I finished reading Two Is Enough this weekend. I picked it up because, lately, I’ve been looking for insight into to how other people cope with the questions that Don and I face when we meet new people and they learn that we don’t have children. Moving frequently as we do, this is something we face regularly, and we’ve reached the age at which most everyone else already has kids or are on their way to having their first child. So inevitably people ask why no kids and I always have a hard time answering that question, for many reasons. For one, it’s such a loaded question. It’s not a decision that we’ve made lightly and there’s so much we could say. But in casual conversation, it’s difficult to know how much to say. It’s also incredibly hard to tell someone with kids, the reasons behind why we don’t have kids. I don’t want my answer to sound like a judgment on their lifestyle – I respect their decision to have children. I wish it was easier for people to understand our decision.
I realized while reading this book that I may always have had a disinclination to have children. I’ve been looking back and can see some early indicators. For example, little girls always like to play with dolls…don’t they? I sure didn’t. I didn’t understand how to play with dolls. Sure, I tried. I pretended. But underneath it all, I just didn’t “get it” – and I knew, even then that this was different and weird.
Ironically, I went through a period of time in my pre-teen and teen years that I was more self-assured and I preached that I was not going to have children. I told anyone who would listen that I was planning to adopt because there were so many children in need and our planet was already overcrowded. Somehow this self-assurance didn’t stick with me very well into adulthood.
I’ve also been digging around in my memory, looking for any recollection of fantasizing about motherhood or having a baby. I can’t recall ever picturing myself being a mom, raising children, giving birth, etc. I’ve never had a yearning for that. I’ve also never been comfortable around babies. Mostly because I don’t feel any of the things that I’ve been programmed to believe I should feel: that they are adorably cute, that they smell wonderful, that I should want to hold them, that being around babies should make me want a baby. It’s all so glaringly absent from my being. I question and doubt myself on this because it seems like an unwritten rule that being a mother is a rite of passage that women must experience in life. I worry that I’m perceived as less of a woman because I lack this burning desire. So finding this book and reading the words of other women who have expressed similar sentiments has given me some peace of mind that I’m not so strange. (And makes me want to stand up and say to young people, women in particular, “you don’t have to have kids!”)
I think it’s easier for Don in some respects and more difficult in others. He gets badgered regularly by co-workers who have children but he’s also much more comfortable with being different and making light of his differences. He doesn’t struggle with self acceptance the way that I do. He’s said time and time again that he’s always had opinions or beliefs that went against the grain of society or what is viewed as “normal”, throughout his life, and he’s ok with that. He does not need acceptance from others to accept himself. This is something I’m obviously still working on but I think I’m making progress. I think this book has helped. Knowing there are others out there who feel the way I (we) do, helps me. Hearing the stories of similar couples is comforting. We might be a in a minority but we aren’t completely alone in our thinking.
It would be too strong to say I live in constant fear of getting pregnant, but it does cross my mind and there are months, that if my period doesn’t show up like clockwork, I do experience a sense of panic. I’m tired of that. I’m convinced that I’ve reached the point that I can confidently say that I don’t want to have children of my own and I’m starting to consider options for making that permanent. Don and I are just starting to talk about these options so I’m not entirely sure how he feels about it yet but we have agreed that if we ever decided we wanted to raise a child that we would be comfortable and happy with adoption. I figure if that’s the case, then let’s explore options that will allow me to not have to take birth control pills for the rest of my life.
So to sum up this rambling self-reflection of our childless/childfree status, we live a rich, wonderfully full life, just the two of us (and our four-legged kids), and I think that I’m finally developing the confidence to be proud of that. I’m hopeful that the next time we meet new people who challenge our choice that I’ll be more comfortable having that conversation, that I won’t hide behind ambivalence due to fear of rejection for being different. (And remember, just because we’ve made the choice not to have our own children, that doesn’t mean we don’t like children. We adore our nieces and nephews. We’ve simply decided that parenthood is not part of our journey.)
As for Two Is Enough, I would recommend it to anyone – whether you know you want to have kids someday, whether you aren’t sure, or whether you know you don’t want to have children. There are valuable insights for everyone in this book.
If you are making the choice not to have children and you randomly tripped across this post looking for others like you, send me a message! I’ve love to connect with you. 🙂
On this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember the fallen, the currently fighting, those in training, and the families of every member of the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. God bless you all.
And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.