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Season 2 #4 Julie Cobbe

In this episode, I have a really insightful and honest conversation with Julie Cobbe about her process of choosing not to have children of her own, as her husband had children from a previous relationship and also had a vasectomy before they met. There are many layers to this including becoming a step parent, the cultural impact of moving back to Ireland and the challenges of following a road less travelled compared to family and friends.

You can check out Julies website here -

Episode Transcript:

Margaret O Connor 0:09 Welcome to season two of the Are Kids For Me podcast. I will continue to speak to people in a range of different circumstances about their personal and professional experience of answering this question. Thank you so much for your positive feedback on season one, and I really hope you find these episodes useful. My guest today is Julie Cobbe. Julie founded the personal styling school 'Stylefish' in 2009. She has taught over 2500 women to understand their own style better and have more confidence. She has been on Dragon's Den, off the back of which she launched a Diploma in Personal Styling to help other women get into fashion. In the middle of the pandemic, Julie launched a new website under her own name and started to run one to one online coaching for women who want to step out of the fashion noise and buying cycle and want to make real changes in how they see themselves and their style. Julie lives between the UK and Ireland. I actually met Julie when we were both in University College Cork, between 2001 and 2004. She contacted me recently as she had found the podcast, realized that we knew each other and wanted to share her own story. In a really insightful and honest conversation, Julie talks us through her process of choosing not to have children of her own, as her husband has children from a previous relationship and had a vasectomy before they met. There are many layers to this, including becoming a stepparent, the cultural impact of moving back to Ireland and the challenge of following a road less traveled compared to family and friends. I found this conversation fascinating and deeply appreciate Julie sharing her story with me. So Julie, hi, thanks very much for joining me today. We've just been reminiscing a little bit on our UCC days, which seem like a very, very long time ago now. Julie Cobbe 2:01 Probably because it is a very long time ago! Thanks for having me on. Margaret O Connor 2:07 No worries at all. You're really welcome. So yeah, so I'm wondering, maybe you could begin, I suppose we might kind of trace through your story, and maybe just bringing us back to when you were younger and kind of your, if you had any particular thoughts or visions kind of for what your future would look like regarding children? Julie Cobbe 2:28 Yeah, sure. Um, I guess, I wouldn't say I've, I've, you know, I knew I didn't want children when I was younger. I definitely was a girly girl and was very girly in my when I was little and had you know, every every doll under the sun. So, you know, if you were to look at that, I guess I loved minding my dollies..but I guess as I grew up, you know, I just think that it's something that you kind of, in many ways don't think too much about because you will assume you will. In Irish culture anyway, I feel that that's kind of it's kind of just a thing that's just there, you will meet someone and you will probably have children if you are lucky enough and you can, it's that's the way I think I looked at it. And I was in a long term relationship. I think I met Ray when I was probably my second year in UCC actually, so I was about 21 ish. And you know, we were together for six or seven years so I think i I just thought I would would have children with Ray. He's like an amazing person. And I thought I'd be with him forever and like I never kind of question the children thing and then it just became.. we were building the house and you know having the picket fence life and I just remember kind of slowly over a couple of months feeling really you know, is this what I want? Is this is this life, is this what my life will be? And I remember the house we had was like a dormer bungalow, so I was in this bed, in the bedroom upstairs and waking up one morning and the roof the roof was slanted. I remember just thinking, feeling like the whole house was coming in on top of me, I guess. And I know it might sound strange. I mean, I didn't associate it necessarily with babies, but I just really felt like I could see my whole life. I could see everything in front of me and I thought I just want something else. I didn't know what I wanted. And so shortly after that, we broke up and it was really difficult because I feel when I look back on it, I literally gave up, you know, what