Right off the bat, I feel it’s only fair that we get one thing straight: I am currently without child. No babies here. Nada, zilch, zero. I am unmarried and don’t have any immediate plans to have children. But if there’s one thing I know for sure in life, it’s that I would love to be a parent one day. It’s something that I have always known, and not to fulfil the expectation that with my womb I carry a desire for children. I know that I will be a mother because a life without that kind of love, commitment, struggle and joy is not a life I want.
Please don’t misunderstand; I don’t judge people who don’t want children. I can entirely relate to the desire to stay childless so that I am free to ‘catch a flight to Rome on a moment’s notice, or have sex on the kitchen floor’ (quote courtesy of When Harry Met Sally, 1989. They never flew to Rome or had sex on the kitchen floor, by the way. You’re welcome). Who doesn’t want that? That’s fun. Selfishness is fun! Sometimes I look at families on the street and thank the heavens for my freedom. I adore my life and that I have no dependants, few responsibilities and a disposable income. I am focusing on myself, my career and making the most of my twenties.
However, the only reason I can do that wholly is to know that eventually it won’t be this way. Eventually I believe that I will hold a child in my arms, either from my own body or someone else’s, and love it more than life itself. That’s what I’m looking forward to. To making decisions that are best for the tiny human, rather than my own self-gratification. To altering my life so that I can bring another human into the world. To raise it and teach it what it is to be kind and true and strong. I’m terrified too of course, mostly of when they become teenagers – they are scary…
Coming from an unorthodox and complicated family myself, I ache to create a stable home for my future children. I watch parents. I watch children when I’m walking down the street. I think about becoming a mother in the future and what I’m going to teach my kids. I have already decided that we will have a map covering the breadth of the dining room wall. That way when we’re all eating dinner and quizzing the each other on capital cities, my kids will know there is a big world out there and it’s important to experience as many different cultures as possible. They will be encouraged to put others first. I hope that as a family, we will befriend our neighbours that society has failed; to remind our children that poverty exists and we are not isolated from it.
With this in mind, what would my advice to a parent be? Based on what I’ve observed in other parents and experienced from my own incredible mother, it would be to nurture your child’s individuality; listen to them; let them never doubt that you will always love and believe in them, but at the same time, don’t let them think that the world revolves around them. Have hobbies and love your partner well too; prioritise your partner or spouse and let your children see that.
I think it is the most magnificent thing to bring a child into the world, or to love a child that another pair of people, for whatever reason, chose not to keep. It doesn’t matter to me that my future children come from my body; what matters is that one day, I’ll be called ‘mum’. I can (definitely) wait but I also can’t wait – if you know what I mean.