A Childfree Life

Debating motherhood – reasons against

April 1, 2014

As I approach 33 the panic about my impending motherhood decision has started to set in. I think I am doing my own head in. I think too deeply and too often about things.

I know other people who have gotten pregnant by accident or to someone they have known for a couple of months. They seem to have not only survived but are also blissfully happy. They also escaped this torturous decision process I am undertaking at the moment.

Here are the reasons I have come up with so far why not to have kids…

I don’t have ‘urge’ (which I have already written about here.)

Life is full. Most days I don’t feel anything is missing. If I got told tomorrow I could not have kids, I don’t think I would be having every medical intervention known to man to have them. If I get the urge when it is too late, I will find some other way to have little people in my life. I believe children are a gift, not a human right and that everything in life happens for a reason.

I have a blissfully happy relationship and am PETRIFIED to destroy it.

I know three handfuls of people who are my age and divorced. This is a sad statistic at 32. Marriage is hard work and you have a limited chance to make it through anyway without kids.  My relationship is a gold mine. I am happy and lucky. Add another person to the dimension and all could be ruined, particularly if it’s you who want the kids and the man is not partial. When the kids grow up, what happens when you realise you have not talked about a single, separate thing for the past 20 years besides school fees and pick-ups? What if you can’t put any time into your relationship (which I believe firmly is a separate but related entity and needs nourishing independently of your child raising partnership).

I won’t be able to do all the things that keep me sane.

I get a bit of anxiety at times (If you have not noticed already). Sleep is very important to me. Exercise is very important to me. Alone time is very important to me. Personal goals are important to me. I am EXHAUSTED a lot of the time from work, time with the Husband, life, training, trying to pursue my interests, planning our household and spoiling the cat. Adding another person into my already crowded, nutty head makes me petrified just thinking about it. Another person for me to organise, think for and worry about for a lifetime.

Women carry the burden of motherhood.

Let’s face it. As supporting as a man can be, (and I got a good egg), women carry the burden of raising kids. We are expected to find flexible employment, organise childcare and the entire family life. I am told by my friends to do every endurance event known to man now because I won’t be able to do ANYTHING when I have kids.

We are the ones at first point of call when the kid is sick and praise our husbands when they ‘babysit’ for one night a week so mummy can have a ‘night off’. This really shits me when women use the word babysit to describe what men do for their own kids.

Women are told to expect less in other areas of their life, while men are expected to push harder, earn more, be physically stronger, achieve more and constantly grow. Why are we told to want and expect less from our careers right from the start?

I watch the Facebook posts by my female friends who have given birth. They write constantly about sleepless nights, asking questions about parenting or what is the best day care centre around. We are key planning masters and organisers in the parenting world.  And the men’s newsfeeds? After work drinks, general news sharing, gym check in’s, training updates, fishing and endurance events. Nothing much seems to change in the world of the bloke from where I am sitting. ‘What do I do when my baby is teething?’ or ‘Who knows a good family GP?’ asked no bloke to his man friends, ever.

My dreams will surely end.

My dream is to have this part work, part time writing, and flexible life. I want to be living part of my year in Thailand each year within the next three years. I want to learn to meditate properly.  I want to do a ski season, somewhere, someday. I want to be flexible to go wherever life takes me with either my or my husband’s career. I want to keep travelling every year. I want to have a successful business as a freelancer. Is this possible with a kid? Really? I worry that I will wake up after 20 years in suburbia spent working a job I hate to pay for a house that I could not afford to start with. Then I will look back one day when the house is paid off and empty, my children are gone, as are all the things I once dreamed of and wonder what the heck happened.

I can’t expect anyone to help me but me. 

One set of potential grandparents lives abroad for three quarters of the year. My parents have full and busy lives and still work. Weekends at nan and pops  and whole days with gran while I go to work are a no go for me. It’s probably why I have waited a little bit longer.

No money.

Is there ever enough? No. I already know that. But the added third person will just add to this stress. Sydney is especially suffocating and hard. At the moment I have one house office and a psychotic white cat in a small apartment, with no house affordability likely on the even near distant horizon.

Baby friends…. did you have all these reasons not to have kids (or more ) and decide do it anyway?

Or, did you know that  motherhood was always the path for you?