everyone, you know, is looking for in inverted commas. And I didn't.. I was 27. And yeah, and I just didn't know what I wanted, but I didn't want that. And then very shortly after that, I mean, literally a month later, I met Paul. I know and, and Paul, who I'm now married to, we got married last year, last year 20, at the end of 2019. And I met Paul and Paul is like (laughter), just so different to anyone I had met before. But came with his own challenges in that he has two kids, he had had the snip. So he's done the kids thing. And we were friends for a long time. For a long time, we kind of thought we just won't be together. Because, you know, Julie will want kids and want that life. But over time, I guess we just kept being brought back to each other. And it was a decision I made really about..we are together probably eight or nine years now. So eight or nine years ago, when I was like 31 or 32. I knew I wanted my life with Paul more than I wanted kids. And in fact, we could have gone down the road of you know, can his snip be reversed and all of that. It's not a given but there is possibility, but it's kind of something we both decided. We were happy with the life we had. Margaret O Connor 6:49 Yeah. Okay. Okay. So there's, I mean, there's a lot in that.. Julie Cobbe 6:54 There is a lot in that (laughter) Margaret O Connor 6:59 As I tend to say can we go back a bit. But no, it's it's really interesting. And I suppose.. Yeah, did that did that surprise you? Like, even you know, as you were saying, in your first relationship, you know, it ticked all the traditional boxes of, you know, lovely guy, house together, you know, future looking rosy kind of thing, but then that feeling that something was missing? Like, what did that take you by surprise? Did you think that was everything you wanted at the time? Julie Cobbe 7:26 Yeah, it did take me by surprise. It really did. I guess I've always I am a person who, you know, I really, I'm not scared to take risks, I guess. And I, you know, I'm one of these people that I do kind of think, you know, life is short. And we only get one go at this and you can't be in a relationship and have doubts. You can't have children and have doubts. You've got to be all in. What's that really great quote in 'Eat Pray Love' where they say, a child is like a tattoo you know, it's always there (laughter) Margaret O Connor 8:04 Ok yeah (laughter) Julie Cobbe 8:06 It did take me by surprise. But I guess I was brave enough to kind of say, well, you know what, I want to explore this and see what else what else life can can kind of what else is out there that might be for me, and that might make me happy really. Margaret O Connor 8:24 Absolutely. Which is like a hard thing to do. It's hard to to step away from something and not be sure what you're you're going towards, but you had the sense that you needed to do that? Julie Cobbe 8:37 Yeah, I did. I did. But I do look back and think God, that was very brave. Because it was hard. It was really hard at the time, because he was, is such a great guy. And yeah, and yeah, I think it was, it was a hard thing to do. Yeah, for sure. Margaret O Connor 8:56 And then meeting Paul, like a month later, I think life life is funny. So you made some space and Paul popped up (laughter) Julie Cobbe 9:07 Exactly, yeah. Margaret O Connor 9:09 But there was a process there as well. Was that a conversation you had pretty early on? You were kind of saying that the kids thing was was a factor in whether you were going to have a kind of a relationship or a long term relationship or not? Was it? Julie Cobbe 9:23 Yeah, there was lots of factors with Paul, when we met, you know, as I said, it was very soon after my the breakup of my other relationship, and you know, I wasn't looking to meet anyone. I mean, I was trying to explore my my life, which I did. So Paul and I were friends for a long time before anything else. About a couple of months, maybe six months after Ray and I broke up, I went traveling so I went to Hawaii and went and lived in Australia for nine months, went to Sydney. And so I did that. And I think, um, Paul and I just always stayed in touch. And you asked me, did we.. Yeah, I mean, I don't know, I think I would say, and Paul would say, I just felt things were different with Paul, even in our friendship, you know, we just had something really special. And I think we were.. we knew each other a very short time and we did, we did talk about all sorts of stuff. You know, and it probably started out being well, you know, it's difficult for us to have a relationship, because you just assume you're going to want to have kids and you know, it's difficult. He has two kids, and he was divorced. And yeah, so we talked openly about it all from very early on in our relationship. Margaret O Connor 10:57 And you said, then you've kind of felt you