“It’s not something I decided but something I’ve realised over the years.”

Sara, 51, Italy

When I was younger I pictured my future self as a mother. Not that I had any maternal instinct, but in my twenties I could only imagine me as a stereotypical wife and mother. Did I want to have children? Well… no. I enjoy the company of children, I have nieces I adore, but now that I am 51 it is very clear that motherhood is not (and has never been) for me: it’s not something I decided but something I’ve realised over the years.

Being childfree is the only way I can be myself: I can allow myself to work less (I am a non-fiction writer) not focusing on how much I earn. I can focus on my partner, on my old mother, on travelling, on being a good friend, on studying.

Most of my friends are childfree like me: we became friends long before this became clear to any of us (and long before we all said goodbye to our fertility years) but I’m starting to believe that we may have seen we had this in common even before we realised for ourselves. My friends who do have children are a minority, I love them and their kids, but I really can’t imagine myself building my life around the needs of a child the way they do (I admire them, though).

Is it because I was raised by a single mother (very rare in my country)? Is it because I have father issues? Who knows, but, honestly, who cares?