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Thursday, 3 January 2008


Central to the decision to have children or not are fears around how having a child would change our identity.

'I don't want to be thought of as just a mum'

It's really hard for us as women to see how we would still be able to hold on to the identities which are so important to us if we were to become mothers.

Can we still be the traveller, the social animal, the career woman, the free spirit AND be a mother?

When I was trying to decide on having children or not I was really worried that I would be lost in an idenity, that of someone's mum, that I wouldn't have choosen and that I wouldn't like very much. I also didn't want to lose aspects of myself that I was fiercely proud of - that I loved. I did love being independent - being able to go off and sit in cafe's or go to afternoon matinee's on a whim. I knew this would change - that I would have to let go of that part of me, that I would forever have responsiblities that I couldn't escape from.

But life isn't so black and white. It's not - despite what papers like the Daily Mail tell us - necessary for women to completely abdicate aspects of ourselves that are important. Like careers or going to cafe's when we have children.

What aspects of your identity are you firecely protective of? What would you not want to change if you had children? What would you compromise? How could you ensure that you are able to keep these bits of your identity that are important to you? What do working mums think about these questions and how do they manage? How do people who are childfree see how not having children has allowed them to maintain their identity?


Flowerpot said...

in my case it means I have much more time to write. If I had young children right now I don't know that I'd be able to do that. but I could when they were older. I know a lot of women who aren't able to write when the children are young.

mutterings and meanderings said...

You are so right about the Daily Mail, or as I tend to call it, the Daily Misogynist ...

Kaycie said...

I no longer remember some of the discussions I had with myself before becoming pregnant.

Within a year of marrying, I do remember that my husband was ready to have a baby, but I was not, and I insisted on waiting. We had been married five years before our first child was born. I do think that was very important, that I had my child when I was ready, rather than bending to pressure from my husband.

Knowing yourself and what you want from life are the most important things you need to accomplish before making a decision to have a child. The next most important thing for me is knowing the quality of your marriage. A man who treats you well before children will treat you well after children arrive. If you struggle for him to do simple things and share chores and responsibilities, you'll be hard pressed to get him to help with the children. If I had married a man with those tendencies, I probably would be childless.

Beth said...

Yes, Flowerpot I interviewed an artist for my book and she said the same thing - she felt that having children would have made it very difficult to get on with her art - particuarly as she went to art college as a mature student in her late 20's.

And Kaycie - I think often what happens when we do have children, we almost have to 'forget' about those discussions, it's so much in another world or a parall life.

decided said...

I know I am late posting, but I only just found your blog and I'm reading through the past entries.

I have never considered before what activities I would need to give up, but I think I am realistic in saying that for me, becoming a mother would mean giving up a lot of time, money, energy and freedom that I currently put into other activities.

I work part time and study part time. I like to keep a beautiful apartment, pamper myself, read, write, entertain friends and family, spend a lot of time with my partner, watch DVDs, collect jewellery, art and perfume.

If I had young children I know something would have to give.

decided said...

Sorry to comment again here, but I thought I'd discuss identity a little bit since it is the title of your entry!

For 29 years now I have identified myself as a single entity, albeit with family, friends and in partnerships. I have come to treasure myself, including a level of freedom and oneness that I feel is central to being me.

I have been told by women with children that becoming a mother made them feel complete, more whole. I truly believe that I could not feel more whole as I am - without children!