Happy Mothers Day

2 March 2008

In England today it’s Mothers Day (or Mothering Sunday, to give it its correct title). 

Because it’s so early this year, I very nearly forgot (thank you, Judith, for reminding me).  As I live in Australia and Mothers Day here isn’t until May, there are no cards in the shops so if I’m VERY organised I buy one the previous year here so it can be sent to my mother in England the next March.  I then tend to forget I’ve got it but this year I found one tucked away from about 4 years ago.  So off it went, and I just hope it arrived in time. 

For some reason, I’ve never had any desire to be a mother.  So I made the decision at 30 to be sterilised.  This isn’t something I talk about much as it sometimes stirs such anger in people (or, rather, in women).  I really have no idea why some women feel that my decision somehow threatens the choices they’ve made.  In 1999, I was included as one of the 23 women interviewed for a book called “Childfree and Sterilized” by Annily Campbell.  This caused such a stir in England that 23 women without children would be voluntarily sterilised and there were constant demands for us to be interviewed by TV and radio stations.  We were freaks. 

I don’t think I’m a freak.  AND I DON’T HATE CHILDREN.  I just didn’t want any of my own. 

I realise that the world is very unfair.  I have a couple of friends who desperately want babies and aren’t having much luck.  I assure them that when they tell me they’re pregnant, there will be nobody happier than me (except of course for them and their partners).  I will knit for them, volunteer baby-sitting services and try to remember their birthdays. 

I appreciate that most women when presented with their first baby must feel a little overwhelmed.  They have no training for the job they’ve just volunteered for and very often they have no experience.  But by and large they get by and some do a magnificent job, which I can only admire.

So to my own mother and to all English mothers everywhere, Happy Mothers Day.  I hope you all get thoroughly spoiled by some grateful children.   

Added later:  If you want to read about Annily’s book, go here.



  1. Very brave of you to step out and say so, especially considering your past experience.

    I had trouble becoming pregant; we told everyone that we didn’t want children just so that they’d stop asking “when?” – the shocked look on their faces and the silence that followed gave us time to change the subject!

  2. Wow. Great post. I’ve just spent twenty minutes reading about the book and the Childfree movement on Wikipedia. There’s so much I agree with there. I guess I’d characterize myself as Childfree, but I worry that I’d regret closing off any options in the future. It was interesting to read about those who’ve made that decision and taken that step.

  3. I spent most of my life (up until a month before I got pregnant) choosing not to have a child. And now that I have a child, I am more sure than ever that being child free is a valid choice, and abortion should be available to anyone who wants it. Not that I regret having the boy – he’s great, and I think I made the right decision. But it’s bloody hard, and I certainly wouldn’t have coped if this happened to me even a few years ago…

  4. I am the original Aunty Grouch and if anyone had suggested I would have a kid when I was 40 I would have laughed them off – it just so wasn’t on my agenda. Then the hormones kicked in and took over. It was only the fact that I wanted to have a child that got me through the massive culture shock that followed – the loss of control over my entire life was only compensated by the total and absolute joy of my child.
    I respect anyone who decides not to have a child because it is such a life changing decision that should not be entered into lightly or to fulfill other people’s expectations.

  5. Hey – did you listen to the Woman’s Hour podcasts/propgrammes last week about maternal ambivalence (also paternal, to which they will return when it’s father’s day). Very interesting programmes..
    I’m definitely also Childfree by Choice. I stopped in my tracks at 30 just to consider the whole thing properly (I’d never wanted kids from being little) and agreed with myself that I definitely didn’t. Fortunately, nor does Clare! I’m happy, 11 years later, that I made that choice.

  6. Definitely agree with what everyone says here. It’s all about choice. I think its worse when you don’t get to make one.

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