No kids, No regrets

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This year, I learned something that somehow I feel I always instinctively knew: I can’t have children.

I wish I could say it was a complete shock, and while mildly disappointing at the time, it definitely struck me that deep down that I knew this was possibility.  I’m not sure why. 

For some reason after five years of marriage and an ongoing mutual agreeance that we weren’t in the right place for kids, the tides suddenly turned.  Over multiple glasses of wine on New Years, the mister and I started talking about it.  Everyone we knew were having children, even those who said they weren’t interested or seemed like they weren’t.  Why weren’t we, we mused?  We had reached great points in our careers, owned a home, were comfortable and had a solid happy relationship.  We could give a child everything they needed.  We owed it to the world to procreate. We would also be super awesome parents, of course.

So we commenced, and assumed it would just happen.  It didn’t.  

We sought medical intervention after awhile, frustrated by our lack of ability to do something so basic; something we’d seen friends and family accomplish easily or even accidentally.  It seemed so easy, until it wasn’t.  We were upset.  Briefly. I’ve never been cool with failure, no matter what the circumstance.

In the middle of all this I’ve dealt with the standard frustrating quips:

“When are you guys having kids? You’ve been married long enough.”

“You won’t know true happiness until you’ve experienced the love a child brings into your lives”

“You don’t have kids? Why? Do you not like children?”

“I guess it’s just easier to work and have lots of money and free time.”

“I envy you guys, having the freedom you do.  Honestly though, I wouldn’t trade places with you for anything.”

“Who’s going to get all your money when you die? Who will look after you when you’re old?”

Oh. My. God.  It’s baffling to me that people who supposedly care about us could throw such passive aggressive (well meaning?) barbs.


I had to get real with myself on some points though: I’ve never really been maternal.  I’ve never looked at babies or children and felt that deep yearning in my loins to spew forth life from them.  I didn’t dream of a future as a mother.  What I truly valued was a great life partner, and some sense of fulfillment and gratification from life; I just wasn’t one hundred percent convinced kids would provide that.  I figured when the time was right I’d feel that biological clock tick that would spurn me on to this point in my life that everyone assured me was coming.  At best I felt a tiny pang and ran with it, clutching to that small moment and hoping it was enough. Then we learned it wasn’t to be and the feeling died.  Completely.

Perhaps it was a blessing.  We were offered the option to try IVF (results not guaranteed) for a price that gave us pause. We were told by multiple people it was ‘completely worth it’.  However we both hesitated, seriously.  Not necessarily because of the money, it just sort of felt like “why are we forcing something that isn’t supposed to be?” It felt, well….wrong.  We both agreed wholeheartedly this wasn’t what we wanted.  

Surprisingly, I realized I was completely at peace with it. I may even be, dare I say it, relieved? It made me question my reasons for pursuing it in the first place. Were they altruistic or selfish? Was I bowing to the pressure put on me by a societal assumption that a childless woman is selfish, empty, broken, or just not a ‘real woman’? 


Here’s what I KNOW: I love my life.  I am happy and fulfilled, I have a great partner; all the things I desired.  I travel. I volunteer. I love my job and have great friends.  I never felt like anything was missing in my life and I still don’t even after being told I can’t procreate.

All those questions people put to me and still continue to? Still there, still rude.  It’s easier to just tell them now that I CAN’T have kids, and honestly I secretly enjoy watching them cringe with the realization that their inquiry was potentially insensitive.  That’ll teach you, I think.  I hope it makes you as uncomfortable as your unsolicited questions and opinions about my reproductive abilities and choices have made me.

I am not missing anything by being childless. You can’t miss something you never had.  I do count the blessings in my life every day, and there are so so many. I love my nieces and nephews, I genuinely enjoy time spent with my friend’s kids.  I am happy they’re happy, but I am happy too believe it or not.

Oh, and don’t ask me who will care for me when I’m old: it will be the same nursing home your kids put you in.  You’ll whine how they don’t visit enough, and that will likely hurt more because you expected to be ‘taken care of’, where I’ll have no such expectation.