had to make that decision of the life kind of a possibility of a life for you here now versus the possibility of maybe a different hypothetical life that you can do with children or without children. So was that really a decision you felt you kind of had to make, at some point? Julie Cobbe 11:17 I would say that I was just kind of living living my life. And I started my own business when I was 26/27. Shortly after, as well, I came back from traveling and started my business. And so I was in that amazing bubble of growing a small business. And, you know, just, I went on Dragon's Den with my business in 2011. And Paul very much helped me with that, he was mentoring me, because he has his own business too. And we were just like, the best of friends on this exciting journey of kind of being entrepreneurs and traveling and, and it came to a point where we were like, we love each other. And, you know, what are we doing here? You know, because I was kind of getting close to 30. And, you know, and he, I should also say, he's actually 16 years older than me. So that's a big, that was a big factor for me. So I'm now 39. And he's turned 55. And, you know, so I think so what we did was we made this long list of all the reasons we shouldn't be together (laughter). And on that list was, you know, the age difference and the kids and just yeah, yeah, having stepkids in your life, and the fact that we wouldn't probably have our own children. We lived in different countries. He was in England, I was in Ireland. I mean, there was a long list. And in true Paul style, he was like, well, you know what, what are we doing, what are you doing for Christmas? Let's, let's go, let's go on a trip. And we'll discuss this list. So we ended up in a bar, in a rooftop bar in a in in Shanghai, as you do for Christmas and New Year's. And it was amazing. And we kind of looked at this list and just said, you know what, we love each other. And whether it's one year or five years or 50 years, we can't throw away what we have for fear of what we may not have. Margaret O Connor 13:33 Yes, okay.. Julie Cobbe 13:34 And that was kind of how the decision was made. Margaret O Connor 13:37 Wow, that's a beautiful image. I think if you have to make a decision like that, you may as well go to a rooftop bar in Shangai (laughter). Julie Cobbe 13:45 I think that's that for me is like that's us. You know, we're both just, we love living life and doing crazy things. And I think I accepted, accepted that. You know what, I'm happy that babies aren't going to be part of that. You know, anyway, I know, we're gonna get into how I feel about that now. But yeah, I felt..I've never I never even questioned the snip. I was like, you know, if I really wanted it, I feel at that point, like 10 years ago, I would have said, you know, is can we look at this? Or maybe we could just explore this but yeah, it kind of never. It never happened. Margaret O Connor 14:29 Okay. And, yeah, I suppose. So. It's maybe a slightly different dynamic to people I've interviewed before where they were, you know, as couples maybe making that decision together. But for you, I suppose, it sounds like Paul had made that decision in his own life. Like was that was that kind of felt like he was..he was he had done that he had his children.. Julie Cobbe 14:52 Yeah, yeah, I think looking back now. Yeah, that's kind of that is it really. And I mean, he's very open about it to me, you know, he obviously said, you know, I have two wonderful children and they are amazing. I'm very close to them. That's a whole other story, that journey, but I am really lucky that I'm, I have a great relationship with them. I'm very close to them. But you know, he was truthful and he did say, I don't want more children. But obviously, I accept that that's me. And you know, you have to be comfortable with the choice that you make. So yeah, he did say that. I remember one incident when I was actually living over in the UK with him. Not that.. maybe five years ago, I don't know. Anyway, a few years ago. And I remember getting this.. I can't remember exactly my symptoms. But I ended up in A&E in England anyway. And the doctor came in, and Paul was with me, and he was like, I think you're pregnant. And we looked, we both looked at each other. And we were both like, no, that's just not possible. And he said, well, I think that that's what's going on, but let's do a test. And then the doctor went out of the room. And it's a moment I'll never forget, Paul just, I looked at him and I was like, what will we do? And Paul just went, well, we're having a baby. Just in that moment, to me, it was like, I just love this man so much, you know, I mean, he can't he can't reverses his snip but if by some miracle, you know, which does happen, seemingly, you can get we did get pregnant you know, we were both like, yeah, we were