Childless Does Not Mean Less of a Life

This past week I was talking with my beautiful, highly successful (and happy) neighbor and she shared that she was aware of how others often quickly judged her because she is now 40, not married and doesn’t have children. We went on to discuss how those of us who are childless are often judged as being selfish because we are not parents. 
As I write this post, I have just come from an encounter with a friend who was sharing that being a grandparent has made her the happiest in her life. 
“You and James NEED to adopt if you can’t have kids.”  
 
I shared with her that for seven years James and I had tried to have children. We have had miscarriages. Although not as actively as others, we have attempted all of the infertility  treatments. We have TRIED. We have had our hearts broken. We are tired. 
I then found myself defending why we have made the decision to not try adoption. We are reaching the age where most adoption agencies will consider us too old. “No, they won’t.” my friend insisted. 
I reminded her that I am a social worker and I am aware of the parameters which are placed on domestic adoptions. Secondly, James and I do not feel like having our lives examined by someone to see if we are worthy of being parents. (For the record, I feel that we would be more than qualified and we would be excellent parents. We are two successful and respected individuals on a professional and personal basis in our community). I followed this up with the fact we did not want to consider international adoption due to the long wait and the possibility of a multitude of problems.
Perhaps we should have done something differently. However, I did not want to be an individual who  became consumed with the thought and process of having a child. As it was, I have journals full of my cycles and I am aware of all the small details of my body. My uterus has been photographed by every technician in Central Kentucky and Cincinnati. (I’ve been told my anatomy is perfect but we see how much that got me).
 
 
The reality is when James and I met 15 years ago, we were not certain we wanted to have children. We stated we would wait for 5 years and then we waited a few more. My clock started ticking and we attempted naturally but then when  a pregnancy didn’t happened we still did not immediately investigate. 
“It will happen if it is God’s Will.”  We said to each other. 
Then life got in the way in regards to business promotions, vacations, building new homes and life stresses.

Perhaps we started trying to become parents too late.

Perhaps if we had started trying earlier in our marriage we would have seen the problems earlier and been more active in our treatment.
Perhaps we would have done many things differently but we have not.
 
I’ve heard from friends that they didn’t know love until they had their child(ren).  Are they insinuating that I do not know how to love and will never have that capacity because I will not have children? 
My friend was coming from a place of love today when she mentioned adoption. I know she was not fully aware of the road James and I have been on. However, as my neighbor commented, the world does make a snap judgement about couples  and single individuals without children. In many ways my friend’s comments made me feel as if she felt there was NO WAY James and I could have a happy life. 
I may likely always be a little sad that James and I did not have a child. However, I have a blessed life. 
 
 
I daily wake up to a partner who loves me unconditionally. Many couples with children can not say that. 
 
 
James and I truly enjoy each other’s company and have the time to spend with each other. Sadly, there are many couples who end up divorcing after 18 years because once the children are grown they discover they do not know each other. 
 
 
We are able to travel and can spend time with our friends without having to arrange child care. Many families are not able to have regular vacations and can not afford the luxury of a babysitter so they can meet  friends for dinner or coffee. 
 
 
Despite the past two years of multiple losses and grief, it may be hard for some to believe but James and I are happy.
We have had a choice to make in regards to how we view our life situation. We could choose to be unhappy or even bitter or we could choose to be grateful for the life we have been given.  
We’ve chosen to thank God for what we have. 
 
 
I am aware that many may disagree with my words and feelings. In fact, last year the New York Times printed an article reprimanding couples who are not having children. The article comments with the advances in fertility treatments and  availability of adoption that there is no excuse for there not to be an increase in families. 
I respect and value the importance of family. I would have loved to have had my own. We have consciously made the decision that unless there is a miracle (which I’m not opposed to), it will be the two of us and some combination of fur babies. 
James and I love. We love each other. We love our families. We love our friends. We love our friend’s children. We are two giving and nurturing individuals. We weighed our options of more treatments or adoption. We’ve decided we no longer want to spend our lives in a holding pattern waiting for something that may never happen. We are not selfish because we have made this choice. We are practicing self care and being healthy adults. 
My neighbor is not selfish. She is an active community volunteer, well known in her profession and is a remarkable and caring woman. She would be (and still may become) an excellent mother. 
 
Happy comes in many different packages.
We all need to remember what is happy for one is not happy for all. 
 
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21 Comments

  1. Shannon on July 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for opening up about such a personal matter. The baby thing is really nobody’s business but your own. Your friend should feel lucky you confided. Your life is worth every cent as much as someone with children. Children don’t make your life “better”, your focus just completely changes. We look at life through different lenses and that is what makes the world go round.



    • Sheryl at How to Make a Life on July 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Shannon, it is simply a struggle I feel many deal with and don’t openly talk about. If you don’t have children, you are not a part of “the club.” What if I don’t want to be a part of that club any more? It doesn’t mean where I am at is bad!



  2. Kelly Del Valle on July 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I think the idea that childless woman = selfish woman is a ridiculous connection for people to be making. I mean, even IF all of the circumstances in your life were not what they are, and you still chose not to have a child, that does not mean you are selfish. I’m 26, newly married, and I don’t want kids. Period. My husband and I talked about it A LOT before we got married, and both agreed that kids just aren’t for us. But I am constantly being told that as soon as I grow out of my selfish stage, I’ll change my mind. Once I was even told by a female coworker that a woman who says she doesn’t want kids is probably just hiding the fact that she can’t. It makes me mad that the idea of a woman actually choosing not to procreate is just rejected like that!

