I spent four days last week on the road at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have gone to this conference many times, but rarely have I come away feeling so inspired. The workshops I took, the connections I made, and the friends I spent time with all gave me new energy for my work. There were hundreds of us at the Doubletree Hotel. Many were parents or grandparents. Many were married. Many had jobs doing other things besides writing. But I didn’t see any of that. There were no family groups to make me feel left out. No kid-centric conversations. For those four days, we were all writers. Nobody felt left out or different; we all shared a passion for words and books, from the high school kid who writes about rock stars to the 80-year-old writing a murder mystery.
I can go to events like the conference because I don’t have anyone except my dog to take care of. A phone call brings my trusted dog-sitter, and I’m free to go. If I had children, it would be more difficult. Not impossible, but tricky. When my husband was ill, I had a hard time getting away even to run a few errands. What I’m saying is being on your own is not all bad.
Most parents wait until their kids are grown to follow their own dreams. A lot of people who want to write don’t start until retirement. But you and I can do it now. Whatever your passion is, dive into it. Following your passion for whatever interests you can take your mind off your lack of children, put you together with people who share that passion, and give you a new purpose for your life. I know many of you wanted to be parents and wrapped your lives around that dream, but sometimes we have to find a new dream. If it’s something you and your partner can share, all the better. My motorcycle-riding cousin and his wife come to mind.
Maybe you’re still trying to figure out whether or not you’ll have children. But why not find something you love to do while you’re figuring it out?
As you may know, I’ve been transitioning from my old Childless by Marriage blog site to this new one. The last few posts have been published at both www.childlessbymarriageblog.com and www.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com. An unfortunate side-effect is that the comments I receive on one site do not appear on the other. I don’t know how to remedy this except to share the most interesting comments in my posts.
So, in response to last week’s Maybe It’s Time to Reassess, about finding things to be grateful for, Anonymous wrote:
I agree, we all should count our blessings. To get through a grief period this year, I started keeping a diary and forced myself to write down at least one thing per day, that I was grateful for. After 6 months, it really turned my attitude around. Now I can fill up a page of things I am grateful for, even though my career did not turn out as planned, and I did not have children. Here are a few things I’m grateful about today: 1) I slept the entire night without waking up or having hot flashes; 2)my husband’s hug before he left for work; 3) the weather is beautiful and cooler like we are entering Fall; 4) my sisters, my niece, and still having my mom in my life; 5) my boss took the day off and I can feel at peace at my job; and 6) my bunny is happy and excited every time he sees me. All this and it’s only 8:39 a.m. Can’t wait to see what else happens throughout the day that makes me feel blessed.
I am grateful for all of you.
5 thoughts on “No kids? Find a new dream”
As much as I’ve always wanted a family, I must also realize the amazing life I have had because I don’t and focus on that. I get to do so many things that people with children don’t. Like you, I can go as I please. Annual vacations and weekend getaways. Those are what I love and focus on. I always know my next big vacation a year in advance. That allows me a place to redirect my brain when forced to listen to yet another story of how wonderful, or gifted, or cute their child/grandchild is. My brain is my worst enemy and if I can keep it focused on the positive in my life, the better off I am. Of course all it takes is a pregnant woman to walk past me and my mind slips back in to feeling the loss again. But I guess the older I get the less time my mind spends there. It would be nice if that pain would go away forever, but I have given up on that happening. Although I can say, now that I’m in my 50s and hardly have my period, I no longer have the mindset that just maybe I could get pregnant. Now that that boat has sailed, it’s one less pain to deal with, something I am grateful for. Another time I’m thankful is when I’m home sick with a cold/flu. I get to be sick and be taken care of. I have often wondered when coming home from work after a long day and just need to go to bed, how women with children do it. As my sister with two children put it, when you want to just go to bed, you just get up and make dinner instead. I much prefer just going to bed. 🙂
I would love to find something that I am passionate about, but just really haven’t. But what I do have are things I enjoy which I am getting back into. My job had me traveling way more than anticipated in the last two years, and it has now slowed down. Instead of being gone every week, I’m gone now only two weeks a month, which is perfect for me. I love to travel for my job, but also like sleeping in my own bed, too. I’m back to dancing in the hula ministry, which I missed dearly, and have just started in a new bible study group which may turn into a church plant. Of course everyone in the group has children, but I forgive them… 🙂
Life is good! Although my husband has his health issues that just don’t seem to be improving, I still have me and my life that I am grateful for. This morning as I sit here typing this, it’s 7:30 a.m., my puppy is here next to me and I only have to get out of bed when I’m good and ready. Which isn’t going to happen quite so soon. I have been gifted another day and I want to spend the day in constant gratitude because the list of things I can be grateful for, I do believe, can sometime be longer than the list of what I don’t have while being childless. I think I might actually believe that this morning. Let’s just hope I don’t see a pregnant women and lose this nice feeling. Haha!!!!
