Are you ready to accept childlessness?

I don’t live every day thinking about being childless. I know it has a huge effect on my life. While my friends are busy with their children and grandchildren, I spend my days writing, playing music, and maintaining myself, the dog, my home, and my elderly father. They post pictures on Facebook of their family gatherings. I post my latest publication. Come the holidays, most people my age expect to be with their kids. I usually play music at church, then go home to an empty house. But I don’t think about it all the time. I don’t wake up in the morning weeping because I’ll never be a mom. I used to, but not anymore. I promise a time will come when you won’t either.

I pray the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer every morning. My lack of children is definitely one of the things I cannot change that I need to accept. I wanted children, but it’s too late now. I have a good life as a non-mother. I’d love to be one of those grandma ladies, but you know what? I feel much younger and freer than most women my age who have children and grandchildren. I like that.

Then I read this quote from Jessica Lange in the August/September issue of the AARP magazine.

“Having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before. You are no longer the center of the universe. It opened my heart, made me a different person. Every move you make is with someone else in mind. I loved being a mother more than anything else in the world, and being a grandmother is even more fun. There’s the chance to do it again. It’s in the perfect order of nature: You raise your children, and then the next generation comes along They are the redemptive force in nature. Plus, it’s easier!”

Here’s the thing. I believe what she says. Every word of it. But I don’t dare dwell on it or I’ll go nuts. I tell myself I’m supposed to do other things with my life, and that’s that. I need to accept my situation. That works better some days than others.

How does it make you feel? I apologize if I made you cry, but you don’t have to hide your tears here. What percentage of your life do you think about not having children? Is it something you can change or something you need to accept? Let’s talk about it.

 

 

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38 thoughts on “Are you ready to accept childlessness?

  1. I’m in my mid thirties, watching the months tick by as friends announce pregnancies and share their kids lives on social media. I’m regularly asked when we’ll have kids and am struggling. My husband said he wanted kids when we married 5 years ago, but has since been rethinking it. I feel trapped. I still want to be a mother, but I also don’t want to break my marriage vows. I struggle nearly every day.

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      • Thank you. I am encouraged by your blog. I still hope that a child may be in my future, but I know that that may not be the case.

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    • “Watching the months tick by” — I’m loving it, too. I’m sorry about hubby. My hubby’s kind of the same way. We just had the elephant in the room (in our marriage for the past three years) conversation about what happens if we don’t resolve the way we want to resolve. Oddly enough, I felt at peace with it. We have been trying for nearly every month for almost five years.

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    • I’m in the same situation, i have no idea what to do. I’m 39 and have been waiting patiently but now realize I’ve just wasted so many years of my life but same, don’t want my marriage to end. My heart goes out to you. I totally understand your struggle

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  2. H Sue, it’s not really a matter of thinking about it. I go along not thinking about it, and then something happens to remind me that I haven’t gotten pregnant, carried a child full-term, given birth and raised a child. It could be a person’s comment or an advertisement or an article or filling out a form at the dr office or the child screaming at a table 10-20 feet away from me in the restaurant while I’m trying to eat dinner, but it’s pretty consistent, all day long.If my eyes are open, I’m going to run into it sooner or later. By the way, that’s risky of you to put that quote up today. Full of triggers. I can’t even say I agree with it. I’ve known for a long time I’m not the center of the universe,not sure giving birth is a prerequisite for that bit of information. Even if Ms. Lange loves being a mother, not all moms feel that way and others might argue it’s not something they love more than anything else in the world.

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  3. I’m 39 and I’ve been working my way toward acceptance for the last few years. I’m really hoping that 40 won’t hit me hard. My brother’s wife recently had a baby and I can say that when I held her I didn’t feel the same yearning that I had when my last seven nieces and nephews were born. I’m hoping that’s a sign that I’m finding my way to the other side of grief. But I’m tearing up as I type this, as though letting go of the grief is somehow a whole other grief process…good grief! But you give me hope that I can grow into my older years gracefully and with an open, adventurous spirit. I’m going to the NotMom Summit this year because I think I can manage it without a breakdown. Fingers crossed, but lots of tissues in my purse. I really hope I get to meet you because your book and blog have helped me so much over the last few years.

