No Children, No Problem
Barb and I are in the minority on this one, but less so today than yesterday. Neither of us have birthed a child; we are childless, we are women without children, we are child-free. <Gasp>
There was a time when I, personally, felt it was something I had to explain when asked – “Do you have children?” Early in my career, it was not an issue; there was always time. Then, as 40 approached and sailed by, my response of “no, it didn’t happen for me” hung in the air as if I had stopped in mid-sentence and crossed my eyes. Everyone seemed to expect more of an explanation as to why I remained childless.
Ohhhhh, Rob! (You’re never childless when you have a husband.)
Why do Women Without Children Scare People?
Women without children. Whether we’re 30 or 70, why does it bother so many? It’s no one’s damn business, so why do so many people care? (I was going to use the eff word here. If I were speaking this, there would have been no hesitation. Just sayin’.) For me, it didn’t happen. It was never a conscious decision to never have children. At the same time, I never had the “oh, my life is incomplete without children” moment. That’s about as much as I care to say about my personal situation without a specific question. Of course, if there’s something someone wants to ask – I’ll likely respond. Other than that, “No, it didn’t happen for me.”
Not Everyone Should be a Parent
Generally speaking, I believe that just because one can have children doesn’t mean they should. I also believe that many problems in our society are made worse because those who should not, do. The “should” is certainly subjective, given your views and culture, and I’m not making any statement or judgement about pro-choice nor pro-life. I am saying I believe not everyone is suited to parenthood and the world would be better if those ill-suited remained childless.
Who Says Being Childless Means you Miss Out?
Generally speaking, I believe women without children are not “missing out” any more than women who have. Yes, we’ve missed the experience of birthing and raising a child. Yes, I’m sure it’s a love we’ve never known. But we’ve know a lot of other loves. We’ve experienced the loves, the people, places and things you couldn’t because you had personal constraints and lacked the financial resources living a child-free life can afford. Who says those experiences aren’t meaningful? Who says it’s a shallow perspective? Who says remaining childless is selfish?
The beautiful, childless Katherine Hepburn
Angela Merkel, Helen Mirren, Katherine Hepburn. Three women I admire and happen to have no children. I can’t imagine anyone would think less of, feel sorry for or discount anything these women have accomplished because they happen to be childless.
Barb choses to share her story of “why”, where I did not. As we do in many other areas of our life, we differ here. Yea for that! This isn’t the last time you’ll see a post about our life without children, nor the last post where we chose to (or not to) share differently. Yea for that!
We are who we are because of the life we’ve lived. I love my life and am thankful the universe unfolds as it should.
SIDENOTE: When asked if I have children now, I say “yes, I have beautiful step-daughters”. Amy, Jennifer, Crystal, Shandi and Brooke. I have 2 brilliant step grandkids, Brooke and Quinn, and another, Wynter, on the way. I love them all. A lot.
Yes, I played with dolls as a kid and particularly loved the generic plastic-bodied baby doll that would “pee” after you gave her water via a baby bottle. I’m grateful to all of my cousins and siblings for encouraging me to hold and play with their babies and toddlers. As a teen, I babysat for babies and for toddlers and kids up to 12. I was one of the most requested baby-sitters in our small town and earned fifty cents an hour and (previously unheard of) 75 cents after midnight. When my friends got married and had babies, I was delighted to take on the role of honorary aunt. So, everyone thought that I would be a “wonderful mother” and anxious to have a baby or three of my own.
EW and I Chose not to Have a Child
When I met EW and our relationship grew, I knew that getting to know his son, “Favorite”, and learning to love him would be absolutely required if we were to continue as a couple. I was taught well. Our family welcomes all children—natural, step, adopted—with open arms and full rights and responsibilities. As a young 20-something in love, I sometimes chafed at the constraints an 8-year-old can have on the first bloom of romance, but loving Favorite became something so real and so much a part who I am—and who we are as a couple—that Favorite is one of my life’s great blessings.
Barb and Favorite (see Glossary for explanation)
EW and I chose not to have any children of our own. Later, a second ovarian cyst made that option a final decision and for a short time I mourned not the lack of a child, but the lack of a choice. We had been calmly and quietly forthright about our choice and I received very little push back from friends and family. (For that I am grateful.)
As Lynnelle said, these days more couples are openly choosing to remain childless for their own reasons. I think that’s great. I also know that these days, more couples who couldn’t have conceived a child years ago are now able to do so, I think that’s great, too.
Today, I Have No Regrets about being “Childless”
I bristle when I hear anyone says in my presence that “You can’t know real love until you experience the love you feel for your own child.” Because while I certainly don’t know the fierce, undying love one instantly feels for their newborn child (or grandchild), I will defend with my last breath that I have felt “real’ fierce undying love and been loved in return. I love and am loved by friends, family and my dear EW. I helped EW and Favorite’s mom raise an incredibly loving, adventurous, generous, and independent human, who I could not love more (and who calls me on Mother’s Day).
Because EW and I have been married for 32 years, and because Favorite has been a wonderful constant in our marriage including (living with us while in high school), I never say I am a woman who is child free. I am a woman who chose not to birth a child, and that is just fine.
SIDENOTE: I still gently snatch any willing great-grand-niece or nephew for hugs and play time and I will absolutely change their diapers if the need arises, but need remedial help with car seat installation, diaper genies, and high tech strollers.