having a baby but it's just yeah, I wasn't obviously and, you know, life resumed. Margaret O Connor 16:47 And I'm thinking, could we not have done the test first Doctor before we make statements like that? (laughter) Julie Cobbe 16:53 I know! But I have to say it was a really important moment to me, because it's it really showed me you know, he, you know, he didn't turn around and say, Oh god, no, we're not having this bloody baby. You know. We're in it together really. Margaret O Connor 17:11 Yeah. Okay, okay. And I suppose, like any choice, or decision, you know, we pick one path in life. And it does mean that we're not picking another path. So I think there's always kind of pros and cons or we gain something and we possibly lose something. So you made a choice, it felt quite positive, you're picking your relationship, you're picking what you have now but yeah, I suppose it's, I'm presuming it wasn't maybe necessarily that straightforward for you personally? Or was there kind of a process you needed to go through? Or possibly are going through to kind of come to terms with what that means fully for you? Julie Cobbe 17:50 Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. I suppose I compartmentalized things at the time. And in that, you know, the first big thing you have to process is that you have two stepchildren, and I think I kind of, you know, I dealt with that and learned to be in their lives. And, you know, and all that that means. And that took a long time for them and for me, and they're in my life since they were 8 and 10. So they're now or 8 and 11, and are now 18 and 21. It's crazy, I have an 18 year old stepson and a 21 year old step daughter. So that in itself is like, jeez, is that is that really is that really in my life. And so it, it took a long time. But so I think I kind of did that part. And then I was we were living in England up until last August, we moved back to Dublin. And we kind of go between England and Ireland. But we're in Dublin in lockdown now. And it's really funny, Margaret, because I feel I've only started to process the baby thing since I came back to Ireland. I don't really know. It's strange but yet it makes perfect sense. It's like I'm Irish. And you feel this huge cultural weight of you are choosing to do something different to 99% of your peers and friends and my sister has two kids and my brother has three kids and it's just very difficult to do to be to be the one that chooses a different life when you're in Ireland I feel anyway. Margaret O Connor 19:54 Okay. Yeah. So easier when you're away, doing other things anyway but very different when you're back here. Yeah. Julie Cobbe 20:02 Yeah, very different. And I think that that's something I wasn't really expecting. I just thought I'd feel the same way about it as I did in England. But in fact, it's, I feel like I'm kind of probably.. it possibly is a good thing. I mean, I feel like I'm grieving this, baby. Yeah, and it's, it's, it's hard, I have to say, it is hard at the moment to kind of process how you feel about it. And I think it's hard to process how you feel versus how society is making you feel. You know, I think you have to own your sadness, because it's your sadness, not because, you know, your granny tells you you should be sad about the fact that you don't have a baby. And it's actually quite hard to know, to know how you feel I feel in Ireland. Does that make sense? Margaret O Connor 21:04 It does, and I suppose...yeah, you have different things going on. And so you have been involved, you know, it sounds like you've been quite involved in two children's lives, in a really important part of their life, you know, from 8 and 11 to 20s. And so having children in your life being part of a family unit, but not having a baby of your own. So, you know, there's, it's complex, there's a lot going on. So it's maybe not as straightforward as..well I don't know if there's any straightforward situation but this is specific to you.. Julie Cobbe 21:38 Yeah that's the word I use. It's just it's not straightforward. Margaret O Connor 21:43 Okay. And I'm wondering, I suppose in terms of how other people react, so you know looking in from the outside, you know, I wonder do people understand or do they see that? Or do they just think, oh yeah, you know, Julie has her step children or do people comment at all to you? Julie Cobbe 22:04 Yeah, that's interesting, too. I guess I feel that a lot more in Ireland as well. And I think it's my age, you know, I'm 39 now. So, you know, isn't this the age where you're kind of like, your fertility is basically falling off a cliff right now. So we're told, so, you know, I think for me at the moment, it's a mixture of being at this kind of cusp of fertility, and feeling that, and also then, yeah, being closer now, at home to friends and family and my sister and