As a Child-Free Woman, Am I Allowed to Be Mediocre?

Or must I achieve something big to fill that child-shaped hole?

Charlie Brown

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Photo by GraphiDA on Unsplash

This morning I stared down at the proof that, for the twelfth month in a row, I am not pregnant.

Honestly, I’m beginning to give up on this trying-to-have-a-child lark. Lord knows it’s equally emotionally draining and annoying. I’m tired of it taking over my brain and my life.

As I pondered my child-free future this morning, a phrase popped into my head.

At least if I don’t have a kid, I have more time to focus on making something of myself. Perhaps I can be a famous writer instead.

I checked myself for this, and quickly because this line of thinking fits far too nicely into how we think child-free women should be.

If you can’t experience the “joys” (debatable) of having children, you’ve got to achieve something big to fit into that child-shaped hole, apparently. You can’t possibly be mediocre and child-free. You’ve got to be successful, career-driven, focused. An over-achiever.

Urgh. I’m exhausted just thinking about all the things I’m supposed to be.

Can’t we child-free women be ordinary and nothing more?

Here’s the secret about child-free women that society doesn’t understand

I was purposefully child-free for the first 37 years of my life. I have scores of child-free friends and acquaintances who also chose to not have children and they all say the same thing.

They’re not child-free because they are on the path to a stellar career.

They’re child-free because they don’t want children.

Women aren’t choosing careers over children, they’re choosing no children over children.

Truly understanding this is apparently a hard pill to swallow. It’s much easier to explain away a child-free woman’s choice with a flick of a hand and a dismissive oh it’s because she’s a career woman kind of comment. I’ve overheard family members dismiss my lack of children in exactly this way.

I’m afraid it’s all BS.

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Charlie Brown

Writer of opinions. Wine & food pro. Editor of Rooted, a Medium food & drink pub.. Niche-avoidant. Also at thesaucemag.substack.com