“You’re 39 and you don’t have a baby?”

Sorry did I just give someone the impression I’d had a sex change? No? Then why does this evoke near disgust from so many women when they find out I’m approaching 40 – and childless?

Does the fact that as yet I have chosen not to have a baby, for my own private reasons, means that I am any less of a person?

Invariably, the person asking the question has children.  Does that make the askee more important than me?

They certainly seem to think so. And sadly, I often find it is not an equal relationship with my baby-toting friends.

I hear the same stories from my sans-kiddies mate all the time – we’re always the first to pick up the phone and check how our friends with kids are: we’re the first on the scene at kids birthday parties, treating all our friends kids as our own: we realize our friendships are bound to change once there are kids on the scene.

We’re not stupid.  We get the pressures kids bring to a relationship.  We understand that in the early days of motherhood, you’re up and down all night feeding, and exhausted most days.

We accept that when we’re down or need a drink, with a girlfriend, the mum’s can’t come running anymore.

We know when our family is sick, or a boyfriend has dumped us, that little Joey might need mum’s attention first.

All we ask from mothering friends is recognition that our lives are still important and fulfilled – without children.

This situation has cost me one friendship. I had been going through a particularly tough time and realized it had been awhile since I had checked in with a mate who had a toddler.

I decided to test whether indeed it had become a one sided friendship.  I didn’t make the usual first call. It has been three years now, and not a word.  I hear about her from time to time, and am told she’s wondering why I haven’t called.

Another single and childless mate, who recently told her friend she had broken up with her latest bloke, was comforted with the following words: “I do despair for you.  Oh, well you still have a few years left” In reference to missing the boat on having his child.  Which she had never mentioned she intended to do.

Only a few years left? Isn’t that what you say when someone’s terminally ill?

If you are one of those people who enjoy interrogating childless women about their family choices, think of something more appropriate and interesting to ask them.

Remember, not only is it absolutely none of your business, the questions could be hurtful reminders of hidden factors.

Yet I’ve heard this question delivered so many times, as if it’s no more intrusion than asking what their favourite colour is.

Think it doesn’t happen?  Ask any childless woman how many times she’s been put in the uncomfortable position of having to duck and weave out of giving complete strangers or acquaintances the reason why she doesn’t yet have a child.

Where these people get off? Being put on the spot at a dinner party of flapping ears, and prying eyes, wanting to know if I want to have children, or why I haven’t got any yet, is not my idea of pleasant dining banter.

Do any of these people consider that perhaps for medical reasons or genetically there’s a problem? That’s perhaps I can’t, not don’t want, children?

Is that something I’m going to discuss over clinking cutlery and fake laughs?

Perhaps I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and it sadly hasn’t eventuated.  Do I need my face rubbed in it? Should I have to think of an excuse so I can avoid sharing this heartache with those who are not my nearest and dearest, whilst doing my best not to burst into tears?

Or perhaps I haven’t brought a child into the world because I haven’t found a partner that I deemed father material?  Does putting my dreams of motherhood on hold for the sake of my future child make me less of a person?

So why haven’t I had a child?  That, my friends, remains none of your business.



  1. I think it’s called ‘choice’ – everyone has a choice, to have or not to have children. It is personal and private and entirely up to the individual to have children. I do not think every woman has to have children just because they are a women. My sister is 47 is does not have any children, she is content with her life with her partner, working and travelling. I have 2 children, I am content with my life. Having children does not guarantee contentment.
    Contentment is what I think we all seeking through our lives, and you have to be happy with yourself and your life, whichever way it takes you.

    • here here. I also have a friend that’s 47 and has no kids, and is fine with that. There are alot of people out there who think women that don’t have kids are selfish. but I think if you speak to some of those women, they would say that many women that do have children are selfish, given the environment that they knowingly bring them into. I just think the non kids chicks, would never dare tell people they think that. Ok, so I just did….. ha ha. I just feel for kids that are born into bad environments. Some people should consider the child before their consider their desire to have another baby around. Just look at this terrible story of the little girl in Sydney that’s missing……..I won’t say anymore…..