do they, you know, yeah, people, people say things. And I think they don't mean, mean it, but it's like, this deep rooted system isn't it. That just kind of, it's like, people, I don't know.. it feels like, people look at you with pity, you know, that you don't have this baby, that's what it feels like. But I'm aware that, you know, that pity is also partly me being hard on myself, because you are processing these feelings, and you're probably a little bit sensitive to things. And so I don't think anything is meant by it. But I just, I think it's really unhelpful for people to have this narrative around you know, having a baby being the the main fulfilling thing you can do in life, and having a baby, you know, being the only way you can experience being maternal with children, or with other things you care about, you know, other people, I don't think you.. I don't personally think you have to be a mum to be maternal. Something that has come up for me, it might sound really crazy, or maybe not. But I have a dog that I love very much. I mean, I I do literally treat him like my baby. I mean, he is my baby. I think when my friends and my, probably my mom, my sister see me with them, they're like, they look at me and they think, surely you want to be.. surely you need to be a mother. Look at the way you talk to your baby (laughter). And I just think like, again it's just, we all find ways, you know, just because I'm not going to be a mother doesn't mean I'm not maternal. That's the point. Margaret O Connor 24:42 Yeah. But isn't it so specific? So it's because you're not being a biological mother to your own child. Yeah. It's ignoring everything else you've done. You know, so having traveled having, you know, being in a happy relationship, being a step mother, running your own business, having a dog you love, like none of that is enough. Like, that's all fine, but you don't have a baby of your own... Julie Cobbe 25:04 Oh Margaret yeah.. this really resonates with me like it's just so it... Yeah, it's just so it. It's like people just all they see is the baby. Or it feels like all they see. And you know, I'm not. I know I'd be a good mom. I know I would. And, you know, if I was with someone else that wasn't Paul, I probably would have a baby, you know, would I give up my life for Paul, with Paul and everything that I've created and built with him? Would I give that up now for a baby that I probably 50% want? No, I wouldn't. Margaret O Connor 25:52 Okay... Julie Cobbe 25:53 I think...a lady in England that was a friend of mine, she said, she said to me, she actually didn't have children. And she, I remember having a conversation with her. And she said, you know, she said, like, sometimes when people talk to you, you know, all they see is what, what they see is their, the boxes in their life, I think is how she put it you know, and, you know, you've got to remember your friends, your life was the same up until you were 18. You know, you went to primary school, you went to secondary school, maybe you went to college, you're all on the same path. And I suppose the assumption is, you're all going to continue on the same path. And I think when you step off that pathway, people can forget that that journey from like, 22 to 39, you know, you've had all sorts of other boxes in your life. Yeah, you know, your boxes are very different to your friends boxes (laughter). But you know, and that really resonated with me that nobody knows, nobody has been in your experiences or your life, and I haven't been in theirs. And so you've got, in making the decision and then making the peace, your peace with the decision. You've got to really remember what your path has been. And all the things that you know, the reasons why you believe your life is better, you know, having made those choices, I guess. Margaret O Connor 27:27 Yeah, absolutely. Julie Cobbe 27:30 Not better, different Margaret O Connor 27:32 Well, better for you. They were the right choices for you. Julie Cobbe 27:35 Yeah, yeah Margaret O Connor 27:36 You thought they were yeah. You know, even you know, with your business, with your travel, with everything, like you made decisions that led you in a particular path. Yeah. I suppose I'm just wondering, like, you're absolutely right but I'm wondering how, how much harder is it to do if you if you feel like you're the only one with those particular boxes, if we continue that metaphor (laughter). So so coming back to Ireland and seeing the majority of people, maybe following the typical path, like does that make it more harder? Do you feel quite isolated? Julie Cobbe 28:10 Yeah, I think it does. I think it does. I think it's possibly the hardest part. Yeah. You know, if everybody I think no matter how much we like to think we're different, and we have, you know, we're we are ourselves at the end of the day, it's