I never imagined that I would one day be discussing a childfree life, let alone my childfree life. I had never been taught to think of this as an option. We’re a family-centered lot, you see. So family-centered that any display of individual separateness is rarely encouraged. You belong to us and we belong to you. And in continuing this cycle of our us-ness, we must have children of our own, for our own.
My family is large — babies popping out of every crevice — with only a scattering of childfree women, or as they are perceived, “the ones without,” the childless ones. That aunt with ovarian cancer; that relative with PCOS and that lady down the road with all those cats. They lead fringe existences when compared to other robust women speed cycling between pregnancy and breastfeeding and changing nappies and doing school-drop offs and living lives as full as their engorged breasts.
I did not notice the childfree women in all the noise. I did not even see them.
And today, I am childfree.
During the games I played in my girlhood, I pretended to be the mother who cooked and cared for little ones while big daddy went off to work. I was taught that for women, children were to take center stage — everything else was but a supporting act. I grew up dreaming and expecting to have children of my own.
Admittedly, it’s been hard. I am just about getting over the shock. For really, when an imagined home is uprooted and shattered, there is much rebuilding that needs to be done. And with market trends in favor of buyers, rebuilders who still opt to keep parts of the structure in tact need to look elsewhere for inspiration.
In looking elsewhere, I am discovering that childfree living is perkier than I thought.
I dream with renewed freshness of a deeper purpose, of an existence beyond the regurgitation of my own flesh and blood, of more than just me. I dream of others, for others.
I’ve demolished a section of that old home in my heart and have begun extending it with wild ambition. I am planning for a future that was previously inaccessible to me. And in this process of aligning myself to a childfree existence, I have found something within.
I have found my voice.
Farzana Gardee is a South African writer and editor currently living in Qatar with her wonderful husband and little garden. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
(Photo Credit: Stopthegears/Flickr)