Newhaverin Leith and life


To be or not to be…a mother

One of my book group’s earliest meetings was to discuss We Need To Talk About Kevin, a fiction book in which a mother agonises over her son’s homicidal tendencies. Kevin’s mother was hesitant about having children, she wanted to focus on her career, but gave in because she thought it would improve her relationship with her husband. Does a child feel its mother’s dislike of being a mother and therefore become an evil person or is he just evil by nature?  This book gave way to one of the most heated discussions in our all female book group.

This book resonated with me on several levels. I am a woman whose mothers had children very young and who were career focused. I am a woman whose early professional life dealt with the sexual health of women who faced the pressure of having sex before they wanted to and having children before they wanted to. Lastly I am a woman who has known from an early age that I don’t want to have children. Or even one child. For me, in my life, having children is environmentally, financially and emotionally irresponsible.

Choosing to remain childless is difficult for some people to understand and hearing a woman, like the mother in We Need To Talk About Kevin, express regret at having children because it ruined her marriage and ruined her life, seems to scandalise people and women especially. My combined experiences meant I had a sympathy for Kevin's mother. When I’m asked by people how many children I have or when I plan to have children my response usually gets a frown or worse, the half smile and an infuriating ‘You’ll change your mind.’ I’m sure I won’t change my mind, thank you very much, and in fact my husband and I are planning for an addition to the family but in the form of a terrier.

We exist- women who choose not to have children. We’re not mentally ill, physically ill, we’re not selfish and we don’t hate children. Consider the other side if your initial reaction to a woman choosing to remain barren is surprise, confusion or disrespect. Imagine the tables were turned and saying to someone struggling on to the bus with a pram and an unruly toddler on a leash, ‘You’ll change your mind.’ Respect a person’s choice and don’t hate, appreciate!

If you want to take part in what is likely to be a heated exchange about We Need To Talk About Kevin, tickets are on sale at Filmhouse for the premiere of the film adaptation followed by a Q and A with the author Lionel Shriver for October 19th.

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