Note: I was RIDDEN with guilt after uploading the photo of my cutsie niece above and then reading over this post . I spend LOTS of time with my niece and nephews, I LOVE them so much I get chest pain. My family and my parents and sister mean the world to me – I am aware of the importance of family as the number one protective thing in our lives and I don’t need convincing of the benefits of motherhood – I have seen these up close…. but I want to know – are my fears normal? 

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  • Dot Davison

    I have always known I want kids and know I will have them. My own and adopted – I want a lot but the world doesn’t need more humans, we have enough. So adoption I feel is my responsibility if I want to be a mother in these times.

    My future desires always have room for a child in the picture. This isn’t everyone’s natural instinct and neither should it be. It’s natural evolution not to want them and you should relax in that choice. I don’t judge a woman who doesn’t choose kids and I don’t expect them to judge me. Neither should you have to justify your choice or panic about it.

    There needs to be someone there to procreate and have a desire to look after the already existing beautiful children in the world that don’t have parents. And there needs to be people in the world that don’t procreate and give to the world all of their being and talents and love in every other way. We both make the world a better place and need to relax in our choices.

    • I feel quite strongly about fostering if we change out minds. Just never had the urge to have my own. I think the alarm went off a few years ago but it is quieting down these days. Couldn’t imagine starting a family at 40 but who knows. It has been two years since I wrote that post so far more chilled about it now.

  • Pingback: The Baby Decision –()

  • I used to share the exact same perspective towards it as you do. That was until I started working as a nanny and just completely fell in love with kids. Now I know first hand exactly what it takes, and boy is it going to be a rocky road ahead with a hell a lot of sacrifices. But now that I’ve cared and raised for other people’s children, and helped the mum’s ‘do it all’ and stay sane, I just couldn’t imagine not taking that challenge on myself either! Plus, baby cuddles – sweetness & goodness all over.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I don’t think you should have to have kids. I don’t have any desire for them, yet as I approach 30 I feel like others are expecting me to announce any day now. I just don’t really care about kids or enjoy being around them. I know you’d love your own kids, but yeah…if you change your mind too late, then there’s always foster caring or other things that still involve you with kids. Heck, babysitting, running an at home child care centre…there are always options.

    • It’s really hard to watch your friends pop them out one by one and it seems to be the easiest decision in the land for them For me, not so much!

  • The facebook weigh in 🙂

    Rosemary Hamilton
    Amazing Ash x
    April 2 at 5:58am · Unlike · 1

    Iris Pinatacan Great piece Ash….my 2 cents: parenting shouldn’t have to feel like a moral dilemma. You’re right in saying that having kids is a gift, it should also be a privilege. Don’t worry my love, you’re not alone in this.
    April 2 at 7:01am · Unlike · 2

    Jessica Paterson Well written as ever lady! You are definitely not alone… But let me have my say, for what it’s worth, as I have ticked all the negative boxes you so rightly outline in your blog. My baby was a surprise forced onto us, and whilst I’ve always in the back of my mind wanted kids, I feel if she hadnt happened unexpectantly, i would be in your shoes now… But she did happen – at times, her arrival has almost killed our relationship. At times, I have been crippled by severe anxiety, unable to drive and in treatment by therapists (not because of her, but because I, like you, was already anxious before she came….and yes, she compounded the problem.) financially we will go onto struggle…for a long time, and we have virtually no support to speak of. My career has been put permanently on hold and I’ve lost any me-time, which can also destroy the spirit at times. And sleep, ha! 2years of it…gone…. Because I wasn’t a “lucky parent” and my kid got ear infections. But, let me say…. I would change nothing. For the feeling you get when you see your niece and nephews is infinitely more pleasurable when they are your own. Your spirit, whilst temporarily confused, will soar higher than it ever could have before. Your relationship will be tested and if it is a gold mine, you will find another dimension to your love. You will forget about you, as you carry the weight of the child, the house, the job and everything else that is a mother’s job and sometimes that is a great lesson in humility as it pushes you out of the me-me-me world that we are all used to. Frankie has been mine (and andy’s) greatest challenge but if I said she was also my greatest reward it would still cheapen what she is to me. One of my best friends is not undecided about children – she has firmly made up her mind – they aren’t for her. I respect her and love her for knowing herself so well. I also know it doesn’t mean she isn’t loving, quite the contrary, but not prepared to have kids for the sake of it and not wanting to give up a “happy” life. I absolutely adore her for knowing herself. I feel for you Ash – this middle ground is perplexing for us anxious high achieving types! I also love you for your honesty and strength, whether you ever choose to or not, you would make an excellent mum. Or simply wife. Or Auntie. Or godmum. As you so choose xxx
    April 2 at 7:58am · Unlike · 6

