Wicked Stepmother

Why do women think it’s OK to berate me for not wanting children?

I’ve never wanted children. As a child my mum would give me dolls to play with and I hated them. I always played with stuffed animals instead. I remember pushing teddy bears around in the pram she got me. I don’t like children. I didn’t even like them when I was one… And I don’t remember a whole lot from my childhood apart from all the stuffed animals, wondering why my parents wouldn’t buy me an Action Man and dressing up in my mums wedding dress then pretending that I’d ran away from my wedding to join the mafia. I don’t think I was very good at being a child and I have no interest whatsoever in raising one.

My mum always said I’d get over it. She said I’d change my mind when I met the right man… I never understood that. And although meeting my exboyfriend/boyfriend/whatever did change my mind about wanting to get married (although maybe I would have jilted him and entered a life of crime, we’ll never know) I never changed my opinion on kids. In fact, he has a kid already and if anything that just put me off more. Anyway, after seeing how terribly I still react to babies and children in my mid-twenties, when my friends are all getting broody (or up the duff), my mum’s given up hope. She’s accepted that motherhood just isn’t for me; although I suspect part of her still hopes I’ll have a miraculous turnaround.

Now, I’m not like the wicked step mother that my ex boyfriend/boyfriend/what-the-fuck-is-he sometimes like to make out. I’m hideously awkward with kids and will do what I can to avoid them, but I’m certainly not cruel or nasty (however, if you’re a stranger and your child bothers me and I’m not in a rare benevolent mood, I will tell them to go away and make horrible faces at them if they don’t leave me alone immediately). Kids just aren’t for me and that’s that. My friends can accept it, my friends with kids can accept it, my family can accept it… why does it bother people who’s life I am not a part of? Please tell me, angry strangers, why does it effect you? I may also point out that nobody gives a man any grief for having the same attitude toward kids.

Today in work my boss was complaining about not getting any sleep since baby #2 came along. I shook my head and stated that I’ll never understand why people choose to have children (not that baby #2 was a choice, I remember the look on his face the day he told us they were expecting. The look of a broken man regretting the old line ‘but I can’t feel anything when I’m wearing one!’). My colleague, who doesn’t have any children herself at the age of 50 apparently by choice, took issue with this. First she said “Well, if your mum and dad hadn’t decided to have you, you wouldn’t exist.”


What’s your point?

Then she told me that there’s lots of reasons people decide to have children:

  1. Because they love children
  2. Having children enriches their lives
  3. To carry on the human race

Wait, what? Couples actually decide to pop out a sprog just in case there aren’t enough humans around already? Hmm not so sure about that one. Yes, of course there’s a biological drive there to reproduce, but I really believe we’re past all of that. If we were simply giving in to our natural instincts then we’d be pregnant every time we’re horny ffs. And why haven’t I, and many other people, got that instinct? No, I believe these days we’re more programmed by society than biology. Anyway I accept that people do want children, and for the reasons above. Most people like kids. Most people want to raise a little clone of themselves. It brings people joy and enrichment along with sleepless nights and shitty nappies. I accept it, but I can’t understand it. I can’t empathise with my friend who chose to give up sunday morning lie ins, afternoon naps, money to spend on herself, holidays where all she’s responsible for is her bar tab, for 4am starts, cycles of sickness (when one gets sick, everybody gets sick), holidays more stressful than staying at home, working a full time job to pay 80% of her wages out to the child minder. I can’t understand it! But that’s what she wanted, that’s what works for her and I accept that. I don’t question her choices, she doesn’t question mine. So why the fuck did my colleague need to argue with me and tell me that I’ll change my mind? The same old “oh I knew somebody who was just like you! And now she has THREE kids!”.

Oh, really? Fuck me! That’s the first time anybody’s ever told me that. This changes everything! Obviously, there are no women in the world who do not have children through choice. How silly of me!

