I am human…and this post proves there are times when I don’t feel very happy or inspirational. It seems like sometimes the things that are most personal to us get stirred up in new ways. Lately there has been an over-abundance of baby-related things in my world and, quite frankly, I’m a little tired of it. There have been babies being born everywhere I turn, and although I am TRULY happy for these families and mom’s, I sometimes find myself thinking “If I have to listen to one more story or look at one more picture, I am going to scream!” Yep, I know that sounds selfish. Yep, I know I should remember they are just sharing their excitement. I even got to be involved with some of the situations recently and they were great blessings to me. Unfortunately, I am suffering from a little bit of overexposure. What follows is just my opinion and how I see things. Others may disagree and that’s fine. I’m just sharing one perspective on a very complicated societal issue.
There is a debate that has been going on for years between people who have children and people who don’t. Companies are often more flexible with schedules for those who have children than those who don’t. Family friendly policies, even though I agree with them, do put people without children at a disadvantage. It is not only acceptable, but encouraged, for parents to take time off or make arrangements to attend school programs or meetings for their children. They say it’s important (and it is) and they need to be able to attend. I have no problem with that, however, what about things that are important to the childless? We have lives too, and just because someone doesn’t have children doesn’t mean they should be expected to work harder, stay later or give up what’s important to them outside of work. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t “free” to drop everything at a moment’s notice either. Just because we don’t have children doesn’t mean our days are more leisurely or less filled with activity than those who do.
My husband and I were unable to have children of our own, and the adoption process proved to be so expensive and mentally taxing that we decided against it. We looked at surrogates and infertility options, but in the end decided that having children of our own was just not a path we were supposed to walk. It was a painful decision, and although we don’t have kids, I have tried to stay neutral on the subject up until this point. Mostly, I never wanted to be perceived as one of “those” women who couldn’t handle people around them having children. I’ve swallowed my pain and attended countless baby showers. I’ve spent countless dollars on gifts for birthday parties, graduations, and other milestones for kids we know…yes, sometimes because it is expected. I’ve put on a brave face when coworkers have paraded their children through the office or brought their newborns in for a first visit. I’ve listened to pregnant women go on and on about their bodily functions or the “woes” of pregnancy as I tried to be polite and supportive when sometimes I just want to say “shut up.” I’ve dealt with the sadness that comes when I’ve had friends move on to having children and then no longer have time for me. I’ve felt left out in my own family because everyone else was able to have kids, and then they developed a bond around shared experiences with them. I’ve sat quietly in a group of people who are talking about all the things their kids are involved in or telling funny stories about things the kids have done. I’ve tried to engage in the conversations but eventually just get up and walk away. Recently I’ve even watched friends becoming grandparents, and now I get to relive the exclusion all over again.
Mother’s day is bittersweet for me. I am so grateful for my own mother but it is also a reminder of the fact I will never have someone call me “Mom.” Our church takes time every Mother’s Day to honor all the women of our church, whether they have children or not. I have to admit, I don’t like it at all. I understand the thought process that only honoring mothers can cause hurt feelings in those who are unable to have children or have other situations that make it difficult, but I just see things differently. First of all, it’s MOTHER’S Day, not Women’s Day. It doesn’t make me feel better to stand up and be recognized just because no one wants to offend those who are childless for whatever reason. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel like everyone is looking at me with some kind of pity…like including someone just to keep them from feeling bad. So instead of feeling honored, I feel embarrassed, and the worst part of it is that I can’t even step outside for a moment while it is going on because I know I will be labeled as one of “those” women who are oversensitive to the issue. I suppose it’s a catch 22, but in my opinion, if you want to pick a day to honor all women, do it on another day.
I guess it’s all just been harder lately, which has made me realize even more just how much of an outcast I feel sometimes because of the fact I don’t have children. I’m tired of hearing things like:
- “If you had kids you’d understand.”
- “It must be nice to have time to do whatever you want to do.”
- “Now that I have kids, my life finally has such meaning.”
- “You think you’re (whatever)? Try having kids!”
I have always loved working with kids and I always thought I’d have some of my own. I am thrilled for the people around me who have been able to experience motherhood and fatherhood, and really do love seeing the precious little beings they’ve brought into this world. I’m not bitter and, over the years, have found ways to embrace the advantages to not having children. And yes, there certainly are some! My point is that our society still seems to look down on people who do not have children, like somehow we are defective or selfish. It is so important to remember there are just as many facets to being childless as there are to being parents. The reasons for being childless are not as simple as either not wanted kids or not being able to have them. It is a much deeper, much more personal and complicated situation that has its own set of joys and pains. And to view us as being less complete, less of a family, or less loving because we don’t have children is one of the greatest pains of all.
So back to my recent baby overload…this too shall pass and I will be back to attending showers and birthday parties just like I always have. Give me some time and I’ll be glad to listen to stories of every little thing your kids do or say. Believe it or not, I really AM interested. It’s just that sometimes…just sometimes… I simply need a little time to step away and wash the salt back out of the wound.