    Felicity Melville Beautiful words Jess and Ash, so eloquent and raw with emotion xx
    April 2 at 10:43am · Unlike · 2

    Lisa Mayoh Beautiful Ash and Jess. And yes, it’s hard. Ash I’m not sure kids are for everyone, but if there is any inch of you that is curious, or feels that desire to experience it, then I would say do it in a heartbeat. Yes relationships are strained, but they are stronger. Better. If they don’t survive, maybe they weren’t meant to. Yes sleep is disturbed, but you get it back, and boy do you appreciate it. Yes it’s a challenge, and it can totally suck some of the time. Every time we go from baking a cake to painting a picture to jumping on the trampoline I think…woah, is it sleep time yet? And then I hear the girls laughing together and I think how lucky I am to be here to hear it. Yes time is in demand, but as long as you take time out for yourself, both together and apart, it works. Success at work is sweeter. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on shit you don’t need – all you need is a cot in the corner and $30 every few weeks for a box of nappies. There’s never the right time, there’s never enough money – if we waited till there was, there would be no children in the world. Try not to focus on the worries, imagine how fun it could be! I reckon you were born to do it. x
    April 2 at 10:55am · Like · 2

    Ashleigh Mills Thank you for your considered responses. Jessica Paterson that is my thing – all the horrible things that I THINK will happen actually happen to people but no one ever wants to give their kids back when they have them. I guess the later you leave it the more time you have to live your life the way you want it, you have set it up the way you like, are fixed in your routine, and the thought of your world being unsettled is ummm unsettling. Then I feel ridden with guilt because I know some people who don’t even have a partner and desperately want kids, and I have half the package but not sure about the rest.
    April 2 at 7:41pm · Like

    Godfrey Gauci Hey Ash, just read your blog, it’s a great insight though I have to say I did take insult to a few of the suggestions that parenting falls predominantly with the mother. This is really dependant upon the relationship and a key reason why a lot fail. My wife as you may or may not know is a career driven woman. Yes when she had our gorgeous girls she took time off of her career for maternity leave. Though during her 2nd stint, I actually looked after Maddy the last 3 months due to work situations. Since Evie (my first) was born, our parenthood has always been a 50/50 situation. I’ve actually had more days off looking after, picking up sick kids than she has. I hate the idea that some women have that they do all the work whilst men don’t, this is a truly archaic and ridiculous notion. Of the number of mates of mine that have kids, none of them act the way that you have suggested, which is probably why none of them are divorced and all of them have amazing relationships with their partners. Parenthood is no different to marriage, if you don’t work as a team that it won’t work. You need to play to your strengths, just as you do when you are married without kids. What I did respect from your blog is something that I agree with 100%, children are a gift not a right. I have a very dear friend of mine who doesn’t want kids and has copped grief because of it. I applaud her decision, simply because it is better to not be a parent than to be a parent that resents your child. Kids will destroy your marriage if you did not have the desire to have them, you will never be more tired/exhausted/frustrated/busy/manic than when you have kids. But as Jessica Patersonput it, they are the light of your life, nothing and I mean nothing you do will ever come close to your children. Believe me when I tell you this, the bond between a parent and their child is like nothing else on this planet, but that high comes with the terrible lows of heartache when they are sick or hurt, and pain when they say do the horrible things that kids sometimes say or do. But I can tell you when my two little girls jump up and cuddle Daddy with all of their might and whisper “I love you Daddy” in my ear, my heart melts and I have to squeeze them just as tight. I would fight an army with nothing but my bare hands to save them, and I would lay my life down if it meant they never felt an ounce of pain in their life. But I guess what I am meaning to say with this ramble is that you are never truly prepared for parenthood, but you do know in your heart if you want to be a parent and if you don’t there is nothing wrong with that.
    14 hours ago · Unlike · 4