  2. Hi Amber, i just read your column, & i SOOO get it even though I am a Mother of a four year old Daughter. She is a happy, healthy little girl, i have a great Husband, our lives are great… YET i am constantly asked the question about when are we going to have another child (that question alone doesnt bother me, its what comes after), they go on to say that she will grow up lonely, she will grow up selfish, its always nice to have a sibling, what about when you are no longer around she will be alone in the world, blah blah blah…
    My Husband & i would like another Child but it doesnt mean just because i fell pregnant with my first easily that its the case second time round (not sure why people think that), & also i dont want nor feel ready to have another one, not for a few more years anyway.
    I love the fact that my Husband & i can now have some ‘us’ time, that we can send our Daughter to a private school, & that were all happy & healthy. It almost seems a crime to only have one child & not want to add to the brood after a few years (not saying there is anyhting wrong if you do but its not for everybody), my Daughter has friends, she goes to Kindy, she has & is like every other child, with or without a sibling.
    Being a Parent is hard work, whether you have one Child or five, but what i feel is that we will have another child when WE are ready, not when other people think that the time is right, because Heaven forbid there is a larger age gap between your Children…
    I am grateful that we have a Daughter, as you said there are people who cant even have one & would give anything to have the chance… So as it stands we are a happy little Family with a gorgeous little girl & if we have another one then great, if we dont then its not the end of the world !!
    P.S Love reading your blogs 🙂 xx
    Tried sending this as an Email, dont think it worked… Never mind

    • After I wrote this column initially, I actually heard from a few people that said similar to you. It all came down to the fact that the world is full of people that think they have a right to ask any questions, and they think that the time frame THEY have deemed appropriate, is the one that everyone else should be on. And as you said, you have a gorgeous little girl…….but how quick people are to start focusing on the so called ‘next one’ rather than spend their time asking you questions about the one that does exist. I just cannot bear people like that and I find it really hard not to be blunt back to them. But then it always feels like you’re the one that has the issues rather than them realising that their questioning wasn’t appropriate… sometimes feels like a no win. Except hopefully someone will read our bitching here and think twice before being so nosy or pushy again. Love to your little girl.x

  3. We certainly do Amber 🙂 I think it all comes down to respect doesn’t it? I was at a community event a few weeks ago and there was a woman seated next to me with two beautiful children. She turned to me and asked if I had any children. I told her I didn’t and much to my surprise she said god I envy you. My jaw dropped and I started to ask her about her children.. She cut me off and said, you’re single, you can travel, go to a yoga class whenever you want, study and go out whenever you feel like it. She then went on to say that all your friends who have children are not telling you how difficult it is and if you scratched the surface you would find a very different picture to the one they’re presenting to you. We have friends that absolutely love their children more than anything else in the world, but I thought that was interesting perspective from a mother.
    Great website!! Hope you’re well lovely xx

    • isn’t that gorgeous that she was honest enough to share that with you? I tell you, not sure if you saw the last Sex In The City movie, but for me, the ONLY good part in it was when Miranda and Charlotte were in that little bar together and Charlotte breaks down and says how hard motherhood really is. I really wanted to cry with her cause even though I’ve not had kids, I could really imagine what she must have felt like. It was a great scene I thought, and it seems maybe alot of mothers don’t want to appear that they’re not coping, or by admitting it’s tough might appear that they don’t love their kids enough. It would be tough as HELL. But wonderful as well. Thanks for getting on my site too by the way. It’s really fun to chat xx

    • by the way, Mum and I drove past our old ‘stomping ground’,,,,,,,Mentone girls the other day……those skirts certainly haven’t got any longer……….WOW

  4. Some of us were BORN to be mothers, some earlier than others. I don’t think you should beat yourself up about not having kids. You possibly would NOT have achieved HALF the stuff you have if you had children.
    Too many opinions are just confusing, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR life and your opinion is all that matters x 🙂

    • yes I agree, and I also know that I would never have had the luxury of time to work on clearing all my issues and baggage if I’d had a child by now. I was such a self destructive type of person and the last thing I wanted was to try and have a child when I felt like I was doing a shitty job of even looking after myself. I would however, like to have at least one child, but first the lovely father needs to find me, so that’s what I’m putting out there to the universe now. Fingers crossed.x

  5. I think you’ll find that the phenomenom of people with notions that your private affairs are open territory for discussion is fairly well contained within the female gender. The same can be applied to every aunt who prys while asking “when the big day will be”, when you may be just about to split up. It seems there are certain women who regard discussions on their terms about anything connected to relationships, marriage or children as a right. As for their preconcieved agendas, timetables, and do’s and don’t lists… Put it this way, they’ll never be freedom loving hippies.

    • maybe we should respond to these people with “So when are you two getting divorced? According to statistics, you two should be about to call it a day in the next year or so” ha ha.

  6. Ha! I can imagine their hemlines wouldn’t leave much to the imagination 🙂 I didn’t see the movie but I can imagine.. I love this site! You were always on the pulse Amber 🙂 xx

    • ha ha, thanks sweety. speaking of hemlines, remember Trish, the way her boyfriend would pick her up in the panel van each lunchtime? Wasn’t she hilarious?? Gee there were some characters at that school.x

  7. None of the women I’m friends with who don’t have children are beating themselves up in anyway shape or form for not having children.. Quite the opposite actually. What they do seem to find excrutiating is being cornered at dinner parties and bbqs where the mothers insist on imposing their values on them. That and the fact that the conversations must revolve entirely around their lives, their children, their marriages, morning sickness, breast feeding, graphic labour stories, sleep deprivation and housing renovations..

