she told me that her and the new husband had decided not to have any children because it would interfere with their respective careers.

    I said "That's a good idea, I wish me and your mother had thought of that when we got married" The look on her face said it all, I didn't need to spell it out.

  16. Most of my friends have been childless by choice. I knew I always wanted a child, a daughter preferably, whether married or not. Since I was about 12.

    I think if we look upon a child as a personal fulfillment that is not OK. The child is separate in thinking and character, etc.

    Like GM, I live my own life and would positively hate it if I had to lean on Daughter for whatevers. Completely unfair.

    I'm a firm believe in dying with dignity and she has my papers saying such. Pull the plug...etc.

    Such an individual thing why is there not more respect for the childless?


  17. Keith: Did you really say that? That was a bit mean. But the career progress/ having children dilemma can be an agonising one. Whatever you prioritise, something has to give.

    www: Yes, the personal fulfillment angle doesn't do the child any good. I think that was very much my father's motive, and he always wanted me to be a "chip off the old block".

  18. I forgot to mention I laugh out loud every time I think of your title. Well done! :D

  19. Jean: It was one of those titles that just flashed into my mind....

  20. I think people who don't have children fall into two camps - those who consistently don't want them and have no regrets, and those who later in life feel they've missed out. There is not right or wrong to this question. I do feel that the world is so over-populated that anyone who doesn't want children should definitely not have them. They are an enormous time and money commitment. That said, I can't imagine not having had my children. Even though I'm not a kid person in general, I always knew I wanted to have kids. The love you feel for your own children is so powerful that it is indescribable. I think it's one of those you-have-to-experience-it-to-understand-it.

  21. Agent: I think the important thing is that whatever choice people make about having or not having children, that choice should be respected and they shouldn't be made to feel that their choice is somehow wrong. As you say the world is so over-populated that putting pressure on someone to have a child is absurd.

  22. Of course it's absurd. It's absurd for people with kids to judge people who don't want (and therefore shouldn't have) kids and equally absurd for people without kids to act superior about not wanting them. Both positions are silly and smug.

  23. I am blessed with one child and his spouse. I wish that I could have had more, but that was not to be, so our nephews and nieces became surrogates. Now, I wish that I could be a grand father, but that too seems to be not destined for me, and so back again to the surrogates. That is life.

  24. Ramana, you must count your blessings and not expect an extra helping!

  25. ramana, you would be the best grandpa ever!

  26. Kylie, he would be a wonderful grandfather.