Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice
Do childfree people ever have doubts about their choices? I suspect most do at some time or other. An image of motherhood suddenly seems appealing. An experience of being the-odd-one-out suddenly seems overwhelming. A comment somewhere on the bingo spectrum suddenly gets under your skin. And what follows might be a chilly moment of uncertainty. Is my life on the right track after all?
If we refuse to acknowledge the likelihood that a good proportion of us sometimes experience doubt, what will that do to the experience of childfreedom? I think it will create a social role for women that is every bit as oppressive and unkind as motherhood has sometimes been, with all the complexity and richness of real, lived experience hidden behind a brittle smile and an insistence that we are completely, uncomplicatedly, unreservedly satisfied.
The anonymity made possible by the internet has meant that mothers in large numbers have been able to find release from the obligation to pretend that they are one hundred per cent happy, one hundred per cent of the time. There are long, constantly updating threads with titles like Does anyone else regret having children?, I hate being a mom and I hate motherhood.
My hunch is that these threads are not evidence of full-blown, no-returns maternal regret, but rather moments in which women have become overwhelmed by frustration and despair and sought human company in that frightening experience. Their admissions don’t bring the joyfulness, meaningfulness or sacredness of motherhood tumbling down. But they help us, mothers and non-mothers alike, to see past the façade of perfect satisfaction that the media promotes without conscience, piling guilt, shame, fear and misery onto women with children.
Childfree and childless-by-choice women have the option to mirror and match the oppressive ideal of motherhood by insisting, with brittle smiles, that we too are all perfectly happy, perfectly fulfilled and have never experienced a moment of regret. But given that we have resisted so many social pressures and norms already, I think we can muster up the courage to resist this one too.
Being fully alive and fully awake means experiencing real life as it actually is – not a plastic ideal or a fragile façade, but an energising, exhausting swirl of dissatisfaction and fulfilment, fear and security, discomfort and pleasure, confusion and clarity.
If you’re interested in some of the challenging aspects of being childless/childfree, you might enjoy a post about rage in the childfree community or a post about finding contentment in the lifestyle.
But in the meantime, what are your thoughts on childless/childfree doubts?