My money will go to charity, which thrills me more than providing a legacy to people profiting from my years of hard work (at a job I love) simply because we share DNA. I’m going to help people that will really need and appreciate it.

I won’t have kids, and it’s just fine. I realized, finally, that I don’t need them to be happy.

I also really love sleeping in.

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Lessons in Love

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It’s the day before my four year wedding anniversary and so I felt it fitting to reflect on this very strange phenomenon we call love, especially now that I have found the real deal.  Truthfully, I thought I’d found it many times before too, but that’s sort of the point of this post.  Shifts in our ideas about love.

The realization I have arrived at after numerous and obviously failed relationships is that love starts with yourself.  I couldn’t understand for the longest time why people seemingly couldn’t love me, or just gave up on trying to do so; and I realized too many years later that I didn’t love myself.  To be completely honest, I didn’t really even like myself; yet I expected someone else to put out the incredible effort to look past my self loathing and realize all the things about me that were awesome.  Oh, and while they were at it I needed them to tell me what made me a worthwhile human being too.  How twisted is that?

I took a good year off after ending my last relationship to be alone and reflect.  I was 26 and it was the longest I’d been single since high school.  That was scary enough in itself.  Somewhere in that time I had a eureka moment, where the answer I’d been looking for jumped out and punched me square in the face:

Love

I don’t have kids yet, but when/if I do (any blog topic altogether) I will hammer this point home with them incessantly.  I wish someone had said this to me sooner.  It may have changed my perspective.  This single idea changed my life and led me to my wonderful husband.

The background: I’m a romantic of sorts.  When I say “of sorts” I mean that I wasn’t the little girl that dreamed about her wedding day, but I was definitely enamored by the idea of a prince charming type that would sweep me off my feet and carry me away into untold bliss.  I believed he existed, somewhere.  Disney kept telling me he did, and no six year old girl is going to question Disney.

I had no real concept though of what love looked like or even what was really desirable about it besides the fact it appeared to be a goal many people were chasing.  All I knew was, my parents definitely didn’t have this sort of relationship (yeah kids know when their parents aren’t happy – just in case you think you’re hiding it well, unhappy couples), and it seemed nice that another person would want nothing more than to be in your company.  I mean wow, what a compliment!

Consequently, when I met my first boyfriend at 17 I had unrealistic expectations.  In the beginning it was exactly how I imagined, everything seemed perfect and dare I say…..Disney like? That lasted very briefly, until of course reality hit and we realized we actually were NOT perfect in so many ways.  We fought a lot because he didn’t do everything I wanted or expected him to do, and I was flabbergasted that he would call me out on my flaws.  I mean, was I not supposed to be the center of his world??  Was I not supposed to be utterly perfect in his eyes??  We stayed together for five years out of sheer stubbornness, on my end because I refused to admit to anyone that I was wrong.  I didn’t want to fail at love.  I didn’t want to admit my part in that failure.  I don’t call it a failure now though, just a life lesson.

After that it became a cycle of hopping from one relationship directly into another, constantly morphing myself to be whatever my love interest du jour wanted me to be.  You want a girl that loves clubbing and drinking?  Cue instant party girl!  Not skinny enough?  Time to subsist on water and crackers and work out three hours a day (yes, I did this)! Don’t like brown hair? Blonde it is!  You don’t find my hobbies interesting?  No problem, what are yours…..they’re mine now too!

This concept was completely lost on me:

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I just figured any kind of attention was good, and desirable.  SAD.

I lost myself somewhere.  I lost friends.  I lost hobbies I loved.  I lost self respect.  For ‘love’, or my ridiculous interpretation of it.

I won’t get into details of my last and most damaging relationship out respect for the parties involved.  We’ve both learned from it I think.  It was a definite catalyst for change for me though.  It was my rock bottom.  When I finally got the strength to walk away it changed me entirely.  Just that action alone gave me some self respect and a reason to love myself. That only grew from there……and grew, and grew.  It continued to grow until one day I was able to look in the mirror and realize for myself the things about me that made me a great person.  I could see things about me that were worth loving.  I could also see my flaws but not in a way that made me feel bad.  I felt empowered to overcome them, to be the best person I could be not only for someone else but for ME.  WHAT A REVELATION.  I felt brand new.

