Bodhi owner, vegan entrepreneur and mother of two, Heaven Leigh looks back on why she never wanted to have kids and shares her honest and open reasons behind her decisions.
Another year, another Mother’s Day and normally I would be writing something light and fluffy about how grateful and lucky I am to be a mum…. but this year I thought I’d share something different.
You see, I have a confession to make. I never thought I would actually become a mother.
I never dreamed of having children; little mini me's I could call my own, who would look like the perfect blend of my partner and me.
I never oohed and ahhed over babies. I never felt clucky or that my clock was ticking, that I had to find the right partner to start a family with.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t due to a lack of maternal instincts. I always thought if I was a mum I’d be a great one. I just didn’t seem to have the urge to procreate and have children.
No kids for me, thanks
I often wondered why I didn’t seem to have the same longing for kids as many of my peers. Was there something wrong with me? Did anyone else feel the same way I did? Should I just pretend I really want children to keep the curious friends and family at bay?
My family thought I was weird. My friends would act horrified and declare I would regret my decision when I was an old spinster. “Women are meant to have babies, that’s what we are built for!” they would say.
Over the years I tried to draw as little attention to the subject as possible, preferring to avoid the topic whenever I could.
If any of my relationships would start to become serious and start talking about us having kids together, I would bolt out the door never to be seen again.
For the good of society
In my own eco-warrior mind I would justify the reasons I didn’t feel the need to have children as purely environmental. After all, the world was overpopulated and I didn’t want to add to the burden of society.
If anyone asked what would happen if I reached my 40s, couldn’t have children and changed my mind, my response would be: “I’ll adopt. Isn’t it better to give a child in need a warm, safe, loving, stable home than to add to the human population?”
In this day and age, the decision not to have children is more widely accepted than it was years ago, and I not only completely respect every woman’s right to choose but acknowledge that for many women sadly the choice is taken away from them.
Culturally in Asia, women without children actually play an integral role in society. Before birth control it wasn’t unusual for women to have 10 children which, let’s be honest, is not something easily managed. So spinsters, or “Aunties” as we would call them, would often take in children or help mothers raise their ever-expanding families.
Looking back with open eyes
Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and I now find myself with two much-loved children of my own, reflecting on the real drive behind my lack of desire for having offspring.
Yes I genuinely believed in the environmental message I told myself, but I also think there was something deeper at play.
Sadly, all my life I have had a fairly non-existent relationship with my father. And an incredibly complicated and difficult relationship with my mother. To be clear, I’ve never lacked love from my mother, I just felt that ours wasn’t what a mother daughter relationship should look like. Having to deal with my mother’s emotional well-being and separated parents, meant I didn’t have a healthy roadmap to follow for good parenting.
Sometimes when you come from a complicated childhood and a broken home, it can be really difficult to see outside of that which you yourself have experienced.
For me the decision not to have children was a difficult one. I couldn’t get past the fear that I would somehow perpetuate the cycle I had grown up in, even though I knew I could never and would never knowingly repeat the mistakes of the past. I didn’t want to drag an innocent child through the pain of a broken family when I knew how painful and how devastating the effects could be.
I decided I would rather go at life alone, than risk bringing children into the world, and into a relationship where there are no guarantees.
A new beginning
So what changed my mind?
When I met my partner, I was always honest about my thoughts on the matter, and asked him if not having kids was a deal breaker. He was always honest to say for him it would be.
He really wanted children and for a while we were in a holding pattern. Both of us in love and trying to figure out how we would make this work when we fundamentally want such different things?
I still remember the day that I changed my mind.
I looked at this wonderful man who was loyal, kind, generous to a fault and full of a love that any child would be blessed to have. A good man, one that was nothing like the things I feared most. This was someone you could trust your life with, someone who would go to the end of the universe for his family and would never abandon his children.
Who was I to rob this beautiful man of the opportunity to give that love to a child? So the decision in the end was simple. And once made, it was like shedding a heavy coat that I had carried for years. There were no patterns to repeat. I was free to create a new future, something different from my past.
And the kids? I don’t have a regret in the world since changing my tune. They are the most incredible little creatures who have both shown me a love that I have never known before - and they drive me completely, utterly, insane at the same time!