• arekidsforme

Podcast Episode #13 - Patrick Freyne

In this episode, I speak to Patrick Freyne; journalist, author and musician. He recently published his highly acclaimed debut book of personal essays called 'Ok Lets Do Your Stupid Idea'. This includes an essay discussing not having children which wasn't by choice for Patrick and his wife. We discuss the impact of this and how he feels about it now. We speak about the power of social norms and narratives, and how difficult, but also how important it is, to separate ourselves from them as much as we can.


Episode Transcript:


Mgt O Connor

Welcome to the Are Kids For Me podcast. This podcast is for you if you have ever asked, or are currently asking yourself this question, it's a big question which can be hard to answer for lots of reasons. And I am hoping to provide you with some information that can help. In each episode, I will speak to people with personal and/or professional experience in this area. My name is Margaret O'Connor, I'm a counselor and psychotherapist who offers specialist counseling on this topic. I conducted my master's research on how women in Ireland make the decision to become mothers or not. And I really love talking about this topic, I hope you find it useful.


Today I am talking to Patrick Freyne. He is a journalist, author and musician. He recently published his debut book called 'Okay, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea'. This is a collection of personal essays, and includes an essay about the fact that he and his wife won't be having children. This wasn't by choice, and we discuss how he has come to feel about this now and the impact it has on his life. We speak in depth about the power of social norms and narratives and how difficult, but also how important, it is to separate ourselves and our wants from them as much as we can.


Hi, Patrick, thanks a million for for joining me today. It's lovely to talk to you.


Patrick Freyne

Thank you for asking me, it's a really interesting subject.


Mgt O Connor

So you have the.. I'm gonna say maybe the honor of being the first man to be interviewed by himself for this podcast. So we've had some man as part of couples, but, and I'm just going to use this opportunity to do a blatant call out to any other men maybe who are listening who feel they have a story to share, please get in contact because I'd love to hear more. More experiences around it but, I suppose we're talking today because of your book. So you wrote a book..when did it actually come out?.


Patrick Freyne

It came out in September, it was meant to come out in May. And then all the pandemic stuff happened and like loads of things, it got pushed back.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah. Okay. So your book is called, 'Okay, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea', which is a collection of personal essays, which cover a wide range of topics and events going on throughout your life, which is, which is really nice. And one of them then is around kind of your own experiences of thinking about whether you want to, want to have children or not and how that worked out for you. Can I ask how the idea for the book came about?


Patrick Freyne

So the book kind of came together kind of gradually, like I've been talking to my editor, Brendan Barrington in Penguin about different things. And I started sending him essays. And at a certain point, he thought there was a book in it. And at that point, I started to have fun just trying to make it into a book as opposed to just disparate essays. And then on a kind of personal level. And the book.. Sorry I've a buzzing thing beside me, I'm just going to turn it off.. on a personal level, the book, it kind of had funny stories I wanted to tell. And then the essay is an amazing way to kind of explore what you're thinking about things. So with certain subjects in the book, I kind of knew, didn't know exactly what I was going to write but I knew I wanted to write on the subject, because it had been important to me or it had taken up a lot of brain space at different points in my life. So I have an essay about my mental health in there. And I've an essay about kind of family stuff and stuff about bereavement alongside the funny stuff, and I've one about not having kids, and because I'm 45 now and when I was writing that essay I was 44, but for some time, when you hit your 40s, you hit a point where almost, almost everyone, like I've actually got quite a few friends actually who don't have kids, but the majority of people in their 40s seem to have families and kids. And at that point, you start realizing that kind of you're you're maybe a bit out of speed with everyone else. And my thoughts around this were complicated. So the start of the book is an essay, the start of the essay rather is about a dream I had, maybe five or six years ago at a period when I was kind of feeling sad about the prospect we might like, for various reasons I don't go into in the essay, we knew it might be difficult to have kids and then slowly there was a dawning realization that it may not and wasn't going to happen. And as I also say in the essay, we didn't kind of pursue things like IVF, or anything like that. So. So it was kind of more like there was a little mourning period for me, when I kind of was kind of sad about it. Maybe.. I say in the book, I don't like using the word grief around it because it's not grief, but there was a kind of sadness at a certain point. And then the other thing that happens, then and you probably see this with lots of people, as I'm so used to kind of, in a way, even though I would see myself over the years as a mad bohemian, I'm also in step largely with everyone else, you know, I go to school, I went to college, I faffed around a bit in bands but then I got a real job. And then I got married, and we got a house and, and everything is kind of more or less in some sort of syncopated rhythm with everyone else. And then there's this kind of big diversion, where lots of your family and your friends are having families and you're not. And so that also, apart from anything that that means personally, I think there's also kind of collective kind of expectation and weight that comes on you, that makes it really hard to tell what's you and what's the expectations on you? And I'm sure that comes up a lot around the subject.


