One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.Shannon L. Alder
For a while, when I was younger, I was sad about not having been able to carry a pregnancy to term. But I was also honest. There was a big part of me that had always wondered about the wisdom of even trying.
I have spent my adult years as an invalid. There was a real chance any child I bore would also be unwell. How would I have coped? I have barely enough energy for myself, let alone to be an adequate parent. We made peace with being childless many years ago, and as I have aged, I have come to be grateful for the freedom and space that childlessness has bestowed upon me.
So, please, stop telling me how sorry you are that I don’t have children. Stop asking me who will look after me when I am old, or if I am worried about that. Stop telling me that I could have adopted, or fostered, or tried alternative therapies. Stop telling me it’s not too late. Trust me, it is. I’m 53. I’ve had a hysterectomy. I have no desire to be a parent, or to create a family beyond what is already in my life.
I love my childless life. I have many children within my circle with whom I can spend time, and shower love and affection. I have time for me, time for you, time for my calling, time for my writing.
Not all women without children regret their situation. Not all women need to be defined by motherhood, or to have it as their crowning achievement.
I also have friends who are deeply, deeply saddened by their inability to conceive. Some have trauma that will never end. For them, your comments on their childlessness are cruel barbs, and inconsiderate in every way of all they have gone through and are now reminded of again with your tactlessness.
A woman’s body is her business. Her status as a human is all you need to know. You don’t need to ask if she has children, or if she is thinking of starting a family, or make jokes about not leaving children too late, or comment on what she’s missing out on by not being a parent.
I was interesting as a person before I had children. Oh, yeah, that’s right, I never had them. Oh well, I’m still interesting. And when I connect with you I’m interested in who you are first, before any other role you may have, including that of parent.
One other thing. If you have a childless person in your family, don’t expect them to be the one to give up their life to look after your aging parents, or your disabled sibling, or to be the unpaid help for your own family. Unless that’s what THEY want to do. People are not rendered less than because they did not produce offspring. Their life counts as much as anyone else’s.
Are we cool with that? I hope so.
Much love, Nicole xx