Fucking idiotic. Yes, of course I may change my mind. I might also change my mind about never going to work on a cruise ship, but I don’t hear you arguing with that?? Then the guy in our office says that he doesn’t like kids but he ‘supposes he’ll have them one day to carry on his seed and that’. She didn’t bat an eyelid at that. So, me? I’m stupid to acknowledge that I’m selfish, irresponsible and hate taking care of things therefore should not become a mother to please somebody else, cause I might change my mind (I’ll also require a total personality transplant to successfully raise anything to be mentally stable)! But a man can be totally apathetic towards fatherhood, choosing to reproduce only out of pride and ego, to carry on his ‘legend’ and that’s just totally fine. ‘Cause you know the way men and women have completely different brains and feelings and all that.

A grown woman recently told me that ‘you can’t know what love is until you have your own child’. I know a lady who can’t have children (and chose to tell people that her and her husband just never wanted any) and it breaks my heart to think that there are people out there spouting irresponsible shit like that to people vulnerable enough to believe it. To think that this lady, who really did want kids, has had to listen to the same rants as me and be told time and time again that ‘I knew a woman just like you’ and ‘you’ll change your mind!’, it’s shocking. And it only ever comes from other women. A man has never openly passed judgement on me for not wanting children.

So, ladies who think you’re better than me for having or wanting to have children, and my friend’s middle aged cousin in particular, who started a fight with me at a hen do for not wanting kids because one of her sister’s kids died (?!), get off your high horse and go eat a dick.

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I am sick of being called naive. Specifically, I am sick of being called naive by men, simply for trusting other men.

I’m naturally a quite guarded person. I don’t open myself up to people straight away. I believe I’m a rather good judge of character and it’s not often I come across someone who I ‘judge’ can handle the true me (i.e. all the hatred and moodiness). I have a small circle of friends and even my best friends don’t know what I really think most of the time. The older I get the less friends I have, c’est la vie; but having been in a serious relationship, almost all male friends have dropped off completely and now, if there is ever any chance of a friendship with a member of the opposite sex, I am naive for thinking – even for a second – that they just want to be friends.

It’s as if every guy I know believes that every other guy is some sort of sexual predator and they themselves are the only decent guy capable of suppressing any sexual urges they may have towards every female they interact with. I’m sick of it!

Am I destined to a life of female-only interactions? Treating men as if they only view me sexually (and be accused of tarring all men with the same brush!)? No, I’m not going to give in to their misogyny. I am not a sexual object and I will not tolerate anyone who sees me that way. I won’t shy away, afraid of giving them the wrong impression – I’ll act like the equal human being I am and set the fucking record straight.

As I said before, I’m a pretty good judge of character and when I first meet people I tend to keep them at arms length. So it is only after some time and consideration that I may entertain the idea of a real friendship with somebody – male or female. I don’t blindly decide to be best mates with every guy that starts acting over familiar with me out of the blue.

Also, guys themselves are aware of how their friendship can come across and this will usually come up in conversation eventually. If they take the time to make it clear to me that they aren’t interested in anything else, why shouldn’t I believe them? What? Are they going to lie to me, hope to become my best friend and find a way to ‘worm their way in’ with me? Who on earth would put that much time, effort and patience into anybody, let alone me? That’s crazy. And I’m pretty sure ‘fuckboys’ (not sure I’m even using that work correctly – it’s just something I keep coming across sur l’internet!) would far rather just move along to somebody they have a better chance with.

That being said, I understand that ‘boys will be boys’ (a ridiculous excuse for misogyny to be acceptable in our society) and yeah, if I offered myself up on a plate for my male friends, most of them would probably take advantage of it (not that I look like a VS angel or anything but when sex is offered up it seems a man’s ‘standards’ go out the window. How else can you explain all the footballers etc who cheat on their lusted-over WAGs with extremely average prostitutes, for example?). But these are friends who also respect me, listen to me, have been there for me when I needed them, and never made a move on me no matter how drunk/vulnerable/any other state that some men use to take advantage I am and the fact is, I’m not offering myself up on a plate. I’m not even flirtatious; I don’t dress provocatively, I’ve never been promiscuous and I know how to say no.

When a boyfriend or friend tells me that I’m stupid for being friends with another male, what is stupid about it? What do they think is going to happen? That I’ll be ‘stupid enough’ to find myself alone with them, they’ll make a move and I will be overwhelmed with their masculinity and willingly yield to their advances? I don’t fucking think so.