Mgt O Connor

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And I suppose even you you mention, and I said, you know, it's a short chapter, but there's a lot of in it. And so you kind of mentioned in your 20s, you know, it's not something you were actively thinking about. But, you know, you assumed maybe it would happen at some point. And I think a lot of people probably feel like that, yeah, probably in their 20s are pretty actively trying not to get pregnant. But at some point, you think it'll happen later on. Yeah, even just looking back on that now, do you do you know, kind of where that came from? Again was it just social expectation do you think?


Patrick Freyne

I'm kind of really interested in the ways that we're not half as individualistic as our culture tells us we are, we're much more shaped by expectation and norms, and conformity, then we like to think we are, or people like me who think we are fierce arty think we are (laughter). And so I think it's sometimes hard to tell what's your desire and whats the social desire. And with things like having kids, I think a lot of that feeds into it, because there's a personal bit of want, but then there's a, I want to be like other people, I want to have what they have, am I missing something because I don't have that. And those are different things. So when you're kind of processing that you have to kind of try and figure out what's you, what's the expectation on you.


Mgt O Connor

Which is really hard to do, because it's quite abstract, and everything is so intertwined. But you know, I've heard people say that they want to want to have children because it actually seems easier. Yeah, you know, which, to me kind of sounds funny, but it's more straightforward. You just kind of go with it more. It feels like you're, as you said, maybe going a different path if you're not doing that.


Patrick Freyne

There's more of a like, I think I thought about this a lot. I thought about it a lot. That's one of the shorter essays in the book, but it's one I had to rewrite over and over again to get right. And one of the things that occurred to me was that, like what, what it does when you're like everyone else, is you have a map. So when you hit the age of 40, let's say, you know, a lot of my peers had kids in their late 30s, you know, early 40s. And that maps out the next 20 years, (laughter) because, you know, just as you're getting out of that phase of your life when it's about school, college, work. Now you can go into your children's primary school, or, you know, nursery, primary school. And suddenly there's a whole other map ahead. And when I and that is like, as I say in the book, I'm now at a position, I think I think Anna, my wife is too, where we kind of see genuinely see pros and cons of both. And knowing that the next 20 years isn't mapped out. It's occasionally daunting, but it's also quite liberating. And I've seen, Anna actually interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert, you know, the writer, it was a live interview last year in Belvedere college and she said a kind of amazing thing, she she didn't have kids. She's, she's 50 now. And she's said this kind of amazingly empowering thing about how women in their 40s and 50s without kids are like a new species. Like there was never a period when there was so many. And some of its, some of its choice and some of its not choice. But but but on the more positive end of it, it's kind of biology isn't destiny anymore. Which is, which is the liberating side of it you know.


Mgt O Connor

If if it's your choice, yeah,


Patrick Freyne

If it's your choice yeah. And it wasn't, it wasn't entirely our choice.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And, and and you mentioned the dream. And it's a very vivid dream. And and it's really interesting, because I thought it was lovely. I suppose we don't hear, you know, the dream is is kind of caring for your nephew. And you were saying you woke up with a real kind of yearning and a real kind of physical yearning, and how you experienced that at different times to want to have a child and I don't think we really hear men talking like that. That tends to be something that is more associated or given space to for women. I just think I kind of think it's lovely, I think we need to hear more of that but was, yeah, I don't know what you feel about that?


