Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Being Childless - The Road To Happiness

I'm childless. There, that's out of the way. I'm not able to have children, not by
choice but by circumstance.

In my late teens and early twenties I desperately wanted children. I'd grown up
emotionally abused, and I thought that having a child would give me something that
I could love that was all mine. I wanted a football team!

When we are insecure within ourselves we look to outside sources to 'complete' us
such as relationships, children, work, or even volunteer commitments.

When women/couples cannot have children they can feel invalidated as a
relationship, and often marriages will fail because of the lack of children. If two
people cannot commit to each other without children, then there's usually not much
hope for a long-term relationship.

When a woman cannot have a child, such as myself, you can feel such overwhelming
grief at the time that it can be all consuming. You'll usually go through all sorts of
tests, procedures, invasions of intimate and personal space in order to try and have
a child.

There are many processes for the infertile. There is IVF, adoption, foster care,
permanent care placements or even surrogacy in some countries.

What do you do though, if, despite this overwhelming grief, sense of loss, and
desire to have a child, you start to ask if it is all worth it?

What do you do if you realise that you don't have that driving desperation to have a
child? You still have the hurt, the pain and loss, but you feel as if you should be
feeling more 'desperation?'

There isn't any magic answer. Each woman is unique in her determination to have a
child of her own. I've met many women who have gone through immense personal
sacrifice to have a child and they've had either the most tragic or joyous outcomes.

Women who are infertile and cannot have a child have to at some point in their life
become comfortable with this. There is no defining moment, no set point at which
this happens, but it must happen for a woman to start to heal her pain and move on
with her life, for there is life without children, and it can be a great life.

Life without children is not the scary movie scenario that women think it is. It's not
when they turn into hags and become the scary old lady down the street.

Life without children means not being tied down to schedules, not being tied down
to school holidays, car pooling for sports, extra curricular activities and the like.
You are free to pursue your own life, work and leisure activities.

You get to be the favourite Aunt.

You have time to do the things you want, when you want.

You get to hog all the easter eggs if you want. You get to eat that block of
chocolate all by yourself. You don't have to structure your working life around
school timetables. You don't have to volunteer for canteen duty. You can take an
arts class, do yoga, go to university, travel and do any damn thing you want to.

Yes, being childless has it's advantages. Many would say also that it's lonely, you
grow old alone and your name doesn't get passed on through the generations.

Big deal.

It took me about ten years to understand that not having children was a blessing. I
saw so many of my friends complain about their lives. I've seen so much abuse of
children around me by parents who didn't really stop to think about what a child
needed, or why they had the child in the first place. If I had the opportunity, I
probably would not have a child now, knowing what I know now, I know that my life
is richer and freer for not having children, and that I am a more well rounded,
developed and secure individual for it.

It doesn't take the hurt, pain and sense of loss away, which may sound like a
contradiction, but for women out there who have lived with their infertility and
childlessness for years, they'll understand where it comes from.

Enjoy being childless. Don't wallow in self-pity. Go out there and make something
of your life. You've been given an opportunity to be a free spirit without the
constraints of the school bell.

Your life is an open book and only you know how many pages there are to turn.
Each page brings new challenges and chapters in your life to explore and being
childless needn't be the end, but only the beginning of your voyage of self-
discovery. Who knows, you might actually like discovering who YOU are.

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