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Starting from her childhood memories and putting into perspective her family’s dynamics, Liviana tells us about her personal path that brought her to choose, with no regrets, not to have children.

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LIVIANA: «Chicken,
Chicken,
baby, Chicken… here you go…
I must have been around 32 or 33.
That seemed the right age, doesn.t it?
I started being anxious about it, probably because I was becoming aware that I didn’t want what other people expected of me.
Can I tell you something?
“Dead branch”?
I don’t feel like a dead branch, not in the least.
Some plants don’t have flowers, but they produce leaves that are equally beautiful.
I have never felt like “dead branch”.
On the contrary, not having kids as a choice, so with no pain, made me more receptive towards others, it gave me the opportunity to open up more, and because of that, I’m like a thriving plant.
Something else I wanted to share with you is about my associations, since I was a child, what was my memory associated to birth and pregnancy, with the stories my mom told me.
When she talked about pregnancy, how I was born and all, she always used to say: “Before you, I was pregnant with your brother. It was a beautiful pregnancy. Everything was perfect, I went into the delivery room, and gave birth in a hour, everything went smoothly. And this beautiful baby boy with blonde curls was born.”
I’m pretty sure she romanticised the story quite a bit.
He died five minutes after his birth.
My mom was distraught but then she fell pregnant with me.
It was an immense joy of course, but she was bedridden for nine months, throwing up every day, morning sickness, could not eat.
“In the delivery room for 3 days and 3 nights,” she made it seem like she was being held captive.
She told me, she had really thin lips and she bit them so hard from the pain that they swelled like two balloons.
This was her story and this certainly didn’t help me to consider pregnancy as a positive experience.
For a long time, I thought this was the sole reason I didn’t want kids.
But it was something else, something a little more substantial than that, but it took me a while to come to terms with it.
I realised that I was never truly a daughter, I was always a mother, to my mother, above all, but also to my father.
Mom was a small woman, she needed to be protected.
At the age of ten, I was already taller than her.
She expressively asked to be protected, and I always did.
I was always responsible, but not because I was by nature, strangely enough, but because I could’ve never hurt her.
I just couldn’t. She had already gone through so much, I couldn’t have added anything on top.
When I say these things, I always fear I’m portraying my parents negatively, but that’s not the case.
I would never have wanted other parents but them.
They loved me a lot, but perhaps they didn’t have the tools to love me as I needed.
She never pressured me on that, I was my mom’s whole world, I was enough for her.
My mom was like me: she loved everyone so she didn’t need to focus her affection on a single next of kin.
They didn’t pressure me on that, nor did they pressure me to get married, or to have a life conforming to social norms.
They never pressured me.
If anything, I felt pressured by myself for a while, as the time was right, I had a partner, so why didn’t I want children, that everybody considered the natural progression of things?
At first, you’re led to believe that your attitude depends on what you know about pregnancy and childbirth. And in fact I did somatized it.
To me, pregnant women were ill, I saw them as somehow sick, but then I started working on myself and I realised other things.
Firstly, I realized that I don’t lack maternal instinct, I believe I do have a pretty developed one.
I’m not driven by selfishness like my mother was, to her, a kid was meant to save her…
And I don’t…