easier to follow the crowd, isn't it? It's easier to do what most other people do. And it's lonely to step out of that kind of framework, essentially. And yeah, I definitely, I think that that's one of the hardest parts. And, you know, it's I think women who have kids, you know, you never have to justify why you have a baby, but you kind of constantly feel like you have to justify what your life would be like without a baby. You know, and that makes you question yourself, you know, that kind of narrative makes you constantly say, God, have I made the wrong decision, or no, of course, I think about what my baby would look like, with Paul. And, you know, Paul, you know, we would have little mixed race babies. You know, his mom is Jamaican, and he grew up in London, and he has this wonderful English Jamaican twang. And, of course, I think about that, and I'm sad, you know, I won't ever get to see what our baby will look like. But again, I, I also wouldn't get to have the life I had if I met that baby. You know, I'm able to smile about that. And so I think you're able, you can be it's not binary, you know, you can, you can be happy that you have the life you have. But you can also be sad and grieve for what you actually won't to experience. Margaret O Connor 30:12 Absolutely. Yeah. Julie Cobbe 30:14 And yeah, to answer your question, I think that, yeah, I'm finding my way with the loneliness. And kind of finding my way with having confidence in my decision. I feel like I'm going through a period of people of questioning it, because it's just around, not questioning my decision, but just trying to find my place in the world without this baby. Does that make sense? Margaret O Connor 30:47 It does, it does. And is there anything helping you with that? Julie Cobbe 30:51 Ahm yeah, lots of things. And, you know, I think that something something my brother said, actually, I'm really close to my brother. And he's got three little girls. They're all under four (laughter). So he has a busy household, and they're amazing. I love them all. I've actually got four nieces and one nephew, and two godchildren. Okay. Yeah. So I'm, I'm surrounded by, by kids and I remember talking to my brother about it. And he said, you know, I think I was actually like, you know, we'd have an honest conversation about parenthood and he was like, you know, what Jule, it's hard if you do, it's hard if you don't. And I thought that thought about sums it up you know, you have them and that's hard. You know, and I see that with my with, with my friends and my family, you know, it's hard. And with that comes so much reward and amazing, the amazing stuff that comes with having kids and having that as your path. But there's also amazing stuff with not having them. But I did, I think I in talking to him, I he made me realize, you know what, I need to kind of stop just not pushing it to the back of my mind and really start to try and process it. And that's when I found your podcast. And, you know, I found one or two other podcasts. But the reality is, there's not that much out there that is helpful to women who who are, who do have a different kind of family life. And yeah, so I think like listening to other people's stories has massively helped me because it just makes you feel less alone. So I just seek out anything I can read, or listen to. So I have some books I'm reading, I read and podcasts. And just, I think trying to be open with friends and family and talking about it because it kind of becomes the elephant in the room if you don't you know, and they're treading on eggshells with you and you're treading on eggshells with them. But um, yeah, I think being open about it is probably quite important. Margaret O Connor 33:20 Okay. And it sounds like they've generally been supportive or kind of open to hearing your, your side of it? Julie Cobbe 33:27 Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, they're, they're really good. And they just want me to be happy. I know that for sure. They all just want me to be happy. So, you know, I think that's the thing. And I think it's just when when, when I'm personally kind of processing feelings about it, it just becomes a little bit harder, because you're sensitive to things. And that, yeah, but apart from that, yeah, I think that's it. They just want me to be happy. Margaret O Connor 33:59 Okay. Okay. And I don't know if you're able to do this at the moment, but when you look to the, to the future, and when lockdown lifts, and hopefully we're able to go out and about again, do you have things in mind, kind of plans or particular things you'd like to achieve? Julie Cobbe 34:16 Um, yeah, for sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. I think one thing that kind of, I think about in well, I know we're all in lockdown now. And it's so you know, it's like pause on life. But I