A couple more responses were received to the article The Biological Clock from February 2002. The article had already promted a response in March from Niamh Devlin.
Various Authors, 16 August 2002
I just read the article The Biological Clock. I have been struggling lately with my conscious and subconscious/biological clock. I know how hard it is to raise a child and I realize how many things can go wrong and it scares me to death. For the longest time I didn’t want children—even now I do not really want one. Lately though I’ve been having dreams of me pregnant and extremely happy. I’ll even wake up feeling pretty good and then I think about my dream and almost flip out. To me I think being pregnant would be kinda nice, if I knew that the child in me was healthy but the idea that the child would end up coming out and I would then be responsible for its care and well-being scares me so badly. I’m one of the most laid back people I know when it comes to other things but when I think about having children I’m scared to death I will become a “worrier” and that is something I don’t want to be.
I’ve never been one to think that a couple or just a person should have a child just for the sake of having one. I think it is a very personal choice. If I choose to remain childless I know I have the support of my family.
I’m with you Niamh – had no idea the F-word e-zine was primarily directed at ‘young’ women until I read the Biological Clock, and also saw the debate pages.
Attitudes do change over the course of a lifetime, I hope they keep changing for me!
I am now 42, and have experienced those feelings – I had abortions in my youth and remember distinctly feeling guilt over the fact that I felt no guilt, if that makes sense – I have felt that pregnancy was parasitic, and feel no remorse for such feelings – they were right..AT THE Time….which is the keyword – Time is the key factor – changes everything.
At 22 I consciously chose to get pregnant and have a child – looking back now, with hindsight it was a very silly decision, a whim, an impulse – made over a glass or three of red wine…. it just seemed like a good idea …at the time! I laughingly told my partner and friends, that I had tried everything else, wokring full time, studying, I’d even travelled and so on…..and none of them made me happy and all had bored me quickly – what was left to experience? Oh well….maybe I’ll try motherhood …and so off my partner and I laughingly wandered off on a whim to get me pregnant on purpose….
I didn’t even like kids at that age, I didn’t know anything about them – I never even babysat! I had had previous abortions with feelings of pregnancy being parasitic and so on, feeling guilt, because I didn’t feel guilty!
Decisions made in haste, repent at leisure – as they say…
Had to be *different* I guess – as one of the first generation of women to delay childbearing until they were in their 30s at least…there was me having my first baby at 22 with no money, a hippy unemployed father, living in poverty etc…
I had a terrible experience of hospital childbirth, and also felt all the conflicting feelings that pregnancy was barbaric and horrible etc and deep down inside was disappointed at having a son when I secretly longed for a daughter. I accidentally fell pregnant a second time within a year, but had my second child, a daughter, as a home birth with lesbian feminist midwives.
How attitudes change…with my first child, I swore and promised during pregnancy that I would never breastfeed, not *me*..I wasn’t going to be a cow! Funny enough, I learned very quickly that breastfeeding is soo much easier, and incredibly pleasurable….ended up feeding on demand for over a year
Many years later I was asked on my 40th birthday to name the 6 most happiest memories of my entire life – and the experience of birthing my daughter at home, without hesitation was number 1, and 2 other memories were also from that period of my life. How my mind was changed by these experiences – all the theory in the world never prepares you for it.
Soon after the birth of my daughter I was left destitute and homeless with two babies in nappies, the younger still breastfeeding…
I was 25 – and was convinced my life was over…I had truly stuffed my entire life up.
Looking back now, 15-20 years later, there are so many memories – those early years of small children are some of the happiest years of my life – never laughed so much, or felt so much joy, or wonder in the universe – *seeing* as an adult through a child’s eyes the experience of true delight – but on the other hand, so much tiredness, loneliness, isolation and emotional pain and resentment mixed in with the incredible highs and extreme lows.
Then there were the constant changes to my attitudes and beliefs over all those years as my children grew and changed – making me re-think so many times…kids don’t come with an instruction booklet I used to say – you just have “to play it by ear”….then the teenage years – not so long ago now – I also fostered homeless teenage girls during those years – and added to my ‘family’ – I now have an additional 2 grown foster-daughters who still call me Mum… funny how things turn out – I hated kids once upon a time…
Countless times I bitterly blamed myself for having been so stupid to make such a thoughtless decision that restricted my life so much, not once – but twice!! – resentment and jealousy as my age peers were travelling the world, building careers, buying property or whatever as 20 and 30-somethings……and I’m waddling around with nappy pins and baby sick on my shoulder, working long hours in shitty jobs to earn enough to keep us out of the single-mother ghettos… years of double-shift with childcare and bills to pay… As Niamh said, parenting is “You Give. They take.” Period. Full stop. End of story.
Most of us are not ready for that, if or whenever it happens, no matter how young or old we are, no matter how many years we have thought these things through oh so carefully, no matter how much soul-searching we do, no matter how much weighing of pros and cons we do – no matter how much preparation we make – its all theory and the reality is still a huge upheaval and shock to the system.
But if I’d never had children, methinx its a case of never missing what you’ve never known, like many things in life, the universe and everything – there may very well be regrets no matter what, or how, you decide, I regretted for years having made such a major decision so lightly and carelessly, and so very young – having thrown my youth away I thought atthe time – my elder sister chose at 24 to never have children and she is now 50 and has never regretted it, generally speaking, but she will admit to occasionally having passing regrets, or wondering “what if?”… as I too wonder sometimes what my life would have been like had I also chosen not to have children by choice or by circumstance… would it have been better? I don’t know. Would I have felt I had “missed out” on something amazing? Don’t know that either.
– But despite my years of regret and occasional bitter resentment, (along with joys & laughter) in the longer term it has worked out very well for me… none of us can ever know what the future will bring – and at 25 it looked very bleak – but at 42, my children are grown now into more or less independent young adults and that phase of my life is now over for the most part! And I have absolutely no regrets at “letting go” of it either!
… because I am yet still young enough, and now financially secure enough, to now enjoy and re-visit and experience all the things my age peers were doing 15-20 years ago:)
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