Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Okay

The childfree aren't allowed to have doubts. Have you noticed? I've hesitated to call myself "childfree" at times because there are segments of our community that are so hateful toward people who are more open-minded when it comes to the ideas of children and parenthood.
Just because being childfree is a complicated decision for you doesn't mean that you're some sort of failure to the CF community.
I say this because people have tried to make me feel that way. On social media and public forums, other CF women jump on me and say I'm not really CF if I think being a mom looks kind of awesome sometimes. I haven't had anyone tell me it's okay to be conflicted sometimes, that even stopping to consider whether it's really what you want is okay.
Really, it's okay.
Don't we have enough people on our asses about how we're living our lives? If we say that sometimes it makes us sad that we're missing out, or that we're a little jealous of the things that make parenthood awesome, we're vilified by the childfree community and told by parents that we should stop kidding ourselves. We're not allowed to express conflict or doubt. EVER.
How does trying to make CF some sort of exclusive club help anyone? And why is an expression of doubt an acceptable reason to stop supporting someone's decision?

We are all different, and we come to this community for different reasons and in different ways. No major life decision is without some degree of conflict. We need to support each other. You're not better than me at being childfree because doubt never comes into the picture, and I'm not better than you*.

And no, you can't say for certain how you're going to feel in 10 years, 20 years. You may change your mind… yeah, I know, I've already talked about how we're not allowed to suggest that. But reality is reality. One of my formerly CF friends is currently plunking tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments at 38 because she feels like she missed out. Becoming a mom is all she can think about or talk about now.  I just shared the story of a CF friend who couldn't go through with her promise to herself to have an abortion if she got pregnant. They were childfree until they weren't. IT IS A THING. This isn't a label we have to wear to the grave. CF can mean different things to different people.

It's okay to admit that things can change. It's okay to be conflicted sometimes. Major life decisions almost always involve some degree of conflict or wondering what might be or might have been. And it's okay to be firm in your decision while getting emotional about it from time to time. It's okay to never have a single shred of doubt; if that's the case, I solute you. Tearing women down for expressing conflict or changing their minds is just as bad as the people who we get so angry at who insist that we're making a mistake.

We're human, we're not machines. Our emotions are complex, and the childfree community is complex. Embrace it, and embrace each other.

*unless you're an asshole

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It Changes Everything

There's still no verdict on whether my friend I mentioned in the latest post is going to love being a mom or not. She tells me that she's tired, a lot, and that it's more work than she anticipated, but that he's a good baby and she did fall in love at first sight.

I think that's good news.

But she also said it changes everything, which I've no doubt about. It's the thing I fear the most when I consider parenthood.Even the healthiest, happiest, easiest baby changes everything. But still, I look at my friends with the active, happy kids, and I look at other friends whose baby is developmentally delayed enough that we're all exchanging looks and biting our tongues, and I don't see a life I want.

I'm 35. This is pretty much it, and I've made my choice. It's been my choice from the beginning, but the older I get the more gravity it holds. 
For me, it's becoming clear that there's going to be some mourning involved. I sort of wish I wanted kids, that I wanted to sacrifice so much for that experience, for that kind of love. It's not enough for me. I was so excited to spend a whole day babysitting my goddaughter last week, and it melted my brain after 4 hours.

I love watching her play, explore, learn. She's an amazing kid, and funny as hell. We cuddled, we played. I love her to pieces, but oh my god I wanted to crawl out of my skin after 4 hours. But I couldn't. I had to stay vigilant, making sure she didn't get into anything or hurt herself, even though there was relatively little trouble she could get into.

It was an easy day with her and I found it exhausting, and boring as hell. All I did was sit on the sofa watching Hotel Transylvania for the hundredth time because that's what the baby likes best, and occasionally fill up her bottle with more milk, feed her food she didn't want to eat anyway, and clean up her messes. The good stuff outweighs the bad/dull/exhausting when you're a parent, I get that. It changes your priorities; I get that too.

But I like my priorities. I like that I'm up at 3:00 am working on a project for a client. I enjoy working 60 hours a week because I love my job. I enjoy going to school on top of this all to finish my MBA. I love that Mondays are work/study nights, Tuesdays we go to our trivia league, Wednesday we're going to see my husband's cousin in a Broadway production, Thursday we're gaming with other friends, and Friday we've got date night. My life is amazing.

I'm not eager to bring something in that will fundamentally change my relationship with my husband, or my life, or my priorities. A life where I'm not creating — writing, designing, imagining — would weigh so heavily on me.

Some parents I know manage it. I've watched other couples grow bitterly resentful of one another because they feel disrespected. While some still put a high value on grown-up time, others dissolve into their new role as Mothers and lose the rest of their identity. They're not bad people, or stupid people, but that's how parenthood changed everything for them.

So when I say I wish I wanted it, I mean that I know I'm missing out on some pretty amazing stuff. Everybody wishes they could have it all. I just know that I can't, and I'm at peace with that.