At the local post office, one of the workers brings her baby every day. I have seen her grow from newborn to just starting to walk and talk. She’s a cute, smiley child. I watch her and her mom with curiosity, but I don’t know how to interact with them. Yesterday as I was collecting my mail, I watched a white-haired man having so much fun talking nonsense to the baby that he couldn’t seem to tear himself away. Clearly he’s had years of practice talking to babies, his own, his grandchildren, perhaps nieces and nephews. I have never been around babies, and I don’t have the vocabulary for it.
At the library, I encounter a group blocking the stairs, two young mothers and three little kids, so busy talking they don’t notice me trying to get to the ground floor to sit alone and write for a while. I edge around them. The children’s room, occupied by more moms and babies, sits at the bottom of the stairs. I feel as if I am not allowed to step into that room.
A friend is hosting a series of parenting classes. She keeps sending emails asking us to help, but I am no more qualified to teach parenting than I would be to give surfing lessons or teach Mandarin.
Many of my friends have children and grandchildren. When we work on common interests, such as music or writing, we connect. But then they suddenly start talking Mommy, and our connection fades away. It’s a lot like when I walk into the chapel during the Spanish choir rehearsal. I know some Spanish, but they talk too fast and use words I just don’t understand. They look at me like I don’t belong in their world, and no matter how many Spanish classes I take, I never will.
I often feel that I’m from a country that has no children, only dogs and cats. One is not better than the other, just different. Does any of this sound familiar to you? As childless people, are there situations where you feel like you come from another country? Please share. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
6 thoughts on “Ever feel like you’re from another country, the land of no babies?”
I know what you mean. I now find it an effort to talk to children and am lost for how to talk to babies, yet when I had foster kids it was all no problem. I think it is my emotions “blocking” my ability to do it. It is so painful knowing what I have lost. When I wasn't feeling a loss, I could do it no problem. Maybe you have this going on somewhere deep inside?
Anon March 2, you may be right. But I'm getting better at it. I did talk to the post office baby the other day. I think with a little more exposure I could get comfortable with babies now because it's been so long since I was young enough to have one.
Hi Sue, I so feel this way much of the time. I live in a smaller city in the south where everyone seems to have kids, usually starting very young, unlike the northeast where I grew up, where it seems most of my counterparts went to college and established careers before having babies in their 30s. But even my career-oriented peers listed their most proud accomplishment as their child(ren) in the 20-year reunion update book–and out of all those that responded to be included in the book, I was one of two classmates that didn't have children by the 20-year mark!!! The love of my life, to whom I have been married 10 years, is from Sicily and his native culture values being a mother above all else, it seems. I feel like I will never truly be considered “family” unless I give birth to one of their bloodline. One of my sisters-in-law implied that my 10 years of marriage doesn't mean very much since we have not produced a child together. Of course, I don't know what it would feel like to have created a new life with my husband, but on the other hand, to me, in this culture of divorce, I feel like our marriage commitment of 10 years almost means more since we don't have offspring as a reason to stay together. I am not close with my grown stepchildren and have recently ventured into the next phase of our life–my husband just became a grandfather for the first time. I am sure this is the beginning of many grandchildren. I just started a new job and of all of the women in my training class the only one over 25 without children. At 43, we are still discussing options of trying since my new insurance plan has more covered options, but I am so ambivalent about the entire thing and have read about the reality of the statistics of pregnancy at my age. I don't see the famous women getting pregnant in their 40's and think it is quite so easy. I notice I tend to bring up the children issue before others when meeting new people so that I don't have to deal with the punched in the stomach feeling when people ask how many children I have, never thinking that possibly I don't have any. I desire to move to a more progressive area, thinking there would be more women childless like me but probably deep down know that the problem isn't geography but my own unresolved feelings on the subject. Lots of life changes this past year, such as losing two of my beloved animals and becoming caregiver of my mother really have me reassessing my not even trying to have children. Just know you are not alone, I so appreciate your blog, especially on those days when I need to feel like I am not alone in my childless world. Good for you for talking to the post office baby. Reaching out is probably the best thing to do when we can emotionally bear it.
Wow, Anon, you're really in the childless crunch. Thank you for sharing this with us. Keep believing that your marriage is a success and that having each other is enough. It's hard to swim against the tide in such a baby-oriented culture, but it is possible. Hang in there.
Yes, I feel this way every time I'm around my step-kids & my husband’s ex. I'm the only one who hasn't had kids. The best word to describe it is invisible. I think they've tried to accept me, but there are just moments they don't know what to think of me or do with me. Like just relaxing & accepting me where I am is so difficult.I have talked to my stepdaughter about my fertility challenges. She has never been one to be sympathetic, however. Her mantra is 'you just got to GET OVER it.'I didn't talk to my daughter-in-law though; she is even less sympathetic, and a chronic interrupter to boot.I didn't open up about my infertility till my third miscarriage; then I decided to go public & posted it on my Facebook status. I'm so glad I did. There were only two people who had the gall to suggest that I try surrogate motherhood. That's not too bad for the number of people I told. Everyone else had manners & offered words of consolation and comfort. I know people (usually) mean well, and are trying to “help” “fix” my “problem,” but this is an area where offering unsolicited advice will cause more damage than good. Dear reader, if I have described you, remember that after all, the woman has a doctor who has already discussed options with her. Offer sincere sympathy & stop talking. Let her drive the conversation.
Yes! Thanks, Ruthie.