Patrick Freyne

I think that's, I think it's human nature. Like I'm of the view most of the differences between men and women are the products of assumption and expectation on them. So there's a weight of expectation about what a woman's meant to be in our society, and it's different in other societies. And the same with men. And I've another essay in the book that I spent a short period of time, like a year and a bit as a care worker, which I also learned a lot from, because like gender comes into that as well, because I realized that kind of middle class young men like I was, at the time, aren't really trained to nurture. And one of the things I learned from that is that I think most people have a basic innate ability to nurture and the desire to nurture. I also had a very maternal father, my dad was a for his era, like my dad is 72 now and for his era, actually, not even for era, even by today's standards, he was like he did as much cooking, cleaning, nappy changing as my mam. And, and he was in the army. So it's kind of a complex, model of masculinity. And one of the things I learned from that is that it's not something, I think that there is an unfair weight of expectation that this is a woman's issue. And I think the reality is that both men and women have a desire to nurture.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah, well you'd hope so you know (laughter), but it's just we, well, I certainly, I don't think I've come across that maybe being vocalized in the way that you did. And that chapter as well on the care work, like, I found that really lovely, you know, because it's almost like, I don't know, are men not expected to want to do those types of jobs or to enjoy that type of work.. And, yeah, I just thought the way you, you talked about the people you worked with was so lovely. And it's nice to hear that perspective.


Patrick Freyne

I do think that, um, like, I like, one of the reasons I wrote the book in general, is because I've come to the conclusion that it's better to talk about this stuff. Like in my life, I've come to the conclusion that nothing ever, nothing in my life was ever improved by being a secret, or even private. I mean, I believe in privacy, but but like, not, if you feel like it needs to be private. You know, like, there are, like the things about and I know, we've come a long way in terms of mental health, in terms of talking about it and things like that. But I, I felt like, I've also read a lot of things recently, in different places. One of them was Malcolm Gladwell, his recent book, which just points out that we often make assumptions about other people, because you can't see their thought process, and most of us aren't encouraged to talk about what we're going through, you know, definitely not to strangers and, and even to I think, even sometimes, amongst friends, it's difficult, because I think, again, you're back to that horrible thing about there's an expectation of what norms are. And if there's one great thing about the last 50 years, it's an increasing reality that there are lots of different kinds of good life, you know, that there isn't just one kind of good life, and what I've come to believe about kids and wanting kids is that.. I'm gonna just put numbers on this that are completely unscientific, but I'm going to say this. I think there's 5% of people who really really don't want kids, and it would be a bad thing if they had them. And there's 5% of people who really, really want kids and would be incredibly unhappy if they didn't. And I've come to the conclusion that most people can be happy one way or the other. And I think there are things about not having kids that make me sad. And there are things that about not having kids that kind of make that I think are grand and fine and liberate me for the future. And I think that there's a danger of putting kind of.. always putting a kind of tragic narrative on these things. And which I know isn't necessarily like if somebody is really trying, it doesn't feel like that. Yeah. But I also know, like Emilie Pine has a great chapter. She's a friend of mine, actually, she had a huge influence on my book She has a great chapter about, like, they really tried, and she writes in the book, but she comes to the same kind of conclusion, as I've come to, even though they really, really tried to..


Mgt O Connor

I interviewed her, it's absolutely amazing.


Patrick Freyne

Yeah, yeah, but she's kind of like, she's like we'd be, me and Anna are really good friends with her partner. Like they've kind of come to.. she's come to a similar conclusion in that essay. That there are other, there are other ways to live a good life. Yeah. Like, is that, my stupid statistics on that probably aren't, that's certainly not scientific, but what's your thinking from talking to people?


Mgt O Connor

It's really interesting. It's an interesting way of thinking about it. And because I suppose, it's not what is portrayed, it's portrayed 98% of people desperately will and want to and you know, will have children. And I think that's how it feels to people who maybe are thinking that they don't want to, they feel so isolated, they feel like they're the only one. And there also in a strange way feels like there's an extra stigma on people who choose not to have them. It's like an extra deliberate going against the social norms. You know, you know this sounds really flippant, but you have an excuse, i suppose if you can't, you know, it's like you're absolved. Whereas if you specifically choose not to, it feels, it can feel, and, yeah, like, like, there's an extra layer to it. So it's complicated..


