Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sans Children.

With the recent passing of my forty-first birthday I find myself contemplating my current childless state,continuously poking that potentially tender spot like a sore tooth you just can't leave alone,until finally coming face to face with the reality that my window of opportunity is slamming shut in a big way. Hell, in my current single state, short of an immaculate conception or a run in with a turkey baster, that window has in all probability already closed.

I've never really been sure I wanted children. Oh , sure there were/are moments when the pull of motherhood makes itself known; like when I spend time with my two year old nephew, when I hold some one's baby and breathe in that baby smell(you know the one), or read a particularly touching blog post that allows a random glimpse into the life of a happy family. It's during those moments that the tick-tock of that despised clock drowns out the rest of the noise my life usually makes. But when push comes to shove, If I'm totally honest with myself, can I say with 100% conviction that I truly want a child, and all the baggage and responsibility that comes with having children? Does this sound like denial,or sour grapes? Perhaps. At the very least it sounds a hell of alot like ambivalence. If by some chance accident I found myself pregnant at this point in my life, of course I would be... terrified, but also not entirely bummed about it. See what I mean? Ambivalence. And ambivalence, at 41, where child bearing is concerned, is basically a no go.

Sometimes I mourn for the experiences that I will miss out on, there is no denying that. I will never feel that fierce unconditional love a mother has for her child, or experience the growth and deepening of the mother daughter relationship with my own mother by giving her a grandchild (not to mention, there is a certain level of guilt as well). And while I can't say I will ever miss the experience of childbirth itself, I do feel left out of the "war buddy" camaraderie women share with the retelling of their birth stories. And quite frankly if you don't have one of those bad boys of your own to share, there are only so many times you can hear that kind of stuff without wanting to run screaming. That is some graphic shit, man!

Does this make me less feminine, less of a woman, less female than the women who have had children? Have I failed in my prime directive to go forth and multiply? Does this overtaxed global village even need the burden of one more living creature to support? These are questions I have no answer for. Sometimes I think this choice, my choice, makes me just as much a woman as the choice to have a child does. Then again, sometimes I feel like I've rushed the sorority, and was found somehow lacking, so now I'm to be pitied, or simply dismissed in terms of having anything worth while to impart regarding all things children.

Ive been in those groups of mothers (and, in all fairness, fathers) as they discuss the ins and outs of raising children; topics run the gamut from discipline, bed times, and nutrition, to how much TV and computer time to give them.Some of what I hear makes me sure that some people really shouldn't raise children, but by not not being a parent myself, any input I make into these conversations is usually met with blank stares, or the oh so popular refrain "Well, you don't have children, so you couldn't possibly understand". I'm not going to lie, that stings a bit, and there may be a grain of truth in that statement somewhere (sometimes I do feel like a stranger in a strange land), but it doesn't mean I'm completely clueless. Certainly no more clueless than some of those parents who (no lie) can't seem to get their 7 year old to bed any earlier than 11, and then wonder why the child is not doing well in school. Hello!? Seriously?

I am lucky though, my best friend is not one of those kinds of mothers, and has always allowed me to share in much of the raising of her children. They're my
God(dess) kids, and I have been an integral part of their lives since they were born. In fact I was still sharing a house with her and her hubby until the oldest was almost three. I helped raise them, still do to a degree, and for that experience I am grateful.

I've written myself into a corner here, and I'm not sure where this is going, or what,definitively, I'm trying to say about all this. Hell, maybe it all just goes to prove that deep down I do want a child, but even if that were the case, to what end? I would still need to come to terms with this new found revelation as something that in all actuality may not happen. I suppose if I really do want a child, there are steps I could take, single or not. I know I would have a huge amount of support, but I have serious doubts as to whether or not I'm selfless enough to raise a child, especially on my own. I've also contemplated the idea of being a foster parent, and haven't written that off entirely. But again, as a single woman, a fairly selfish one at that, I don't know if I have what it takes (practical considerations aside) to be of use to a child in crisis.

Aw, come on, it's not nearly as tragic as it sounds, I'm philosophical enough about it most of the time. It is what it is, and my life is what I have made of it. Torturing myself, obsessing on something I'm not even sure I want will not change things, it will only serve to make me miserable. So, I will enjoy the kids that I do have in my life, revel in the freedom and extended adolescence being without children affords (sleeping in on weekends is still pretty awesome), and try to keep myself open to any unforeseen adventures that may pop up.


flutter said...

You are no less a woman than someone who has children. You are no less a woman than me, than my mother, than any woman born.

You are beautiful, you are real and you are whole.

Hanlie said...

What a beautifully eloquent and honest post, Chanda! I loved reading it...

I think every woman goes through periods in her life when the longing is stronger than others. For some women, like myself, it's always close to the surface, while other women don't feel it as often or as keenly. For me, the thought of never having children used to be unacceptable. I couldn't imagine not ever being a mother. I'm starting to recognize that I will still have a worthy life, although I'll always feel as if something was missing...

Being single, parents expectations, etc are not the most important considerations. I was not financially secure before I met my husband (although I had a good job), but I knew that if I were still single at 40 I'd do whatever I could to have a child.

I guess what I'm trying to say is "Listen to your heart". Whatever your heart is saying is what is right for you. My best friend, who epitomized womanhood to me, loves children but has never wanted any of her own. She is no less a woman in anyone's eyes for that.

we_be_toys said...

All I know is that you are a far better parent, when it comes to babies, at least! I'm pretty sure my kids wouldn't be as well-adjusted if they hadn't had their beloved "Bea" there to provide backup for their own bat-shit-crazy mother.

I think you have excellent parenting instincts, and thats not something everyone has or is able to learn, as you well know!

Cammy said...

What an honest and thought-provoking post! I can assure you that producing a child is not what makes you more, or less, a woman. Your sensitivity and insight and strength contribute more to that aspect of your humanity.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly.

maggie, dammit said...

"Life's Big Questions" indeed. I have no answers, but I sure enjoyed the peek inside your lovely mind.

And this?

"the tick-tock of that despised clock"

Delicious sentence structure. Say it aloud a few times. It's quite yummy.

FairiesNest said...

Darling you would make an excellent mother, but that certainly doesn't mean that you have to. You are a lovely and complete woman the way you are. And if you need, I can tell you some "uterus tightening" stories anytime! ;)

kacey said...

Wow, what a moving post. I'm sure there are other childless women (and men) out there that share some of your feelings. I feel for the ones who truly, deeply want a child and can't have one. I feel for those like you who just aren't sure what exactly they feel. Thanks for sharing this. I feel like I have a closer insight, possibly, into the wavering thoughts of a childless friend of mine.