Am I failing at womanhood if I don’t want a husband or kids?

Updated: Nov 13, 2019


As far back as I can remember, I’ve never seen a future for myself that included a wedding or having kids.

I never made a fake veil out of a sheet as a little girl or planned my dream wedding. I don’t have names picked out for my first baby boy or girl, and on the playground I’d always ask to be the cool, childless aunt when we’d play families, in a desperate effort to avoid the mothering role.

“So who is this love-hating spinster that’s here to tell me I should die alone?” I hear you ask.

By now, I’m sure you’re picturing some Bridget Jones type character, who is sitting at my laptop writing about how love is overrated, or maybe being eaten by alsatians and not being found for weeks.

Or maybe you’re thinking of the main character in an early 2000’s romantic comedy, who’s cynical about love and solely focused on career until the perfect person comes along to sweep me off my feet *cough* anything starring Katherine Heigl *cough* and maybe that will prove to be right in the future, but right now those rom-com tropes couldn’t feel further from the truth.

I’ve felt the butterflies, I’ve talked about future plans, I’ve said those three little words and meant them, and when love comes along next I’ll consciously grab it with both hands.

I’m not some sad, bitter spinster who’s given up on love.

Love’s great, and it makes me feel great, but so does achieving new things in my career, or travelling the world. And there’s damn sure nothing more satisfying lately than coming home to my apartment after a long day, turning Adele up on the sound system and eating a burger in my underwear without judgement from anyone.

“I bet her parents are divorced and now she hates relationships” you might think, but again, you’d be wrong.

I am lucky enough to have the most wonderful, loving and supporting role model for being both a wife and a mother that a girl could ask for. And that mother has always told me that I don’t need others to make me feel whole, that my success is my own, and ultimately that I don’t need to feel constricted by what society says I should be doing.

My father too, has been an amazing model for being a good husband and father, and he instilled in me morals of always doing what’s right for me, told me never to settle, and has supported me in everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve.

As I grow older, these morals my parents taught me have carried me far. They’ve helped me make life choices based on my own personal reasons, and I’ve never defined my own worth based on someone else’s interest.

In previous generations, there’s been societal pressure to grow up, get married, buy a house and have a couple of kids. That’s traditionally what a successful life has looked like, and even now, in 2019 those constructs are still infiltrating modern relationships.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, even households that consider themselves egalitarian are still likely to conform to traditional gender roles. Women are still more likely to give up work to provide for their families. Only 3 per cent of Australian families have a mother who works full time, as opposed to 60 per cent where the father is the primary breadwinner. Not to mention the level to which women also take on domestic labour and childcare responsibilities.

So for me when I think of marriage and motherhood, I see outdated sociological constructs.

I see their historical roots in gender inequality. I see them as ‘milestones’ we’re supposed to achieve, rather than need to do, and I recognise that they were originally designed for economic security, rather than as the ultimate declarations of love.

Now it is very important to note that I, the writer, am a white, middle-class atheist woman with parents that are still together and that lives in a first world country. As such, I am speaking from a privileged position and from my personal experience and standing, rather than what everyone feels and goes through.

In many countries, religions and cultures, women don’t get to decide whether they marry or have children, and likewise in many cases many people also make these decisions based on very different considerations or meanings than my own.

I don’t judge anyone who wants to get married or have children. My feelings may even change in the future, and you may catch me walking down the aisle in a puffy white princess dress, or pushing a stroller to mothers group on the weekends.

No one knows what the future holds, or what choices I may make and why, if faced with real life prospects and decisions.

For those who already know they want these things, I wish them nothing but the best in their search for love and in their personal achievements. Hell, I’ll even be your Maid of Honour or hold your hand in the delivery room. It’s just personally not something I see myself doing.

As I further develop my sense of self, and begin making serious decisions on where I want my life to go, I see myself building my economic security, and achieving the goals I set based on my own hard work and determination.

I also see loving relationships built together as equals, where no one feels like we need to spend (an average of) $50,000 or get the government involved to prove that it’s true to each other. (Side note, imagine how many overseas trips you could take for $50,000…).

I don’t need shared bank accounts. I don’t need to share a last name or even share adorable little humans that merge our DNA. I just want someone I can hang out with while we do life.

If I end up with another human for life, I just want them to be someone that I can come home to and lean on when I’ve had a long day, or book a trip away with without any considerations other than us wanting to go. That’s enough for me.

And if I end up alone that’s fine too... I love my own company.

As adorable as kids are (and I 100% believe that they are), and as beautiful as a lavish wedding is to attend, I’ve never felt like I needed my own.

I’m happy to take my time with dating, and just keep playing that cool, childless aunt role where I buy presents, babysit constantly, feed them lollies until they’re hyper, and love all my friends’ children as my chosen extended family.

Not wanting a husband or kids, or even a white picket fence isn’t failing as a woman. Knowing what I want right now, and building a life that achieves it is my own type of success, and I make no apologies for that.

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