Whilst flicking though a very dated copy of Grazia magazine in a surgery waiting room I came across an article entitled "The Rise of Generation Childless".
Saved article for later
Grazia spoke to three women who felt they were childless due to 3 very different reasons:
- Never wanting children
- Not being able to afford children
- Being socially infertile
I am a mid thirties, mum of two, and am surrounded by friends, many of whom are fully babied up, some are struggling to get pregnant and far too many are still single.
Some have chosen not to have children, and having been one of the first of my friends to have kids I feel partly responsible, as my two can be the best contraception around.
I think there are an increasing number of women who have simply chosen to forgo the 9 months of being the size of a whale, the hours of labour, the piles, the incontinence, the sleepless nights, boobs like sow’s ears, stretch marks, near total relationship melt down, financial ruin and mental instability.
Instead, they are the ones you see walking down the street with glossy hair, manicured nails, a seasonally on trend wardrobe and a look of calm serenity on their face, while their boyfriend/husband looks adoringly at them, nibbles their ear, pinches their pert bottom and whisks them off for a long lunch, followed by an afternoon of spontaneous sex in bed, or wherever else takes their fancy.
I can joke, but seriously, what is not to love?
Parenthood is a choice to be made and i think sometimes we forget that.
Choosing not to have a child because you can’t afford it, is a brave decision. To be honest I am not sure many people really fully run the numbers before jumping between the sheets – but maybe they should. My husband and I thought a bit about it but any discussion usually ended in, “We’ll just work it all out somehow”.
I worked full time, as did he and we did a bit of research into childcare costs but until you are in whichever stage of childcare-hell, you find yourself, it is tricky to judge the impact children are going to have on your life, financially.
The nursery we based our very basic number work on, was full by the time we applied, as we hadn’t put her down from birth, so we had to move to one that charged £10 for every minute you were late for pick up!!
On paper you think oh it’s fine I will just leave work on time but about a week in, you realize that is never going to happen. The previously unaccounted for costs rise, the household bills soar and the more you have to leave on time, turn up with yet more sick on your top, or, God forbid, decide to take time off to go to the Nativity play, the more your boss looks at you that little bit differently.
Suddenly despite throwing your kids into bed and getting back on the phone or e-mail post bed time, or asking for more weekend shifts or night shifts, you start to see that your working environment as a working parent is changing, projects you would have been given are shifted to a younger, single, team member, your best clients are suddenly all booked in on your one day a week that you are not in the salon, etc., etc.
So, then the bonus isn’t what it was, the tip jar isn’t as favorable and shift pattern is no longer weighted in your favour.
Purse strings tighten, stress levels increase and before you know it you are sacrificing the career you have loved because you are feeling that financially, the work / life balance doesn’t make sense any more.
You compromise, adjust and ultimately the financial implications of children prove too much either through career change or having to increase in the already crippling childcare costs, in order to enable you to pretend you have not become a parent and can still be the unattached, 24/7 employee, you once were.
So, perhaps the financial implications of children should be more of a factor when discussing starting a family, because once you start, there is no going back.
The third group discussed in the Grazia article, are apparently “Socially Infertile” i.e. “not meeting Mr. Right yet, or in time to start a family”.
Now, I know that women are famously bad a finding fault in their friends but, my single friends are not your average cat-cuddling, hairy arm-pitted, cardigan wearing, cliché’s with a penchant for boiling the odd bunny.
They are without exception, beautiful, socially adept and predominantly top of their game, in their chosen profession; marketing, law, hairdressing, media, owners of their own business and even, a Michelin Starred Chef!
They have worked hard, achieved more than their child-bearing peers, as they have not been out of the work place on maternity leave and they are predominantly, people of note.
They are too awesome – most of them are the women I always hoped I would be.
Men, quite rightly, are intimidated by them and smug marrieds rely on them too heavily to operate in their worlds. All of a sudden the single 35 year old may well have lost most of her best friends on a night out, as they are at home doing hormone level testing, pregnancy yoga or expressing like the local village cow.
Their professional life is A1 as is their social life but their former wing-women are so caught up in their own babified worlds that the single woman of today, is rather left to fend for herself.
No more getting ready with your best friends before a night out, or giggling in the loo over the latest munter one of you has managed to pull, the friendship group has changed, the rules have changed and the available pool of men has vastly changed.
Should they feel the pressure of society and the biological clock? No. Do they? Most say, yes.
So, next time your single friend asks you to drop the washing or nappy changing and go out with her, don’t say no because you are too exhausted, say yes because she has been to the 1st birthday, the christening, listened to you bang on about the mile stones and lied that your daughter is beautiful, even when she has no hair!
She has not changed in her steadfast support of you and your ever-increasing circle of dependents - husband and sprogs.
You however... have.