I'm an aunty! It's awesome. I've wanted to be an aunty for as long as I can remember. What I have never wanted to be is a mother.
Don't get me wrong; I like babies generally - especially when they're at that larval stage where they just lie cutely in the crook of your arm like a kitten and make those faces they make until they finally gain control over their facial muscles. I'm not hugely into kids' chat - I lack patience - but I do like dancing and singing and have no shame, so we can connect on that level.
Also, I'm not easily shocked and I think it's easier for teenagers to bring up certain things that worry them with adults who are not their parents and I want to be there for that too. So I reckon I'll be a pretty good aunty.
But people won't believe me.
So often when I hold a baby I get "you look so maternal," "you're so good with babies - doesn't it make you want one of your own?" Uh, no. I like living in a house but I don't want my own one. I like playing with cats but if I got one I'd feel guilty that it was killing birds and besides, what business does a woman who's moved house 31 times have getting one? And guess what? I like babies. They're warm and cuddly and they came out of people I love! I'll change a nappy. I'll bottle-feed. I'll get puked on, no sweat. BUT I DON'T WANT MY OWN ONE.
It probably seems like I protest too much but I kind of feel like I'm forced to defend my ability to know my own mind. Nobody tells me "actually, I'm pretty sure you'll end up living in Thailand because you've been there so many times" when I say I love being back in New Zealand.
And it's not even a question of things like money and time, or the actual pregnancy and birth, the responsibility of raising children or the myriad other things that don't appeal to me about motherhood. It's just simply that while I am cis female, I'm not gendered in a way that causes me to feel maternal. I never have been. I never will be. I'm 32! I'm pretty sure if I had a biological clock it would have kicked in by now.
Being asked why I don't want kids out of genuine curiosity is fine for me, even though I think the world might be better if more people asked themselves "why DO I want kids?" or "do I really want kids or does it just seem like the thing to do?" - given the number of children who are abused, mistreated and generally seem unwanted. And the people that say it's selfish not to have any children are clearly insane. What could be more selfish than having a child you don't want? It's not as if there aren't enough humans in the world. Oddly, I've also had defensive reactions when I answer the kids question in the negative, as if by answering the question they just asked me, I am advocating against them having children.
It's hard not to project your own feelings onto other people - I'm sure I do it all the time - I assume that if someone does something, they are feeling the same way I would feel if I did the same thing even though I know it ain't necessarily so. Which is probably also why seeing me coo at grublets causes people to think that I've changed my mind but I don't want to have to hold back on showing love to babies in case people get the wrong idea and I think it's a shame that there's not more room in our culture for the childfree who nevertheless want to be involved in childrearing. Frankly, I can only see positives - what could be bad about another adult who is there to help? Extra love, extra hands. It's all good. Just don't imagine it means I'm trying before I buy - I'm not.