So I have been a parent for-wow!nearly 19 months now and while I love my own Mini to bits, I am yet to develop more positive feelings towards the offspring of others. That old gem that proclaims that children are like farts-you can only stand your own is really starting to ring true for me. Before I discovered I was pregnant, I had no time for kids. I was the one who rolled her eyes once I saw a family enter the restaurant where I was dining, the one who silently tut-tutted upon witnessing a meltdown of epic proportions from a toddler in the biscuit aisle while in the supermarket. Kids, I thought, were loud,messy and just too much like hard work.
This week I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctors and as usual I was one of the last to be seen. A young couple came in; the dad carefully carrying his precious cargo, a little baby boy, I’m guessing about 4 months old, although telling the ages of babies and children is not one of my special skills! They sat down next to me; at which point the woman who was sitting on the other side of me, hopped up and started cooing instantly, asking how old he was and exclaiming what a cute little fellow. I continued to sit, staring straight ahead. Yes, it was a baby, yes no doubt he was cute, but I just didn’t feel the need to interact with said baby.
And then there are my ‘run ins’ with the charming neighbourhood kids. Now, I have to say that for the most part, they seem like lovely, pleasant kids but there are one of two who really test the boundaries and with whom I am at a loss as to how to deal with. Like the other day when I was unloading the weekly shop from the car and one of them popped up from behind our wall and proceeded to tell me to “Fuck off!” The rest of our exchange went something like this:
I have yet to figure out that unwritten rule of society where being female equates to instant love of babies and children. Nobody expects the same attitudes from men. Not so long ago Cameron Diaz was vilified for having the audacity to declare that she didn’t think she’d have kids of her own. Similarly, an article surfaced in the English press following the death of the popular author Maeve Binchy which put forward the motion that as a childless female author, her writing was not of the same standard as her procreant sisters. For how can a woman truly experience life and then reflect upon it if she is not a mother?
Give me a break! It’s like people can’t get their heads around a perfectly good uterus going to waste. Society has progressed far enough to accept women in the workplace but not it would seem women without kids. Again, men without sprogs-this is not viewed as a negative thing.
Kids consume your life. Some people embrace this loss of freedom. Others are horrified at the prospect of putting their lives on hold for 18 plus years. Women shouldn’t be condemned for their choice of lifestyle. Nor should we expect all women to go gaga for babies. The ‘crime’ of being a nullipara is an outdated view and one that, I feel, firmly belongs in the past.