    Ashleigh Mills Godfrey Gauci what an awesome response. Thank you for blokes view. You sound like you are an awesome Dad. I didn’t mean to sound like a man hater there are lots of awesome blokes out there but I guess as a woman you hear the excuses as why men can’t be so hands on. Women do everything sometimes without giving blokes any responsibility or chance to learn then wonder why the kid freaks out when they want to get their hair done for two hours and can’t be left with Dad. Your situation sounds similar to mine – hubby is a freelancer so we will have the flexibility to share care. He is not stuck in an office or a slave to the grind so I am very lucky that way.
    13 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1

    Jessica Dennis Lloyd Good luck with your decision Ash! I hope the answer comes to you and you find peace in the decision. It’s a hard one!

    You seem like a great kitty cat mumma! I’m sure you’ll be an awesome kiddliewink mumma too if you go down that path!

    Love the blog! (I only just realised this was your blog ! It’s great!)
    12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Clare Foale Ashleigh, I’ve been thinking about your blog for the 2 days since I read it and it provided a great conversation piece for the looooong drive home from Byron. Everyone above has said it so well … Everything you have written is completely true and leg…See More
    11 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Ashleigh Mills Thanks Clare Foale! Funny because a pet I am 100% committed to – I know and hope I will have my fur baby for another 20 years. Funny you are the opposite of me – Kids YES doggy… maybe? I think a furry friend is the best present you can give a child – or an adult for that matter!
    10 hours ago · Like
    Sarah Marney Hey babe, I enjoyed reading your blog and that article about the couple who decided not to procreate. The fact that they made such a conscious decision & stuck with it so happily & whole heartedly is clearly your aim here, to be happy and 100% satisfied with whatever path you decide to take (with no regrets).

    As for me…I’m one of those you mentioned who had motherhood thrust upon me prematurely & like most I was living for myself throughout the entirety of my 20’s; exciting travel experiences, career changes, education, endless social events, meeting new people, exercise, projects, freedom! Nick and I were, I think in a way, fortunate not to have to go through the decision making process as I avoided having to do my head in by over-thinking what I’d be giving up & how my life will change. But I took to motherhood like it was meant to be, and it feels so natural, exactly as they advise it would. (Natural instincts and love is an amazing thing!) The way I help my mind deal with this big change is to remind myself that this new role in my life has become my fun new project, new exciting job, enlightening education, new challenge & responsibility (which Im determined to nail!) and my new exciting adventure. Regarding my relationship, the bond & love Nick and I share now is like a whole new dimension I never knew existed! If/when it does happen it’s all about how you embrace it, tackle it let go & roll with it. Every challenge I overcome (albeit draining & hard) fills me with pride, especially knowing the reward is to help one little human who looks up to you & relies on you, which to me is more rewarding than any pay rise/job promotion I’ve ever experienced…. But that’s just me hon. I haven’t read other responses so I’m sorry if I’m regurgitating anything… In regards to your choices, I would never recommend it or force my views onto anyone. The decision is 100% up to you. It’s not fun sitting in limbo. Again your decision needs to be made wholeheartedly, instinctively and for the right reasons (not society pressure). I guess you will know when you know and at the end of the day hon you have plenty of time so try not to stress and enjoy that “me time” you are currently embracing. I hope that helped. Big X
    8 hours ago · Edited · Like

    Dani Lombard-Treacher Sweet responses from the peanut gallery. Only you know what is right for you. But as so many of your friends say, being a parent is one thousand percent more amazing than you think it will be. No matter how hard/bad/scary it is, if is Bigger and MORE than any of the bad stuff. By a thousand percent. I was talking to a friend who went to a health retreat for 5 nights and it sounded amazing. I was thinking how much I would like to go, but thAt I could never leave Cleo for 5 days. I couldn’t bear it. I would miss her so much, it would be hell. I’d rather not go. My… How times have changed. I used to think I’d be chomping at the bit to get outta town
    7 hours ago · Like