Patrick Freyne

The other thing I thought about a lot, and it does, like, like, it makes me laugh a bit now. Because I find some of this kind of interesting in a, like, there's, there's this kind of weird suggestion that people who don't have kids are selfish. When actually, the reason a lot of people want to have kids is very selfish. Like they, I think I say in the book, like even when I was thinking about wanting to nurture somebody, and I was really yearning for it, I realised there's there's like hunger there also for someone that really loves you. And and it's not an entirely, neither position is an entirely selfless position. So I kind of feel like there's an awful lot of pointless moral judgments in either direction. Like there are we all know people who never wanted kids, but had them and are great parents, and we know people who, we all know people who should never have had kids right (laughter). Even people who wanted them, because psychotherapy wouldn't exist if every parent was a good parent. So it's a much more complicated situation than that narrow narrative presents, which is kind of part of the reason why I wanted to write about it. I think I want to write about it more, I think I'm gonna write about it some more. Because I've even thought about like, a lot of the stuff in that book helped me come to a position on certain things like the like writing about it is cathartic, because like in psychotherapy, you kind of put a new narrative on things. So I feel like I resolved a lot of things when I wrote that essay, and a lot of things came into sharper focus about societal pressure on people to have children. That, that I actually think it's just really unfair. And that people, a lot of people should like.. it doesn't really bother me anymore., but there was a period when it really bothered me that people who didn't know me that well would say things like, oh, you should really have kids, you know. I was going what, what sort of, like lack of knowledge about the world would make someone say that to someone where they don't know their situation and they don't know whether it's easy or hard for them or it's a hot button issue for them. Like that, that's that's that's people really trying to make the world reform to their view of the world.


Mgt O Connor

Absolutely..would that happen much? I suppose we I've heard so far a lot from women that they can be asked that in all kinds of situations. I'm just wondering again, for your perspective does it happen much or did it happen?


Patrick Freyne

It happens. I don't think that happens as much as it does to women. But I've had kind of had people do that strange thing where they go when you have kids. And I think, again, I just feel like that's a very unworldly thing to say. We all know that lots of people have difficulties having kids for different reasons or their life circumstances don't so I just feel like it's a it's a mean question. And I think some of those people know it's a mean question.


Mgt O Connor

Okay. It's not that hard to ask, well, if you're gonna have to ask at all, at least ask if, you know, the when is the presumptuous part Yeah. But ideally not ask at all. And how do you deal with that? Or has that changed? Maybe how you how you respond to people.


Patrick Freyne

Um, I don't, like I never really, I kind of tend to shut those conversations down pretty quickly. So I never that's how I've always felt. Like, I think, um, I think that some people, I think that it's obviously a huge thing when people have kids, but some of the narratives around children are simplistic fairytale narratives, you know, like, and even the narratives, like even the fact that it's still difficult for young parents to actually talk about how difficult it is to be a young parent, you know, like, I just feel like it's doing nobody any help to just assume that everyone is the same, to assume that everyone's experience of parenthood is the same. And to assume that like, that every child is the same, you know, some kids are hard, like, some, some kids don't sleep, and other kids do. And those are, those are very different experiences. And I know this just from my friends, you know, and family. So yeah, so I, as you can probably tell, like when I wrote the book, I was kind of coming through something. And I was kind of coming to personal conclusions, but now I've kind of come to quite annoyed conclusions about society, because it doesn't hurt me anymore. So now, I'm kind of annoyed on behalf of other people, for whom this is still hurtful, you know?


Mgt O Connor

Sorry.. because, as you've said, it doesn't serve anybody. So it doesn't serve parents, and it doesn't serve people who aren't parents, nobody wins in that quite constricted view of it all. Yeah. Okay, we'll have to start.. to start to protest of some kind (laughter). Not that we can at the moment but start a protest of some kind..


Patrick Freyne

I wouldn't start a protest, I just kind of, I kind of generally feel like we're quite conformy humans. And there's a tendency for even like, some of the way, you know, particularly, I think it's difficult in terms of how kind of working mothers are pitted against stay at home mothers. And for women in particular, there's all these ways in which people are pitted against each other. When the reality is, there are just lots of different kinds of lives and that we can support each other in those different kinds of lives, you know, and there's good lives.


Mgt O Connor

Ok, and what has helped you so as you've moved through that, so having to accept the very difficult reality that it wasn't going to happen for you, what has helped you move then to kind of see that there are possibilities and that that's more of a positive thing or can be a positive thing?


