The Long and Winding Road

The World According to Lisa

Is the urge to mother more important than Mother Earth herself?

I’m a woman, a childless woman of a certain age. Ok, of middle age.

Being childless is something that I’ve had to explain, justify and apologise about for decades, particularly during the years of my marriage. After all, once respectfully attached with a spare room and a reliable income, what’s stopping you from reproducing?

I’ve lost count how often I’ve caught the pitying looks of women who are mothers, as if I’ve been diagnosed with a life shortening illness.

The hushed question of whether medical reasons have prevented me from reproducing has not always been considered inappropraite, and neither has the ill judged conclusion that I must dislike children.

In my earlier life, pre-husband and pre- same sex parenting, it was sometimes asssumed that I was a lesbian.

As far as I know I was always bioligically sound, and I do enjoy the company of little people. Oh, and I’m heterosexual.

So that’s sorted that.

Why is it that if you’re female and make a conscious choice that babies aren’t for you you’re looked upon as some sort of sub species?

It’s been said to me many times that I will regret this later in life, and that I’m ignorant of what I’m missing.

Of course it’s a bit of a sacrfice, but children should not be looked upon as some sort of social insurance. After all, there’s no gaurantee that they’re going to stick around and neither should you expect them to.

And in life you have to make choices. I firmly believe that contrary to what Sunday supplements try to tell us, we can’t have it all, and funnily enough it’s never felt like too much of a sacrifice when I’ve been exploring a South Pacific island or trekking in Rajasthan.

My manners have stopped me from asking my critics if they know what they’ve missed out on because they’ve had children?

Do they ever wonder how many more books they might have read, or what a nice change to yet another “family – friendly Brittany campsite” a month travelling in South East Asia would be?

Have they pondered how liberating it is to just go out – on a whim – and not come home until the early hours?

Can they imagine the joy of hiding away from the world with an empty fridge (all but for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a carton of milk) and living off take – out for the weekend?

Or the escapism of watching re-runs of Top of the Pops rather than CBeeBies, and being awake to listen to late night radio in bed while drinking tea?

What about the enjoyment of a telephone conversation without the ear piercing, wailing soundtrack,  and a Sunday stroll with the dog minus the irritating complaints of boredom?

Ah, but that’s just selfish I have been lectured.

Look around. There are many pursuing full on careers, aspiring to expensive lifestyles in leafy suburbs and still insisting on having children, but only having an hour a day for them between 8 – 9. That isn’t selfish?

Producing a “mini me” is not symobolic of being a caring, sharing human being and not producing one does not mean that you’re less worthy.

And what about the most important mother of all, Mother Earth? She is groaning under the strain of the existing population which is outstripping her supply.

Many agree with that point, but are quick to point the finger at the culprit – developing countries.

But while Mr and Mrs Wilmslow might be able to keep their offspring in nice clothes, expensive toys and piano lessons, they can’t write off the carbon footprint of their offspring with a cheque.

And I’d wager that the average child born into East Africa takes far less from this planet than their equivelent born to the wealthy nations.

I appreciate the instinctive desire for those who want to reproduce. We are hard-wired to want to do so, but has the time come to consider whether that is sufficient justificaton to continue increasing our species?

We have all sorts of urges that we use our intellectual capacity to over-ride. And if the desire is to invest in another being and nurture it –  arguably one of the higher callings in life –  well sadly there’s an endless stream of children and young people in desperate need of fostering and adoption.

There is an economic need to continue our species. Future generations are needed to provide revenue and skills to fund society and the resources required to keep the likes of me in my dotage.

But I doubt that that is the uppermost thought in the minds of wannabee parents when they’re mulling over which thousand – pound stroller gives them the biggest bang for their buck!

Bangladessh is a country affected more by climate change than many on the planet and one of “those” countries that should stop reproducing, and it has! Well, reduced numbers significantly.

In the seventies a Bangladeshi woman typically had 9 children. Today the number is 2. 7 and the change has been brought about by promoting women’s rights and aspirations, offering proper education.

Interestingly, by teaching women that they are not defined by their ability to reproduce, the population explosion has been arrested.

The U.N. considers population control crucial as we head towards 8.3 billion by 2030, potentially even as high as 11.2 billion by 2100. But resources are not replenished at anything like the same rate, and each year the earth’s residents consume more than one and a half times her resources.

But population control is not just the responsibility of the poorer countries. Every country on the planet, including the UK, should consider the implication of adding another head to the global population. We may wave different passports at imigration,  but climate change does not recognise arbitary bits of paper.

So fellow females, who have elected to live full and satisfying childless lives, but are confronted by a woman who considers us a disgrace to our wombs, defend your right to choose!

Actually, forget it.

Endure fifteen minutes of her phone photos, coo and bill in all the right places, and make your escape.

But not before recommending a serum for the eye bags, and peeling off the dried alpahabet spaghetti from her jacket.




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