  • Sony Robson

    Hey Ashleigh Mills I’m not trying to convince you either way. I maintain that it’s a decision only you and James can make and either option is ok. I hope you know that! I was simply trying to say why not have as considered an approach to the positives as to the negatives (and try to leave emotions to the side). I’m not talking about the airy fairy you cannot imagine the depth of the love you will have for a child or how your life will be filled with joy or the incredible bond, because lets face it, it doesn’t always happen that way. I’m talking about the tooth fairy, teaching another human being what Social Work is, increasing and growing those incredible webs that bind each other together to create what you consider your family. And do remember many of the negatives you talk about are time limited (yes they might feel like forever at the time but if you actually look at percentages of your life spent doing it, it’s pretty small). Perhaps the fact that you’re so aware of the possible negatives actually places you in a better position to combat them. I think you’re wrong about people not talking about the negatives I think many parents talk about them all the time it’s just that we already have the title “parent” and the debate is really obsolete and there’s the unspoken code of not sharing with people who do not share the title . Here’s a link to a friend of mine ( Brigit Esselmont ) what I consider is a family pursuing their dreams (it’s taken me a while to get to a space where I feel ok to say these are not my dreams, unlike so many of my friends I just don’t have the travel bug) thought you might be interested http://www.myfamilyinspain.com/ they travelled with 2 small kids to Spain for upto 6 months two years in a row. Just adding more food for thought 🙂

  • This is definitely your decision, and whatever you choose will be the right one. I just wanted to share my experience with “living the dream”… with 2 young kids. We have lived and traveled in Spain for 6 months at a time for 2 years now, with kids (see http://www.myfamilyinspain.com). We also see possibilities to go and live on a tropical island for however long we want or head down the coast to a beach house when we want and so on. No, we’re not millionaires (though that’d be nice). I have just been smart with my work choices and we have been prepared to take a risk. I have an online business that can travel with me and that now supports the whole family. And the first time we went to Spain, we made a decision that if it meant our mortgage would go up again, then so be it. Life is worth living. We had to think really differently to break out of the norm. And again, with 2 kids.

    I am so proud of what we have created for ourselves and I strongly believe it’s possible for others to do the same. So don’t give up on living the dream life, even if you have kids. All it takes is a shift in mindset.

    • Wow – what a wonderful blog you have. I am going to follow and hope you have more adventures. This is EXACTLY the type of thing I need to read I wish I had followed your little family from the start. I also had a look at the people that inspire you, very amazing. Need to read more of this stuff instead of thinking of the negatives.

  • Thanks for such an awesome response. Similar replies on facebook. EVERYONE has these doubts but I have yet to meet a person that would say out loud that they would give it all back – but my anxious mind speaks to me – what if I get it wrong? What if it is not meant to be because I have no instinct. I should look at my friends who have had motherhood take them by surprise and now they are blooming. Thanks Joanna

  • Joanna

    wow – scarily accurate description of how I felt 17 years ago. Here I am now, a mother of three healthy wonderful children, all growing up so fast that the eldest will be driving in a year, and I can’t imagine life without them. Yes, it WAS tough. Yes we suffered sleepless nights, endless mind numbing baby discussions, endless meal preparations. Yes, my marriage nearly failed more than once. Yes, I have been a slave to the house, the school runs, the homework, the matches, the swimming lessons, the laundry. Yes, we had to start going on bucket and spade holidays until they were old enough to travel to more exotic locations. Yes, we are poorer financially than we would have been. Yes, for years I have been little more than ‘a mother’ and a wife, my own wishes and desires buried deep under a pile of ironing. BUT… i have grown so much by being their mother. They have taught me so much. About love, self-less unconditional love, compassion, empathy. My life is richer than I could have imagined because of them. And busier. My maternal instinct was there from the moment the first one was born. Now they are more independent I am about to start a new career for myself and I am growing my wings again. It’s liberating but my family still come first. There’s no ‘right’ answer to your question, but if you decide to take the plunge, you will be starting a big adventure of a different kind. Good luck.

    • Thanks for such an awesome response. Similar replies on facebook. EVERYONE has these doubts but I have yet to meet a person that would say out loud that they would give it all back – but my anxious mind speaks to me – what if I get it wrong? What if it is not meant to be because I have no instinct. I should look at my friends who have had motherhood take them by surprise and now they are blooming. Thanks Joanna