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      • Hi Sue, I’m so glad we got to meet as well! You are wonderful, too. I keep thinking about the bravery it took for you to write your book. I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready to be that open about my situation in my everyday life. I wrote several FB posts about the summit, but didn’t have it in me to post them. Going to the summit made me feel brave enough to write the posts which is a step in the right direction. Maybe in a year or two I’ll be able to actually post and talk about my situation openly. Thank you for your kindness and the welcoming space you create in the world for those of us that fall into what sometimes feels like a nearly invisible category of childlessness.

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  4. The less I think of these things and the less I focus on being childless, the easier it is for me to deal with it. I cried and I cried and now I am at peace with it. I desperately wanted to be a mother but it was not in the cards for me. My husband is wonderful, no he did not agree to having a child with me, but he gives us an amazing life full of so many great things. I also try to fill my life with as much positivity as I can by doing things I enjoy and staying away from negative people and environments.

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    • Tamara,
      I hear what you are saying, and I suppose we all deal with things differently. Many people have told me that being a father is not in the cards for me.
      If I could let it go I would, but it has been inside me for so long that I believe I can’t give up now.
      My path will be a different path than the traditional parent. My wife and I had a child together, but she passed away from a miscarriage.
      We tried many times to have more children, but life, situations, and other people just got in the way.
      I have two step children that are grown up now, and while we were a family in a way–in other ways we weren’t a true family if that makes any sense.
      So I have decided that being a father is very important to me, and that probably means going through adoption or surrogacy.
      My wife is on board with this, but she wasn’t always on board.
      You see, I work three jobs.
      I invest.
      I exercise and eat healthy because I am working myself up to the goal of being a parent.
      Will this child be a replacement for the one we lost? No, we can’t ever replace anybody.
      So I’m doing all these things to earn the income to make surrogacy possible. Surrogacy is help for infertile couples who cannot have children of their own so they surrogate mother comes in and uses both sperm or egg or just one partners egg or one partners sperm. This is done medically. A friend of mine thought, “Oh so you are going to lay with this person?” Nope, doesn’t work like that.
      I’m not a cheater so its very unlikely that I would cheat on my wife just to have a child–very unlikely.
      I’ll have people approach me and ask, “But what if you fail? Wouldn’t your heart be broken?”

      Tamara, I can’t worry about failure–all I can do is push forward. This is my last chance at this.
      And lets say the worst happens and I fail. I’ll go down as the person who tried his very best to make this possible. I’m just not ready to settle for the cards life has presented to me. If that makes me seem selfish than I’m truly sorry.

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  5. Sue,
    I’m still feeling like chopped liver
    about not having my own children. Many people say that
    one can love stepkids like your own. I don’t buy it ! Being a stepfather has been the emptiest
    and most lackluster experience I’ve ever had. Father’s Day kills me. Especially when I have to be around my stepson and his boys.
    I’ve decided that henceforth on Fathers Day, I’m going to beg off of this. I’ll either go fishing, to a NASCAR race or something. I know they mean well, but it hurts me. My wife doesn’t understand this. Frankly, I don’t give a shit anymore. I’m tired of being a second hand, fill in father. That day I’ll be totally selfish and if that
    causes hurt feelings, so be it. My feelings have been hurt for years over this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I understand where you are coming from. I was in the same boat as you. Being a step father is not the same as being a father.
      I kept hoping that our situation would change, but it hasn’t.
      Now family and co-workers just automatically see me as being a non-dad.
      Before I married my wife I had said I wanted children of my own. She agreed and became pregnant, but the child was lost during a miscarriage. I don’t blame my wife for this, but it seemed like everybody didn’t want this to work out for us. Our relatives seemed glad as to say, “You don’t need anymore kids.” .
      We have talked about adoption and surrogacy, and we made a binding decision that this is the route that we will go on.
      Kenya and Ukraine both do Surrogacy, and yes I understand another woman will be carrying our child, but I’m thankful that this is available because then we would be lost.
      Its something deep in my heart that I cannot abandon. I can’t ever picture myself as remaining childless forever.
      The hardest part for me is not being able to move on if that makes any sense.
      At this point in my life this is the only thing that I look forward to. I know a lot of people will criticize me that I just can’t let this go, but I have a plan in motion. I’m investing. I’m working three jobs. I am in regular contact with surrogacy agencies and advocates. Once I start something, I finish it.

