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Married, No Kids

November 13, 2009

baby-in-diapers[1]

I have already written about my marriage and how I waited until I was 37 years old to tie the knot.  A funny thing happens when you wait so long to get hitched:  most of your friends around the same age are already married and have children.

My husband and I have no children and it may never happen for us.  I am of a certain age obviously, and the likelihood of us having a successful pregnancy is pretty low.  Of course there is always adoption, but neither of us have thought seriously about this option.  It may just be that we were not meant to be parents (sorry, in-laws!).  This would be very disappointing to me but something I have come to accept.  I recognize that  I have made choices in my life that have lead to this potential outcome.

The funny thing is, I was the one person amongst my friends who always said she wanted children.  I was the one that worked for 13 years with children in the areas of daycare, early childhood screening, and supervised visitation.  I love children.  I love learning about how they develop and watching them grow.  I gravitate towards children and they to me.  I didn’t need to have children of my own to be interested in them.  I know I would be a wonderful mother and my husband would enjoy being a father.  I have a strong desire to experience pregnancy and to see myself reflected in a little tan bundle of joy.  But I am not a parent.

It’s strange not being a parent yet talking to your friends about children.  They know I know about children but certainly raising your own child is very different than taking care of one for 8 hours a day then shipping them off to hang out with the people they’d really prefer to be with all day.  I read articles on raising children and send links to my friends because even without kids I am still interested in them (I wonder if they think I am judging them if I forward a link to a story entitled “How To Rehabilitate Your Spoiled Brat?”).  I also care about them as parents and want to let them know I am thinking of them even though I am not experiencing what they may be.  Sometimes they ask me for my insight and I am happy to share my opinion (even without kids I have lots of opinions on how to raise one!), but always with the knowledge that theory is very different from hands-on experience.

Sometimes it can be awkward interacting with parents when you aren’t one yourself.  They want to talk about every cute thing their child has done over the past 3 hours because that is their life – and rightfully so – but they may not always appreciate that I probably am not going to find the fact that Jr. ate his first scallop today all that fascinating.  Then there are the friends who try really hard to talk about anything but their kids for fear of boring me to death.  They want to exist for awhile in a world where kids do not govern their every thought and behavior; yet I really DO want to hear a bit about what the little ankle-biters are up to!

I sometimes wonder if my parent friends feel sorry for me.  They know how much I want to have children: do they pity me for not having what they have?  One friend, upon learning that she was pregnant, asked me (apropos of nothing) if I was jealous that she was having a baby.  I told her that no, I wasn’t, thank you very much.  I want to have my own baby, not yours.

Each time I think about never having children I remind myself of the freedom that comes with that status.  We don’t have to worry about babysitters or sticky handprints on the furniture.  We can go out to eat or travel when we want, and we aren’t paying half of our salaries for daycare.   There are things gained and not gained in never being a parent.  For now, I get to be an “auntie” to several lovely children whose diapers I don’t have to change and whose college educations I don’t have to pay for.   And that may have to be enough.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 1chicklette permalink
    November 13, 2009 6:01 pm

    I could really relate to this (other than the fact that I’m single). At 36, I feel myself thinking “hmm, this might not happen.

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      November 13, 2009 7:14 pm

      Jennifer, at 36 I thought I had PLENTY of time. You are just now on the other side of that “high risk pregnancy” curve. I can’t say I would have made different choices, even though I may never have my own biological child. My life now is what it was meant to be. But if you’ve got some serious baby plans: start thinking about it now!

  2. November 13, 2009 6:39 pm

    I always love and appreciate your honesty, Maija. We are also married, no kids. Not our original plan. It was around this time of year that I was pregnant (also married late), and I carried her for almost six months before we lost her. Then the infertility doctors told us to give up. I was too devastated to pursue other options. Now we’ve gotten used to being Auntie & Uncle, which is indeed a mixed bag. But I can also tell you about friends who’ve used egg donors and now have beautiful twin girls, and friends who had a miracle adoption story (they weren’t even pursuing adoption when it happened), and friends who have taken in other people’s children and come to love it. So I know that if kids are meant to be in your path, you’ll find a way. And so will we.

    In the meantime, the contribution you make as an Auntie should never be underestimated. To be that adult who always — ALWAYS — lights up when you see those children, who’s never angry, who the kids will listen to as they grow older (when they tune their parents out)… that’s a special role. I had an Auntie and Uncle like that. Hope to be that for the kids in my life, too.

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      November 13, 2009 7:08 pm

      Kat, you brought a tear to my eye! Thank you SO MUCH for your words! As usual, you find a way of getting me to think beyond my typical parameters and find the positive. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. Thank you for sharing your story with me. What lucky nieces and nephews to have you in their lives!

  3. jimdenham permalink
    November 13, 2009 7:03 pm

    It can still happen. We were 40 and married for 13 years before getting pregnant and now we’re the parents of a three year old boy who is the light of our life. We’re quite tired though.

    My wife was very much the same type of person you describe yourself as – loving children and working with them through day cares. She also talked throughout her life of how she wanted children. I think we would have been just fine either way.

    We left the decision up to God and decided to go with whatever happened. Maybe an option for you? Good luck either way.

    There’s also opportunities to sponsor kids throughout the world who need help, in particularly in Africa. We just did that as well – sponsored a 7 year old girl in Swaziland. One of the best feelings of my life to know that we were helping someone who REALLY needed it.

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      November 13, 2009 7:18 pm

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, Jim. Congrats to you and your family (and wishing you some much deserved rest)!

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