I never wanted to be a mom, and I felt relief when my boyfriend said he didn't want kids either. We've been together for 19 years.

Michelle and Christian Ewen posed photo
The author and her husband.Courtesy of the Ewens
  • A few weeks into dating, I told my then-boyfriend I didn't want to have kids.

  • I was relieved when he said he didn't want kids either.

  • We've been together for almost two decades and have no regrets

I told my future husband that I didn't want to be a mother at a bus stop outside the cinema. I was 25, he was 22, and our relationship was just weeks old.

It was an unplanned confession. One of those moments when you shyly say: "I could have a future with you," then poke like a destructive goblin at what could break you. Christian said that he could offer love and monogamy, but perhaps not a wedding. My own truth — that I didn't want to have children — felt comparatively uglier. A betrayal of who I ought to be as a woman.

He didn't want kids either

It was a sweet relief when he replied: "I've been wanting to tell you. I don't want kids either."

But I didn't believe him at first.

Christian's Scots-Irish Catholic family burst at the seams with children. He interacted with his nieces and nephews with joyous comfort and ease. I had no doubt he would make an outstanding, loving father. But every time we revisited the topic, he was steadfast in his desire to live child-free.

With time, Christian's feelings on marriage turned into a proposal that morphed into a 2008 wedding. But after 19 years together, we still haven't had children. As a 44-year-old woman, I can say that with a smile on my face and no hint of regret.

I'm an aunt, and I love that role

My younger sister was always the first to visit when our neighbors had babies. Their newness and warmth excited her in ways I have never related to. I knew she would be a mother the same way you can smell the rain before it falls. Our paths forked, with me heading to university to study journalism while she had the first two of her three children.

The 12 children I am lucky enough to be auntie to are some of the greatest human beings I have ever known. My heart is full of love for them as I watch them grow up into adults.

I just don't want to be a mother myself. There is no aching void within me that is infant-shaped, pink, and squalling. In the mathematical sum of my life, I have never been able to equate motherhood with a plus.

Children need parents who want them, and as much as I respect everyone who is called to that vocation, it's not the destiny I chose for myself. Christian and I live a life that feels equally purposeful and exciting. We have the time and energy to home a rescue cat, raise funds for animal welfare, and deliver toys to vulnerable families at Christmas. We have traveled the world and written a book together.

People see me as less than others because I don't have kids

The very fact I feel the need to defend my existence outside the construct of motherhood shows that being child-free remains problematic. Some of those prejudices even carry health risks, as I have found when trying to access gynecological care.

Now we know that women can be happily single, it's time to acknowledge that they can also be content living without children. After all, parenthood comes with no guarantee of happiness.

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