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We should be able to opt for child-free life

I DON'T want to have children – not now, not ever. It's not just that I am far too selfish to be a mother (there are lots of selfish mothers and fathers out there), it is genuinely because I don't want to. It's more than a feeling; it's a choice.

The weird thing is, instead of being grateful that there will be more room in the playground, fewer nappies in our landfills and generally more elbow room on the planet thanks to me (and others like me), I am usually met with looks of pity and disbelief when I tell people that kids are not on my agenda.

When a woman can't have children, her feelings are handled with the delicacy afforded a Faberge egg, but when a woman won't have children she is treated like a pariah. I've heard all manner of insensitive comments from "you'll change your mind if you get married" (which is like telling a gay man that he just hasn't met the right woman yet) to claims that my life will be less meaningful if I remain childless.

First off, the word 'childless' grinds my gears. Men and women without children are not deficient, so if you are going to label me, I prefer 'child-free'. I do actually like kids, but I find them immensely tedious. Don't get me wrong, when my dinky two-year-old cousin hugs my leg, my ovaries leap with delight – but that is momentary – and the unrelenting grind, monotony and boredom of raising children (that so few parents will admit to) lasts for years. I don't expect any thanks for not procreating (nor am I patting anyone on the back for getting, or getting someone else, pregnant) but I do wish more people would realise that parenthood is optional, not obligatory.

Irish Independent