Should she give up motherhood for him?

Last week, I put out call for submissions to the Childless by Marriage blog. This piece from a woman who prefers to called Anonymous arrived yesterday. I am happy to share it with you. I’m sure many of you can identify with her story.–Sue

BY “ANONYMOUS”

Throughout my twenties, I always wanted children, but I wanted adventure first. Kids could wait.

Three years ago, at the age of 29, I decided to do something drastic. I sold my house, my car, gave up my job, said goodbye to my family and moved 10,000 miles across the world to explore Australia.

My intention of backpacking the country fell flat when I met my partner. He’s 50 now, separated, with two teenage children. He is the love of my life. We have a fantastic world together: we live in paradise, we have a sailing boat, we have plans to buy a family home, we share the same hobbies. I have never known love like this, and the 18-year age gap has never bothered us—he acts and looks younger than he is.

My love for this man is so intense that we applied successfully for a partner visa. I sacrificed being with my family to be with my partner, and I’ve had to watch my baby nephew grow through Whatsapp video calls and the odd Facebook photograph.

Two days ago, we were looking at houses on the internet. We began discussing how many bedrooms we would need. I suggested four—room to grow a family and still accommodate a guest room for his current children.

We’ve spoken about children often. I knew I wanted to have children, so I raised the subject early due to his age. I kept hauling the subject into conversation and would always ask him if he wanted more children. He always, always said he was “open to it.” While we looked at these houses, I asked him again. Again, he said he was open to it.

And then . . .

Silly, silly me. I asked him to really think about it. “When you turn 70, our first child might not even be a legal adult. This absolutely isn’t a deal breaker, but are you 100 percent positive that you are open to this idea?”

He said no, he hadn’t thought of it like that, and he didn’t want more children.

Since then, I have cried and cried. I will burst into tears at work. I have no one to speak to about it. There is a pit in my stomach, and I can’t eat, can’t sleep properly. I can’t concentrate at work. I’m drinking too much in the evenings just to numb the pain. I feel like I am coping with a death. I actually had names for my children, and now they are gone. I’ll never know what it’s like to be pregnant, to know a “mother’s love.” I have just started crying again as I type.

I was wrong. I think it may be a deal breaker. I knew before that we might not end up having children, but that is so very different from knowing that we will not.

I can barely speak to my partner. He doesn’t understand, didn’t realize how much it meant to me. I am so angry with him. I feel as if I have been betrayed, as if I’ve wasted two years of my waning fertile years with a man who never put enough thought into the implications of having children in his fifties. I’m offended that he didn’t spend any time considering something which, I feel, I had made quite clear was important to me.

I do not love his children, and they are too grown up to need anything from me. Why was his difficult ex good enough to have children with, but not me? Why do I get that gift taken away? It’s not fair. He has his legacy in his two kids, and I have, what? Not even a nephew that I can help take care of because, oh yeah, I gave up that part of my life to stay in this relationship.

I won’t be part of a yummy mummy’s club, I won’t get to make a photo album to embarrass my kids with later in life. Instead, I’ll have to watch families grow around me, friends fall pregnant . . . my partner gazing proudly at his boy and his girl.

I am so bitter and so lost. I do not know what to do.

Oh, Anonymous. As I told her privately, nothing she has done is irreversible. She can leave this man, go home, and start fresh. Would it be painful? Incredibly, but she would not have to give up her chance to be a mother.

Dear readers, what comments or advice do you have for Anonymous in Australia?

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Do you want to tell your story at the Childless by Marriage blog? I’m looking for personal stories, 500-750 words long, that fit our childless-by-marriage theme. You could write about infertility, second marriages, partners who don’t want children, stepchildren, feeling left out when everyone around you has kids, fear of being childless in old age, birth control, and other related issues. Tell us how you how you came to be childless “by marriage” and how it has affected your life. Or you could write about someone else. We love stories about successful childless women. We do not want to hear about your lovely relationship with your children or how happy you are to be childfree. Not all submissions will be accepted, and all are subject to editing. If interested, email me at sufalick@gmail.com.

 

17 thoughts on “Should she give up motherhood for him?

  1. Gosh how horrible. I’m not sure if she will read this, but she might have read my story that you recently shared about having left the love of my life for the same reason. I was lucky enough to meet someone else and I’m now a mother. Naturally I would say that if you can’t bear this grief then you should always consider your options re moving on.

    Sometimes relationships are right for us for a period of time and then they’re not.

    I felt I simply could not live a happy life without having children, but many many people do. I was spending most of my time imagining future grief and it became too much.

    Sue, you’re welcome to share my email address with this lady if it would help to talk to someone who has been there.

    Victoria

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  2. I can’t give advice from personal experience. And I don’t think anyone can, given that only your correspondent knows how important he is to her, and how important having children is to her, and whether she can forego one for the other. I would just ask her to try not to be angry at him, but to be able to see things from both perspectives. And to know that there are advantages and disadvantages of both lifestyles, as we all know. I wish her the best.

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    • After seeing all these comments, I feel I have to add something, to give a different perspective. My sister, after her first marriage ended, met an older man with two adult/almost adult children. He didn’t want any more. I talked to her about it, and she said, “I’ve been in a marriage without love. I wanted children. But I have love now, and I choose love.” I also know that my husband could have left me when I couldn’t have children, but he chose not to, despite having wanted to be a father very badly. He chose love too. He didn’t want to try adoption. But I chose him. It’s not actually that different. And I’m forever grateful we chose each other, even though we had both wanted a different life.

