Saturday, May 8, 2010
Childless By Choice.....Sort Of!
Happy Saturday, my friends! Hopefully you're out enjoying a nice weekend with family and/or friends. We're having sunny and warm weather; it's absolutely gorgeous outside! Warning you ahead of time here - my post today is a little different than normal, but I wanted to share an extremely personal story with you all. I debated about whether to post this, but I hope you'll find it heartfelt and honest.
I'm preparing a Mother's Day celebration tonight and tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to dinner with my Mother, my Nanny (my only living grandmother), and my younger Sister. My Dad arranged a nice dinner for us (and is paying the bill!). Don't feel too sorry for the boys though, word has it they're going to eat raw oysters and have a few cold ones. After spending a little time with Mother on Sunday morning, we will go visit DH's Mother.
Seriously though, today I would like to tell you all about me and the DH being "childless by choice" - at least that's how the story begins....
As a child and later a teenager, college student and young adult woman, my "mothering" desires and skills were not honed. It's difficult to explain, but I had ZERO desire to ever become a Mother. I knew it from a very young age. You know when you're a young girl and you're talking to your friends, slumber parties and such where you tell secrets. "Are you ever going to get married"? Sure. "How many children are you going to have"? None.
Try feeling this way and living in the SOUTH. Don't think I'm being judgemental here, I'm FROM the South. I can say this. I've always lived in the South (is Charlotte, NC really the South? I think so, but it's close to the North). Anyway, having a family is pretty important to folks down here. It validates you. It proves you are an adult and you're responsible. It forms a family.
When DH and I started dating, we didn't discuss children. About a year into our relationship, maybe after a few glasses of wine one night, I told him that I thought we should discuss something....that I didn't know where our relationship was headed, but there was something he should know about me. *Silence*. Do you think THAT scared him??? HAHA, yes it did. So I told him then that I was never interested in having children, it just wasn't something I felt I needed to do in life to be "whole". He told me at that time, fine I don't really care if I have them either - I never really wanted them. Viola! He was the man for me. Approximately 18 months later, we were married.
I should tell you now - I got married when I was 25 years old. I was YOUNG to be married (DH was only 26). Again, this is more traditional in the South (my opinion here folks). I was one of the last girls in my "crowd" to get married. By the time DH and I were married in October 1994, several friends were already having babies. Time marched on, a few more years went by. More friends had babies. To this very day, I can only think of one great friend of mine who does NOT have a baby or any children. This began to bother DH. He started to feel he was missing out on something. He asked me to do silly things, like one night after a few too many wines, he wanted me to sign a piece of paper saying I would have a baby!!! LOL, he thought he was being smart AND funny.
Finally we were at the beach for the weekend, and I sat DH down for an honest conversation. I told him that I just didn't want children, it didn't mean I had any less love for him - matter of fact, he wouldn't have to share me with anyone if there were no children. However, I told him that if a baby was that important to him, I would grant him the quickest and easiest divorce known to man. We could sell our house, split the proceeds, split the 401K's, split everything, use the same attorney, and he could go find another woman and start making some babies. This is the night that I knew, without a doubt, my DH loved me unconditionally. He told me that if having a child meant he couldn't have me, he didn't want one either.
We rocked along like this for YEARS. What I heard constantly: "WHEN are you going to have a baby" -- "Y'all would make the prettiest babies" -- "Your parents need and DESERVE a grandchild" (that's my personal favorite) -- "I just can't believe you don't want a baby" -- "why are you depriving DH of not having a son/daughter" (my 2nd personal favorite) "Don't you like children"???
Just to give you a good laugh, two of my favorite responses to those questions were: "Just because I HAVE a uterus, doesn't mean I have to USE it" (favorite) and "I just don't look at a baby like a piece of Gucci and think, I MUST HAVE THIS IMMEDIATELY" (favorite of everyone else). Seriously though, I never thought it was FAIR to have a child when you 1) weren't ready and 2) weren't even sure you wanted to! I see way too many people that almost act like they resent their children, and hate the seeming imposition in their daily lives. Some folks, their nerves just can't take it, but unfortunately - they usually don't realize it ahead of time. I always felt like that, so I knew it wouldn't be fair for a child to be born under those circumstances.
Mind you - in many ways, we have paid a hefty price for our decision. For years we were left out of everything. Friends had birthday parties for their children - we weren't invited. (You know, if you don't have children, you must not like them. This is what people think, seriously!). Silly friends, we would have come to the party, and brought your children a great present! We would have been the coolest aunt/uncle figure they'd ever know. As a result of this, we grew apart from some of our oldest friends. It wasn't on purpose - it just happened. They were going to soccer games and swim lessons on Saturday mornings, and we could still go to the beach and hang out for five hours without having to coordinate babysitters, carpools, etc. Dare I say.....we had a little more "freedom" than most folks our age, because we didn't have children.
Five years ago, my younger sister had her first baby boy. He was born several weeks early, and we were living in Charlotte at the time. We didn't get to see him for a while, but of course when we did, we feel in love with him immediately. My sister had a second son about 2 years later, and now we have two beautiful and oh so active and fun nephews! Thank goodness I thought, she is taking the pressure off me! There are finally some babies around here and everyone will stop BUGGING ME about having one!!!
Not long after Jake's birth, we moved to Destin, FL and were much closer to our family (only 2 hours away!). I suppose being around a child constantly gives you a different perspective....as I started to think, hey maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all....Approximately THREE years ago, I stopped using all "preventative measures" and thought, if it's meant to be for me to have a baby, I will. If it isn't, I won't. Simple.
Guess what??? NO - I'm not pregnant. I've never even been scared I was pregnant!!! My body seems to be one that will never carry a baby. I should say, I had LOTS of female problems, two surgeries and endometrosis that was pretty bad. My dr. said years ago that it was "possible" to get pregnant, but might be more difficult for me that other people.
I have friends who have gone to such extreme measures to have children, at great cost to them physically, emotionally and financially. DH and I decided long ago that IVF, Surrogates, Adoption, etc were not options we would explore. Those options are great to have, but they weren't for us.
Sometimes the body just isn't build to do it, for whatever reason. There was another purpose for us. I believe that purpose was being a doting Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. I like to think DH and I have made, and will make later, a huge impact in the lives of the children around us. For now and for us, that's perfect and it works. It's enough.
Tomorrow we will honor our Mothers. Let's not forget the sacrifices they've made, and what they might have endured physically or emotionally to bring us into this world. Be thankful for your relationships and show your love.
p.s. Every year we receive a ton of holiday cards with photos of children, so last year we sent one of just us! You know, I'm showing off my family too! :-)