When Alison and I connected to hear her voice her want to not have children, I found it moving and inspirational.
Alison shares how it is only now in her life she feels she is able to say out loud that she does not want children, learning that this has long been a part of her, but that society numbed and quieted her wishes.
Allison’s story shows strength and courage to step out and acknowledge who she really is and as a strong woman who has decided a life with children is not for her.
Another hood is about turning up the volume of women who do not have children. So can you tell us Alison why you want to share your story with Anotherhood?
I discovered Anotherhood on social media and reading the stories of the wonderful women on the website gave me comfort that I am not alone in some of the reasons why I have chosen not to have children. This inspired me to share my story as others may resonate with the journey I am on and gain some comfort about not having children. Even if it helps one woman feel better that would be lovely.
I know a little bit about you but for another hood, can you share a little bit about who you are in a nutshell?
I live alone in a village just outside out of Edinburgh; I am 39 and am loving exploring a newfound freedom, after stepping out of the socially conditioned matrix I have been living in for over 30 years. I began to live the life I wanted, not a life I thought I ‘should ‘be living. I realised how much I love adventures and being outside. I love trying new activities and meeting new people. I love being able to go to bed at 9pm to get up at 5am to start my morning routine that sets me up for the day. I am living my life the way I love and I don’t want that to change.
So can you share with us what was happening for you when you realised you wouldn’t be having children Alison?
I started thinking about it more when I began working with my first life coach. I went to her as my world had been turned upside down after the end of a very turbulent, year long relationship. I was questioning everything I knew, all the decisions I had made and the path I found myself on. I was doing everything ‘in order’ yet, mid-thirties, I was single again with no children (or desire for them). We worked together on all the beliefs I held about what I ‘should’ be doing with my life then I realised I wasn’t doing what I WANTED to do. It opened a whole new way of life to me and I began a journey into the world of personal development. I continue to become more and more aware of who I am as I trust myself and my intuition again. I realised, only in the last 6 months, that I definitely did not want to have children as I am really enjoying being me, exploring all the things I enjoy and living the life I want to, not what is expected of me as a woman.
Being able to say I don’t want to have children is empowering and took off so much pressure as I felt I was always being reminded (by social conditioning/marketing etc) that ‘the clock was ticking’ – what clock?? And also, I explored the feelings of guilt and shame I felt around this – just because I want to do what I want when I want does not make me selfish and any less of a woman. When I realised that I didn’t have to conform to what I thought I should be doing that was very liberating.
I think one of the big things was when my life coach said she was in her mid 40’s and she had chosen not have children. I was like “are we allowed to do that?” I mean, that’s crazy when I say that, I thought, I am a woman, I am supposed to have children, but I don’t want to have children. It was that realisation that it was okay to not want children, no-one I knew had ever said that to me before.
I suppose it’s all quite new as it is only recently that I’ve actually been able to say it out loud, and its not selfish, I should not feel shame for saying I don’t want to have children. I feel more empowered in my decision.
It feels as though you have reconnected back into your intuition.
Up until that point, I had never considered myself as spiritual, however, I have been doing a lot of deep inner work with my life coach and learning lots about masculine and feminine energy. I’ve spent most of my life in my masculine which was a coping strategy and survival tactic, it was all about ‘doing’ instead of ‘being’. My understanding of life was if I was ‘doing’ then I was achieving and successful. I am learning more and more about feminine energy and learning to just ‘be’. I can now spend a day at the beach, I can walk along the sand in my bare feet and know it’s not wasting time. It brings me so much joy and allows me to be creative, just for me, no agenda. It’s all-new to me and I’m loving exploring it all. It’s learning to just slow down and enjoy my life a lot more.
So, can I ask, when you say out loud ‘I’ve chosen not to have children’. What does that feel like for you?
It almost feels like somebody else’s words, because I’ve not been able to say it, or I haven’t said it out loud that many times yet. I have always felt like an outsider, I haven’t really felt like there has been a platform before. I also feel very strongly about my decision, and saying it out loud is like sighing out, the pressure is off, the weight is lifted as it is out there in the world, it’s something I don’t have to think about anymore.
But it’s interesting that you talk about that it feels like it’s somebody else saying it. Its as though you’re saying it, you trust in it but there still needs to be that internalisation of it, so you can really hear yourself say it.
Yeah, and I think that in reading and listening to other people’s stories, hearing more and more, and knowing I’m not alone is really helpful.
By your own admission you are very new to sharing your journey of not having children with those that are important to you, but what has been your experience so far?
