There are situations and events in the here and now that trigger past memories and our past responses. These memories can be conscious or unconscious. Regardless, people periodically brace (as defined as their muscles tighten) in response to these memories. Or they have enacted this brace reaction for so long, it’s now part of an unconscious habitual lifestyle.
Part of me always anticipated motherhood with warmth, accompanied by an inner mantra: ‘I’ll have kids by the time I’m 30’. I guess this was my personalised version of what Melanie Holmes calls the ‘motherhood catechism’ in her book The Female Assumption: The schooling of females to assume that they will someday become mothers (Holmes, 2014: 9). It’s strange to recall that even by the late 1990s it wasn’t obvious, to me, at least, that child-bearing was and is a choice – the first time that I had paid attention to the pronatalism of our societal messages.
My final decision not to procreate emerged from a dream, the day after lunching with my best friend, Vicky, and her sharing with me the happy news of her pregnancy. My life was taking a different path. Yet it had dawned on me only a few years earlier that having children wasn’t compulsory. Realising this, I had made the provisional decision not to have them, to sit with this and to see how it felt, after years of never having questioned that I would one day become a mother. It’s 14 years since I dreamed that dream, the beginning of my researching and writing about elective childlessness. The day after that dream I found myself deciding to write the book that I had failed to find, eagerly scanning online booksellers.
What was I seeking, searching the web for the book I couldn’t find?