“I’ve regained that confidence, and get to experience things like a teenager. I can do whatever I want.”

Alex, Berlin

Even before I lost my virginity, I knew I never wanted children. I was a tomboy, a very genderless child and teenager, and I never saw myself in the role of mother. I never had a reason, I just didn’t want it. I think I formed reasons for my decision afterwards.

I was on the pill before I even had sex. It was very present in my head that having sex would result in a child, if I messed up. My first boyfriend didn’t want to have children, and I don’t know why this was a topic we discussed early on, but we agreed – this isn’t anything we want to happen.

I’m pretty lucky when it comes to my family – we always discussed stuff like this openly. I have two sisters, and we all hit puberty at the same time. As a teenager, I noticed it was quite overwhelming for my parents as well.

My mum never romanticised having children, and was always very clear that it’s a big responsibility that comes with a lot of compromises. I know she put her life on hold to have a family, and she never made me feel like there was remorse in that decision, but there could have been something else for her – and I kind of wanted that for her too.

I would have loved for my mum to have had that fulfilled life, and to experience all the stuff that she missed out on. She’s very supportive of my decision, very understanding. She always tells me that she doesn’t expect to be a grandmother, and she’ll be happy when she retires in two years to not have to give a shit about that. She’s very like, “I don’t want to take care of any grandchildren – I’m done”.

Alex's wrist tattoo reads "UGLY BOYS"

People have never really criticised me for my decision, more traumatised me for it. I met this guy when I moved to Berlin – I was a very shy girl back then. For four years, he kept me in that state of being this young, insecure woman. I knew that he wanted children, but I was a bit naive and thought maybe he’d change his mind.

I never wanted to have unprotected sex, ever. We discussed it once, when I was 24, and I said, “If I got pregnant now, it would ruin my life. I’m not stable, I don’t know my position in this world, and there’s no way I would have a child”. And he told me, if I ever had an abortion, he’d leave me.

We stayed together another two years, but I couldn’t be physically intimate with him any more. I blamed myself, and thought something was wrong with me. It took me a long time to realise that he’d completely villainised me, and made me feel so bad about a decision that caused me so much stress.

Our relationship ended because of it. He ended it, which was the best thing that could have happened to me. I remember when it ended, I said to him, “I never wanted to have children. And I wouldn’t have changed my mind”.

That someone can be so fixated on the thought of having a child, and making that part of his journey, that they’d risk hurting me, ruining my life, and making me unhappy – it’s something I’ll never understand. Being a feminist also means that I truly understand that it’s not easy for a man, because you don’t really get to have a say. But I’m the wrong person to expect to feel sorry for you. As someone who’s experienced a lot of trauma from men, especially when it comes to my body, I will never sympathise with anyone who attacks that.

Because I was so anxiety-driven when I came to Berlin, and carried a lot of shame, I didn’t do stuff that other people did in their early 20s. Now that I’m 30, and I’ve regained that confidence, I get to experience things like a teenager – I get to do whatever I want.

My circle of friends is very queer, and stripped of the idea of what a man and a woman have to be – it’s very fluid. We’re kind of like children with each other, very playful. I’m like the mom in our group – I like to take care of people. I’m very family-oriented, just not in the traditional way.

I’d be so excited and happy for my friends, if they had kids. I have to respect that not everyone’s decision is to end their bloodline. There needs to be the next generation. I’m so privileged to have people around me, friends and family, who accept my decision in return.

I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want, and that has given me a lot of freedom. I don’t have to feel old and grown up, I get to feel young and see where this is going next. I have no plans and I think that’s a good thing.

Photos by Zoë Noble
Words edited by James Glazebrook