At 50 years of age and with no children of my own, it has been a while since I had to answer the question “Why don’t you have children?”
If you have found this blog on your own or through a friend and are beyond the average child-bearing age and have no natural children of your own, I am willing to bet that you have been asked this question more often than you would like to admit.
Let’s face it – we live in a society that prioritizes children and those of us without children are often made to feel like we are either inadequate in some way or social deviants – selfish and not willing to make the “ultimate sacrifice”.
In my younger years, my standard response would have been “It just hasn’t been in the cards for me yet”. However, we now are living among a record number of women in the World without children (by choice, chance or circumstance), I question why we aren’t responding to such inquiries with “Why should I have children”? Kim Catrall could not have said it better during a BBC interview a few years ago, when she shared her thoughts on being child-free – “It sounds like you're less because you haven't had a child. There are many ways to be a mum in the world in this day and age that doesn't include your name on the child's birth certificate."
For me, not having a child was a matter of circumstance and my story goes like this: married late in life to a man I divorced 18 months later, only to meet my current partner who already had children and was not enthusiastic about having any more. End of Story. Or so I thought…
As one of nine kids and from a strong Catholic upbringing, I always envisioned myself married with three kids (preferably boys). I even had names chosen for my future children (Jason, Justin or Josh).
After a very short marriage, I found myself single at the age of thirty-three and wondering if my dream of being a mother would ever come true. I considered adopting and even contemplated preserving my eggs, but chose to hold onto promise and hope.
After meeting my current partner of 13 years, who already had two teenaged daughters and didn’t want to father more children of his own, I had to decide whether I would choose a relationship with this man over my desire to reproduce. After much deliberation, I sealed my fate and chose the path of no children. The decision was not an easy one, however I had already become accustomed to a life without children, was surrounded by close girlfriends who had chosen a similar path, so I felt comfortable with my decision.
However, the questions never stopped coming - from not only the outside, but from within. Was I truly not meant to have kids or did it simply happen this way? Is it too late to consider adoption? How will I fill the void of not having children? Who will take care of me when I am older? Am I at greater risk of any illness because I didn’t have children? Without a child, what would my true legacy be? The more I pondered these thoughts, even more questions would surface. I started to explore my feelings as a woman without children as it related to my career and friendships. Are we women without children accepted or judged in the workplace? Are we the object of pity or jealousy? Are we happier and healthier than women with kids?
This blog has been a project in the works for several years as I struggled to find the time in a busy career to fully explore these thoughts and feelings. After numerous hours searching for and not finding answers to my questions, I sought to develop an online community for women similar to me who could equally benefit from sharing what we have all been living in silence. A safe haven where we can explore our inner-most thoughts and feelings, seek answers to questions we’ve asked ourselves and others and lastly, share and learn from each other. This is for all women without children whether by choice, chance or circumstance. I personally hope you make the most of this new community and I look forward to hearing and learning from you!