Catherine: "My mother had an opportunity to finally be herself, not someone's obedient wife, labouring mother, or dutiful daughter, just herself"

I am 49 and child free. This is probably due to circumstance, rather than choice. I say circumstance because I never persevered with any of the unhealthy relationships I had with men. I did go through a few years of wanting children but I took a clinical approach to my clucky emotions. I recognised that these feelings were merely biological instincts, common to all animal species. Although I had those feelings, it didn't mean I had to act on them. And so I waited for the feelings to pass and they did. Now I am grateful I never had children. In fact, I feel blessed to be child free.

I have always believed that having children by conscious choice is the ultimate in selfish behaviour and that insufficient thought is given to this important decision. I think it's strange that people think it is a self-less act, as if there is some foetus knocking on the front door begging to be let in and the mother, selflessly acquiesces with a long exhausted sigh and says "okay" and takes the parasite in and lets it feed off her for 9 months before she gives birth to it and is then trapped in motherhood legally for the next 18 years, usually for the term of her natural life.

Fortunately for me neither friends nor family have ever questioned my decision to not seek the experience of motherhood. To be honest, I have difficulty comprehending how some women become so fixated on motherhood, as if the very possession of a uterus means that one absolutely must procreate. As if, by becoming a biological mother, they have won a gold medal in the motherhood stakes. As if, by not using the uterus for its intended purpose, they are somehow a failure.

Being child free has given me freedom. The sort of freedom that my mother never had. Many years ago when I was living in the UK my mother came to visit me for 3 months. She said it was the most wonderful thing in the world to have such freedom. An opportunity to finally be herself, not someone's obedient wife, not someone's labouring mother, not someone's dutiful daughter, just herself; to eat dinner when she felt like it; sleep in until she felt like; and do whatever she pleased without restriction. 

I don't want my mother's life, bound and trapped in motherhood. I want freedom, choice, and an opportunity to be me. –Catherine Uí Néill, Melbourne, Australia

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