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 stated, the world does make a snap judgement about couples without children and single individuals. 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.
Sheryl is a transition coach, trainer and speaker from Lexington Kentucky. As the author of the blog How to Make A Life, she uses her own life and journey as a blueprint to help others find motivation, inspiration and hope for a healthy and happy life. About Twitter Instagram Pinterest