I always wanted to have kids. My first jobs were working with kids – I loved them, and when I got married (the first time), my ex-husband had three sisters and I became convinced I wanted a huge family with at least 4 kids.
THAT didn’t work out.
So here I am. 44 years old, and married without my own kids. I do have a 14 year-old step-son and nephews and a niece I adore.
It would be so easy for me to say that I/we are childless by choice and we’re happy that way, yay us, and let it go, but of course it’s more complicated than that. I wish I could say that Leo and I are ecstatically happy together and are completely satisfied focusing on each other and our marriage, but that would be BS (I really suck at relationships). I wish I could say I just never had the desire to be a mother, and wanted to put my career first. BS, again.
The truth is, it’s complicated. Sometimes things just don’t work out like you thought they were going to and you adapt. Sometimes you feel better about the direction your life is going than other times. Such is the nature of the journey…
By the time I met my husband, I’d already had three miscarriages. The dr told me next pregnancy would be considered “high risk” and there were things they could do to help my body carry to term, but it might not be “easy,” or even work. Truthfully, now that I try to remember it, I don’t recall how I felt about that last miscarriage. I think I was numb? I was disappointed, but I wouldn’t say devastated? Of course looking back, as a friend told me at the time, it turned out to be a “good thing” as it was a test of even further disappointment to come, because my ex-husband asked for a divorce. Nearly out of the blue.
I met Leo, my husband, pretty soon after my divorce (it happened REALLY fast) and we were hooked on each other from the start. He had just gone through a divorce also and had a 3 year old son, so we just enjoyed being all together for a while, and my “kid” urge was pretty much quenched spending time with Ethan, as well as my niece and nephew. It stayed that way for a while, and the idea of Leo and I having kids together never really came up in a serious way.
I think I was scared too. I didn’t want to go through another miscarriage. And, as is characteristic, after several failures, I tend to give up. The way I saw it, my body didn’t want a baby growing inside, so why should I try and force it? Of course, we know now (although still, not many women talk about it), that miscarriage is extremely common, and many women go through multiple before having a completely normal pregnancy.
But I also thought a lot about it. Because I was edging towards 40, I didn’t want to add risk on top of risk. And then on the other side of 40, I became really happy with my life, and honestly neither of us never got really excited about changing it, going through the process of trying to get pregnant and STAY pregnant. I didn’t want to do that, anyway. Vain, maybe, but at 40-41-42 I was just starting to get in the best health I’d ever been in in my life, and looked better than ever before; I didn’t want to wreak all sorts of havoc on my body trying to get pregnant.
Now, I suppose we are “childless by choice,” since we have made the decision not to try and have our own children. We have never ruled out adopting, which honestly is something I’ve always felt strongly about (in high school I told everyone I was not going to have biological children because I didn’t want to add to an already overburdened planet…) and have been interested in. Now is not the time. But whenever is? That’s what everyone says, you just have to do it and work out the details later (have children, that is). Or everything will fall into place. Who’s ever READY to have a child? Or so they say.
We are quite practical though, Leo and I, and at this point in our lives, don’t really want to “give up” the freedom and comforts that we have now to be “parents” – beyond what we are to his 14-year old son, who lives most of the time with his mother. Does that make us selfish? Yes, and no. I think you DO have to be ready to have a child, it takes a lot of work and energy, and money and time. It will change our lives so completely I’m not sure how it will look. Maybe better? At least that’s what everyone says. And maybe it will, and I would look back and say “best decision ever” like so many other women do, but when given the choice, and the ability to MAKE A DECISION, right now, I choose no.
I wonder though:
What am I missing? (this is the biggest concern/thought – that I’m missing out on some great secret that nearly EVERY SINGLE OTHER WOMAN ON THE PLANET knows, is life-defining, and the “best thing that’s ever happened”)
Who will take care of me as I age?
What if I’m making a mistake?
Am I a horrible person?
I also think:
Having a baby/child isn’t going to “fix” my life (which isn’t really broken, but I, personally, am not quite where I want to be spiritually) or give me purpose. Well, actually, yes, it will give me purpose, raising a child, but I don’t WANT that to be my purpose. I don’t want to just be “mom.” I am Grechen. The problem is sometimes I’m not sure who Grechen is. And sometimes I envy women with children because at least they can say, “I’m so and so’s mom.” But not knowing who “Grechen” is won’t come from becoming a mother. Unless it will. Maybe that is what I’m meant to be. Maybe not.
See? It’s complicated.
It is a big risk/chance to take, a child is not a purpose, or a plaything, or a placeholder. It’s not like you can just try being a mom and give up if you don’t like it. Or if it doesn’t “work out.” So I’m not at the point now where that’s something I want to experiment with. I don’t feel strongly enough about it. If I did, if I wanted more than anything to have a biological child, I would do whatever I could to make that happen. But I don’t.
Anyway, I’m not sure I could handle being a mom. I get so anxious and freaked out when Dagny is sick, and when Ozzie was going through his sickness at the end. I had a hard time even functioning I was so upset and antsy – my stomach was in knots all the time; I have an enormous amount of empathy and I feel it in my body. Can you imagine how I would be with a human baby? Basketcase.
And I know I would want to throw everything into raising a child. Not a bad thing, but that’s not what I WANT to do right now. I want to be me, have my business, and make a fulfilling life for myself. I want to travel more, visit my family more, and help others MORE.
But if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that everything is always changing. Life is a journey without a destination. The journey I’m on right now, doesn’t involve children. In the future, maybe it will? Maybe it won’t. I look forward to finding out 🙂
*please share your story if you are so inclined, I would love to hear it. I will delete any comment I feel doesn’t add to a productive discussion though, be aware. And I don’t need to be convinced to change my mind, thank you.