Thursday, July 07, 2011

Talking it Over

I love my husband, and one of the reasons is that I can talk to him when I need to (even if sometimes I don't realize it). And tonight, boy did I need to. Tonight I had the most acute case of the rabies that I've ever experienced. It was so bad that I was really questioning myself, asking myself what my motivations were for not wanting children, whether it was something I really wanted or something I was telling myself I wanted. I was terrified to talk to my husband about these feelings because deep down I feared his response would be "well, maybe we should think about trying." So I clammed up.

But tonight, with talk of the new baby everywhere, the pictures, the stories, knowing that for the next forever the baby is going to be the center of my friend's world, it was all too much. I cried a lot tonight. I was furious at my body, for tying my stomach in knots and hurting my heart when I looked at the baby and tried to reconcile never having that. I was furious that my arguments were getting batted back in a horrible internal dialogue that questioned everything I believe. But my husband, who I had to talk into childfreedom when we got engaged nearly 7 years ago, took my hand and squeezed it, looking at me very seriously.

"If I believed this is what you wanted, I'd say we'll adapt, but this isn't what you want. This isn't you talking. I don't know if it's hormones or what, but this isn't you. So right now, even if you do want kids in this moment, I'm telling you this: I don't."

And he was right. So we talked. We talked about the good stuff we'll be missing out on. We acknowledged that it sucks that we can't have that without the long list of things we don't want. As we started talking the list felt good, and I started snapping out of it. And then it felt great. And then it felt fucking comical.

Seriously, everything I looked at in our amazing house reminded me of why I love my life, and all I'd have to sacrifice to make raising a child possible. My workaholic's workload. The laundry that's piling up and the litterbox that is overdue for a cleaning. The fact that we got them gravity feeders and a water fountain so we don't have to bother with feeding and watering the cats every day. Our pretty things. Our fragile pretty things. My gourmet kitchen. All of it. I don't want kids. I want to feel the joy of holding my child in my arms, but you want me to hold it for the next couple years? You want me to have this child as a constant tag-along to wherever I go, listening to kids' music instead of blaring industrial on a summer's day, and to another birthday party, or a kid-friendly event that will fill the room with dozens of children? Have you met me? How could you possibly think I'd want that life?

There are women who dream of this. There are women who want to be the nurturers. What I'm wanting right now is a moment, and it's a moment I realized, after talking with my husband, I can live without, even if it's going to be hard while I watch newbaby rack up the milestones.

It feels liberating, really, and I feel like me again. But this is exactly why we childfree DO talk about it so much. Because sometimes we are at odds with bodies and hormones and peer pressure that messes with our heads so much we get lost like I got lost. And sometimes we need someone to say "you don't sound like you. What's wrong? Let's talk this over." It's really invaluable.


* Valerie * said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
* Valerie * said...

I'm glad you started posting again, because this summer I'm going through the same thing. Family parties and lots of births mean that I'm constantly vacillating between wanting them and not wanting them. In your last post, you talked about a friend's birth, and I do have one friend's baby that I feel this way about. But you (and I) can be a fantastic aunt to this kid, and maybe even a child-free role model if the kid is considering that someday. I think we're also both lucky to have very supportive husbands who are on board with us on this issue. Good luck!

Sarah said...

This is such an amazing post. I forwarded it to my friend who has just decided to be childfree with her life. Even though she has been toying with the idea for a while, she's already been called selfish among other names.

Here's is the deal. You are not selfish, you are not wrong, and you are not broken. Even for us parents, before having kids it's so easy to get lost in the idea of the "Kodak moments", we rarely dwell on the other aspects of parenting.

This is what I told my friend. Enjoy your friends kids, hold them, play with them, teach them bad words, get your "baby quota" in, then give them back. This way you can see your friends kids grow and hit those Kodak moment milestones without having to raise them in the in-between times. Your home will be quiet and beautiful. You'll be able to sleep in or plan a last minute weekend getaway. The things you can do with all the free time and money not spent on formula and diapers. It's almost endless.

I don't say this because I regret having my son. I'm a pretty boring person and my life didn't change much. But has a mom, I have what if moments too. I sometimes wonder what we would be able to do if we had stayed the course and not have kids. You deciding to be childfree and me deciding to be a mom, we all miss out on something, but in the end I believe we are better for it no matter what we choose.

Julia said...