    • oh yes darl, been there a THOUSAND times. The other thing I find upsetting is that ‘some’ women, think you cannot have any opinion on parenting because you haven’t actually been there yet. So you’re not even allowed to say ‘i wouldn’t let my child do this, or that’ because they seem to think that you’ll change all your principles once you’ve had the child. I totally get that there are many things that no doubt, you get leniant on once you’re in the situation, but I find that often the example that’s being discussed at time is usually something that they’re a bit more lax on. Like young kids being on facebook and stuff like that. I believe I wouldn’t want my kid on facebook until they’re at least 15, but I’ve had mum’s say to me….’well it’ll be different when you’re actually a mother’, and I think, “no, I will be the mother that stands her ground on that particular issue”. But it’s a no win. I think they feel judged, but in reality, we’re just offering an opinion that is ours, and have every right to differ

    • No Mich, you’ve clearly blocked it out. I will not take ‘i don’t remember’ as your final answer. There are other clues I could give you but this is not the place. Anyway, I’ll meet you at the cricket pitch for lunch. Nothing like sitting on cold cement to know you’re alive!

  8. Ha! Yes let’s meet at the cricket pitch, collect a few piles and then let’s head off to the library to pretend we’re listening to Australian history audio tapes while listening to Kylie minogue?

  9. Amber, I’m going to have to agree with your mum on this one, as having children does change you in a way that you are completely unable to fathom before you have them. You’ll not necessarily change your principles after having children, but you will modify them enormously. Have your opinions and attitudes, but remember that raising your own children is a UNIQUE experience and everyone’s experience will be different. Parents and non-parents alike should appreciate the uniqueness of that experience.

    By the same token, I agree with you in that people who already have children should not be so self-righteous when they speak with you about the lack of them in your life. It’s not up to them to make that judgement call. I think the Chinese had it right when they say “There is only one beautiful baby in this world . . . . and every mother has it”! I think that what parents should be saying is “expect the unexpected”!

    I’m a father of a 14 year-old daughter (who’s going on 26!). I separated when she was 7 and have had shared parenting arrangements since. I have read several parenting books and watched a couple of parenting videos, and have even resorted to an astrology natal chart reading of my daughter in order to understand her psyche better (a common practice in India). In studying what I have done, everything has made a positive difference, and I believe I’ve been able to distil some personal principles that will remain inflexible.

    Teach children morals, manners, give clear and unambiguous boundaries (yes means “yes”, no means “no”, and maybe means “go away and think about it and come back with a better offer”!) and to treat other people like you want to be treated yourself. The rest is up to them and is all trial and error, i.e. children are trialling you and you’re making all the errors!

    Has this been successful for me? Time will tell. The effective parenting video that I watched tells us that we eventually want our children to be our friends, which I wholeheartedly agree with. If, after tucking in my daughter the other night I get a “Daddy can you cuddle me for a while”, then I believe I’m well on my way to being her friend in her adult life. In addition, my daughter has said “I can talk to you, daddy, because you listen and don’t get upset when I’ve done the wrong thing” (said after she got involved with the wrong crowd and was caught skipping school one day).

    So to all parents reading this – in the nicest way possible, shut the f$%k up when talking to people who haven’t had kids but would like to. It’s a unique experience that you should wait to be asked about, not judge other people by, even though your genetic programming tells you to do so!

    And to all budding parents reading this – no hard and fast rules for when the “stork finally visits”. Nobody, but nobody, can tell you how to prepare for the genetically changing experience you will go through. Don’t second-guess and remember that your kids are your karma, everything that is you will be reflected in them!

  10. Thankyou Amber you’ve said everything I am feeling. I have stopped completely socializing with all of my old friends with children, (except my own family)I know that sounds bad, but when you want something they have got and you can not have it is terribly hard to cope with. Especially when they compare you to your sisters, “well your sisters are fertile, you shouldn’t have any problems”. Well I am infertile all I ever wanted was to be a mother, I never wanted nor set out to have a career, but that is all I have. Even with a good salary compared to others… being single, who can afford IVF?! To scrimp and save for a few years just so it can fail…..?? All you mothers out there if someone is a mum they will brag about it, just like you, you do not need to ask if they have childen. Kiss and hug your kids every day even when they are driving you to tear your hair out, because you have truely been blessed!

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