I started to create a life I loved.  I spent more time building relationships with friends, I travelled, I got healthier and I went back to school.  The future looked bright, and for the first time ever I felt fulfilled.

Right after this happened, I met my now-husband.

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With him, I was able to be me and he actually liked it.  Whoa.  The concept was absolutely mind blowing and it took me a long time to comprehend.  I was so used to morphing myself for someone to keep their interest, it felt so relieving to just relax and stop pretending.   I was also more confident in who I was so I felt okay with the idea of him NOT accepting certain parts of my personality.   I know that some things about me make him a bit nutty but he doesn’t ever ask me to not be who I am.  From that, I’ve learned to love him the same way.  He is not perfect, but neither am I and honestly I’ve learned to love him so much for all his amazing points that the very few not-so-amazing ones are almost imperceptible to me now.

This is my thank you, to an amazing man who showed me what love really is and continues to do so every day.  This is my plea, for those of you living with relationships that aren’t happy to examine why and know that you deserve better.  Know that you are worth it.  Know that there is someone out there that loves you for who you are, if you can first learn to love yourself.

Love, and our perceptions of it, change constantly over a lifetime.  I’m sure I’m still nowhere near understanding it completely, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was when I first ventured into it 17 years ago.

 

 

Blog Post# 3 Inspired Series: Death

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It’s been on my mind a lot lately simply because I recently realized that it’s less of a concern to me now than it ever was.  I found myself on Pinterest researching death-related quotes and thought maybe I should delve into it since it’s obviously on my mind.

As a child I was extremely curious and read voraciously.  Due to this (and also my parents’ apparent inability to censor my reading material), I learned about things no young child should probably know; and honestly my lack of understanding of the subject and my limited experience in life made this knowledge crippling for me.  In everything I read it seemed there was a million ways to die: disease, murder, the apocolypse, creatures of myth (I was terrified of vampires), accidents.  I was honestly convinced by age 6 that I would not live past age 20 and I used to cry myself to sleep over it almost nightly.  Crazy.

Then there were the years I longed for it.  Later childhood, teen years, early adulthood.  I was bullied and depressed, I felt as if life were a cruel joke and full of nothing but torment.  I saw no beauty in the world, only ugliness and pain.  I often wondered how I could expediate the process of getting off this big ugly rock.

Three things then happened over the last 10 years that changed my views on death (and consequently, life) significantly, and have altered it forever.

One:  My grandmother.

My grandmother is still alive, thankfully.  She is 78 and still going strong.  I just love talking to my grandparents because they see things from such a different point of view, and it’s also interesting to hear how their opinions have changed with time and shifts in culture.  Anyhow, she was talking about death (something she has always been quite frank and matter-of-fact about) and she told me: “When I die, I want you to have a party.  I want you to celebrate.”  At first I was absolutely appalled.  How on earth could I celebrate the death of someone who meant so much to me?  So morbid!  However, she went on to tell me that she believed death was a release from suffering in life.  I should be happy for her.  Then she said something that took me years to finally wrap my head around: “When you cry over someone who dies, you are crying for YOURSELF and YOUR LOSS, not for them.  If you loved them you would be happy for them that they’ve moved on to a better place.  Cry if you have to, but know that at that point you’re really just thinking about yourself.”  Whoa.  Yes.  It’s so true, and it stuck.

Two: Realizing I’m an atheist.

