Are you fooling yourself about the baby thing?


In Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, the book I reviewed here last week, Tim Kreider, one of the few male authors in the book, says that he makes a point of telling the women he dates early on that he does not intend to have children and that he will not change his mind. “In my experience,” he writes, “people have a bottomless capacity to delude themselves that their partners will eventually change.”
I think this statement is so important to our Childless by Marriage discussion. We do delude ourselves. I know I did. With my first husband, I told myself we would have babies eventually. Maybe we would have if our marriage hadn’t died. My ex didn’t want kids, but he often buckled to pressure from his parents on other subjects and his mother couldn’t wait to be a grandmother. So, maybe. But the evidence doesn’t support that. Now 66 years old, he has been married three times, and he never had any children. Surely at least one of those other wives wanted them, too. But no babies. Dogs yes, children no.
My second husband, Fred, told me he didn’t want any more children. He already had three kids, the oldest already in their late teens. He’d had a vasectomy after his youngest son was born. And yet for years, I did exactly what Tim Kreider said. I deluded myself that somehow something would change and at least one of his sperm would hook up with at least one of my eggs and we’d make babies. Hello, there’s only one Virgin Mary. It did not happen. I menopaused, he died, game over. I’m living alone with a dog.
If you read back through the comments for past posts, there are hundreds, mostly from women, that talk about partners who say they don’t want children. What should I do, they ask. Will he change his mind? He says he might be ready in a few years. He said we’d do it right after X, and now he says no. He won’t talk about it. Etc.
You can’t blame people for hoping. Sometimes their partners are not clear about what they want. Maybe they don’t even know. Sometimes things happen and people change their minds. But when a person says flat out that he or she does not want to have babies with you and they’re not going to change their minds, I think we have to believe that they mean it and that being with them means you will not have children. If that is not acceptable, don’t delude yourself into thinking things will change. Either accept it or move on.
It’s a harsh reality, but it’s the truth. What do you think about this? I welcome your comments.
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Easter goodies for childless readers


Today, still overwhelmed and under-inspired, I’m offering you an Easter basket full of links and thoughts.
“The A Word: Why We Didn’t Adopt” by Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled. It’s something people don’t talk much about. I haven’t really addressed it here, but this long post will fill that gap.
Loribeth at The Road Less Traveled talks about the new book Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids. I have not read it yet, but I’m planning to. Apparently it leans hard to the childfree-by-choice side, but maybe we can identify with some of it, and there’s a lot of wisdom in Loribeth’s review.
“When Men Want Kids and Women Aren’t So Sure” Usually it seems to be the other way around. This New York Magazine piece looks at young women who aren’t so ready to join the mom club. Check out the comments, too, almost 200 of them at this point. It’s just a hard thing to figure out, isn’t it?
I hope you enjoy these links and follow them wherever they take you.

 

Question:

If you were advising a young person in your life who was considering a permanent relationship with someone who doesn’t want to have children, what would you tell them? Forget about your own situation for a minute. What would you tell this nephew, daughter, or friend whom you love?

Happy Easter to one and all. Don’t forget that it’s about more than a bunny who lays chocolate eggs.