think one of the things I probably would say is.. yeah, sorry, just going back to the society kind of bit, I think, I think we've got to remember that, you know, it is only in the last kind of 40 or 50 years or whatever, that we women really have started to feel they have a choice as well. You know, just to seek out something different and I I think it's funny. It's like, as I said, with the kind of Irish cultural thing, I just think that it's like this, with any massive change that comes in society, it's like there there's like a backlash, you know, where people are like Jesus, you know, get back into your box, and you know, go have the babies. You know and that's not something that's like said out loud, but it's just kind of portrayed in, isn't it? Margaret O Connor 35:28 Absolutely is yeah, I think there's this idea. You're almost a bit dangerous, like if you're kind of floating around, and you're not, like, we don't know what you're going to do.. Julie Cobbe 35:41 Yeah, exactly (laughter) Sorry. I just wanted to say that. Margaret O Connor 35:45 That's really important. Yeah. Julie Cobbe 35:47 Yeah, but sorry.. And you're asking me.. Margaret O Connor 35:51 Just have any plans or projects you have in mind for the future? Julie Cobbe 35:55 Oh yeah lots. I mean, you know, I'm running my business now...11years, started in 2011 so 11 or 12 years. And I definitely I have, I feel a change coming. I did some retraining last year in a very interesting space of fashion Feng Shui, believe it or not, it's a thing. And so, I mean, I just feel like, I guess whether by choice or not having the life I have with Paul means that I just, I just have the freedom to choose many different directions. So I would love to go..a friend of mine is went last year and worked with women in Africa, helping them to set up their own businesses. And I would love to go and do something like that for a period of time in the next couple of years. Really kind of, I want definitely to change my business. Just more travel. I'm very close to my stepdaughter. She's currently setting up a fashion, a small fashion business in college, so I'm helping her with that. Just choice and freedom are the two things that I suppose like I am excited about for the future, I guess is how I would put it. Margaret O Connor 37:22 Yes, that's, that's really good. Okay. And just, um, you mentioned kind of whether it's by choice or not, do you..and this isn't important, necessarily, but I'm just curious, do you have do you have kind of a term you use for yourself? Like, do you describe yourself as being childfree or childless? Or do you think about it in those terms? Julie Cobbe 37:42 I know I, you hear it described in different ways. And I do often wonder what what resonates with me. I suppose I definitely prefer childfree. I suppose childless.. Yeah, just I guess it feels like the choice was taken away from you. Whereas even though the choice was taken away from me, I don't really feel like that, you know, because I chose to be with Paul. But yeah, so I think childfree just feels better for me. Yeah. Margaret O Connor 38:16 And again, like there are children in your life. So you have your nieces and nephew. You have your godchildren, you have your stepchildren, who you're obviously very actively involved in. So I mean, it's kind of not accurate either. So yeah.. Julie Cobbe 38:28 Yeah, I think it's, it's a difficult one to have a good word really, isn't it? And I think one of the big things that I, I suppose I wanted to also kind of say is, you know, I think it's people say it's like childless and childfree and but there's just so many things in between that there's just so many reasons people can't/ don't/ won't have children, you know. Yeah, it's just different for everyone, isn't it? Margaret O Connor 38:59 Yeah absolutely. Yeah, I know. They're not. Yeah, they're not the best. The best terms at the moment.. Julie Cobbe 39:09 We don't have a better word, but they don't feel like the best. Margaret O Connor 39:12 Absolutely, yeah. Okay. And do you think.. I don't know, is there anything I suppose that can help you? Do you feel like it is just a personal process, you need to work through kind of yourself and hearing other people's stories helped you.. But is there anything else specific that you think..because I suppose I'm just aware that you know, I'm sure your situation isn't unique in terms of we have people you know, on you know people who have been previously married, people who have previous children, you know, forming new relationships. And I imagine this is an issue that we probably think of it as a relatively new issue.. divorce is a relatively new thing in Ireland, but in other countries, you know, it must be something that happens. So I'm just wondering, is there anything you think would help or is it just quite a personal thing that