It is nice to see that being child-free has become somewhat fashionable these days and we are no longer regarded as selfish freaks for not wanting to play maidservant to a demanding little emperor/princess for 20 years (up to 40 now, what with rising tuition fees and not being able to get on the housing ladder to fly the nest).
Not that child-freedom was a deliberate choice on my part. More an absence of desire and the right circumstances to even consider it (and I was never going to go it alone).
I knew from an early age that I simply didn't have the energy to work AND raise a child. It was one or the other, and challenge enough to get myself up and out the house every morning, let alone a bunch of little people. Yet today's economic situation virtually dictates that unless unusually well-off, both parents have to work full-time to pay the mortgage and run themselves ragged 24/7, too exhausted for each other at the end of the day, not least after that quality half-hour with the kiddiwinks before bedtime.
A negative experience of childhood at the mercy of warring parents, (despite my mother being lucky enough to be able to stay home in the days where one mortgage payer was just about enough), similarly left me reluctant to inflict the indignities of childhood on anyone else. I didn't take kindly to being a child myself and couldn't wait to put the ghastly experience behind me.
Notwithstanding, babies do suffer from that rather serious drawback of not being furry. Button-cute kittens I know my way around (ears, chin, chest tickle) and can love at first sight, but a pink fleshy baby is another thing. A pink fleshy baby is more akin to a mysterious little alien in my arms that I fret about holding correctly and panic about detecting leakage from, at one end or the other. I know I am always terribly relieved to hand them back anyway, and even more relieved when they turn at least two and I can actually talk to and interact with them!
How babies have convinced so many parents to have them and spend all their money on them in return for little thanks that I can see is anyone's guess, though working in further education, I suppose I should be grateful that they evidently have some great PR company somewhere working on their behalf.
But will I be lonely in my old age? Judging from the number of lovingly-neglected youngsters seeking adult mentors I seem to keep encountering, I think not. I could very well still end up as someone's beloved 'Great Aunt Agatha' if by informal adoption, rather than blood. And as I often joke, I actually think there's a layer of respect and emotional intimacy you can have with someone who's never changed your nappy. Sometimes parents are just too close for comfort.