Patrick Freyne

Seeing that thing about conformity, like seeing how a lot of the pressure is like that I want to live with my own feelings about it and my own difficulties with it. And I completely shed, like, I think it's important to shed the societal piece. Like they're not my problem. That's it, that's someone else's problem, you know. And that has kind of helped me come to terms with it..seeing people like Elizabeth Gilbert talk about it, because she's positively inspiring about it. And and I think just time like, and then realizing that I'm also very conscious after writing the book in general, that lots of the things I have wanted over the years are, are not the things I want now and everyone changes and the things I wanted as a 20 year old are not the things I wanted in my thirties and the things I wanted in my thirties are not the things I want now. And I think with with things like having kids as well, like you can like I still feel like when I see my nephews and niece, like with their parents and I kind of got a pang occasionally, but then I also see that you know, it's hard to be a parent. It's not always is easy. And I what what I've chosen to do is not feel guilty about that (laughter). And I help babysit, and I like hanging out with kids you know.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah. It sounds like you have a lot of children in your life and you spend time with them.


Patrick Freyne

Yeah, yeah.


Mgt O Connor

Hmm. Okay. Okay. Yeah, like guilt is is interesting, I suppose guilt.. I think guilt is kind of an external reaction. Yeah. It's in reaction to something else. So it's never very productive. And yeah, so being able to move away from that and, and just, yeah, it sounds like maybe taking a step back is it I know when you're in the middle of all this, it's really hard to look at the bigger picture but some time and that perspective has helped you..


Patrick Freyne

Yeah. Like that's, I mean, I guess time with most things, you develop a sense of perspective about what's what. When you're in the middle of any sort of crisis, there's a maelstrom of feelings, and you can't compartmentalize them all. And over time, you kind of go, well, I know what that's about. And that's actually, you know, it's like when I want to do some work, I break it into bits, you know, and I do this bit. And then I do that, as you work through some of these issues that you have, you can break it into bits, too. And you realize that, okay, here's something I do feel sad about. And I can deal with that. And here's something that that's just, that's someone else's problem. That's not my problem. So I can put that in a box. And I never have to think about that again. And I think child children as an issue is one of those issues where they're I think a lot of the bits are those things like expectation, sometimes from family, we were lucky, no expectation from family, they're great. But I know some people feel that expectation very strongly. So so then you're into you're into not just your feelings about wanting kids, but your feelings of disappointing someone else. And, and your feelings about your relationship with other family members and stuff. I think it's important to break those things up, you can kind of go.. I think with loads of things, it's important to go that's not my thing, that's somebody else's thing. This bit is my thing. My little bit of sadness is here, and I understand this. Yeah. But you know, this fear about, like one of the other things and I say it in the essay, like people without kids worry about this, you know, people talk about this great insight, you get when you have children. And I think that's possibly true in certain very clear ways. But it's definitely not true for everybody. And I, and I just keep, like anyone who struggles with this, think of all those terrible parents you've met over the years, (laughter) for whom having kids has taught them nothing, or even the people, like I joke about it now because they actually used to.. I used to think about it and it would bother me, and then people would go and it's usually men who do this, to be honest but they go, I never really cared about news stories, but now I have kids, I suddenly can empathize. And I actually kind of feel like they're sociopaths. Most of us can empathize with sad stories. You don't need to have kids to feel pangs in your heart about kids going through something. And, sorry, (laughter) I'm going to get fierce judgmental now. But also, just simple things like the idea that having kids like that, it's propaganda that I felt that having kids makes you better,


Mgt O Connor

Yeah,


Patrick Freyne

A better person or a kinder person. And if anything, it can sometimes make you a more selectively kind person, where you care deeply about your family, but you will burn the world to protect them (laughter). I don't know if it makes people..I think I think there are definitely people who have been improved by having kids. But I just don't think that's a universal thing. I mean, I also think there are like, I guess the reason why I want to talk with this. I think this is something that makes people feel really bad.


Mgt O Connor

Yes.


Patrick Freyne

There's a lot of people I know out there who struggle with this and feel like a lesser person somehow. And that angers me now like crazy. It made me sad before it angers me now, because I think that's just such a limited way of looking at the world. And there are so many ways people can contribute and there's so many ways people can have good lives. And to think that this one thing is the only reason we're here is, in the 21st century, really old fashioned.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah. That's really well put, thank you. Yeah, no, I think because it is it is that thing of..I suppose it's almost like reality testing isn't it, you're actually looking around and seeing well, how does that work out in real life? Because it's never that, nothing is ever that black and white. But yeah, and I think that's good advice for anyone who is maybe feeling affected by it at the moment. And okay, so really trying to separate out, as you says, kind of what, what's your part and what is everybody else's part, and which bits you need to focus on?


