Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jealousy

Is it possible to be jealous of something you don't really want? Because that's the emotion that I'm dealing with as I wait with bated breath for one of my best friends to go into labor with her first little girl.

Most days its easy to be childfree. Today's not one of those days. The twinges and the baby rabies have calmed considerably in the last few weeks to being pretty much gone, but tonight they're here hardcore and more upsetting than it's ever been.

I'm going through all the names I've been called. Cold, selfish, you name it, and feeling a little broken down because of it. I'm sort of wishing I wanted parenthood as a part of my life and tonight I'm feeling angry and even a little resentful that it's not something I want. It's got me feeling a little defective and it's hard to face that.

Ironically, this is coming after having a rant-filled conversation about how little I can tolerate children just hours ago after being surrounded by kids downtown during a "family fun fair". It's not the kids I want. Again, it's the kodak moments.

I want the emotion that she's going to feel when she gets to hold her daughter for the first time. I want to know that love and I'm curious about the change people say takes place when they become parents. And yeah, I *am* curious if having kids would make me change how I feel about kids in general. It's also something that I'm completely uncomfortable banking on because right now, as a rule, spending time with kids is about the LAST thing I want to do.

but right now, while she's waiting for her daughter to be born any day now, she's feeling emotions that I won't ever know. Her life is about to change in ways I never want to experience and in ways I wish I could experience. And she's just days away from holding a child that she grew in her body that's a perfect little piece of her and her husband, and I don't care what people say, that's pretty fucking amazing.

This year I'll be 34, and the finality of the decision to remain childfree is starting to really get to me. I know I'm going to be one of those women who wonders "what if", but I don't think that's the same as regret. I don't regret that I deviated from the journalism career path in favor of marketing, though I wonder often what would have happened if I'd stuck with college the first time and focused on my writing. I don't regret not kissing the boy I really liked at an office party in '97, but occasionally I look at Facebook and wonder what my life would've been like if we'd both acted on the crush we had on each other but were too shy to acknowledge, and I don't regret not studying abroad though I wonder how a year or two in Spain might have changed my life.

I think that's the difference. We can wonder what our lives would be like and we can be jealous of others' experiences, but it's possible to do that while still being content in our own lives… even if it means a night or two of being really sad and conflicted. If we're true to ourselves, it'll work itself out.

16 comments:

Karen said...

I love your last paragraph - I think it sums up the experience quite well. I often feel those twinges and ask "what if?" but ultimately know that I am content with my life and the choices I've made. I've come to terms with the fact that bearing my own children is not in my future. Some days it's not even a thought and others, well, they can be just as tough as you so eloquently describe. Thanks for posting.

hippychick said...

Thank you for posting this, I really empathize with you and appreciate everything you said. The last few years I have really struggled with all of my friends having children (they now ALL have kids) and having most of them disappear. It's hard losing friends (and they don't mean to, their time is just so different now and is spent with other moms and I get that). But as this has happened and as I get older (I just turned 38), I know that I don't want kids, but am insanely jealous of my friends a LOT. So thank you so much for your post! I feel better knowing I'm not the only one who feels this way.

* Valerie * said...

I know what you mean exactly. When I visit with my friends and their kids, it's a little overwhelming and definitely not appealing. But the day they're born, the birthdays, the really cool development milestones - the Kodak moments - are compelling. But just not compelling enough, I guess.

KP said...

I am glad I'm not alone with these feelings. All my friends are so assured in their decisions to have children, they don't entertain any other ideas on the matter. I so badly wish that I was like them, "the norm", but I cannot deny that I don't feel this way.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. My friends have lately bonded over becoming parents while I feel increasingly on the outside. Parents describe emotions -- good and bad -- that I know I'll never understand. And as someone who is intent on living a rich, full life, this sometimes makes me feel intensely curious or even envious. It's a whole, giant life experience of which I'm opting out, and apparently, it changes you, your marriage, your relationship with in-laws, friends, and the world in profound and irreversible ways (again, good and bad). It's hard not to wonder how this would affect me.

I know, logically, that there will always be things I either can't or choose not to experience (good, bad, and neutral: e.g. being single in my late twenties and thirties, scuba diving, knowing my dad as an old man (he passed away young), being gay, growing up in China, getting a Ph.D, etc. And for the most part, I've made peace with this fact. But for some reason, the kid thing gets to me more. Maybe because *so many people* do it. Maybe because it's so within my control (i.e. every day I am deciding not to do it, but nothing physically prevents me). Maybe because society celebrates it, whereas my choice may always be met with incomprehension or disdain.

But when I really think about it, I know I'd have what-ifs even if I did have children. And while I still have curiosity, even occasional wistfulness, I don't have regrets.

Childfree Travel said...