Candy, thank you for sharing this. I hope it will encourage others who worry about having a future without children. Travel safe.
Candy, thanks for your positive message. Some days I find easier than others, but I’m thinking it will get easier as time goes by.
I think it’s a great idea to write down positive ideas in a journal as a way to shift a negative attitude. I usually write in a journal when I’m distressed, but I haven’t used journal writing as a way of coping in a long time. Maybe I should try to go back to it.
To be honest, I’m having trouble finding a passion. I thought it was my job as a guidance counselor, but I’m struggling in the public school system and I’m more upset than not at work 😦
I’m adopted and from El Salvador, and my roots are unknown. I thought at this point I would be okay with that and be able to maybe find interests in the Salvadorean culture, but it hasn’t happened.
Ah! I am passionate about languages through and through….:) maybe I could join a language club in the area. I’m not a religious person so that makes it hard to connect there. And of course I live in a very familycentric, neighborhood and so I cannot connect with people in my age group here when they are busy raising their children.
It’s a tough one. It really is. And on days like today when I feel bad, the last thing I want to do is go out there and be in a good mood!!
I know what you mean, Danielle. Some days are easier than others, but we can get through those hard days together in here. 😎. Am so grateful for this place to share thoughts I have never shared with anyone before.
I finally feel like I’m “getting it.” For so many years, I thought “someday I’ll have a baby–not now.” No big deal, right. A 20-something has the luxury of thinking such things. Then I started thinking, “Okay, for real. I will have a baby–soon.” I remember telling my friend that I would make a decision on when I’d have a baby by the time I turned 30. Mind you that it was not HAVE a baby by 30 but DECIDE when to have a baby. Then later, “Well, now isn’t a great time, obviously. But people are having babies after they turn 40 these days. Not a problem. I’m ‘making the most’ of my 30’s. Forty is the new 30.” Really?
Now that I’m firmly 40, I believe the jig is up. Clearly I do not want to be a mother. I don’t want the mess, Don’t have time. I’m sure I can’t perform that balancing act that women must make when they want a career and family.
My husband & I were discussing a family member & her children. We privately think she’s doing a terrible job. We talked a lot. My husband said, “Man, we would have been terrible parents.” We laughed. I agreed with him. I suppose even the worst people pull it together & cobble together an okay life for a child. I’m sure we would have. But it wasn’t in the cards.
I do have sadness from time to time. I think about being old and alone, dying in a nursing home with a nurses’ aide checking on me. That could be how it ends for me. On the other hand, I just enjoyed a lovely lunch & have a nice evening planned. I might knock off work early and get hit by a truck on my way home. We don’t get to pick how we die, where we end up, how we decline. God gives us life and situations, and we must live our lives with truth and honor and the promise of eternity.
Most of my adult life I’ve lived thinking I’m getting away with some great caper. That I’m “getting out” of motherhood. I dodged diapers, the breastfeeding debates, vaccination decisions and a myriad of other things. I keep running, feeling secretly glad to not have to deal with a 2-year-old’s meltdown in Walmart. Relieved that I can eat ice cream for dinner and skip church if I want–because I’m not a role model for anyone. I’m free of the rules & chains that come with motherhood.
While I’m relieved and happy, I’m not gleeful. I know I’m missing out on some really great things by not having a child. Nieces & nephews are a good substitute but not the real thing. I know this, and part of me is sort of sad.
But I’m mostly happy. I’m not sure why I kept telling myself that eventually I’d HAVE to have a baby. I worried myself for years thinking that this is the year I SHOULD then eventually MUST, focus on having a baby.
I lived with guilt. Feeling bad I could hop in my car and drive away while others had to fuss with the car seat before leaving a good 10 minutes after I’ve hit the road. I somehow assumed I was less of a woman because my life was “easy” & theirs was something hard that I could never handle.
I’m finally getting it. The story of my life is the people I love, not just the people I create. I live a good life. A great one. The chapter entitled, “and she never had children” is a short one in a lifetime of great highs and some really interesting lows.
I know many people visit here because they really do want motherhood. So this isn’t a “stick-it” in their faces. My struggles have been real, and this place has helped. I know I’ll be back because I don’t always feel this strong. Some days I might regret my choices. But I’ve turned a corner, and for today I’m not going to feel sad, depressed or guilty. I’m living my life authentically. It feels good.
Thanks, Sue, for the spark. I’m going to work harder to follow my passions. Many blessings to you! Anon S