Patrick Freyne

Yeah, like,


Mgt O Connor

Because we can't change other people.


Patrick Freyne

Like there is a sad thing. But but but I think that I think it's important that it's your sad thing. Like that it's not.. this is a sad thing because my granny says judgmental things every time I visit. You know, like, that's


Mgt O Connor

Yeah,


Patrick Freyne

That's something I, I feel like people should be just happy to reject. That's not your problem. Or your colleagues, as you know, people do say stupid things but that's not out thing.


Mgt O Connor

And none of those people are living your life. They don't have to go and deal with whatever, whatever situation you're in I always think, yes, it's easy to say things, but they don't have to be that significant I guess. Yes. Yeah. Okay. Very interesting. And, and and can I ask you again, I suppose, kind of from the male perspective, is this something that you would talk about? Or find it easy to talk about with friends or family? Or is it more of a personal thing that you have worked through?


Patrick Freyne

I've talked about it with my close friends. I'm, I'm open enough about it. So like, the way I'm talking about it now is I talk to anyone about it now, like, because I think it is a bigger social issue. And when I was kind of hurting with it, I spoke to some close friends and and I have other male friends who don't have kids and would really have wanted them, you know, so I don't think it's I don't think it's just a woman's issue. Like, I mean, I know it's not, it's simplistic to say that, but um, I think that nurture is like part of human nature. And we want to be kind, we want to look after people. And there's lots of ways of doing that, too. But I think one of the straightforward ways is having kids, you know, so like, it feeds a part of who we are. And I don't think it's just.. I think men have that nurturing thing, too. It's just less verbalized.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah, or even, like you said, or I think like I said, it feels like it's less encouraged. Like, the, like, that men are given permission to talk about, to talk about it, like, whether they whether it's something they want, or if it's something they're sad about. Yeah. Like they're a bit kind of disenfranchised from it, and which can't be positive. It's never good in any situation.


Patrick Freyne

And yeah, like I like I think that I mean, again, like, generally, things are changing. Like I think an awful lot of the mental health conversations in recent years, have actually been kind of a little bit about men. Because it's been acknowledged that talking about things is important. And traditionally, men were meant to be stoical and taciturn and I am not stoical. I'm stoical but I'm not taciturn (laughter). And I don't think it's helpful to anyone, like I think that if you're suffering with something, it's usually better if there's someone you can talk to, that you can trust, you know, whether it's a friend or therapist.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah. That's why I even thought it was interesting, I suppose that you wrote this style of book because I suppose we were, I was talking to Emilie about it, you know the personal essays, which was seen as quite the women's realm there for a while. Was that kind of a conscious choice? Or is it just your writing style?


Patrick Freyne

It's not particularly.. a little conscious in that I planned to write a funny book, always in the back of my mind I wanted to write kind of funny essays. There are funny essays in this book. I was also really aware that I wanted it to reflect who I am and this is a part of who I am. And I didn't want to kind of I mean, it was I was quite influenced by a lot of those women writers like like Emily and Sinead Gleeson, and Rosita Boland in the Irish Times, my colleague who's brilliant and writers like, I mean I actually only read this after the book but Nuala O Faolain. You know, like, there's something very important when you read someone be really personal and honest about their life. And it's.. no matter how weirdly particular you feel it is, it's always kind of universal. Actually in a weird way, the more particular it gets, the more universal it gets. Because people can go, oh, wow, I thought I was a complete freak but his guy Patrick Freyne is way worse (laughter).


Mgt O Connor

(laughter) Yeah, and it is I mean, it is a lovely book. And it is, it's, it is funny, you know, it's easy to read. And yet you touch off so many really important topics that I think everyone can relate to. So it's, it's lovely, and it's been received really well.


Patrick Freyne

Yeah, I'm very pleased. Yeah, I hear nice things. Like I think some different essays chime with people, including this one, the one about kids. Because I think a lot more people than verbalize it have.. Like, I think the other thing that was important for me to write was on this subject was everything is either written from the perspective of somebody talking how amazing parenting is, on the one extreme to talking about how really, really difficult it is for them, you know, in terms of not being able to have kids. And I just think that there's an awful lot of strands of complexity in the middle and an awful lot of ambivalent feelings that people have, where they're not.. like my feeling on it now, like a few years ago, what I was really documenting in the book was my passage from a period when I felt very sad about it to a period where I feel I'm ambivalent about it now, you know, if you ask me at different times, I would say different things. But I think a lot of people with kids feel ambivalent about it, but they can't say it. Right, I think because parenting I know, parenting is hard. You know, life is hard. I feel ambivalent a lot of the time.