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  6. I don’t agree with the quote. It is absurd for someone to say having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before. You are no longer the center of the universe. This is actually like saying “I didn’t care about anyone or anything else except myself until I had a baby and was forced by nature and law to give a crap about someone else.” I have actually gotten into fights because of this. Parents telling me I won’t truly understand what “it’s about” until I have a child. Every single one of us reading this blog who is “childless by marriage” understands the perspective of a parent. This is because we aren’t childless by choice and have thought about our potential future children long long ago. I would also like to say there are also people who are childless by choice who “get it” and give themselves to others in charitable ways and benefit many people in society. They are teachers nurses doctors friends mentors counselors aunts uncles cousins who help those parents raise their children and help the elderly as well. Yeah I’d say this triggered me…I really cannot stand parents who act like raising their kids is the only thing they do or that matters or however you describe it. It’s what I call the “parent card.” Like when you ask your brother in law to come to your husbands birthday party and the brother in law says he can’t because he is busy doing Boy Scouts, or ” it’s too hard to get kids into car seats and break up their three hour bedtime routine” and I have to say as a millennial this has happened to me so many times I call bs.

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    • A lot of things you wrote spoke to me Crystal. I’ve been to countless, COUNTLESS birthday parties. I’ve sung happy birthday hundreds of times. I’ve watched children spit on their cake as they blow out candles. I’ve driven miles & miles in order to not disappoint a child. I’ve spent money & more money to give children a tangible piece of joy with my presence in their lives. I’ve made conversations with other party goers (all parents who rarely care what I have to say). I’ve let children bump the line, I’ve smiled when chocolate filled faces are pressed into my lap (and a special thanks to THAT mother who doesn’t wipe the kids face because she thinks it’s “precious”.).
      But where are these people when my husband and I want to celebrate something? In our family Brother “A” will attend but only if his son doesn’t have t-ball. And Brother B will attend only if the t-ball dad attends (because then their kids will have someone to play with). But coming to simply honor us, to visit with us – that just doesn’t happen. And then I remind myself, “well, you aren’t the center of the universe . . .” And then I get angry. Because I already KNOW that I’m not the center. I simply want a little love and attention.
      Last week a family member came to town for a special event. He made sure to connect with other local family members so that the kids could play (while the adults socialized). Didn’t bother to include us. And I sit here and think – “Is it me? Am I selfish? Am I boring? Do I project a certain attitude that is displeasing?” We feel rejected so often we take stock and over analyze our actions, our behaviors. I’ve “tried harder” to be easier going. To make concessions. And after it all – I’m fairly certain that it is NOT us. We lead good, kind, thoughtful, helpful lives. We’re reasonably nice, interesting, intelligent and fun.
      No, we’re not the center of the universe. But without children, sometimes, we don’t even feel like we’re a part of the universe.

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      • Thanks for the reminder Sue. But it’s not baby fever. In my experience, it gets worse as the children age. It used to be “oh our kids look so cute together, let’s take pics of them and chat about breast feeding and bedtimes.” Those of us without children would participate by ohhing and ahhing and waiting for our turn to have the new bundle of joy.

