As my fellow columnist and good friend Blaise Tapp mentions in his column this week (see left) parenting is a tricky business , the complexities of which can only be understood by well.. a parent. I completely agree.
But the world of parenting is a generally a socially acceptable business, with all its challenges, while the business of not being one - particularly as a woman of a certain age -is not.
Not being a parent is fraught with difficulties in itself. Childless myself, I have encountered them all.
There are many prejudices levelled at a female non-parent, not generally to your face or by friends who know and understand, but largely by those who only know you a little. The question you can see hovering between other people’s - generally parents themselves -eyes is Why?
Usually when they have established I am not a serial killer, a child hater and am indeed related to people under the age of five, albeit not as their mother, they relax. Often when they find out my job they assume I am devoted to my career (assume). When they see my numerous small nieces and nephews throwing their arms around me, I spot a glance of pity, of curiosity.
This is something I personally have become inured to, you learn how to handle these situations by establishing yourself as ‘auntie’. Of course, there is an argument that you shouldn’t have to.
There is no microcosm of society that illustrates this phenomenem better that the child indoor play area. Generally filled with multi-coloured balls, heated to temperature of Hades and featuring a giant and slightly terrifying Mickey Mouse, every parent with a bored child at the weekend loves and hates these places in equal measure.
For a non-parent, approaching the entrance of such establishments for -say a birthday party invite - is like David Cameron turning up at the Labour party conference - you are viewed with suspicion if not quite pelted with eggs.
I understand why, completely, but that doesn’t make it easier, which is why I am, officially, Auntie Nic.