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09th May 2017

No one regrets having kids but I mourn the simplicity of my childless life

Gillian Fitzpatrick

Joyous and terrifying in one fell swoop, life will never be the same again.

Welcome to motherhood: a whole new identity bestowed upon you in mere moments and carrying with it more drastic change than our childless selves would have thought possible.

And despite all the many complex difficulties of raising a small person (not to mention the countless circumstances in which people find themselves in when they become pregnant) few parents would ever state that they ‘regret’ starting their family.

But the pure simplicity of life before kids? I’ll admit that it’s something I mourn.

I was in the supermarket recently and ahead of me in the queue was young couple. Both had come from the office and were picking up dinner – pizza and bottle of white. They were laughing and smiling; being affectionate and discussing their day, the effortlessness of their evening apparent.

No stories; no bedtime routine; no tears because it’s summertime and so it’s still bright outside and so it can’t possibly be sleeping time yet.

No trying to catch a glass of wine and one, single complete episode of anything before you both nod off on the sofa.

At that moment in the supermarket, I too wanted a throwback pre-kids evening when the world seemed so much less scary and so much more boundless.

Recently looking at my Faceboook feed I came across a snap of an old friend smiling alongside her sister and late brother. The photo had been taken a decade and a half ago when they were all still teeangers.

They look bright, beaming and totally unaware of the future they face. “Simpler times,” she wrote.

Her brother died suddenly a couple of years ago; before that her sister’s baby died of SIDs aged two weeks; their father weathered insurmountable debts during the recession.

Life gets so hard and complicated as you grow up – and having your own children only shines a light on the hardships in the world around us.

So I hope my own children – a girl now aged four and a boy of 18 months – embrace their young, carefree adulthoods. I hope that they travel, do and see things, and try things out for the first time. That they buy wine and pizza, and smile and laugh like they have no cares in the world because they don’t.

They should embrace that period of their lives, complete with weekend lie-ins and ad hoc gym sessions, wholeheartedly because in truth it will offer them something they’ll never get back.

Youth is wasted on the young… And a childfree life is squandered on those with no kids.