        Now that everyone has kids, it’s “hey we should get tickets to the XYZ event. The kids will enjoy it.” Then, at the XYZ event the kids pair off and disappear. The parents use this time to relax, enjoy and connect with each other. The cousins relationships grow stronger (and that is awesome) and the parents grow closer together as well. I mean, I do “get it”. They all DO have more in common with each other. But for us, the only childless couple – it sucks to know that we’re being ousted from our own extended family.

        The resentment I feel just continues to grow and I’m learning I need to re-evaluate these relationships. More and more I am considering “taking a break” from family so that DH and I can create our own holiday memories. But it’s not fair! I “gave up” on having children of my own. It’s not fair that I have to “give up” on the extended family too.

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      • Wow, thank for sharing ANons. I’m actually kind of surprised by the interactions you described about family members treating you like dirt. Unfortunately it seems to me something should said to these people you care about and make time for. Unfortunately it will most likely fall on deaf ears. I really think we should stick up for ourselves. Just like the parents who complain about “how hard it is to parent” but “totally worth it”. You and I both know we would never complain about being a parent after what we have been through. I would stop going to birthday parties as a first thing if I were you. Oh, and one more thing….when I moved to a new town and didn’t know many people I found a meetup.org group that was called Social Club and it specifically said NO KIDS allowed. So we would meet in person, and do activities like curling or watch the Kentucky Derby and we dressed up with special Derby hats and drank mint juleps. So it seemed most or all of us didn’t have kids.

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    • Crystal – how awesome you found a club that actually said, “no kids allowed”. I get so frustrated because there are tons of social clubs in our small town area. And they are presented as general “social clubs” but somehow the description always reads, “Need a break from the kids? Join us for . . . ” or on the opposite end – the ones that call themselves a “Mothers Social Club” and then their gatherings are fun non-kid related activities. Activities that appeal to me but since I’m not a mom I just don’t know how I’d be treated so I opt to stay away.

      I know I sound totally negative about my family and community. I’m not usually like this. But life has been hard lately. A long series of events feels like a rope slowly unraveling. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got blessings and good people everywhere. Life WILL get better. But I’m missing the sort of support that I see women giving to their fellow “moms” in their time of need. And it makes me angry. So I vent to strangers who seem to understand me more than half the people in my real life.

      I AM looking forward to a weekend with zero commitments and tons of time to recharge. I hope everyone else has a nice one too.

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  7. Sue, I love this post! It is so hopeful and encouraging. That quote would have triggered me a lot more in the past but not as much today. Even though I don’t have my own biological children, I have still had children in my life that have shaped me and my viewpoint. I was a teacher for many years and a stepmom. These children are still in my heart and I am sure there will be more in the future.

    You are so right about the day to day reality …. and a writer, I can relate so much. Yes! I post my writing instead of a day with my kids or grandkids. I do, see, too, how not having kids has given me more time to explore writing and ideas. Take care!

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  8. Hi. It’s not everything in the world to have a family. You can make your own life, be your own family. I have a friend who didn’t meet the right man until she was in her late 40s. It is too late for children. She regrets having spent her 30s, partying and dating the wrong man. She had alcohol problems as well. Then she went on to become a missionary in another country. She is still deeply disturbed that she never had a child. I have told her, just be happy with yourself and your new husband. This is your life.