Mgt O Connor

Yeah I think we've seen that even in the lockdown. We've seen that kind of maybe through humor, you know


Patrick Freyne

Yeah,


Mgt O Connor

Around parenting at home and parenting at work, and homeschooling and all this stuff. But yeah, it kind of it's almost like tipping off it but not, not fully, you know, just kind of touching off a little bit. But yeah, yeah, no, I think you're right. Absolutely. And I suppose that's come up a lot, trying to move away from this kind of this binary or the really extreme, like one or the other. There's all this room in between, which, which can be better for some people, or you might be able to find kind of a route through it. Yeah, that works for you. So it doesn't have to be either extreme. Yeah. That's really useful. Thanks a million. Is there anything you want to add, anything you think we haven't gotten to?


Patrick Freyne

I was kind of curious how that fits into, like, your from having spoken to people over.. How long have you been doing the podcast?


Mgt O Connor

Oh only since like, September?


Patrick Freyne

How many have you done?


Mgt O Connor

Ah..I put up..there are nine episodes up today, in October yeah.


Patrick Freyne

Has it changed your thoughts on this? Like, and how have your thoughts been evolving?


Mgt O Connor

Um, my own personal thoughts?


Patrick Freyne

Yeah


Mgt O Connor

No, but I think it's brilliant to hear people and other perspectives. And, and as I said, I am just so bowled over by the response, you know, the fact that anyone's listened to it, not to mention a lot of people. And I think it again, it just reflects, I suppose how many people are a) just maybe unsure or anxious. And they may still go on to have kids, but just acknowledging that it's not a straightforward choice for them is helpful. And for other people, then we're quite sure.. I've kind of noticed, I suppose with clients, the majority of clients that I will get, would be people who are 70, or 80, or 90% sure that they don't want kids. But the accepting of that, or the admitting to that, which is what it feels like, is actually the hard bit. So as I said, just getting as many opinions out there as possible that might help them is really interesting.


Patrick Freyne

Are there are many men in that category or is it mainly women?


Mgt O Connor

It really depends, you know, there's a whole range, and I suppose I'd work with couples as well, and it could be completely either or, you know, quite a lot of the time it's the men who want kids and it's the women who are unsure and vice versa. So there is a real variety I have to say.


Patrick Freyne

Because I don't think that's.. because I think I guess this is what the podcast is..that doesn't fit the narrative.


Mgt O Connor

No, it doesn't.


Patrick Freyne

No, I think, I think it's a hugely interesting subject. Like, I've, I find it interesting. I think when you move into your 40s is when it can become a big issue for a lot of people. And it became a big issue for people around me. And again, it's because.. everyone for whom it becomes an issue, they just assumed that it would be way clearer. They assumed that you know, like I was saying that it would just be a ray of light, I really want kids and here one is (laughter), it's that simple, or the opposite. Whereas the reality is that most people are, most people are ambivalent about everything. Or they might be 70% one way or the other. But there is a grain off, is this a good idea, or is this a bad idea.


Mgt O Connor

And sometimes, I would really try to reflect. I think sometimes people forget, maybe what other experiences they've had. They're not able to apply that to this because it feels like it should be so straightforward. We make decisions all the time and we deal with all kinds of other life experiences. But sometimes it feels like people forget that they've navigated other stuff, this feels so different. So yeah, I think your right definitely. Well look that is fascinating. I look forward to the next book. Hopefully it might get a few more chapters. Really really interesting, thanks for sharing all that today. Thank you.


Patrick Freyne

Thank you, thanks for having me on.


Mgt O Connor

Thanks very much to my guests for taking part, and to you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered in this series. I would also love to build a community of like minded people. Please follow the Are Kids For Me pages on Facebook and Instagram if you want to find out more on this topic. I look forward to hearing for from you and look out for future episodes soon.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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Margaret O'Connor MIACP      ©2018 by Are Kids For Me. 

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