    Sometimes I think it’s just a trick, though. Parents who get all preachy about the joys of parenting being greater than the joys of just living your own life are secretly jealous of all the times I get the sleep in or take a spur of the moment vacation, and they just want to trick me into being miserable with them.



  3. Aimee | This Darling Day on July 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t understand what makes people think things like this are their business. As a mother, I love my daughter with all my heart. Do I think that people without children can’t possible know love? Absolutely NOT! That is a ridiculous notion! Your life is just as important, just as full of love and just as worthwhile as someone without children. ♥



  4. Lorraine Yeung on July 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    It’s such a tough topic that you shared about, and for sure, there’s a lot of sensitivities that not everyone realizes they’re pushing on when large statements are made.

    As a single person, I know people mean well when they ask me about when I’ll get married and all those kinds of things that are out of my control, which can be frustrating. But I guess the universal question to respond with, for me is, “How would you respond to the realities where expectant dreams that have not come to be?”

    I suppose God has given you people to shepherd, and asking them questions about where they are coming from might help reveal whether they are making idols of certain milestones or if there is any truth to their words, and are opportunities to share a gospel centred response. 🙂



    • Sheryl at How to Make a Life on July 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      You are so right that I don’t believe individuals are even aware of how they are making statements. Just today, I had a client share that when she was breast feeding her child, she had people asking when she was going to have the second baby. She just wanted to enjoy her baby and not think about what is next. I appreciate your last statement that I’ve been given a place to help address situations like this. Opportunities are everywhere if we are willing to look at them. Thanks for stopping by!



  5. Laura George on July 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Increasingly I get irritated with anyone being tooo in people’s business. If people don’t want to have kids- that’s their call! If people do- the same. If people want to get married- great. If not- great!! And people’ don’t realise how difficult/painful their questions/judgement/nosiness/advice can be!! Thank you for this post. #JackOfAllTrades blog hop.



  6. Rhonda on July 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I are approved & waiting to adopt; we’ve been married for 9 years. There are times it crosses my mind that we may never have children, and I’m surprised at the lack of grief I feel at the thought. It’s not like I’ve given up hope; it’s just that over time the intense, almost painful longing for Baby almost seems to be slightly decreasing. And also, I really desire God’s will for my life. And I know what He wants is best for us. So yes, I still hope for Baby, but if that is not what He decides to give us, I know that is what is best for us, even if it might be hard for me to accept.



  7. Rachel on July 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I believe children are a great blessing–but not everyone has or can have them, and I don’t think that should make anyone think they are any less. I want to have kids, and if it works out okay, my husband and I will probably have a bunch of them, that’s what we want–but I already know myself–if it doesn’t work naturally, I know I’m not going to pay the high price involved in fertility treatments and go through what I would consider medical torture. I would be more likely to adopt–but no one can be obligated to go to extreme measures to have children if they don’t want to.



  8. Mr. Thompson and Me on July 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Amen.

    That’s all.



  9. Jess Hnatiuk on July 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Love this post. Thank you.



  10. Chantel Klassen on July 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I love how hope and honest this post is. Back in my dating years I had planned on having 4-5 children by now . . . life has not gone according to plan (does it ever?) but I am finding that that’s okay and I can be content in this season.
    Thank you so much for sharing.



    • Sheryl at How to Make a Life on July 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      It’s so true that our lives do not turn out like we planned – but I like to think that life can surprise us. I’m also okay with that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.



  11. Holly on July 18, 2014 at 3:38 am

    You are so right that people with children have certain limitations that those without children do not. As much as I love my kids, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could just go do whatever I want, whenever I want, without having to worry about someone else. My children are a source of great joy, but they also drive me crazy in ways no one else can. My uncle never married and doesn’t have any children of his own. However, he helped raise me and he’s my father in all but name. As I always said before I became a parent, you get to experience the joy of children and give them back at the end of the day 🙂



    • Sheryl at How to Make a Life on July 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Thanks for being honest that your kids drive you crazy sometimes. I also think that some parents feel like they can’t say that or even acknowledge they would love to be able to go and do whenever they want. We all simply need to stop judging and simply hope that everyone can be happy with their decisions.



  12. Lana L. on July 19, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Such a beautifully written post. Everyone is on their own path, and no one has the right to judge or comment on other’s paths, even if it is with the best intentions. Only you know what is right for you. You sound like an amazing, loving person and I’m glad to have read this today 🙂



  13. susan on November 4, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    This is such a beautifully written post. I’m infertile because of a hysterctomy I had (which saved my life) in my early 20s. I was single at the time. Yet about a year after that, I met a terrifc guy and we’ve been happliy married for 11 years. We did briefly consider adoption, but we decided we are very happy being a childless couple.



    • Sheryl @ How to Make a Life on November 8, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      It makes me happy to hear that you are happy. We live in a world that expects everyone to reproduce and to live “a certain dream”. The reality is that not everyone can have the dream of children, a house etc. The reality is also that those same individuals can have amazingingly happy lives. I’m so glad you stopped by!