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


Bee said...

Thank you for this. I've encountered the same things on CF groups on FB, so I just keep my mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

I am 42 and don't have kids. Most days I love my life just how it is and am perfectly content. Once in a while I am awash with a huge wave of wondering if I have made the biggest mistake of my life and maybe having kids really is what gives life meaning, and I am going to have a long, sad, lonely life. Sometimes when my husband and I are reading and the clock is ticking in the background, I wonder if life would be better if there were more of us around. But then I forget about that, and enjoy making art, reading, meditating, going out, traveling and my endless freedom. It's not always straight forward, and sometimes it's downright painful, and that's how it's unfolding for me. I have no desire to be a part of any 'community' that disses families and kids. I'm not about that either. Families and kids are good, it's just not what I am doing. Be strong sister, you're ok.

Meg said...

Know exactly what you mean. I lovelovelove my CF life, but I still occasionally wonder what might have been. Deciding not to have children was a decision that felt VERY true to who I am and how I want my life to unfold, but it was not at all easy and sometimes I still wonder if I've made the right choice.

(and I know without a doubt I'd wonder the same occasionally if I had chosen to have kids)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been inspired by this blog to write my own, I have only just started. http://whereisthewave.wordpress.com/

Basically I am in my late twenties and having to make THE decision sooner or later. I am pretty conflicted as well, there are so many different motives driving us whenever we make decisions. The fact that I suffer from depression is a major issue as I don't think I could cope with the stresses of everyday childcare. Interestingly, lots of people have told me that "having children will cure my depression", as it will make me less self-centred!!!!!! interesting, I am not sure there is much evidence for this, tell it to the people who have suffered from major post natal depression or post partum psychosis! there is so much taboo in society about mothers who cannot cope, mothers are supposed to be these superwomen who can handle everything.

The McGreeveys said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. My greatest struggles come from feeling very alone in my journey as a childfree 30 year old woman who is happily married, is a Southerner, votes Republican, is a conservative Christian, and is anti-abortion. How about that for a childfree conundrum?

My childfree status makes me feel like an alien around all of my fellow procreating Christian conservative friends, and I might as well be burned at the stake at the hands of most childfree folks who can be very very harsh towards anyone with my political, religious and ethical beliefs.

But isn't it our differences what make us each so great? It's as though because I'm childfree, I'm not supposed to support my friends who are moms. In fact, a lot of my mom friends are very supportive of my choice not to have children, but I find a lot of childfree men and women who boast very liberal views of acceptance to be the quickest to judge and condemn people like me who in their eyes is too conservative to be truly childfree, and they are very harsh towards those who have chosen to have children. I wonder if it's the overwhelming harsh response and critical tone to pronatalism that most childfree blogs take that make our struggle for acceptance so difficult.

Thanks so much for writing your blog. I enjoy reading it!

Angela said...

I have been booted from several CF communities because I am with a man with three children; two twenty-somethings (I am 32) and one teenager. I consider myself a Summertime Sort Of Step Mom to the youngest as he was very small when I started dating my husband, and I am considered Dad's Wife to the other two as we maintain a relationship closer to friends than anything else.

I have never been pregnant and self-identify as CF, but it seems the CF community has a problem with that. And it sucks. I'm not a mom. I do not make decisions on their behalf. I do not even offer my opinions on parenting predicaments unless asked by my husband, and I just try to support him in his role as a single dad with cooking and home logistics. Luckily, the majority of my friends who have decided to have children are supportive of me with only the occasional "Are you sure you don't want kids?" conversation that lasts about 30 seconds each time, and I know it's because of their confidence in me as a person, not because they're *recruiting* for the mommy army. I am thankful I have amazing women in my life who support me instead of having to rely on a CF community who does not seem to count me as one of their own. Character is what counts.

Stasha said...

@Angela, That's exactly what I mean. I'm very glad you have people to support you because you belong in my vision for what I wish the CF community was. It's absurd that the elitists in the community have the nerve to say you don't belong. They're as awful as the parents they hate so much. Thank you for speaking out here.

Anonymous said...

