When asked why I don’t have kids yet, I normally offer a response like “I just never know when I’m going to be in,” or “I haven’t learned how to look after myself yet,” but now, I shall attempt to offer more insight.
Do I think children are wonderful? Yes. Do I love and adore them? Yes. Am I willing to spend a large percentage of my time raising one? Absolutely not.
So, I must be a cold-hearted career-driven woman who thinks she has no time for children. Or I must think that you can’t have children while also fulfilling your responsibilities at work and satisfying your career ambitions. Both wrong. I am one of the most caring and nurturing people I know (I am also, ever so modest), and my life features many strong, capable women with brilliant relationships with their children that are busy, innovative leaders in various industries.
“You’ll change your mind one day” is a phrase my ears are all too familiar with. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. The thing about the future is, it’s the future. It hasn’t happened yet. But this is not about having made up my mind in the first place. My mind has never been interested in the slightest in having a dependent baby/child of my own. The concept still baffles me, and fills me with horror. It’s never been something I’ve decided, pondered, drawn up pros and cons lists of, debated about, or dabbled in the idea of. To date, I have never wanted to give birth, or raise a child.
The incredible bond and unconditional love between mother and child is a unique wonder that I am sure makes up for your painful birth experiences, anxiety-fueled days and sleepless nights. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that I would be an amazing mother. But I do not take on any role without being able to be confident that I am wholly committed to giving it my all. My children would have the best of everything, all of my love, care and attention.
I have spent the last 30-odd years of my existence, eagerly soaking up the world, and deciding what is to be my place in it. So far, I’ve accumulated the following roles (some by default); daughter; sister; cousin; friend; soul mate; muse; artist; not-so-dedicated-football fan of hometown; successful business woman; vegetarian; and party-animal. I would not choose to take on any role that I didn’t feel passionate about. The role of mother isn’t on my agenda.
I am, sincerely, in a state of falling-over-backwards-awe of my friends that have made the choice to have children. The mammoth day-to-day tasks, let alone the overwhelming responsibility that becomes chained to you for life, has to be the biggest ask of anything we could take on. I have therefore concluded, that it probably isn’t a choice. Mother isn’t a role to choose. It must be more of a calling. The fact that at the age of 31, I still think of having children as ‘day-to-day tasks’ and ‘overwhelming responsibility,’ is probably the most telling sign that I’m certainly not in the maternal community, as yet.
I can’t tell you why I don’t have the induced ‘ticking clock’ syndrome. My only explanation for this, is that I’ve always felt my purpose in life is to create. My need to create my own legacy through social projects and art, is more valuable to me than the desire to procreate. Perhaps my nurturing side is satisfied by looking after my colleagues, my partners, my dear friends’ children and the community I build around me.
My number hasn’t been called yet. I’m still all about me.
Persie Henry is a UK based artist with a predatory approach to good times. When not feasting on live music, pop-up galleries and party vibes, she likes to read quantum theory to keep her ego in check. You can tweet her @PersieHenry. A version of her essay was first published on the community mom blog nicemums.com.