I was bullied as a child, had undiagnosed autism (could these things have been connected, I wonder?) and in consequence have never really felt comfortable with humans, let alone children.
Even as a child I was never been able to ‘see’ myself as a parent. People have said to me, throughout my life, ‘you’ll want them some day’, but I just never have. And it’s not a good idea to have them if you actually don’t want them.
I think in a way my autism may have helped me with this particular decision, as I neither notice, nor care very much about, what people think of me for not being a mother. In my in-built taxonomy, it’s so ‘other’ to me that it was not really a choice.
Socially, it’s always been difficult for me to make friends, but those friends I did have who became parents largely drifted away when they had children, and I find that sad. It’s hard to meet people your own age when you’re in your thirties or forties if you’re not connected with children, so for a long time my circle of friends were mostly much younger than me. Which was lovely.
I’ve never missed having children in my life, and I have been able to do more without them. I continued my education to post-doctoral level, changed career twice, have volunteered for various wildlife organisations and adopted numerous pets.
I think society fetishises parenthood, which places huge pressure on both parents and the childfree. Everyone, by current standards is not good enough, and this creates division that is damaging to all.