It took me some time to realise I didn’t want a child, as I didn’t want to damage someone the way they did with me.
And my parents did love me, and it was precisely for that reason.
Loving a child doesn’t exempt you from making mistakes.
We all need to work on… we need to work deeply on ourselves first, and then we can decide if we’re able to have children without hurting them.
Although I was very convinced of my decision, for a long time I feared that when my time was up which theoretically still isn’t, as nowadays people have kids until their sixties, but back then I feared that reaching the point of no return, I would have regretted my choice.
That was my fear.
But that was not the case.
No. I never see it as a wrong choice, I don’t even consider it a choice.
It happened so naturally, I don’t feel it as a thought-through decision.
I have many friends who don’t have children.
Some by choice, others not.
Fortunately, none of them suffers much from this, which may be seen as a deprivation to some.
It is not a common topic, we don’t really discuss much about the reason for not having children.
Probably because it is a choice we don’t see it as a deprivation.
Clearly, they might be more accomplished, although this is not the right term to use here, but it’s true that a child impacts on your concentration, it takes all your attentions, and if this is not the case, sometimes it’s wrong.
Hence, these people may lead a freer life, not intended as free from tight schedules and diapers changes, not related to practical stuff.
Their minds are freer and this is reflected on their houses as well.
A friend of mine does not have a stable home, even though she has many.
She does not feel the need to stay in the same place.
No, I don’t know if it’s because I live in an enlightened environment, but I really never felt I lacked anything.
Then again, if you don’t have children, you naturally surround yourself with people who don’t constantly talk about diapers, family, children, schools, kindergartens, or high schools.
They don’t always talk enthusiastically about these things.
I must say, a few days ago, I have learned a colleague of mine is expecting.
She is cut out for the mother role.
If you think of a “mother” that’s her.
She has a three-year-old daughter who is her whole world.
Her life must be very tiring because she works in Rome but she lives outside so she has to commute.
She cares for her child with her husband, and with the help of her mother.
She is not young, she is forty-one and she really wanted to have another baby, and now she is finally pregnant… She told us when she was three weeks into her pregnancy, she must’ve been really looking forward to it.
Apart from her, who never ever complained about a tiring life, never with regret or tiredness, apart from her, all my colleagues who have children well, they don’t consider it exactly as a walk in the park, they do feel the burden… I’m not saying that this further convinces me of my choice because no one knows how life would have turned out otherwise.
I might have been a happy mom, changing diapers or dealing with teenage problems, but let’s say that what surrounds me doesn’t make me regret my choice.
Back to what I was saying earlier, I don’t feel like a dead branch, so I don’t even think about it that much.
I have two cats, called Chicken and Meatball, which are very near and dear to my heart, but they do not substitute children, I want to make that clear.
They are my pets and I love them, I love all the animals.
In my life, I’ve had chameleons, dogs, cats, ferrets, I’ve owned all kinds of animals.
My cats are my companions, I come home to them, but they are not… they are not my children, that’s for sure.
They are little creatures that bring me happiness, rightfully so and I also make them happy, that much is true, but they are not a compensation, that’s for sure.
Yes, I wonder about it… not obsessively of course, I do wonder about it, but since I am surrounded by so many people I love, the problem does not arise.
As for leaving a trace of me on this world, I don’t think that a child can necessarily do that.
I think that is a very selfish view of motherhood.
I am not attached to things.
The things I am attached to have no value whatsoever.
I don’t know if it’s by chance or not, but the moment I will be gone, they will lose their value.
So my material things, the few material things I own, I will be very happy to leave them to the many friends I love The things that are meaningful for me, the things I value, they will die the very moment I will, since they only hold an emotional value.
There are very few things I care about, and that only I can care about them.
I like this one very much.
I like this one a lot because I bought it at a flea market if I’m not mistaken on the Gargano, yes, on the Gargano.
No, it’s not that I didn’t like Sylvester, I wanted it similar to my cats, I never had a black and white cat.
I never came across a black and white cat, as I never choose cats, they cross my path.
This is a gift, when I exhibited cats, now and then, somebody visiting my house would see my cats’ collection and would give me new ones.
This one here is wooden.
At first, I was looking for cats made from different materials and I liked this wooden one a lot.
I must have one made of lava too, but I can’t find it.
This here is a cat-shaped whistle, typical of Salento, I’ve never tried to use it though.
I miss all the little ones, they were the most beautiful.
I like this one because it looks like an Egyptian cat, it is even made of bronze.
Kind of icy.
Then… ah this one is very cute because it’s a mommy-cat with a cradle, here it is.
Mommy-cat with a cradle, actually, maybe it’s a pushchair, not a cradle.
Come on, snore some more.
It also used to mumble.
It took its last breath.»

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