I never really subscribed to the whole god or religion concept, even as child.  It made no sense to me, even though I really tried hard to understand because I kept getting taken to church and had religious friends.  I read the bible among other religious texts and consequently found the whole concept even MORE lacking.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties I realized I had no interest in believing in a higher power, and met people that felt the same way as me and found out we had a ‘title’ of sorts: atheist.  Fine by me.  What it did was allow me to validate my lack of spirituality and get in touch with the world around me, feel more connected to it.  I don’t believe in heaven or hell or an afterlife.  I believe we return to the universe atomically the way we came from it.  We are stardust, truly.  This took my fear of death away.  I realized I had exactly one life to do whatever I felt I needed to do, and to live it the best I could; to be the best person I could; to stop putting things off that were important to me, lest I never get to do them.  I’m not comforted by the idea of seeing loved ones when I die; if that’s what I’m waiting for then I’m not making them a priority in LIFE.  So for me, atheism is about celebrating life.  Religion glorifies death.  I am free of the fear and I’m now making the choice to live life the best I can, and be as happy as I can.  Hell is created right here on earth, by being miserable and spreading negativity.

 

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Three:  Finding purpose and happiness

I think the hardest thing about facing death before was that I felt I hadn’t DONE anything with my life.  I feared cashing out before I even accomplished something that meant anything.  Things have changed though:  I have done things in my life that I am proud of.  I have accomplished goals, I have given back to the world, I have found real love.  I have travelled.  I have learned to see beauty in the world.  For all these reasons, I no longer fear death.  I have been liberated from that fear by knowing I have LIVED.

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Inspired by the Words of Others

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Welcome to my first blog post ever!

Writing a blog isn’t something I ever thought I’d do as I’m not certain I have anything fresh to bring to the table, so in truth I’m using it as a form of therapy.

I have had a recurring problem since childhood: a head chock full of thoughts that batter my brain and drive me crazy until they’re spoken out loud or written down.   Most of the time I simply need to get these thoughts on paper and read them over until I find some sort of peace in what I’ve written.  Sometimes after I read them it changes my own views on the topic, especially when I see how I’ve expressed my feelings or opinions under the pressure of having to get those thoughts out.

Hence, this blog was born.

My next conundrum was how to create some order out of the chaos that is my thought process.  A theme is a good start.

One of my own favorite boards on Pinterest is my ‘Truth’ board, where I pin a multitude of quotes or philosophical musings that touch me on some level.  They are often just brief expressions that I know have a lot deeper meaning for myself personally, and so it inspired me to examine these quotes further and draw out their full significance (to me).  There are many and I add more every day!  I’m going to try to go through them all, although some may bring up painful parts of my life or even controversial viewpoints.  Some of them are just plain silly but that’s a side of life that I feel we definitely all need to explore, and regularly!

Today I formally start this blog with my interpretation of:

Happiness

This was something that took me many, many years to understand.

I’ve spent a good part of my 34 years a very angry, pessimistic and negative person.  To keep the story short, there was a breaking point that forced me to stop and thoroughly re-examine my life and my way of thinking.  Drastic measures were going to be required to dig myself out of the deep, dark mental pit I’d thrown myself into.

I realized then that I had to choose to see myself, life, and the choices I made as positive things that had the potential to make me happy.

I had to change my negative self talk to inner words of encouragement: “You ARE capable”, “You ARE beautiful”, “You ARE a good person”.  It took some time, but eventually I felt more confident and driven, and for once believed in myself instead of seeking affirmation from others.  I started achieving goals I set for myself and was able to tune out negative people that were trying to drag me down with them.  I used to cling stubbornly to sinking ships. No more.

As a result I no longer fear the unknown in life; I can embrace change and battle through hard times without completely crumbling.  When times are tough I no longer say “this is the end”; instead I say “this is the beginning”, because I know I will move past this to better things.

I’ve also found that even in the worst of situations, there is either something good in it or that will come of it at some point (even if it doesn’t feel like it right away!).

Train you mind

I also believe that being conscious of ones quality of thoughts means constantly questioning yourself and the world around you, seeking new ideas and constructive change.  It means imagining the outcomes you desire as possible, and doing things that better the lives of others. I ask myself frequently whether the things I believe and the actions influenced by those beliefs are catalysts for positivity in the world around me.

Choosing to think optimistically is a choice we can make every day; whether we will get up and face life’s challenges with strength, or instead cower in fear of the unknowns in life and the things that may hurt us.

Positivity is power.  Change your thoughts.