In a pretty freakin’ ballsy article in the Daily Mail, journalist Kate Spicer says 'Any woman who says she's happy to be childless is a liar and a fool.'
Spicer, who had an abortion at 18 and remains childless at 44, is unshakably vehement on this point. OK, almost unshakably. She backs off a bit when she admits that there may be some women who are truly happy to have by-passed motherhood, but the majority of childless women past childbearing age are just in about 70 shades of misery, and if they try to convince themselves they are happy, they are in just as much denial.
She doesn’t diminish the benefits of child-free existence, touting the joys of a carefree and sleep-filled existence, but laments, ‘While a child-free life looks fun on Facebook, no number of career highs, nights at the theatre, weekends away or adult pleasures can disguise the fact that it feels - there is no other word - empty.’
Spicer throws out some interesting stats: A mere decade ago, 1 in 9 women remained childless at 45. Today the figure is around 1 in 4. Women with a university education are even more likely to remain childless, with the figure rising from 1 in 4 to 43%.
‘Childlessness is a source of sadness and regret,’ Spicer continues. ‘Most of those 43 per cent will have gone through fertility hell, or never met the right guy, or left it too late, or have any number of unhappy stories.’
OK, granted, there are loads of childless women in their 40’s who want children who can’t have them, but there are also women in their 20’s who can’t have children, and women in their 30’s. It is a viable hell for any woman who wants children and can’t have them, but it seems more than a little arrogant to say that the whole of the 43% of childless women in their 40’s who claim to be happy are liars or fools - even if you do give a the tiniest bit of wiggle room for women who may be genuinely happy sans kids.
Spicer also neglects to account for the fact that the only thing as sad as not having a child and wanting one, is having one when you don’t. Not only do you suffer for that, but so does your child. Not everyone adapts to surprise parenthood, and maybe if you were actively trying to prevent having a kid in your 20s and 30s, there was a reason. Of course, maybe not, but that’s not the point. There are too many variables - that is the point.
Yes, Spicer missed out on motherhood, and this is sincerely unfortunate and heartbreaking - we feel for her - but projecting those lost and wandering feelings onto an unwilling segment of ostensibly happy childless women seems a bit extreme, and more to the point, self-indulgent.