Whatever happens, I’m so lucky, so privileged to be here, at this time. What really got me about Berlin was the diversity of lifestyles. The city is full of weirdoes. Everywhere else I’m a weirdo, but here I am not.
Growing up in Spain, I always knew I never wanted to have children. I played with dolls, dressed them up, made outfits for them, but I never got into this mommy thing. I remember when I was eight or nine, all the other girls wanted kids, saying “I want one boy and a girl” or “I want three girls”, and I was like, “I have no answer for that.”
For many years, I knew I didn’t want kids, but couldn’t say no definitively. I made a compromise, so I wouldn’t get into the kind of conversations where I feel attacked. Even my friends who say it’s OK that I don’t want children, at some point, they say “…but you might change your mind.”
Germany is a country that puts a lot of pressure on women to have children, even in Berlin. There’s this paternalist position of: we need children, and we’ve developed this welfare system that will support you while you stay at home with your kids for three years, so why on earth aren’t you taking advantage of this? I am very happy to pay taxes in this country so that my friends can have these benefits and raise their families, but it’s not for me.
I have friends who only wanted to take six months off work, and they were called Rabenmutter (EN: raven mother), which basically means a bad mother, one who doesn’t love her children. And my friends who took three years off, they came back to work in a worse position, or they work part time, so they are not building their careers any more. They aren’t contenders any more.
I went to the gynaecologist for something more definitive than the pill, which doesn’t involve hormones. When I said I wanted to get my fallopian tubes cut, he asked me if I’ve already had children. When I answered no, he refused to perform the operation. He said, “Of course you can try and find a doctor who will do it, but you’ll have to go through a lot of legal paperwork, to make sure you never regret it. This process can take five to ten years, and by then you’ll be 40 anyway, so it’s not worth your time and effort.”
I see the logic, but it’s unfair. My first thought was, “would you say that to a guy?” My friends say that I should let my partner get a vasectomy, but that’s his choice. Maybe one day, he could change his mind and meet someone else who wants children. So I take the pill, aware that, from now until I hit menopause, I’m going to be shooting hormones into myself.
With the first pills I took, one month I would have my regular period, but the next I’d have it three times. After four or five months, I got it checked, and it turned out that the pills had created a 4cm-wide ovarian cyst, and that’s what was bleeding. As soon as I switched to a different pill, the cyst was gone, but that made me confront the reality: I am putting my body at risk, because I can’t get sterilised.
By getting sterilised, I wouldn’t be doing any damage to society. But no one is putting obstacles in the way of people having children, whether or not they are ready, psychologically or economically.
They can produce them like factories, and no one cares about the pain that can cause society.
Recently, I was speaking to a guy who asked, “so if you got pregnant now, would you have an abortion?” And it sounds awful to say it out loud, but I had to say “yes”. He was outraged; I feel that men are not OK with that change in the balance of power. In many areas – in sex, in porn – they know that it’s not right to say “your body belongs to us”, but they feel it, subconsciously. The world isn’t ready for women who don’t want children.
I feel criticised, and judged. People assume I’m egocentric, or that something bad must have happened in my life. They think “she mustn’t be good enough”, “she’s a lesbian”, “she’s frigid…”
When people look at me, I want them to see someone who is happy and full of life – not broken, or an addict, or crazy or strange – who just doesn’t want to have children.
I want them to see someone normal, standing before them and saying, “I know I can have children, I know I could raise them, I just choose not to.”
Besides, there are so many children out there waiting to be adopted. If one day, I’m 50 and I regret my decision, I still have options. If I don’t do it now, and it’s not biological, that doesn’t scare me. What scares me much more, is the prospect of having children and then regretting that. I look in some mother’s eyes, and they seem happy, but maybe in the back of their mind is all the things they won’t get to do, all the things they’ve given up.
I respect motherhood so much that I wouldn’t go there unless I was all-in. There are so many things I want to do with my life, and even if I don’t do them, I want that door left open.
I’m not going to risk the regret.
Monica runs a blog devoted to the child-free lifestyle. Read more over at Instead of kids.