A friend of ours just had a baby a few days ago and I asked that same question - "I wonder what it feels like to hold your baby for the first time". My boyfriend replied, "It has to be amazing - you created a person!". Neither of us want kids and at the time of this convo we were on vacation with some nieces and nephews which solidified our stance on birth control. However, like you, I do wonder. Then I hear the brat next door crying his eyes and lungs out and I remember that kodak moments only last as long as the flash - mere seconds.

Lisa from Finland said...

Thank you for writing this post. I'm 34 years old and going through a difficult time that has amplified due to the fact that all of our friends are either pregnant or have kids. I know I don't want children but I feel the society is pigeonholing me because I don't want kids. In other people's eyes my husband and I are strange and it gets to me. I wish I was different - that I wanted kids. It would make life easier...

Artemis said...

People will always wonder how it would be if they had taken another way in their lives. I can assure you parents will always ask themselves "what if I did not have children?" - and some, as we can read over the net, will regret to have done it. This "wondering" is natural and even good for humans. Having children will not stop this, on the contrary, is more likely you will end up doing that more often hehe ^.^

Kylie from OZ said...

Hi Lisa from Finland....I'm in your boat too! I feel like E.T. just because I have chosen not to have kids.
It's thought of as a strange here in Australia too. Not by all....but by a lot of people.

The way I see it is....I love dogs and anyone who say's they don't like dogs and would never have one, makes me wonder why not? People love their kids so anyone who doesn't want kids....they think....why not?

It would make life easier to be in the "parent gang" but just to be accepted isn't a reason to create a life. 7 billion is enough I think! x

Anonymous said...

Wow.. I am tearing up reading this article and comments! I am so glad to know I'm not alone in my feelings about this! My boyfriend (who is quite a bit older than me) has had a vasectomy after having children with his ex wife, and I'm dead-set that I don't want kids... seems like the perfect situation, huh?!? Not so much... his oldest daughter just had a baby, and I feel the longing to experience some of what she's gone thru these past 9 months...the awesome feeling of knowing you are creating another being with the man you love, etc... but I pinch myself to wake up from that daydream and get back to the reality that I DON'T WANT KIDS!!! :) quite frankly, babies creep me out... and diapers... we won't even go there... but then starts the daydream back a few weeks later... back to the carousel roller coaster of emotions... :)I feel like I'm not being true to myself knowing I don't want kids... I just get caught up in the "romanticized pregnancy/happy little family" thing...

Anonymous said...

My husband is in prison serving 8 years for driving drunk and causing a fatal crash.

We are now half way through his sentence. We don't have kids and I recently decided I don't want any.

Being without him by my side for 8 years makes me prematurely resent any kids we could have. I want him all to myself.

I don't agree with abortion unless there's something wrong with the baby. But I will say that if I accidentally got pregnant when he gets out, I'm pretty sure I'd get post partum depression quite intensely.

We will be 37 years old when he gets out. We just want to enjoy what we have left of our youth together... without kids to get in the way.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. I totally needed this right now as my best friend just had her first child yesterday and I'm happy for her but throwing myself pity party, not bc I don't have kids but because for the first time, I can't share in knowing that experience.

Sonogirl81 said...

Damn. A friend of mine told me she's pregnant tonight and I couldn't help but get that feeling in my chest. Jealousy. My husband is dead set against children and I've been on the fence. I always thought growing up if have them but as I've gotten older and realized the true responsibility. Quite frankly it scares me. Babies I can deal with but kids, teenagers no way. This world is terrifying. And I love my independence. It still makes me question if I'm making the right decision though. I get sad at times like these. But then when I do things I'd never be able to do with children it reinforces my decision. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. It's so frustrating feeling like this.

Sonogirl81 said...

Damn. A friend of mine told me she's pregnant tonight and I couldn't help but get that feeling in my chest. Jealousy. My husband is dead set against children and I've been on the fence. I always thought growing up if have them but as I've gotten older and realized the true responsibility. Quite frankly it scares me. Babies I can deal with but kids, teenagers no way. This world is terrifying. And I love my independence. It still makes me question if I'm making the right decision though. I get sad at times like these. But then when I do things I'd never be able to do with children it reinforces my decision. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. It's so frustrating feeling like this.

Anonymous said...

I have googled this subject matter before and not found a thread like this. I am glad I have. I am 42 and always waited for that maternal feeling to kick in. It never did. Yet I am becoming increasingly jealous of mums with kids. I work in a childrens clothes shop. I have actually started to pull a dirty look behind peoples backs when they are cooing over their child. It's like I think they are smug..and I am racked with jealousy. Yet I never wanted any. I don't understand why I feel like this. It's like I feel I am a failure and not a 'real' woman. I know. Ridiculous. So confused.

Unknown said...

I am childfree and will stay that way. When I hear of someone being pregnant or have kids, I think why and cringe. I just can't see how anyone can be jealous of people with children and all that work and responsibility, and for what?