Now when this has been an issue with any boyfriends in the past, they all use the line ‘I trust you but I don’t trust him.’ And are they worried that I’m putting myself in danger? That I may be raped? No. They’re worried that I’ll cheat. It’s bullshit. I can understand that they wouldn’t like the idea of me giving a guy the wrong impression, which I strive never to do. If they really do trust me then they should realise that all that’s going to happen when somebody makes a move on me, is that they will be rejected, probably be embarrassed about it and not want to hang around me afterwards. Surely this is only a good thing for the ‘concerned’ boyfriend?

On the other hand… this constant perception of every man as sexual predators does make me second guess their intentions at first. But what should I do about that? Do I have to tell men straight off the bat that I’m not interested, just because I’m female? Does my vagina have to come with a disclaimer?

Recently a guy from work, who I’ve always got along with, started talking to me more and more. Now, I hadn’t told anybody at work about my breakup, but as it had been a few months I guess people began to notice there was no mention of him (which of course would seem odd considering we were living together). So I guess there must have been whisperings of my single status as there was also a rumour that I was going on a date with a 30 yo chronic weed-smoker who’s half my size, who I’ve never even spoke to outside of the office (I should be so lucky…). Anyway this other guy, pretty much the only one there who I have anything in common with (fyi there’s only one other female in my workplace), started talking to me more and more. I admit, I was immediately suspicious; even more so when I heard that he had fallen out with his girlfriend and hadn’t spoke to her in about a fortnight. I tried to make my disinterest clear by telling him to make up with her and showing my disdain when he shook it off like it was no big deal. It genuinely did annoy me – nobody should act as though they don’t care about their partner.

The more we talked about life outside of the office, he was the next one to call me stupid for giving another guy the benefit of the doubt. Stupid to think any man could be just friends with me. But wait, what was he doing exactly? Oh, of course we’re just friends!

And that really should be the case because I certainly do not flirt with him or make any sort of hints that I’m interested and he still has a girlfriend whether they’re arguing or not. It’s not so hard to believe that it’s just nice to talk to somebody who shares interests that your other friends do not and who works with you, so can bitch about the boss and vent after a long working week. So, I’m giving him the benefit the doubt – I’m making a new friend – and I will be called naive for doing so. Because, of course, his penis is just biding it’s time, waiting to pounce from the friend zone *eye roll*.

I’ll just keep going to muay thai to be sure I can fight it off. Or roundhouse kick the next man who laughs at my ‘naïveté’.

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So I was at the hairdresser today. Just less than a year ago her partner of 10 years, whom she bought a house with and would be marrying in a few months, came home and told her he was leaving. No warning signs, no fighting, nothing to suggest he was going to change his mind after he proposed to her. So naturally we spend my appointments bitching about our breakups.

Now, whereas I have a small circle of friends who haven’t really gone through a serious breakup (I say serious as we were living together, planning to get married etc), my hairdresser has a lot of friends, who are usually a bit older than me. She was able to tell me two stories today of friends whose fiancés had called off the wedding last minute, just like hers had. Now, I know shit happens. I know that the seriousness and stress of a wedding can give somebody cold feet and I know that men sometimes feel pressured into marrying before they’re 100% sure… But, really guys? Can you not recognise your reservations before making these kinds of commitments?

He and I had just agreed on the tenancy of a new place – not the most serious of situations, but to help him out I paid all of the security deposit. Days before moving in he calls it all off, I’m out £600 and have to explain through hysterical crying to the estate agent that they have to find a new tenant (he couldn’t even have saved me that embarrassment and told them himself). He didn’t lose any money. I doubt if he even lost any sleep over it. He just moved in with his mum who doesn’t take any money off him and has given him her fucking car… He has it made. Meanwhile I couldn’t even go to work, therefore losing more money. My hairdresser’s fiancé did the same. Expected to walk away from the wedding and the house they bought together (for which she paid the full deposit) with only forking out for a minor fine to get out of their mortgage agreement. She’s had to get her solicitor involved.