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  3. It is such a tough position to be in, even without the added difficulty of being so far away from your family and home. It’s hard to give advice, and none of us have a crystal ball. Only you can know what is in your own heart. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.

    Think about your life as it is now and ask yourself: If it was the same in five years’ time, would you be happy with that? Would it be enough? How about 10 years? how about 20 years?

    You talk about what you have already given up and use words like sacrificed and betrayed. You say you have no one to talk to about this, and I wonder if, apart from your work, your life revolves around your partner? Will you come to resent giving up even more while he gets to live the life he wants?

    On a practical level, is he going to get a vasectomy? Or will you be expected to use contraception for the next 15-20 years? Will your heart break a little every day as you destroy your own dreams by swallowing your pill?

    Teenagers of opposite sexes will need a room each in your new home. Will you resent paying towards a large house for the four of you, knowing that you won’t be using any of the bedrooms for your own babies?

    Don’t rush into your decision. It’s only been a few days since he dropped the bombshell. Your feelings are very raw. But once you have made your decision, don’t wait–you never know what could happen. I was the same age as you when I decided that I was going to leave. My mum said I could stay with her until I found somewhere, but I wanted to wait until the new year, find a flat and just move once. The week before Christmas, I caught a virus. It went into my brain and left me with permanent incurable damage. I am unable to leave the house on my own, never mind go to work. That was the end of 2007, and I’m still here. My life is significantly worse now than what was not acceptable to me 13 years ago, but I’m trapped here and so is my partner.

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    • Wow! What a plot twist. Jo, I believe you gave some really sound advice. Cheers to you for using your time to help others. Just – wow. We all feel our situations are unique and they are. But yours is profoundly unique and I extend prayers and thoughts of love to you.

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  4. I recognize that it’s not my place to tell anyone what they should do especially on such a personal matter. But if I was in the same situation as her I would tell myself, “No, self, you should not give up motherhood for this man.” Because, for me, being a mother was more important than anything else. I’ve had several significant relationships so I know it’s possible to love more than one person. Is breaking up with him a risk? Yes. But is staying with him compromising on what’s most important to you? Also yes. (For me anyway)

    Being a mother and raising children was my lifelong dream. I did everything within my control to make it happen. After both going through fertility treatments and finding an adoption agency, nothing worked out for me, and I am living my life after infertility without children. But it was only after nothing worked out for me that I could grieve and accept the fact that I tried everything I could. I wouldn’t have that peace of mind if I had been in and stayed in a relationship with someone who didn’t want any (more) kids.

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  5. If she were my friend and asked for my advice, I would tell her that she should let him go with love. You can find love at any age, but if her heart and soul crave having a child, it’s time to move on before it’s too late and she regrets it forever. It won’t be easy, but from her reaction, she knows she has to move on, for both their sakes.

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  6. There is no guarantee either way. I left multiple long-term relationships in my 30s searching for a partner to build a family with. Late in my 30s, I met a partner who was older, a friend of friends, a settled man, fun, adventurous . . . and he decided he wasn’t in a place where he wanted to raise children, so I decided to stay with him because I loved him and could see growing old together being enough for me. Six months later, we split up (for reasons unrelated to children). Now I’m partnerless and childless. There are no guarantees. It just does not “work out” for everyone. Make the decision that best fits your heart and who you are now and what you think you can live with. You can only do the best for yourself with what you know now. And if you don’t end up with kids, please do not blame yourself. So much of this is sheer luck.

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  7. Nobody can decide for her. However the advice given to people who are bereaved, is usually, don’t make big decisions in the immediate aftermath. And I think that applies here. I’d think she should commit to a time frame to see how the situation feels to her at the end of that time, perhaps three months, or whatever feels appropriate.

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  8. Your comment about not even having your nephew in your life (due to the distance between you) spoke to me. At one time I heavily enveloped my life with nieces and nephews. And then situations pulled us away from the family we were most close to. And I saw how very insignificant my presence was in their life. Maybe it’s not the same for all families, but it’s my experience. I realized that the effort I was making with other people’s children was kind of a waste of my time and my heart. They were THE children in my life but they are not MY children.

    I decided that I needed to gear my energies towards other family (siblings, grown children) and friends. Guess what, even grown nieces and nephews are not MY children. They have their own families with their own special traditions. I’m “included,” but I’m not a part of their family. Again, this is my own experience.

    Friends will always choose their children over me (rightfully so). My work is important but it’s not necessarily life-changing or truly valuable to society. Don’t get me wrong. I have a full life, I help others, I have friends and family and goals and dreams and hobbies and private challenges and many, many joys. I do have a “place” in life.

    But it wasn’t until I viewed my husband as my family that I found peace. I am a bit of a loner so when the end approaches (if I’m the one that is left) I’ll be okay. God willing, I’ll still have that extended family, the friends, my satisfaction from my past career, my hobbies. On paper, it sounds sad (I feel sad when I read obituaries, and it says, “the deceased had no children)” but I won’t be.

    Hug to you as you decide. I’m rooting for your partner to realize that children with you can be an adventure worth having at this point in his life.

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  9. Marriage is a give and a take. If one person makes such a huge sacrifice and the pain of that huge sacrifice is not acknowledged by her partner, that becomes a huge stumbling block, I’d think. My question to her would be this: Does he give, sometimes? Or is she always the person making the sacrifices? Answering this question honestly will make her future a lot clearer.

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