I love this post and all the comments. I am CF by choice and my husband and I are very, very happy with our family-of-two. But I was raised in a HUGE family and grew up with the absolute unquestioned expectation that I would be a mother one day. It sometimes feel like swimming against the strongest tide in the world to stay CF, even though now I am 40 years old and my window for giving birth is rapidly closing. I sometimes don't know what to do with the feelings that I am going against all my training, all the values of my upbringing. I don't question my desire to remain CF, I question *why* I sometimes feel like I'm struggling against invisible expectations, anticipations, predictions about my life and my future. This post was great in articulating the fact that those of us who choose the CF life sometimes have questions and doubts. In my case, it's the weight of my past - the way I was raised - that I find myself battling.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed this, and I'm so happy you wrote about it. I truly believe that those who are afraid to question the big decisions they make are the ones with the least confidence in themselves. It's okay - healthy, right - to ask yourself, "Is this really what I want?" or "What if I change my mind?" I mean, we do this when considering marriage, tattoos, or careers, so why not when considering not having children?

-Sylvia (author of No Children, No Guilt)

Anonymous said...

UUGh. When I was super fresh to the idea of CF, I went on FB to find like minds instead I was being accused of being a child sympathizer. Shoot,I love kids,I do. Kids for me? Not so much. It was all based on one post,where I was telling people not to jump to conclusions about why kids scream in public. Some kids are asshats are scream bc they are spoiled,but some kids have mental issues. Don't categorize all as asshats,that was all I was saying. I was called a troll also and I felt discouraged. I found a wonderful LJ community that lets me question anything and everything!

ProudlyChildFree said...

I'm happy to have found your blog and to read intelligent, reasonable and sensitive posts about Childfreedom. I wholeheartedly agree with you in that some CF people are extremists and do not accept those of use that are Childfree by choice yet NOT HATE children. I strongly disagree with badly behaved children that don't get discipline from disengaged parents but I also know wonderful parents to wonderful children that I love dearly... And that I'm happy that they go home at the end of a day and not stay with me to disrupt my awesome childfree life. Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know that I strongly admire childfree women! And yes I'm a mother. I chose to have children when I was very young and ignorant to how hard it would be. I was so idealistic. I was in my early 20's and didn't have as much self-awareness as you ladies. If I knew then, what I know now, I'm not sure I would have ever had children. Having children is not always fun and it's a lot of hard work. I think it's a very smart decision not to have children, especially if you KNOW that you don't want them. Why bring someone into the world you're not even sure you want? I applaud you ladies. There is no need for women to down each other. We have enough of that in the world. I would gladly be your friend! And now that my children are older and pretty self-sufficient, I am finally enjoying some of the freedom and life enjoyment that you ladies get to have. And I have to admit, it's really GREAT! I would NEVER consider having more children EVER. This is why I understand the child free perspective. The free time is so valuable and a woman deserves to have a life and a career. I am about to turn 37 now and know without a doubt I don't want more children. Many women around me are clamoring about trying to have more children and asking me why I don't want more. They think it's really weird I'm not missing having little babies around. So although I'm a Mom and do have children, I sort of understand in some small level what you are going through. People have judged me for being "done" with children in my early 20's and not having any desire to have "just one more". I have been questioned by some of my own family members. If I had never had any children, I'm sure they would be bugging me far worse. I hope you ladies know there are women out there who understand your perspective and respect it. I know I do. Having children is NOT for everyone, and I respect you for knowing what you want. I think it's stupid that society expects women to be baby making machines. This is 2013. As far as you not being "hardcore child free enough" for other CF people, I think that's ridiculous, but just my opinion. Women need to love each other and try to understand emotions and be supportive. Judgement is not needed!

Anonymous said...

I went from 'I can't wait to be a Mom!' to 'I'm not sure I really want kids' to 'I definitely don't want kids' all in a period of about 8 months.

What caused me to change my mind?

Nanny job for 3 kids... one of them had Down's Syndrome. OMG... I realized it would be like having a kid that would never grow up! Uugh... and those 3 kids fought SOOO much. Drove me nuts! CONSTANT messes and whining every 42 minutes!

Its too risky. I'm not much of a gambler.

I know that someday I might regret not having kids. BUT, my husband and I both agree that if we feel that way, we will become foster parents. At least that's temporary!