Hi - wow, I just wanted to say that I feel like I could have written every one of your last several posts (only not as well) - I am going through the EXACT same torturous thought process. Only I am turning 42 next week and the window is truly about to close (more like slam shut!) My husband is older than me and has two great kids already - he will do it again if I want to, but I can't decide if I want to or not. I can literally change my mind about it 20 times a day - it is exhausting. It is so comforting to find a fellow traveler on this crazy road. Anyway, just wanted to THANK YOU for your great blog.

Anonymous said...

As I make my way along the land, having just fully come down from the fence on the CF side, I can't thank you enough for this particular article.

I read your blog and visit TCFL's forums for support, as I am in a relationship that is ending due to my decision, and it is incredibly difficult since I have no form of in-person support right now.

I'm looking forward to getting to the point in my life where I have someone, or someones that I can talk to about my CF choice-- especially in times of need. I will forever keep my ears, mind, and heart open for those who need the support as well.

Thank you!!!!

NulliparaLife said...

I think most CF women do this, unless they truly hate and despise children. I see babies and I think some of them are cute, but I also think that those babies will get older. They will grow up to be dreaded teenagers, want to borrow the car, ask for money, possibly start having sex at a young age, be faced with peer pressure, maybe start experimenting with drugs or alcohol, tell you they hate you or you ruined their life, and everything else that goes along with rebellion. It really is a thankless job most of the time. You just have to weigh the good and the bad and decide if it's all worth it. To give up the life you love for something that probably won't bring you much happiness. However, it's a completely personal decision and no one except you and your husband can come to a final conclusion. Good luck :)

P.S. I think these things happen to me because I'm on the pill. It's the extra hormones, it makes your body think it's pregnant so of course (if you're on any kind of hormonal birth control) it makes you feel a bit *shudder* maternal. It might be having the same effects on you. It will pass :D

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have had very similar conversations, and just talking about it is so rewarding. My closest friend has an adorable little girl who is almost turning two, and I'm been lucky enough to be part of her life, and its made me doubt my CF decision from time to time. Then I talk to my friend, her mom, who lets me in on all the parts of motherhood, including scheduling life around meals and kids' appointments. Or I look at her other while, who I love, but he's 5 and still in his terrible two's. And I feel such strong affirmation of my decision and know its absolutely the right one for me. Its like another commenter said, most CF women probably feel like that at some point unless they totally hate kids.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having your blog. It is refreshing to find a blog that is not antichild but simply childfree and liberating at that. I am 25 and I KNOW I do NOT want children despite the comments from people who think they know what's best for me better than I do. This post is so similar to what is going on with my group of friends as well. I love holding babies but I love giving them back to my friends even more!

Jess said...

My hubby and I had this exact conversation a few months ago! We've had a few new babies in our lives this year (a new new neice and one of my good friends had a baby), and I got the "baby rabies" too. My husband said almost the exact same thing yours did, "This is not you!". And, like you, it almost feels comical now. We started talking about my goals, and our goals together, and I saw quite clearly how having a baby did not fit into any of that. How that "mom" person is just not me or who I am. Thank goodness for husbands who know us so well :)

Anonymous said...

Very good post. I guess lots of CF people feel that way sometimes (not only women, but men also). Be CF is not an one-time decision. It is think, rethink and rethink again and getting to the same conclusion through life. It is fighting against society, family and hormones, many times. That is why I think some people think they are CF, and may give up at some point. What they dont measure is that raising a child (not only being a breeder) is much harder than keeping a CF lifestyle. And yes, it requires BOTH partners to be strong and not fall into delusion.

EverFar said...

"I want to feel the joy of holding my child in my arms, but you want me to hold it for the next couple years? You want me to have this child as a constant tag-along to wherever I go, listening to kids' music instead of blaring industrial on a summer's day, and to another birthday party, or a kid-friendly event that will fill the room with dozens of children? "

AMEN SISTER! I just found your blog. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm struggling with the decision, but feel I'm leaning toward childfree -- then in the next moment, I want to hold a baby so bad it hurts. But, I too have a litter box that needs cleaning and can't imagine being a chauffeur to soccer games. I see both the good and the bad so clearly and the good is so sweet and so strong - that overpowering love and pride -- but the bad, oh it can be oh so bad. Thank you thank you!

Anonymous said...

When I get babyrabies... all I have to do is go to Target.

There's always at least one wailing tot throwing a fit because mom is making her sit in the cart instead of stand or is just plain long overdue for her afternoon nap.

Walking out of that store, I always say to myself, "I'm SO glad I don't have kids."

Cures babyrabies instantly!