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By Yvonne Wiacek. AWOC Dorset

'Tell your story' says Trish Faulks, AWOC.

Well, first I had to get used to being called an AWOC.

But, here was a chance to share my story with others. How I got here and to illustrate how labels are not always clear-cut. Child free by choice, for example.

Let's start with me, aged 12 years, and my mum who once said to me in anger, 'just you wait until you have children'.

I didn't hear the rest as I screamed back, 'I won’t, 'I won’t'.

'Oh yes you will' but in my 12 year old head - the words - 'I won’t, I won’t' remained.

So, when you are on forums and they say 'I knew when I was 25 I didn’t want children', I'm thinking 'I was 12'.

Anyway, fast forward through teenage years and all of my 20s to the Thatcher era. And for those who don’t know, it was a time of materialism (earning as much as you could and spending as much). Work hard, buy your own house because there was no help from parents in those days. Buy a nice car, change jobs as often as you could to rise up the ladder – you get the picture. As for kids - forget it - they didn’t fit in with the ego lifestyle.

When I was In my 30s, Dad died early and left me a small amount to go to University, to the horror of my family who thought I should be 'settled down'. To be honest, there followed some of the best years of my life.

Then, my values changed. Far away from the South East people didn’t understand good jobs. There weren’t any because you were lucky if you had a job. Nice cars? All that happened is they would get broken into. As for the housing boom - it always ended at Exeter.

I knew I would finish my degree and have children. Because that's what I saw on my dog walks – mums with basic jobs, finishing work at 2pm, walking the dog and picking up kids from school. I wanted this too.

To cut a long story short, as my degree ended so my husband had other ideas. This town in the SW was not where you went if you wanted a good job which was what he wanted. In fact, he was desperate to leave. If I mentioned babies, saying how nice it would be if there were 3 of us, he'd answer - maybe in a year, but what he meant was - no, I like it how it is.

So began a period in my life which involved moving around the country and chasing work. At one time we lived round the corner from family and were nagged about not settling down. It seemed as though I was having to hide my true feelings.

We moved to a rural market town and I felt more isolated than ever. Survival was uppermost in my mind – learning a new way of life. Not easy for a city girl with a foreign surname. It was not conducive to a happy family life. Eventually we moved back down South, where I soon realised I was much older than the parents around me. Also, I was stuck with a collie who had behavioural problems. Collies' don't like city life or multiple moves. My sciatica diagnosis followed so I couldn't exercise my dog. This was the last straw for me.

From that point on, aged in my 40s, I devoted myself to looking after my mental and physical health. Looking after my dog. I decided I couldn’t be a parent as I was too old, so I figured I would be the best pet parent ever.

This is why I give two fingers up to the pope’s recent comments about furry babies – what does he know anyway?

So, child free by choice? What I do know is - the end result is the same - no support and on your own. When I have turned down operations and the consultant said to me 'I worry about the risks, so you don’t have to'. Really? Did I mention I’m an AWOC? And, a young sprocker dog is not going to walk herself.

How will my husband split his time between looking after his 90yr old father, which involves a 5 hour round trip each time, working, looking after me and looking after Pebble, the young sprocker? Do you think the NHS is aware this is an issue amongst AWOCs?

I say 'no thanks' to the consultant. I’ll take the risk of not having the operation.

And I go back to my Adv Dip in Canine Behaviour Management

Me and Poppy in Cornwall

Me and Pebble in Dorset.

Aren't I lucky? Now I have made peace with myself, I do believe I am. Dorset and Cornwall on my doorstep and two beautiful fur babies to take care of (or do they take care of me? 😍) xx

For further information about AWOC Dorset please contact Yvonne via email:



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