Last week, at a late-night party, I made a woman cry.
I’m not exactly sure why (there was a lot of alcohol involved) but she had been discussing my ovaries – as women seem to feel they can do. She was overly distraught that I hadn’t used said ovaries. There was ‘still time’, apparently. Even without a husband. (And why on earth wasn’t I married?) She squeezed my knee. But I don’t want children of my own, I said. She squeezed my knee again. This time with pity. With a sense that there was a whole part of the world I was foolishly missing out on.
She presumed, you see, that I didn’t like children. If I had one of my own apparently, this would rectify that. Preferably with a husband attached. And a house, big mortgage, semi-detached.
I swallowed a large mouthful of Mojito through gritted teeth. It’s such a presumption, isn’t it? Just because I don’t want to birth a child, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them. We’re all Cruella Deville to some mothers – us single women of a certain age. For the record, I once lived with a man for longer than I should have because I simply couldn’t bear the idea of no longer having his children in my life. When we finally broke up I became slightly obsessed with the possibilities of adoption. I was a teacher for 6 years – ‘inspirational’ according the the great God Ofsted – you can’t be that if you don’t like kids. I’m a pied piper with most kids. They like me. I like them. End of. I just didn’t push one out. So sue me.
There are a mulititude of private reasons I’ve chosen not to reproduce and most of them are due to various levels of personal fuckupery and nothing at all to do with small people. Mainly though, ladies, my reasons are not your business. Children and me are just fine. Mothers and me, not always. The older I get the more they look at me funny. ‘Why isn’t she married? Why does she find it so hard to make things work? But the last one was so nice.’
Anyway, In the end I pointed out to this drunkenly wasted-ovary-concerned woman that I was actually very happy in my life, had no child-envy, had exciting things going on, and my pelvic floor muscles were intact. Life was good. (I’ve got quite used to giving this speech). Her smile stretched further (picture Samantha Brick in full flow and you’re pretty much there) and she said, ‘Good for you! Let’s hug.’
‘Let’s really not,’ I answered.
She promptly called me a hard bitch and burst into tears.
A hard bitch. It stung a bit. Maybe it’s true. Or maybe her easy tears said more about her own life than they did about my poor ovaries. Or maybe a bit of both. I know some married people with children who are happy but I also know a lot who swallow anti-depressants like Nurofen and are on the wine by three. Admittedly, I too can be at the wine by three but that’s just for the sisterhood. No, really.;-)
A old friend of mine (well the friendship’s old, she’s 33, hot and single) rang today and we had a long talk about life, the universe and everything (for this read ‘men’, obviously), and she pointed out that when she’s out in bars and men ask if she’s single and she says yes there is a long pause and they say, ‘Why? What’s wrong with you?’
I smiled and told her to wait till she’s 40. Boy, do people look at you funny then.
But the thing with me and Kelly is, we’ve been through the mill. She did the 13 year relationship. I went from man to man to man for years. But times change. People change. You get stronger. More confident. More secure. We are now very clear on what we want. We’re very happy with who we are. You can not just rock up and we’ll be impressed. We do not need anyone else to ‘complete’ us; not husband, not child. We are who we are. We’re free.
I’m happy for people who have happy families. I really am. But don’t presume that yours is the only way to live. Let the rest of us BREATHE.
Am I a hard bitch? God knows. But I did cry A LOT at ‘Once upon a Time’ when Rumplestiltskin realised Beauty was still alive (You know the episode..*sobs*) so maybe not. I think I’m just driven. I’m attracted to driven people. The semi-detached house is not so important to me. The spark between two people, however, has to stay alive. That’s what matters to me.
Do I believe in love? Yes. Most absolutely.
Do I want to be in love? Yes. Absolutely.
Do I want to settle? Absolutely not.