Five Minutes on Validity

You all know that I have A LOT of thoughts when it comes to children and making children and growing children and having children and raising children etc etc. 

So this is a bit of an update around my thoughts on the validity of womanhood when it comes to children. The next step in my odd little journey along the road of adulthood if you will (You'd imagine I'd be getting it right by now...)

I just want to clarify in advance that anything I say is by no means someone without a child digging out those women WITH children. Quite the contrary. Mothers are INCREDIBLE. There are times when I look at my sister and think "HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?!?" (Usually when she's covered in green stuff that could have come from literally any part of my niece) Plus, I would never judge any decision someone else has made when it comes to their body, lives and offspring - It is simply none of my business.
When we TALK about things, we start to realise there are people out there who have been thinking about the same things but with different experiences, which I, for one, find incredibly useful. I want to be tolerant, I don't want to be entirely wrapped up in my own understandings based on just how things make ME feel. Strangely enough, being angry doesn't make me happy and because I'm the kinda chick who rarely tells people when I'm offended or upset by their actions, the anger quickly transforms into an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. 

So I went on instagram and I talked about it. I talked about how I regularly feel that I'm somehow not seen as valid or included in society due to my choice to not yet have children (If at all). I mentioned the number of times I found myself excluded from events and invites purely due my childlessness. About how not being a mother somehow suggests that you're lacking in wisdom, experience and ability. 

And the response was phenomenal. 

I received hundreds of messages, from women at all stages of life, sharing their experiences, feelings and some truly incredible advice. And all of a sudden I wasn't alone. MAGIC RIGHT?!? With this in mind, I'd really like to share (with permission) some of the words that impacted me the most. So if you're in a quandary, WE CAN ALL BE IN IT TOGETHER. 

www.theemedit.co.uk

There seems to be some wider assumption that a family has to include children, but I'm really big on "Family" being whatever you make it. My immediate family is my husband and me. And the cats obvs. Families can be you and your parents, it can be you and a friend, it can be you and your case of stick insects. Family for me is the tightest circle of living things you have wrapped around you and I am incredibly fortunate to be close to my parents and sister who will always be family. 

As for "Selfish" UGH, this is one thing that really blags my swede. Firstly, not's let forget that not everyone is child-free through choice. Plus, what's selfish about not having children? Why is emotional labour only valid when it's directed towards the under 16s? I care SO deeply for the people in my life and I'm generally too busy doing all of the things I do in a day to be selfish, its a wonder if I've washed my hair nowadays...

www.theemedit.co.uk


"Focussing on your career". As if this is the only way to justify not having children. As if the only important things in life for a woman are work or motherhood. Why the heck are we having to justify our existence in this way? We exist because we do. Why the sudden need when we hit our mid-20s to take on some kind of societal role...? 

I had an interesting professional discussion around flexible working recently - Flexible working is incredible and has facilitated so many women being able to balance a career and childcare, but try and use it in any other way beyond child-based emergencies you may find yourselves coming up against issues. We've all been there; It's quite rightly deemed vital that a parent-child relationship is facilitated by the workplace, but the relationships we have with our partners and friends (Which at times are life-saving) are given short shrift. 

And it's not just the people without children who notice the difference:
www.theemedit.co.uk
I find it kind of selfishly comforting to know that new mothers recognise the difference in the way that society treats a woman with children, but, more importantly, it is so vital for us to be reminded that mums (particularly new mums) seek out other mums for support and its not unfair to assume that quite often this support is enhanced by experience, experience someone without a child simply doesn't have. And that's ok, I wouldn't ask a doctor for advice on how to cut my hair. As long as we're not muscled out completely. I may not know about colic or nappy changing (At least not that I'm willing to admit to...) but I am an incredible listener, I'm great at pulling stupid faces and I will sing and dance for anybody who needs those particular services at any given time. 

Two of the most striking comments that I want to leave you with are these:
www.theemedit.co.uk

Why are those of us in doubt feeling even a little bit obliged to do something that doesn't enhance our lives in any way? In most basic terms; We're not on the brink of extinction, the survival of the human race isn't dependent on people who are already quite happy adding to the population.

Part of me knows that some of you will be thinking  "Ok, we get it, you don't have children, get over it" and I can understand why you would. But it is SO important to me that we continue to have these conversations because if they've helped the likes of me as much as they have, they may help other people. So let's keep them going. 

We need to stop believing that not having a child makes us any less important. Or that our lives are any less full. We are valid, we are important, we are whole.

Please feel free to share some thoughts in the comments or over on my insta.

Em x