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Allix D’s Story: Not having children has made our relationship stronger

I always got the impression that having children were the second, third and fourth worst mistakes my parents made, after marrying each other. They took little pleasure in our company, were constantly stressed out about finances, and the only thing I was encouraged to do was to play quietly in my bedroom.

I had no grandparents either. A lack of maternal instinct apparently running through both family lines. My maternal grandmother abandoned my mother at six weeks, while my paternal grandmother lasted a whopping eight years before leaving the country and becoming someone to whom he had to write letters every Sunday.

Both my parents had extraordinary, shattered childhoods, and both were unprepared for the reality that was family life. Even so, I fantasised about having children of my own, loads of them, all with improbable names such as Aaron and Seth.

When I was eighteen I moved abroad to au pair for two years, where my employers’ parental devotion to their young daughters was a revelation. So some people really did enjoy their children? The girls were seven and two. Every day I spent hours in the company of the two year old, reading, playing and baking (chocolate cake a firm favourite). It was then that I realised what hard work looking after a small child was. Cinderella is a delightful story, but when you’ve read it seventeen times in one week, it loses its appeal.

The girls’ mother was glamorous, elegant and had a fabulous career. She’d head off in her sassy Chanel suits, her nails and lips a matching deep red, while I’d potter about the house, getting steadily heavier and lumpier due to boredom and all that baking.

When I got back to London, I told myself, I’d be a sassy career woman who wore elegant clothes and was skinny and glamorous. Child-rearing stuff could wait. It was around my mid-thirties that I began to wonder what had happened to my biological clock. It just wasn’t ticking. I lived in a delightful, family-orientated suburb of south-west London, and on Saturdays I’d hit the high street, only to be confronted with frazzled parents yelling at their screaming kids, and I’d skip past them all to buy fresh croissants and the paper, and then go home to my cats and a big pot of coffee and thank God that kids weren’t a part of my life. Where was the pleasure and happiness we’re all told children will bring? It certainly wasn’t out there on the streets.

In my late-thirties I’d tired of London life and, wanting to focus on writing, sold up and moved to France, where, after just one week, I met the man with whom I still share my life fifteen years later. We never discussed marriage or children – we were creatives, taking huge risks with our lives and really, neither of us was that fussed. Family would visit with their offspring and leave us wrecked and exhausted, grateful for the peace they left behind.

Much of our life together hasn’t gone to plan. We’re not best-selling authors and we live very simply and modestly. But we enjoy each other’s company. We have the luxury of uninterrupted conversation, of being able to discuss subjects other than education, music lessons and who’s picking up who when. Our relationship, I believe, is stronger as a result of our not having kids. Being childfree wasn’t a decision, it was more of an evolution. And I don’t see myself ever having regrets.

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First published on October 14, 2015

Comments

  1. Hi Allix,
    thanks for sharing your story, and a great one too! I like the way you tell it. Your childhood particularly, proves that parenthood really isn’t for everyone. I can identify with many of the points you make, particularly how your relationship has got stronger as a result of not having children. A great relationship is a blessing, and I am glad that yours is going from strength to strength, just like ours.

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