Being Childless

“So, do you have kids?”

I hear this question every time I meet someone new. Every time. It doesn’t bother me to be asked – I get it. Most married women my age have kids. It’s a normal question. I struggle to answer it in a way that puts the other person at ease, but there’s usually an awkward, “Oh.” when I reply lightly, “No, no kids.”

My husband and I are unable to have children, biologically. Honestly, this hasn’t been a sadness for us. Sure, when I was little I imagined I’d be a mom one day. But, as an adult, I’ve never had a strong desire to have children. We’re happy and content with our life together – just the two of us. We’ve considered adoption, but due to various reasons (not all of which are mine to share) we haven’t pursued that route.

But.

Recently, on social media, I saw pictures of a group of friends on a mom/daughter outing. A smiling group of happy moms with their young daughters. My first response was, “Wonderful! I love that intentionality! It’s so important to have that focused time as mom and daughter! And, how fun to do that in a group!” Then, as I looked at more pictures, my heart began to crack and hurt. Jealousy, perhaps. I heard a little, sad voice say, “That will never be me. I’ll never experience that. I’ll never be included in that space. I don’t fit anywhere.” I told myself again how I’m missing out on a huge life experience: pregnancy. I’ll never know how that miraculous event feels.

But.

I shush that sad voice. I tell it: “This has been our choice. No choice is perfect – there are gains and losses with every choice.” My husband and I will often sigh with contentment and say, “I love our life together.” We’re happy – our lives are full and rich in relationships. We wouldn’t want it any different than it is.

One time I was wrestling with some guilt over not pursing adoption. There are so many children who need a good, safe home. My pastor at the time said, “Do you feel called to adopt?” Her question suddenly halted all the swirling guilt. I replied, “No, actually. I don’t feel called to adopt. It’s a ‘should’.” Whenever I feel conflicted or second-guess our choice not to pursue adoption, I remember this little conversation, answer the question again honestly, and allow the burden of false guilt to lift.

Life is not a one size fits all. My life choices are not the only way to live, but they are our way to live. It fits us and how God wired us individually and as a couple. And hopefully, we’re becoming more like Christ in the process. Thanks be to God.

 

Have you wrestled with sadness or guilt over any non-traditional life choices? How do you come to peace? What voices of the past or present are informing your sadness or guilt?

16 thoughts on “Being Childless

  1. Rita

    I love this post more than I can say.
    1. Yes, I have had sadness and guilt because I had to finally, after trying and trying to work out a difficult family situation, step away. Moms aren’t suppose to step away….even for a season. I have felt unspeakable grief over doing all I knew to do and still the situation was not resolved.
    2. I came to peace by recognizing how much peace has been in our lives since stepping away. Our health and happiness are better than I could have ever imagined. Toxic relationships are just that….poisonous to our well-being.
    3. Voices of the past are from my parents. They would never have stepped away…..but I saw the grief and impact on their health because of their decision.
    The voice of the present is saying – not every situation fits the same mold. The choice was the correct one for us…..and the goodness of our life confirms this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sandra

    Friend I also until recently chose no to marriage and children. Im not sure I’ll give birth to a child and adopt I am not sure but i have always loved children and they have been my life calling. So i have taught. Recently God blessed me witha husband and at 45 we are persuing fostering. This scares me but also excites me. Again i feel like im doing what im called to do.
    Like you said we must feel called to make life choices that affect others. I think everyone should have, adopt, or foster IF THEY ARE CALLED. Not because that is what everyone is doing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. (tried to like it – as in tried to click “like” but it didn’t work. re-read it and saw it could be taken I tried to like what you wrote. *sigh* not the intention)

        Like

  3. Yes. I can relate. I had to come to terms with the fact I’ll never be pregnant. A year ago that would have caused me to be in tears, but now I have this peace that God has plans for my life and I can let go of the ideas I had while still praying for the desires of my heart. (Last week I was referred by my OBGYN to a chiropractor and when I made the appointment, the chiropractor said “And how far along are you?” – I smiled and told him I wasn’t pregnant. And I didn’t have the strong emotions I’d have felt last year.)

    My heart’s desire is for marriage and when I pray about it, I feel God forming my words to pray for not only a husband but also a family that God will put together. I don’t know if that means foster children, adopting children together, being a stepmom or all of the above. Or it could mean a husband and I would be the family I’ve prayed for!

