“It feels like being given licence to live.”


I always knew at various points of my life that I may not end up with children, it ebbed and flowed. I also assumed I’d be a mum, e.g. not a choice.

I come from a migrant family that moved here so we could have a better life. This brings with it a heavy implied responsibility of shouldering family legacy and family growth. This conflicts with my own feelings of not having completely lived yet. As my peers travelled overseas, or went on career breaks, I worked. I studied. I couldn’t afford to live like them.

Right now, if you asked me, do I want to be a mum? I’d say, probably not. I think my lack of a firm decision has been out of fear, fear of missing out, fear of changing my mind; fear of having to live with the decision. Yet throughout my time at university and the beginning of my career, I always knew, it would be unlikely a child would be compatible with my life. I worked very hard to get to where I am and I feel that I would have to “give it up” to accommodate a child.

At one point, my partner had conveyed he wouldn’t oppose being the stay-at-home parent if we decided on having a child, and the sense of relief this brought me was enormous. Great, I thought, this won’t rest on me. I can keep living. Over time his mind shifted as his career developed and our interests grew. To me, having a baby now would feel like training for a race, knowing you’re going to win and then stopping short right before the finish line to allow others to cross it. He has described it as losing freedom, time and sleep. He’s experienced it.

We are now both indifferent to whether we have children and, for the moment, have put this decision back on the shelf to revisit in a year or so. When we did this, I mourned the loss of the unrealistic baby fantasies I had entertained.

When I see my niece and nephew I sometimes think, maybe I could, maybe it would be ok. Then I hear of all-nighters and no sleep; or I have moments where my stepdaughter has been really bratty and difficult, and when she leaves, I am relieved I don’t have to deal with her tantrums any longer.

Up to this point all decisions, down to buying a car, factored in a “potential” child. I reflect on this and am revising choices I’ve made that inadvertently accommodate a child I will not (likely) bear. I look back now and reflect on half-lived choices because of the “what if”. A whole new world of possibilities for experiences that fill me with profound joy and warmth and freedom wash over me. It feels like being given license to live.