I had a childhood of violence and abuse. It was literally life-saving for me to get out of the state of dependency and lead a free, self-determined life. I didn’t experience childhood as a state that was romantic or beautiful. Also in my job I deal a lot with the topic of broken families. When dealing with family law and youth welfare, the discrepancy becomes obvious: here the romantic story of love and happiness and there the often harsh reality.
But even under “normal” circumstances, being a parent means being substantially unfree. To me, being independent is literally existential. To have control over my body. To eat what I want, do yoga whenever I want. Get up in the middle of the day at the weekend. Being able to do my job with enough time and mental capacity. Not being tied to kindergarten or school hours. Not being tied to school holidays. Having enough money to renovate my grandparents’ house abroad. Just because I want it.
But above all to be free inside. I have experienced what it means when a mother stays in a violent marriage because she is afraid she might lose her children. With many friends I do see a great lack of freedom externally and internally: People remain in jobs, places, relationships that aren’t good for them. Because they lack the external and internal resources to change anything because of their children. I witness all the worries they constantly have and the constant fear of doing something wrong.
I live with a partner who already has an adult daughter. He has just become free since she has been able to live her own life. We have wonderful years. We live our lives, we enjoy doing what we want together. And if something happens tomorrow, then we’ve had those years. I don’t want to wait for some eventual future where everything gets easier and better. I am living now. Maybe I will be sad and lonely one day. But today I am not. I’m trying to take an example from some wonderful women I’ve had the privilege to meet. Women who lead very fulfilling lives without children. I try to take them as role models.
I wish the worlds of parents and childfree people weren’t that much separated. I wish we didn’t eye each other that much. Not trying to prove to one-another that they are leading “the better life”. Every life is different. You don’t know what kind of life story people have. Nothing is absolute. Things have many facets. And that’s how it is with family and with life without children.