Dare I Fantasise about a Life Without Children?
This is a controversial one.
Before I start I want to pause and say that I know I am beyond blessed to have something that some people cannot have. Children. I do not take them for granted.
I am sharing this just, just in case, there are people out there with children who read what is coming below and have had the thought of fantasising about a life without children, or even, shock horror, the conversation out loud, and probably felt guilty about it. Yes? This is for you.
So, in the quest for honesty over popularity - here goes:
My 2 children are just 4 and just over 2.5. The last 6-9 months-ish have been hard work, and it’s not showing signs of letting up any time soon. Yes we have had some big life changes, but the children have regularly pushed me to the very edge of my limits and patience. No point sugar coating it.
Of course, I love them both deeply; in a way I could never have imagined loving another person.
I am in what I consider to be a very lucky position where I don’t have to work. We are expats and we have moved to France with my husband’s job. I gave up a demanding career that I loved as a Barrister, which I NEVER thought I would, in order to be with my child, now children, full time.
My career defined me, it consumed almost my every waking moment, and all plans were made around it. Then I had a baby. My whole perspective shifted almost overnight and my baby did that. BUT during the last year I have craved work. Craved an identity again beyond being a mother. So I studied and set up my own business. I have something for me, but I still have my youngest with me most of the time.
I feel lucky. But it is a juggle.
At times (ok, a lot of the time) I think I am starting to slightly unravel at the edges… because of my children.
Yes they are 16 months apart, and yes (in no unusual way I am sure) they are both full on and “spirited”. I love and encourage their strength of character and confidence: partly in awe, partly terrified! But, oh can they bicker, and then love each other the very next second. And then bicker again. And go very quiet and terrorise/love the kitten.
It is relentless.
It is wonderful.
It tests my patience to its very core.
The love I feel can be overwhelming.
It is boring.
I get simple pleasure from the smallest things.
I shout a lot more.
I have a deeply satisfying purpose I never previously imagined.
And here are some more brutal truths from me. Things that *shock horror* rarely get admitted out loud:
I didn’t enjoy the night feeds, I was tired and I would have preferred to have been asleep.
I HATE dealing with other people’s bodily fluids.
Sharing my meal makes me feel very sad.
I don’t like playing with my children with their toys for more than about 10 minutes. They are 2 and 4, I’m 36. It’s boring. Get us outside, give us crafts, days out, books, learning activities.... even soft play!
I love, cherish, loathe, and fear bedtime in roughly equal measure.
When my child whines it is as annoying to me as it is to you.
Give me an opportunity to have a break (with my husband, friends, on my own) for an hour, an evening, a weekend, a fortnight... I don’t have to think twice. I’m in.
In recent times, my husband and I have indulged in guilty fantasy conversations. These occur when we get time away from the children just the two of us. They start and then they snowball…
What if we had never had children?
What would life be like now?
What would our holidays be like?
How much more disposable income would we have?
What cars would we choose?
What clothes would we wear?
Where would our careers have taken us, literally and geographically?
Why did we even have children?
Superficial stuff, right.
But, this is the stuff of giddy child-less freedom.
It was a bit like breaking a seal once we started talking about the fantasy. It feels like a dark little secret. And the curious thing is that we are being sort of half serious. Wouldn’t it have been nice if it WAS just the 2 of us.
We have discussed if we really lived our child free days to the full? Have we sufficiently warned pre-child couple friends of ours to make sure they do so, if they are planning children. Should you ever mention to someone the option of planning not to have children. Should we have ever stopped to really consider this? We didn’t. Are we horrible human being for thinking this NOW that we have children? Or is this completely normal?
It feels a little like we are maybe being disloyal to the love for our children. Are we? I hope not. Because we love them fiercely, all consumingly; and I literally cannot imagine life without them. The very utterance of just the thought is enough to take my breath away.
But we would never not have had children. One way or another. At least, if we had seriously and thoughtfully had the conversation; I don’t think so. Isn’t it funny that the biggest life changing decision you can make, at the time seemed so simple (for us anyway). Obvious. I have never imagined not having a family. I know that if I was unable to have my own biological family, I wouldn’t have hesitated to adopt.
It is supremely cheesy, but my children complete me, and us. And it will be handy to have someone looking out for us when we are old and demented.
We count our blessings daily (usually once they are in bed, asleep) that we have them and we are all healthy and happy.
Yet still, sometimes, I fantasise about an alternate reality where I still have my pre-children figure.
Is this real parenting? Is this is real life? I could have chosen not to write this and kept it our clandestine little secret. But we are genuinely interested to know how horrible we are… or not…?
Go on, be honest. What do you think? Do you fantasise about a life without children?