Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts on childlessness

A few weeks ago, my husband and I met up with friends, a couple we've been friends with since college. The topic of being childless came up, as neither of us have children, which sparked an interesting conversation. As couples in our late 20's/early 30's, friends and people in our lives who do not have children are becoming scarce.

I have thought a lot about that conversation since then--what it means to be childless and how it has affected my life.

And I quickly realized that it really doesn't affect me all that much anymore. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that living without children was devastating; it was the toughest burden I had to bear. Things have changed since then, though.

The more I live my life, the easier it is for me to truly understand that there are some things in your life that cannot be chosen and there are things you can choose. Mostly, you get to choose how to react to the things you can't choose. I chose to seek acceptance and peace--and I have finally found it.

It's difficult, I think, for people to understand this. Mostly, people who have children themselves--those who understand what being a parent is like firsthand--struggle to make sense those who choose to live a life without children.

Our path is a rare one because we didn't choose to live without children from the start. We wanted kids back then. The thought of choosing a life without children never crossed our minds. After all was said and done, however, we realized we were happy with things exactly as they are right now---without children. Our choice is one part not our choice and one part completely of our own making.

This complicates things, I know. My life often feels as though it is comprised of people who are waiting for me to do or say something to change, well, anything. It sounds crazy to say, but I don't have a desire to change anything right now; I am truly and completely happy with things exactly as they are right in this moment.

So, to be clear:

We very much love children. We adore the living daylights out of our nieces and nephews and sincerely enjoy their presence in our lives.

My biological clock is not ticking. At all. Or, it might be broken. I should probably look into that.

We are completely at peace with our inability to reproduce. We do not envy or dislike people who have children or those who have even the most remote ability to control their child making abilities. If you can have children, then you should have as many as you want.

It's possible we will someday change our minds and choose to pursue adoption. If my life has taught me anything, it is this: nothing in your life can be predicted.

Mostly, I approach this situation in a very simple and straightforward manner. I tell everyone the same thing: the truth.

The truth goes something like this:

Infertility was terrible; it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Likewise, it was the most defining moment of my life. I have never learned more, grown more as a person, or understood more about life, spirituality, and happiness than I have from that experience. It has changed me for the better--I have more clarity, less tolerance for petty concerns, and a better handle on who I am and who I want to be.

I chose to work on myself and accept the reality of infertility; this is a choice I still make every day. It wasn't easy. It didn't happen overnight. But it's our reality and I believe it happened for a very specific purpose. Happiness and acceptance of terrible situations always involve choice---and you always have the power to choose.

I chose to move on, and that's exactly what I did. I am in a place today where I am happy--and I don't feel a gaping hole where a child should be. Life is entirely too short to dwell on the things you cannot have. It has always felt like a big giant waste of time to me, so I don't do it.

The end result? We are really happy. Completely fulfilled. At peace. And if you ask me, that's what life is all about.

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