Otherhood editors interviewed on RNZ's Nine to Noon


On RNZ's Nine to Noon, Kathryn Ryan discusses Otherhood: Essays on being childless, childfree and child-adjacent with editors Alie Benge, Lil O’Brien and Kathryn van Beek: 

‘A 2022 essay by writer and frequent RNZ guest Kate Camp - No miracle baby to see here - was the catalyst for the book, Alie Benge tells Kathryn Ryan.

"On Twitter, Lil said 'Someone should create an anthology around this'. Kathryn jumped in and said 'I've got an essay'. I was in Barcelona at the time chillin' and Lil had tagged me so I just opened up to this whole conversation on Twitter and thought 'Well, should we do it?'"

Benge describes herself as "child-free by choice".

"The reason that I wanted to read a book like this is because I just hadn't seen that story ever. I knew that I didn't want children but it wasn't a life trajectory that I had seen from anyone. I just thought even though I don't want them it will just happen 'cause that's what you meant to do.

"I think if I had seen more stories of people choosing not to have children, then I would have seen other options, different maps for people's lives. I had written an essay years ago about making that choice and I just want other people to see that that's an option that we all have.

"The term 'child-free' is really important, rather than 'childless'. There's been a big movement to separate those two terms and people can identify with either one. People who don't have children sometimes don't feel like there's something missing from their lives and some people do feel like that's missing. Having those two categories has been really important for people."

Kathryn van Beek says she grew up thinking she didn't particularly want to have children but felt differently after meeting her partner. 

"You meet someone and you think 'Oh, that actually could be quite nice'. So I met a good guy. We did the IVF thing and it didn't pan out for us at the end.

"I guess I don't know if I'm child-free or childless, I guess I'm somewhere in the middle, happy with my life. But in the book, my essay really focuses on my negative feelings around not having children because that was just the mood I was in when I wrote it. I suppose I'm more in the child-free camp.

"I'm really lucky that I wasn't one of those girls who grew up wanting desperately to have children because there are plenty of people like that. It must be very difficult to have to reconcile not being able to have children with those early ideas of how your life was gonna pan out. I'm very happy with my life right now."’

Listen to the interview here.