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  9. Its been a long time since I posted at a blog. I have been married for 14 years. My wife has two children from a previous marriage, and I had a child that passed away from my wife’s miscarriage.
    We have been wanting to have more children, but situations, people, and life just kept getting in the way.
    I don’t hate my Step Children, but there was always this lack of really belonging to the family structure.
    I’m a grandfather before I’m a father. I know that sounds weird, right?
    So now people have really been pressing my buttons about when I’m going to have children of my own.
    And the answer has always been, “Yes.”
    It took awhile to really explain my parental needs to my wife when I was inquiring about adoption or surrogacy. At first, she was not on board with it, and often would try to explain reasons why it wouldn’t work out for me, and that I should just mentor and work with children.
    I do mentor and have worked with children, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a real father.
    So now I have been saving and investing like there was no tomorrow. Why? Because surrogacy is expensive.
    There is also the hesitation on my wife’s part of how she would feel about a surrogate child. She says she is on board with it, but if she is only coming along to please me and its not something from her heart than that’s not good. And as for surrogacy, I see it as a medical procedure for couples who cannot have children maybe due to age. Than my wife maybe tried to fear monger me by saying, “What if the surrogate miscarried? Wouldn’t that crush you?”
    Yes I thought about that, and that would be terrible.
    I have been working three jobs.
    I invest.
    I save.
    I also have a regular fitness routine so I can be healthy as a father.
    I’m planning on going to Kenya for surrogacy. The price is better than the United States, and yes I know Kenya is a very far order. I’m still saving up for it.
    And please hear me out. I’m not doing this out of peer pressure , or because co-workers and only family members have children of their own. I don’t parade a child around like a trophy–these are living human beings, and not like “Oh, Look what I produced.” Nothing like that at all.
    I have a desire to be a real parent.
    This will be long term, and I would love and support my child for a very long time. My wife says she is on board with this, but the question is, “If I didn’t want this, would she have wanted the same thing?”
    I have a very long journey ahead of me.
    People can tell me that I will fail, but I have to find that out for myself through the natural course of time.
    I’m just being real here.

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  10. I’m human like all of us here, and if I overstayed my welcome I apologize.
    Even though the odds of me being a parent are not currently in my favor does not mean I;m ready to give up.
    I have posted that I wanted to seek out surrogacy, but really I would like to adopt.
    I have a big heart who wants to give a child with intellectual and developmental disorders a home.

    Some people think I want to do this for my own desire to be a parent. Of course I want to be a parent, but I’m willing to give a needy child a permanent home, and I’m willing to help and support that child to the best of my ability.

    Contrary to what people presume about me, I’m not ready to settle down yet, and I know this might anger some people, but I’m working at this for a very long time. I can’t give up now when I came so far. I’m willing to go through all the procedures and protocols that are expected of me.

    In the end, its not about me, but rather myself becoming a parent of someone who has no parents.

    I hope everybody understands.

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      • Sue,
        There are 10 weeks left toward Christmas aka The Holiday Season.
        Last year, I made a promise to myself that by Christmas Eve this year I was going to have the money for adoption or surrogacy. I never promised that I would be a parent by that date, but I did promise that I would have the money for the fees.
        Well, I can honestly say I don’t have all the money I need, but I put a strong effort into saving what I have already. . I still have time to meet my deadline, and if I don’t make it to my deadline at Christmas, no problem–I’ll just extend the deadline. Getting the fees is necessary before the process, takes place and that means attorney fees, court costs, travel, medical exams, etc.
        Part of my goal was to get involved helping other potential parents with their adoption prospects. Even though I’m not quite where I want to be, I have an opportunity to assist others while I’m working to get where I need to be.

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      • Sue,
        At this stage in my life I’m not ready to give up. I already put a lot of effort toward this goal.
        I will keep you informed as time goes on of our progress.

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    • Sue,

      I suppose its okay to inform others of our plans since I go by the name of Anonymous Max. Surrogacy is not our only solution, we are considering adopting as well. We realize adoption has its own challenges, but so does surrogacy.
      This was not an easy decision to make. I came to the realization that I’m human, and humans do have broken hearts–even men cry.
      It was important that I informed my wife how broken hearted I was. Yes, I do know she has a broken heart too.
      But we decided to look into the solutions mutually rather than split up because we could not produce children together. That’s a very rare thing nowadays in marriage. We have been together so long we cannot dream of splitting up because one of of us cannot produce children.
      Having a surrogate child is not a replacement for the one we lost together. Ideally, it would have been wonderful if we could have a child that carried both our genetic traits. Sadly, that dream is dead, but that doesn’t mean we cannot raise a child together (even if it was from a surrogate) and instill our values.
      I don’t hate my step children, but they have made it very clear that I am not their father.
      Regardless of what happens in the future, this has lead me to be closer to God. God is everything.

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