BY KATH THOMAS
Dressed as Willow the Wisp for our local Theatre's production of Little Red Riding Hood
Looking back, it all started at the 'dolls and prams' stage of life, namely, when I was about seven years old. In keeping with current trends, my parents had bought me a doll, prettily dressed with brown curly hair. My cousin next door had also been gifted a doll but hers had blonde hair. Not that that mattered for, to be honest with you, I didn’t have much interest in my doll and can’t even remember giving her a name. I found my teddy much more appealing. He was soft, golden and cuddly and I named him Teddy.
So there was not much ‘playing mummy’ with the abandoned ‘doll without a name’. I much preferred talking to and playing with Teddy. And this trend continued into adolescence in that I don’t remember ever wanting to ‘be a mum’ or being frantic about getting married. Life, at that stage, seemed busy enough. I was a prefect in a highly esteemed grammar school where I enjoyed both academia and sporting activities. In year six, I discovered an interest in boys and had the usual crushes.
And still, I don’t remember ever having a desire to get married and have children.
What I do recall is wanting to be an air hostess and travel the world. I ended up taking a brief secretarial course and temping locally in London, eventually following a teaching career. I suppose if I'd met Mr Right in my twenties, things might have been different and I would have drifted naturally into motherhood. Having said all that, I was engaged once, to a man I'd known in university. I'd bumped into this man on an educational course in London. We were both in our thirties but, unfortunately, he died suddenly of cancer of the oesophagus two years later.
On reflection, I don’t ever remember wanting children. This lack of what’s thought to be a natural instinct, has often bothered me. Why am I so different? Why have I never wanted children? I’m certainly not averse to men and do not favour women in a romantic context. But I do feel ‘different’ when I see women with prams or playing with their children and obviously taking great joy in doing so.
Have I missed out I asked myself? Could I have been enjoying a similar experience? And then I begin to wish I wasn’t like I am which is totally pointless. This is Me and that’s that. Which is why I became interested in AWOC where I was able to meet people in a similar situation to myself. But not quite. I’m not sure how many members attend because of simply not wanting children.
Frequently, it's because of partners' dying before kids came along. Or childlessness due to medical reasons.
In all my nearly fifty years of living in Lincolnshire, I have not met more than a handful of women choosing not to have children.