When Emily contacted me to ask me to facilitate a post film discussion for The Baby Question, I jumped at the opportunity. The question of whether or not to have children has been a big part of my life and it’s something I happily speak openly about.
During my 20s, I never thought much one way or the other about having kids. At one stage, with an ex boyfriend the existence of children in our future was sort of implied, like it was a given, and I suppose being young, I just nodded and agreed. That relationship ended, and childless, I carried on with my life, not giving the issue much thought. At 30, I finally achieved a dream and launched a freelance career in theatre. But then, it occurred to me, I was 30, I should probably have a think about this kid thing.
I chatted to my partner, he wasn’t keen, he is younger than me and had no interest in disrupting his already fairly chaotic life with little humans. But, he said, if I wanted them we could talk about it. So I had a choice to make.
I am the sort of person who has to write things down. So, I bought a bunch a books about having or not having kids, and I devoured them. Then I wrote lists; why did I think I might want children? Was it maybe because my friends were having them? Was it because of my lovely relationship with my mum? Was it because it was something different to do?
I concluded after all my research, that I was pretty happy without children. I have a niece and godchildren and tons of friends with kids. I love them all, they bring me a huge amount of joy, but I don’t have any desire to come home to one of my own. My maternal instinct is not strong, in fact most of the battles I had with myself over the baby question were centred around questions like “but is it something I should do?” Or “what will people think if I don’t”, rather than “is it something I want?”.
I am happy to live my life childfree, I travel a lot for work and thoroughly enjoy being able to do the things I enjoy whenever I want to do them. I don’t feel as though there is a gap or a hole in my life, but I understand that some people would. And since I realised this, I have been fascinated by our choices to have, or not have, children.
When Emily asked me to host a post film discussion after The Baby Question I reached out to my networks on social media and asked “why did you have, or not have children?”, and some really fascinating discussions sprang from the prompt.
“I don’t think that choosing to bypass my life goals to raise a human would be fulfilling” “I am in no way maternal, babies make me panic” “I always knew I wanted kids, at 28 the urge kicked in” “Two of my friends are artists and felt it was too financially precarious to have children” “After 4 years of trying, IVF was our only option. It was successful first try.” “I fully believe you are hard wired to either want or not want kids.” “Increased crime, climate change, energy crisis, cost of living crisis are a few reasons why I wouldn’t want to bring a child into this world” “When the baby was 2 he was diagnosed with ASD. We decided not to have any more children” “I’m in my mid 20s and I often get told I will change my mind” “I became pregnant at 21, it was a choice to keep the baby, rather than have the baby” “I’m painted as selfish for not wanting children” “For my 2nd there was an in depth discussion - my husband wasn’t getting any younger”
Such an interesting mix of opinions. The post film discussion unearthed even more - what about those women who wanted to have children but couldn’t - one said people always assumed she had decided not to, when in fact the truth was that she wasn’t able. What about the mental load of women - why is it so often our choice and then our responsibility? What about IVF, why is it that some people have access and others don’t?
The Baby Question is fraught with variables, and the topic is never straightforward. Life offers twists and turns at every corner, humans change their minds, and things don’t always work out the way we had hoped. But I do know one thing, as long as we support each other, respect each other’s opinions and remember that empathy is key, then this discussion remains a vital one.
It’s a heartfelt and sometimes difficult subject to write and talk about and I’m particularly fascinated by the fact that it can mean so much to one person and so little to another. I hope that the post film discussion trod with care, and I’d like to thank everyone who came to the viewing and who shared their thoughts with me. I will continue to talk and write on the subject, I am extremely open to di
scussions and welcome comments on this piece.
Written by Becky Owen-Fisher.
The Baby Question was presented by Cine-Sister on Tuesday 17th of October.