Don't condemn me... but I never want to be a mum

LIKE many women, I am lacking in the maternal gene ... but will the urge to procreate pop up one day when I least expect it?

Vicki Notaro

FROM when we are little girls, women are conditioned to be mothers. From the baby dolls we're given to play with, to the story books we're read, we learn from an early age that having babies is the norm for grown up ladies, and motherhood is something we aspire to. It's not just conditioning, of course; it's also something apparently inherent within us, a maternal gene.

WHEN you think about it, this instinct is pretty necessary, seeing as it's up to us to populate the planet and continue the human race. Due to biology and, later, hormones, our bodies are told to covet babies and want to nurture and protect them, but I must be missing those chemicals. Not only am I not enamoured with children (nor have I ever been), I don't see myself having any unless something drastically changes.


I don't have any maternal feelings -- well, at least towards human infants -- and zero desire to procreate.

This, of course, troubles my family who expected me to grow up and give them grandchildren like most normal girls, but it also troubles me. Am I a monster? Or am I just not meant to be a mother? I believe I was born without a maternal instinct, because for as long as I can remember I've been indifferent to babies and small children -- I didn't even like being a child and was always precocious, dying to grow up.

I never had any desire to play with dolls, and in fact found things like Baby Born and her ilk quite boring and also pretty disgusting -- who wants to clean up after an inanimate plastic object?

To be honest, I don't even notice children in my everyday life -- my mates will be cooing over some toddler in a shopping centre and I won't even register its existence.

However, put a puppy in a 10-mile radius and I'll sniff it out for cuddles quick smart. In fact, a former colleague once told me that I only like photos of babies when they resemble pets -- pulling an expression to look like a cute little chimp, or dressed as a baby bear. Hmm.

Quite frankly, kids do nothing for me. Some are cute, but I often struggle to feign an interest when people show off pics of their nieces or godchildren, and the quickest way to get me to unfollow you on Twitter is to post a video of toddlers eating lemons and making funny faces.

It sounds harsh, and, of course, there are exceptions -- I don't dislike children or have any negative feelings about them, but on the whole I'm a kid-free zone. Does that mean I'm a hideous human being who doesn't deserve to own a womb? Probably, to some people.

I'm a huge animal lover and am always quite suspicious of people who don't like dogs so I can only imagine what Earth Mother types would make of me. It's not a conscious decision though; in fact, it can't be helped even when I try desperately to summon up enthusiasm about a child -- it's just not in me. When I mention my lack of fondness for children to others, people often try to fix me, and tell me about their friend who wasn't into kids at all and now has six of them.

I get called a "career girl," snidely, and told "don't knock them 'til you've tried them" as if having a child and discovering that "nope, this definitely isn't for me" is the answer, and my own family have joked about sabotaging my pill.

People hope I'll change my mind, despite me explaining that it's not something I can control and I feel guilty because this doesn't just affect me -- I'm an only child and therefore my parents' only hope of grandchildren.

I'm also asked what I'm going to do for the rest of my life, which I find horribly offensive -- could you see a man seriously being asked that question?

Others wonder who is going to look after me when I'm old. Is that part of why people have kids? So that someone has to mind them when they're elderly? The thought alone upsets me.

Something I'm told, which is supposed to comfort me, is that lots of women only like their own children. I believe that's true to an extent, but my "meh" feelings on kids are not the only factor. I've written previously in these pages about tokophobia, the fear of childbirth from which I suffer.

It's as real as a fear of spiders or enclosed spaces -- I'm pretty sure spending hours wailing with fright having caught an episode of One Born Every Minute isn't a normal reaction.

Having nightmares centred around being pregnant and waking up in a cold sweat screaming? Not exactly standard. I'm not sure if my lack of maternal instinct stems from my phobia or vice versa, or if the two are even related. The most irritating thing of all, though, besides the fact that I feel like an evil mutant, is other people dismissing my disinterest as something I'll get over as I get older.

If I had a euro for every time somebody said, "Oh you'll get over that soon enough, once that clock starts ticking!" or "Sure, you're only a young one, those urges will kick in in a year or two!", I'd be richer than Oprah (who is child-free by choice and fabulous, by the way).


It's infuriating to be told by people who don't really have any idea of how I feel inside that I'm really quite silly, and that eventually I'll grow up to be "normal" and want to have kids.

This also scares me -- is it that simple? Will my maternal urges kick in one day to the point where my body forces my brain to cooperate? Will I one day hear that clock ticking so loudly that I'll curse my wasted years and want to pop out sprogs until my last egg withers? To be honest, I don't think so, but it is a concern.

Another fear is that one day, if I do ever decide to have kids, I won't be able to and that it will be all my fault for tempting fate.

I may be young at 26 and I may be panicking a little because other people have freaked me out on the matter, but the fact is, that all of my close friends can say with certainty that they want to be mothers some day and I can't. That's the difference between me and them.

The thing with women and babies is that while we're of child-bearing age, we can never really say never. Unplanned pregnancies happen all the time and no contraception is 100pc effective, so I know I'm running a gauntlet every time I have sex.

I know I'm not alone. Many other women feel like I do, but wouldn't be so forthcoming for fear of upsetting people or rocking the boat, and I'm sure some are silently hoping to be struck by the baby bug one day.

The thing is, in pop culture, women who don't like or want children are often painted as wicked. If I were a Disney character, I'd probably be Maleficent or the Evil Queen.

However, nowadays, not wanting kids isn't a taboo, as long as you qualify that with how much you love them.

For example, Eva Mendes, Christina Hendricks and Cameron Diaz have all admitted that children may not be in their futures and that's okay, but all made sure to wax lyrical about how amazing children are and how much they just adore their mates' kiddies.

I also hear childless-by-choice women put themselves down a lot, saying that they're too selfish to have kids. Why can't they just admit they don't want them?


I wish more girls out there realised that they have a choice about motherhood -- it's not a given for every woman. I think there are many women out there who don't really think about their options and go along with what's culturally the norm -- marriage and babies.

Many women desire to make their men and families happy, and don't want to stand out or rock the boat, while others are just afraid that they'll miss out on the experience of a lifetime. I understand that; I have motherhood FOMO (fear of missing out).

I feel guilty about possibly depriving my parents of the chance to be grandparents and that I have all the necessary parts but lack the desire to become a mother, especially when I see gay couples who are dying to have kids.

For me, I guess time will tell, but I know that if I do have kids it will be because I want them wholeheartedly. If I don't, it will be because I'm satisfied with my lot.

Whatever happens, I know I'll make the right choice for me and one thing's for sure -- I'll be keeping a close eye on my pill to check for signs of sabotage...