Our ranty raver and mother-of-two Michelle Harris takes on International Childfree Day (and society)
Saturday August 1 (today, as I write) is International Childfree Day, apparently. How effing depressing is it that? One day in 365 in which women around the globe who don’t have kids can take a break from being beaten round the heads by society and forced to justify their decision not to partake in project procreation. I am actually flabbergasted that this needs to be a thing. Stop being a prick, society.
But then, society being a prick to women about the functionality and contents of their uteruses is hardly new. (I also really want the plural of uteruses to be uteri, but I think it probably isn’t). Sorry to be wearing my bitter-and-belligerent hat, folks, I hate to break it to you, but society has been walloping women in the fannies with this one for some time now. It doesn’t ask men to justify being childfree; on the contrary society loves to paint all fathers as blundering reluctant parents who bungle about being incompetent and tired and putting nappies on backwards, but women? Choosing not to have babies? The selfish bitches. I hope they choke on their own loneliness, frankly. How dare they say, you know what, this isn’t for me? Don’t they know that where motherhood is concerned they aren’t allowed an opinion?
The decision to have kids or not isn’t up to the individual women to make. It’s not even a private decision between a woman and her partner. Nope, it is a public thing and every Tom, Dick, Harry and Margery is allowed an opinion on if you’re ready, when you should, why you haven’t and what you’re missing out on. If you choose a life of unmassacred undercarriage, lie-ins, uninterrupted wees and a career untouched by the cv-destroyer, maternity leave, then you’d better have a bloody good reason up your un-snot-ridden sleeve. Otherwise prepare to be called a)barren b)weird c)selfish d)foolish or e)all of the above, by people who barely know you, to your fucking face. Ok?
People won’t come out and say it, just like that, of course. It’s all subtle and passive, as Joe/Joanna Public susses out your relationship status at the coffee machine in the office. What? You are shacked up/married? Joe/Joanna is stunned. They had you down as a career-focused social pariah, or worse still, a lesbian. (Although they did read in the Mail about the lesbians being allowed babies now, but they aren’t sure how it all works, really, so they ignored it). But hey, you are a woman who likes men! And you are over thirty! Why are you not knocked up yet?! Joe/Joanna is positively gleeful, making jokes about tick-tocking clocks and rings on fingers and shotgun weddings and honeymoon babies, and all the while you’re smiling sweetly and wondering how much time you’d serve if you popped their hand in the shredder.
Fast-forward six months and Joe/Joanna is looking at your figure as you rock up to work in a baggy blouse. Stalking you on Facebook to see if you’ve packed in the booze yet. Making jokes at your expense about women who want it all. Childfree women, you have my permission to look Joe/Joanna straight in their dead little eyes and ask them to bog off. You do not have to put up with this shit.
Your decision is not their business. They only care because their own lives are so sadly lacking in anything of interest. Plus they’ve been listening to society, and as I have previously stated, society is a prick.
You may wonder why I care so much? I mean, yes, chucking your small minded opinion about women as child-bearers about willy-nilly when it’s about as welcome as a plus-size woman in a branch of Coast, is annoying, but I had babies, right? So society is off my case, right? Wrong.
Society never fucks off for women. Had one baby? Society wants to know how you’re feeding them, if you can get on a bouncy castle without pissing yourself, are you co-sleeping, are you baby-led weaning, do you shag your partner again yet, are you heading back to work, how are you planning on losing the mumtum?
Society wonders when are you having the next one? Oh, I bet you want a boy this time? Ah how lovely, one of each, you can stop now haha! Or oh, dear, two girls? Your bad, Missus. Best try again for third time lucky, innit? And on it goes until one day you say, is it hot in here? And then the menopause jokes are unleashed in their thousands.
Society needs to understand that women are actually just people, going through life, having fun, messing up, getting the hell on with it. Almost as if the desire to pop out a sprog or three, or not, doesn’t actually define us. Crazy, right?
I love being childfull (?!) as opposed to childfree. I love it, I chose it, I don’t really actually care what society thinks of it. I respect that other people make different choices. I just don’t want to be defined by it. If women, no matter what they achieve, how giving, successful, driven and bloody brilliant they are, are ultimately defined by whether or not they have kids, then what the hell is the point in anything else? I am never saying anything intelligent, doing anything good, helping anyone, being ANYTHING, ever again, because I win at life already. I am a MOTHER. Of a boy AND a girl. So why would anyone need to know what I think about anything?