I’m making this sound like it’s about the money but it’s not… It’s about the utter clueless-ness of these men. All of the stories had these three things in common:

  • The men had made a commitment and waited until the last minute to be honest about their feelings
  • They broke our hearts and forced us to restart our lives
  • They don’t seem to have any grasp of the gravity of the situations

How can they be so clueless?!?!

Is it a man thing? I don’t want to tar all men with the same brush but is it possible that the majority really have that hard a time recognising and acting upon their feelings? Are they too ‘hardened’ to realise how they’ve broken us? Or is it simply a case of, until you have your own heart broken, you’ll never understand the power you hold over someone else’s?

The real kick in the stomach though is how they act afterwards – like they want to be friends. What planet are they on? Seriously? You want to coast along, paying no attention to how you feel or what you want, commit to somebody, decide last minute to take a look at your life, realise you actually don’t fancy the commitment thing after all, shit all over your partners heart then send them smiley faces in an email and ‘hope you’re ok’ texts. NO! That’s not how it works! Ugh. And yet no matter how angry I get it never lasts. I’d forgive him in a heartbeat if he asked.

Fuck it – I’m just gonna get a sex change and live in la la land with all these other men. I’m done with feelings. Somebody get me a dick STAT.

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Meā Culpā

That was me, at half 7 this morning. Except I was looking considerably more disheveled, still not fully recovered from Sunday’s hangover. Why oh why does Monday always come around so damn quickly? I’d have pulled a sickie if I hadn’t already taken so much time off ‘sick’ lately – I’ve missed 3 weeks of work altogether over the break up and I was tempted to just quit completely. I’m still tempted now, sitting in my horrible little office, typing numbers into a computer, imagining what I could be doing at home instead… Yoga, brunch, a long walk in the sun, enjoying some tea and flicking through the pages of Vogue… Of course in real life I’d just be in bed because I’m a self-confessed lazy bitch. I’d still have tea though.

This (picture me scanning over my dusty desk with piles of paperwork) is not how I pictured my future during the years spent writing essays at the last minute and stress eating over exams for my A Levels and French degree. But, meā culpā. I’m too lazy to figure out what I actually want to do for a living and to tell the truth, after 6 months of unemployment upon graduating, I felt lucky to get an office job! Some friends even envy my handy little 9-5 (actually 8-4.30, and we finish at 2 on Fridays!). I get weekends off and I never have to do overtime; I like my colleagues and I get to skive most days (I’m typing this up in between doing paperwork right now and plan to do my shopping on Tesco online later). But who is really satisfied being an office monkey?

It didn’t bother me so much before the break up. Before I met him I had planned to move abroad after uni. I say ‘planned’… I hadn’t really planned anything at all – I just thought I’d figure it out. Story of my life. Alas, my heart had different ideas… I fell for him, hard and fast, madly and deeply; and he couldn’t come away with me, so I had no choice but to stay. The heart wants what it wants and all that. We had talked about moving to the mainland or possibly France in a few years, so I guess I used that as an excuse to stay in this job. It was just the easy option – it paid the rent and I looked forward to spending my evenings and Saturdays with himBut now, there’s nothing really keeping me here, and there are certainly more job opportunities elsewhere. “No reason to stay is the best reason to leave.”

However, even if I do decide to go somewhere new, I’ll still need to take some funds with me. Living back with my parents has given me a chance to save a little (I still pay them ‘keep’ every week, although they never asked I think they’ve supported me and my brothers for long enough!), but honestly I’ve been skint ever since I left uni! So, yes, I finally have a chance to save, but it’s also a chance to spend. And every girl deserves a bit of retail therapy after having their heart broken, right? (I’d probably be much better off spending the money on actual therapy!)

I suppose I’m a little overwhelmed with having so many options right now. Maybe I’ll take the easy route again… Forget about being independent, marry rich, and spend Monday mornings eating pancakes in my dressing gown, instead of racing into work (’cause I’m running late yet again), trying to ignore the unhealthy noises coming from my car and using the rear view mirror to do my mascara…

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