you have to work through? Julie Cobbe 40:02 Um, oh, I think there's lots of things that would help but I think it is a personal thing I know I have to work through. But I guess what would be what I think would be really helpful is just women generally being kinder to each other, or kinder to themselves. You know, I think if you're a mom, you know, again, it's a narrative that like, you know, you can never talk about the fact that being a mom is hard, like, you always have to say, oh but I love him. It's like, it's hard. It's hard having kids. And I think I, you know, when I'm talking to my friends, I say, you know, it's hard knowing you're never going to have that experience. And I think people immediately say then oh jesus, she must be really miserable. Now, she's not had the child and she's just after saying that she's she, it's hard. And it's like, why can't you be you know, just why can't you be sad about something, but on balanced still, you know, you mightn't choose differently. And I think being a mom, you know, it's amazing, but there are hard bits in that. Absolutely. I think just women who have children and women who don't have children as well, like, you know, often I've people who say to me, what do you do all day? Yeah, like, I just feel like saying to them, what did you do before you had children? Like, did you have absolutely no, nothing else in your life? You were just waiting on this child (laughter)? You know, it's, I think, just thinking about what we're saying to each other would be helpful. Margaret O Connor 41:47 Yeah yeah (laughter) absolutely. Yeah. I think that's really valid. So yeah.. Julie Cobbe 41:55 Listening to each other, you know, listening, you know, making your friends and family feel, you know, it's okay to talk about, you know, the good bits of being a mom and the bad bits. And it's okay for me to talk about the good bits and the bad bits about not being a mom. Yeah, that's normal. And it's, it's human. Margaret O Connor 42:15 Yeah. And it's even as you said, there can be this panic of jesus, what I say? Or do we need to do something, I think we can sometimes we can jump in very quick to try and fix. And actually, we just want to be able to say those things and it be okay. You're looking to anyone to fix it for you. You just want to be able to say both the good and the bad on whatever day, how you're feeling.. Julie Cobbe 42:39 That's really true. That's exactly true. Margaret O Connor 42:45 Okay, well look it's so it's really, really interesting. And I appreciate you so much talking about it, because I know it's very personal to you. Is there anything else you'd like to add in? Or do you think we've covered most of it? Julie Cobbe 42:57 I think just to say, you know that for anyone listening, because I know just how much your podcast is helping me. And it just helps so much to hear other people's stories, I think it's probably one of the biggest things to realize you're you know, you think you're alone when you're around your friends and family, who all have kids, but it's just so helpful to hear other people's stories. And I would just say to those people, you know, whatever path we kind of choose or is chosen for us, I think it's just to find your confidence in yourself in that path. And to see it as a gift really. And to try not to obstruct your path with, you know, guilt and shame and pain. And I know we have to go through those feelings to come out the other side, sometimes but it is hard to choose a road that's less traveled. And it's to find your confidence in filling your life with the things that make you happy and make the most of the life that you have really. Yeah, that's what I would, I would kind of say, and also just to thank you, I wanted to say thank you to you for talking about all aspects of the decision. Because I think one of the big things is to show women that there are choices and having a conversation that, you know, opens up that conversation I think is just hugely positive. And the choice only has true meaning when there is a choice. You know and for a long time I think women just we didn't question the choice. It was kind of something you did. So yeah, that's kind of what I wanted to say. It's great to be a parent knowing you really wants] to be a parent but equally it's great to live a different life knowing that you can make that choice too. Margaret O Connor 44:59 Absolutely, yeah, I couldn't say it better myself. That's brilliant. Thanks a million Julie. I really, really appreciate it. Julie Cobbe 45:05 Thank you. Thanks, Margaret. I loved having a chat with you. Margaret O Connor 45:16 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, so 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 from you and watch out for the next episode coming soon Transcribed by

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