On…Choosing Childlessness

children

I never really felt like the ‘mommy’ type. When many of my high school friends talked about getting married and starting a family, I vaguely wondered if there might be something wrong with me for NOT feeling this drive. Marriage? Yes, maybe. Babies? Hmm…I dunno.

Some time after college, I made the, somewhat detached, decision to not have children. Not because being a mother didn’t appeal to me (there are certainly aspects of motherhood that I long for), but because I 1) see within myself a “selfishness” in regards to my need for personal space, time alone, the ability to come and go as I please, etc. 2) have a personal and family history of struggles with mental illness which I have elected not to pass on via genetics and 3) (as a result of #2) require a high level of mental power simply to keep myself afloat on a day-to-day basis.

Regardless, up until recently, my decision had always felt fairly distant. It was a speck on the horizon, an ineffectual blip on my life’s radar.

Until it wasn’t.

Quite unexpectedly, I was hit with the full reality of what choosing childlessness means for me. It means I will never look down into the eyes of my baby, it means I will never see myself in another human being, it means that what makes me ME (at least so far as genetics is concerned) dies along with my last breath. For the first time, I truly grieved the things I had surrendered.

As little girls, we are groomed for motherhood. Shortly after birth, dolls are placed in our hands. We are playing house, imitating our mothers. It isn’t easy to let go of this ideal.

I know my periods of sadness over my choice are not yet over, though they have momentarily waned. And I realize that I am only 32 and that circumstances can change. I will, most likely, be forced to reevaluate from time to time; however, based on the present, I feel confident that my decision is the right one. I am lucky to have Alan’s girls in my life and am attempting to be the best mother-like figure I can be. I will most likely never have a baby of my own, but I can still comb a child’s wet, tangled hair. I can still make pancake breakfasts for a family. I can still share my thoughts and experiences with a young mind. There is solace in this.

 

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