Melinda is 38 and lives in Edinburgh. Melinda coaches entrepreneurs for a living, and has a clear passion for her work noting, “I absolutely love my job, and it is great to help people achieve what they want from life.”
Melinda loves exploring the outdoors, being in the mountains, swimming in the Scottish sea, and finding the time to reconnect to herself through yoga.
Melinda’s life journey has led her to a point where she has embraced a life without her own children.
Anotherhood is about turning up the volume of the voices of women who do not have children; can you tell us why you wish to share your story with Anotherhood?
Everyone is really different and sometimes it feels like society expects certain things of people especially women and what they should want.
I would like to be someone who shares their voice to show that everyone has different lives, different choices. I want to help make people feel comfortable with what they decide to do with their lives and embrace what lives they have.
Can you share with us what was happening in your life when you realised that you did not want to have children?
It really wasn’t that clear-cut for me, when I was about 16, I was completely clear that I didn’t want to have my own children, I was absolutely certain that I wanted to adopt. I had it so clear in my head and then as I got older it became foggier. When I was with my ex partner, I would see other people have kids, see my friends having kids, I felt so different and like I was getting left behind.
I have very good friends who have children and the friendship has not changed. But it did change a lot in me; it suddenly made me feel different. I had been with my partner for 10 years, I thought ‘this is weird, I have been with him longer than everyone else, so why aren’t we getting married and having children’.
Looking back I know I was just thinking it because that’s what I felt like I should be doing, that’s what I was expected to do, that was how to keep up with society, to keep in with my friends and what is natural.
Now that I am older and recently diagnosed with endometriosis, there is high likely hood that I cannot have children.
I don’t know how to explain it, its not that I have made the decision not to have children its more the decision to be happy with whatever happens. I don’t feel the pressure to have my own kids.
I really want to adopt and to foster, because I think there are so many kids out there that need help.
I want to adopt because I want to have an impact and a positive change in somebody’s life. I want to foster kids to help them, even if it that’s just for a few weeks.
I am well aware how difficult that will be, but to me that fits who I am.
If I were to get pregnant, I would be happy; I just don’t want to put pressure on myself to try to have a child.
I have recently written my vision of the future, in it I am 68 and I have 2 adopted kids and 20 foster kids.
That feels right, that’s how I feel at the moment, and its weird that that’s how I felt when I was 16. I have gone through this weird journey all back and forth and then came back to that decision. I think realising that and accepting that’s what I want to do has been my process.
I also thank whoever might be up there (gestures to the sky) that I didn’t have children at the time I was with my ex boyfriend and thinking where I would be now. When I split up with my boyfriend I moved to Edinburgh and it made me who I am today, its weird how everything happens for a reason.
What has been your experience in sharing your journey of not having children with those who are important to you?
My family doesn’t seem to judge me either way. My Mum occasionally goes on about it and tells me “you’re not to old”.
They have never been pushy with me either way, I think I have been quite lucky with that and I don’t think it was ever expected of me and friends have been the same.
I wonder has not having children impacted relationships with those around you, in the past and to this present day?
I used to get really upset and have arguments with my ex boyfriend about it as he definitely didn’t want any kids and its probably one of the reasons we split up. But actually I hadn’t really sat down and thought about what I wanted.
I am in a relatively new relationship, just over a year, we have sat down and talked about having kids and he is quite similar in thinking to me about adopting. Sometimes I worry he does want his own kids as he is amazing with them, but the reality is he knows my situation, he knows I have endometriosis, so he knows its unlikely, and he has stuck with me so far, and he stuck with me through the 4 months I was poorly with endometriosis.
Do you feel that this experience has impacted the relationship you have with your body?
I think only for the positive, but then I think I am very body positive person, I like getting naked everywhere. I have been naked in front of 3449 people for a big art exhibition where I was painted blue.
I have no qualms about my body at all, the endometriosis made me think about my body a bit more. It made me get frustrated at my body, for being in so much pain but not related to having kids. If I am being completely blunt and really honest, the thought of being pregnant terrifies me, what it does to your body, what I have seen my friends go through, I don’t understand how it works; it also makes me think of Alien (haha).
So I would say only for the positive.
Have you experienced any challenges or fears around not having children?
Being really honest I used to have a big fear of not having kids, that no one would look after me when I am old.
I wonder where are you with that now?
When I think about it logically, I wouldn’t want my kids to look after me anyway.
I am one of the most stubborn people in the world, so I would be useless at someone looking after me.
My plan is to be an 80 year old yogi, teaching yoga classes all over the world so I won’t need looking after.
It’s not a fear anymore, it was a really stupid reason to consider having children, but it was definitely a fear that was there.
I wonder can you share the positive aspects of not having children?
Loads; I do think I have a amazing life, I get to do what I want, I get to travel I get to go where I want, I get to sit in bed all day on a Sunday if I want to, I love my life.
Sometimes I wonder if I am just a really selfish person, people who have kids give everything to their kids, I admire that, and I am in awe of it.
Obviously, when I adopt children I know my life will be very different and I want that. I don’t know why but I see it very differently, I think its because I naturally help a lot of people in my job, so by adopting kids I feel like I would be doing something worthwhile. I want to help people who aren’t going to get support, to me that make’s me feel I am making the difference I am meant to make.
If you could change one thing about how not having children is viewed, what would you wish to change?
The perception that women should want to have children, it is an individual choice. I think women should be respected for their decisions, men are. When men don’t want to have children its not thought of as weird in the slightest, and I don’t see why it should be for women.
I also feel people shouldn’t feel sorry for me because that’s the most annoying thing in the world.
I just think it’s that perception, like everything else we have a choice, a choice of who we wish to date, and a choice where we live, and a choice what we do with our lives.
Anotherhood is about connecting women with shared experiences, I wonder can you share anything that you have found that has helped you to embrace your life, your body, and your life without children?
It’s having the right mind-set, which is very typical for me to say, but I do feel I work very hard on having a positive mind-set. I did a vision board workshop a few weeks back and I picked a card, the card was about my attitude it said “do you mostly have a negative attitude and do you have to work on having a positive attitude?” and I always thought I had a positive attitude, but when I thought about it, I have worked really hard to build tools to help me have that positive attitude. I say all the time you can’t always control what your body does, you can’t control what life throws at you but you can control your attitude towards it. Any situation I am in, I work really hard to make it positive, I think that’s the best thing I can share.
How has this experience of sharing your story with Anotherhood been for you?
Yeah good, it feels really good; to talk it all through, it’s helped.