“I have been called a mutant and told that I lack the maternal gene” Jena, 32, lives a pretty normal life and considers her family complete without kids playing around her house. A few years ago, she even paid for her husband’s vasectomy as a gift when they got married and never looked back.
Kirsty went through a similar process by getting a sterilisation first and, more recently, a total hysterectomy (a procedure that has the uterus and ovaries removed).
For these two women, the word “doubt” never existed in their vocabularies despite being looked down on whenever they expressed their ideas in public.
“You will change your mind when it’s your own” seems to be the most common response women and men tend to get when the kids subject arise in family gatherings or conversations with strangers in the dentist’s wait room.
“I can’t imagine talking to a friend and they say that they want three children and me replying you will change your mind” Jena explains. And she is right, first you would be incredibly rude and secondly they would rightfully tell you to mind your own business.
But social pressure, coming from an established majority towards a perceived minority group is a real thing. We all feel it in our daily lives, whether it is in dressing in a certain way, choosing a career path over another or having children to “complete” the family.
It is just one of those milestones that you need to achieve to get what is usually defined in literature and movies as a simple, reassuring and safe lifestyle.
But for some it is just not meant to be.
When she was just four, Kirsty went to a school fair where “one of the teachers was dressed up as a fortune-teller in a tent, so my sister and I went in to get our palms read. The fortune-teller told me I’d have 4 kids, I ran out of there screaming and crying to my mum, sobbing that I never ever wanted babies, I was extremely upset over it.”
And she is not the only one.
Rebi is 28, and just like Kirsty and Jena she always knew that her future plans did not include little toddlers.
Growing up in a small conservative town she didn’t know that people like her existed until dear old Reddit came to the rescue.
She insists that the stereotype of childfree people “hating kids” is, for the most part, not true (Kirsty for example used to work in education and her partner currently works in a school) and that what many of them find tough is dealing with parents.
“Mombies” and “daddicts” (from the union of the words mom and zombie and dad and addicts) are those parents who “complain about being a parent but when you say you don’t want kids backtrack and tell you it’s the best thing in the world”.
What is really troubling for the childfree community, Rebi adds, is the special treatment that some of them feel entitled to claim because they are parents such as better seats on plane or work schedules that accommodate their family needs.
Another hot topic for them is the almost total absence of functional, happy childfree women in the media. Jena explains that childless women are portrayed on TV movies and series as single, cold, workaholics who are having “incomplete lives that need to be fulfilled by having kids”.
Bernadette, the quirky and smart microbiologist from The Big Bang Theory used to be the community’s hero for being so vocal in the fourth season towards her motherhood rejection “until the writers got lazy, and of all the characters available, decided to hang the pregnancy storyline on Bernadette “ both Kirsty and Rebi explain. To them it felt like a betrayal and a reinforcement that a fulfilling existence can only be achieved through children.
But, they also insist in saying that there is so much more to life than kids to make one’s life worth.
Kirsty, for example has spent years working with horses before her illness considerably reduced her walking abilities, adopting and fostering different kind of pets from dogs to mice.
Being an experienced owner she usually looks for the animals who are less likely to be adopted by other people as to her “more fulfilling knowing that you are helping someone who otherwise would be left behind”.
Part two of “Childfree and Proud” will be available this Friday and will focus on the impact of religion as the main push for procreation, how physical disabilities impact the traditional perception of woman=mother and mothers who regret having had their kids.
Words: Benedetta Laterza | Subbing: Laureta Doci