When I was preparing questions for this interview I had a certain image of a certain person in mind. One that dealt with immense societal pressure, who perhaps was fighting a daily war, being pushed down by the injustice of having to explain why she plans on never reproducing. In fact, there is no sob story here, no drama or horrific experiences to be told. This is an interview with a woman who says “people probably wipe their collective brows and think ‘thank goodness, that was close'” when she speaks of her decision to remain childfree.
Born and bred in the UK, Jane has lived in Cyprus for years, can speak and understand the language, loves every inch of this beautiful island we live on yet she is acutely aware that she is considered far from Cypriot.
Something she believes has much to do with the rare reactions she receives when she mentions she has no interest in having children. “No strange reactions yet – people seem to take it in their stride. My family have always known I didn’t want children and there’s never been any pressure from them, and I’ve certainly never felt any sort of social pressure to have children. I think being a Brit abroad helps.”
I find this absolutely fascinating. And such a relief. Here I was under the impression that women like Jane are experiencing judgement akin to being stoned or raked over the coals for having a womb and not using it. I think there may actually be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to this female taboo…until she mentions other women’s experiences, particularly Cypriot women.
“A number of my Cypriot female friends have felt the guilt and pressure regarding the production of progeny almost from the moment they could talk! I’ve always been very grateful not to have that expectation hanging over me.”
When did you realise you didn’t want children? Personally, I always remember telling my parents (and they like to remind me) that I wasn’t going to have kids. It’s something most of us used to say when we were younger, right? Obviously something changed along the way. I’m not sure what.
But for Jane, nothing changed. “I’ve always known I didn’t want to have kids. Ever since I can remember. When I was nine, I bet my cousin 20 pounds, a huge sum back then, that I wouldn’t have kids. He suggested we amend the wager with an age cap, so we agreed on ‘no kids by the age of 39’. I collected last year. Wish I’d known about inflation!”
WHY do you not want children?
“For two reasons. The first seems selfish, in that I have chosen to have a life by design. Alone time, holiday plans, waking and sleeping as I wish. Basically doing exactly what I want when I want.”
“But the second is probably the more long-standing and deep-seated: once you have a child, that child’s happiness and wellbeing must come first. This was not the case in my upbringing, and I am only too aware of the patterns of our parents’ lives that we unwittingly repeat. I care too much about any child I might bring into this world to ever risk, even slightly, putting them through the same things. My younger sister, who has also chosen not to have children, ascribes to exactly the same reasoning. This is not a decision either of us took lightly, but ultimately the scars of the past should, under no circumstances, be inflicted upon the next generation.”
I would love to hear your experiences on the matter if you’ve decided to remain childfree.