When I said I was doing this interview for example, or when I’ve said I don’t think I want to have children….again, that’s me using the language ‘I don’t think’ because it is like I just want to put the idea out there and see how people react. The reaction is usually “Well maybe one day you will.”
I often wonder if some people think it’s just a phase as I’ve had comments like “You know when you meet the right person you will change your mind”. I don’t view it as negative as I don’t think it has sunk into them that it is my choice, a way of being. The more empowered I feel and the more I trust myself and trust my decision, I can say it with more conviction and then they may realise it’s not just a phase.
When they say “its just a phase” How does that make you feel?
A little bit like a child. It seems as though there is still an expectation for women to have children, so why would someone choose not to have children?
This is what we need to change, we need to educate more and for someone to trust me when I say I choose not to have children I am woman but the sole purpose of a woman is not to procreate.
It’s very powerful that you say that it makes you feel like a child. It feels as though it strips away your presence as a woman, and it feels as though you’re being told, ‘no’, this is how you should be feeling.
It’s actually hard to explain it. It’s almost like they think I will change my mind. Yet I know I won’t. But again, that’s how I feel, that’s my perception of the situation.
Has impacted the relationships around you?
It was more with my friends who have children, we would generally spend time with each other having dinner, or going out. And naturally that all changed as they have things they are doing with their children. It’s just a different world and life from mine, which is absolutely cool, as we are all on a different journey and I celebrate them for doing that, but it’s just not one I can relate to, and that has sometimes been difficult to adjust to.
A lot of women do speak a lot about their bodies and the relationship they have with them. So we’re really interested to know in the choice of not deciding not to have children has impacted the way that you view your body?
I think the view of my body has changed generally in the last six months to a year. As women how awesome are our bodies?!? How they function and what they are capable of not just physically but our whole makeup and our cycles, our hormones. I am now more in tune with my body and listening to what it is that needs and honouring that.
In not having a child, this almost seems a bit crazy but, I’ve got my body back. It’s not like I am just priming it for having a child. It just feels like home right now, for the first time in my life.
When I was younger, I took lots of contraceptives to avoid pregnancy, and I didn’t realise the impact of what they were doing to my body. I became more and more aware of what I have been doing as I got older and the impact this has. I fully understand that they help some women, but for me it wasn’t good.
What has been the most challenging part for you in deciding not to have children?
The most challenging part for me has been around the deeply ingrained programming that we are subjected to. As women, from a young age, we are shown, through society, in programmes, cartoons, in books, that having a child is viewed as an integral part of being a woman. I know for myself there are neurological pathways in my head that need to be rewired, that I don’t need to feel any guilt or shame, and that I don’t need to feel any less feminine because I do not want children.
I appreciate again this is my own perspective and how I feel however I have listened to a few podcasts and read some books by women who have similar feelings. Again, this has massively helped me accept myself for who I am and not who I feel I should be.
You mentioned there about feeling less feminine, has that been a feeling that has accompanied your decision not to want children?
Yeah, and I don’t know why. I lived fully in my masculine energy for a long time, but now I am more in my feminine and I feel empowered now that I have made the decision, it feels right when I am saying it. The less feminine is the only way I can describe it, that somehow you have failed in your role here if you are not having children.
If you could change one thing about the way that women without children are viewed, what would you change?
The view that it is selfish to not want to have children. To not want to give up a lot of your freedom in life to raise a human. It is like the choice not to have children is still so taboo that it is not even a consideration for some people that it being my choice might be the reason I don’t have any.
I hope by sharing my story and others sharing theirs, that it will become more socially acceptable. I am just living my life the way I want to live it, you have chosen to have children and I totally respect that, but equally I have chosen not to have children so can you respect that.
Anotherhood is about connecting women with shared experiences so Alison has there been anything that you feel has really helped you?
Spending time doing activities that light me up and bring me so much joy and energy. I am really getting to know myself more. It is so much fun trying out new things and meeting lots of lovely women (sometimes men!) along the way! I love meeting new people and learning about their lives. It helps reaffirm that I can trust myself and the decision I have made, and that my life is not going to be any less joyful or less full because I don’t have children.
So, on the last question, and any podcasts or books or anything that you feel is kind of helped you on your journey that you think others might kind of enjoy.
The first thing is just spending time with others who are in a similar position. I found all the women you have interviewed on Anotherhood really powerful. And I’ve got one podcast that I listed to recently actually which was Rachel Cargill, she has many Instagram handles and businesses, but one she has focuses on being a childless woman. She did one podcast from the selfishness angle, which I found very helpful, I found it so liberating that I was not the only one that felt like that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just thank you for the opportunity share my story.