‘…. having kids doesn’t have to be the sole focus of your life. There are lots of other things you can achieve, adopting and …… there is no shortage of parents who would love a helping hand through babysitting, this kind of stuff.’
This is an excerpt from the BBC 100 Women debate on relationships. I was cut short after trying to make the point that women can’t necessarily have it all, we need to consider our fertility; how it changes with age and the longer you leave it the harder it is potentially to get pregnant.
I agree absolutely that children don’t have to be the focus of your life and there are other ways of being involved in children’s lives.
But seriously, babysitting?
Apparently I rolled my eyes and, according to a good friend ‘my expression said it all.’
I don’t need to tell you how insensitive that comment was; how it shows an extreme lack of understanding of childlessness, a lack of empathy of how you might feel when you’ve tried so hard to achieve something and are grieving. And also how the absolute last thing you’d want is to be anywhere near children.
But mostly it demonstrates the challenge we face being understood and recognised in the world.
I could write a whole blog about this.
I could write about how angry I felt and how much outrage and shouting at the TV it caused amongst my childless friends who were watching.
But I won’t because I’m not sure what purpose it would serve.
You already know how hard it is to be childless in the world.
You already know how hard I’m working on your behalf to raise awareness of what it’s like to be childless and the challenges we face.
So instead I’ll challenge my anger into working a teeny bit harder.
Those of us blogging and supporting you in the childless arena are used to feeling like we’re engaged in a war, some battles we win and some we lose but overall we’re gaining.
And sometimes it’s not worth entering the arena.
The BBC have a season of programmes called 100 Women and on 1st Dec they had debates looking at Image, Relationships and Leadership. I was invited to be on a panel of 20 discussing Relationships.
To quote from their email ’it will focus around the questions: Can women have it all? Is it expected for a woman to be subservient? Is a relationship more or less likely to fail when a woman is successful? And two questions we want to touch upon are whether women should really wait to sort out their career before having children and can you have a fulfilling marriage without children? We are particularly interested to have you as a guest because of your personal story and your experience of working with women who have to come to terms with their infertility. ‘
There were two discussions, 30 minutes on BBC World TV and 60 minutes on World Service Radio.
I hadn’t been on a panel like this before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and unfortunately most of the discussion was about parenting so not an area topic that I could contribute to! The BBC obviously didn’t know where the discussion would go, but when both started by talking to a stay at home Mum of six boys I knew it was going to be an uphill battle to speak.
I’m not comfortable in arguments, especially when people are determined to shout out their opinion at any cost, and I always thought that in a big group my challenge would be to actually say something. And I did, in both of them. I felt that, given the subject I did my best.
What do you think?
What’s been suggested to you as a way of healing?
Please join the discussion below (you can use another name).
And yes I know there are probably too many photos, but it’s not every day that you go to the BBC.