    I came to this peace after months of praying “Thy will not mine” and being thankful that I can trust the One who sees the unseen while I can only focus on what is seen. It’s praying daily because if I take it all back, then the heaviness of heart sets back in. I much prefer a heart at peace that trusts God and has a hope for my future. 🙂

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I appreciate you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gordon Hackman

    Thanks for sharing this Lori. Since around the time I’ve turned 40, I’ve continually wrestled with sadness over the way my life has turned out. I never thought I’d be well into middle age and still single. It’s hard not to spend a lot of time wondering if there is something wrong with me, or if in some way it’s due to some failure on my part. Some voices in the broader church in the last 10-15 years have certainly added to a sense of guilt based on some of the things they have said. Sometimes I’m ok with things but overall. I would say that I haven’t found peace with it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So beautiful, Lori – you, your thoughts, your expression of godly joy and contentment (godliness with contentment is great gain! right?) I actually feel the children I’ve brought into the world need extra parenting to make up for where I lack – and so God brings others who love them to walk alongside them to fill in the gaps, so to speak. I am grateful when others share their big hearts with my kids and I feel it reflects that ‘God sets the lonely in families’ – that He views His body as a large family, where the childless find children to nurture and love, even without adoption or formal/official ‘parenting. Hope that makes sense!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lori!

    Thank you for sharing! What a heartfelt blog.

    In my late 20’s I never had a desire for children. When I met Ken and he couldn’t have any children with me, I wasn’t the least bit sad! It seemed to suit us…until It didn’t. In my mid 30s I started to have a terrible longing for a child. But nothing changed the fact that we couldn’t. One night after dinner, the question of adoption was voiced and I had a wonderful sense of rightness about it. As you know we decided to go the international route and found our son. But as I approached my late 40’s I had terrible sadness over the fact I would never experience pregnancy. We had a family, but I mourned the loss of my Ability to get pregnant and feel a child growing in me. I cannot fathom loving a child any more than I love our son, born in my heart not under it, but I think the sense of loss is very real for women. It’s like having a car in the garage. You may not want to drive anywhere but you know you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There are spiritual children you can raise. You have an opportunity to pour into some younger woman’s life in a way no one else can because you have the flexibility in your life without children. I have a couple of wonderful spiritual mothers and an awesome mom..both have enriched my life so!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautifully written Lori! I remember several people at our old church asking us, after we’d been married more than a few years, “Are you going to start a family?” And I had to kindly but firmly reply, “We are a family. ” And even when I got pregnant (halfway through the addition process!), I still felt the peace that comes when you’re following your own meandering path & not the one others think you “should” follow. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  9. James R. Cowles

    The desire to have kids is evolution in action. Nature selects INto us the desire to have kids by enabling us to remember childhood as *** MUCH *** better than it actually was. So naturally we want to share the joy of childhood with others.

    The “raw” reality is much different. Childhood is itself a Darwinian struggle for survival. And some of us don’t. People who have had an exceptionally traumatic / abusive childhood see through the fog of romantic illusions, and many of them take a vow to never have kids. They see reality “straight up” and not “on the rocks”.

    “Man hands on misery to man,
    It deepens like an ocean shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.”
    — Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jeni

    Thank you Lori, for addressing something very few in the Christian community experience. My husband and I are CBC (childless by choice) and there are very few like us in our church sphere. It is easier to let people think we couldn’t have children than to see the puzzled looks on people’s faces, whether they are bold enough to ask anything further (“why didn’t you want kids?,” “who will take care of you when you’re old?” and others) or not. In the church it is rude to say MYOB, but really people should. Like you said, this was right for US, even if it isn’t right for many. We are currently hosting our 2nd foreign exchange student and really enjoying having a teenager in the house (ikr?). Perhaps our mission fields will come to us instead of us going to them!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chrysalis

    Thank you for saying this. I had to leave a toxic marriage 4 years ago and sank financially until I moved in with my parents which was even more toxic. We left there and are now in an apartment. My daughter and I are having some non-chaos and some peace. But it feels weird. My teen and grown boys are with my husband and refuse to come live with me.
    I feel guilt over leaving my husband and boys and unsaved parents…
    But I just couldn’t take it.
    Had wishes and prayers God would just take me to heaven so I could be free of those terrible situations.
    This was the best I could do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I find myself more and more often have those moments of seeing relationships and thinking, “That will never be me.” I have it more when seeing married couples than with kids. It’s tough whatever the situation, by choice or just the way it worked out.

    Liked by 2 people

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