Monday, August 12, 2013

Best Laid Plans (revisited)

"I have these little panic attacks when I think that I could have missed out on having him. I love him so much it hurts."

I love that my friend, childfree one who accidentally got pregnant, is falling into being a mom and loving it. I didn't want her to be a childfree horror story, the one people hold up and say "yup, see, this is why we're making the right decision." But when she talks about the changes she's experienced since becoming a mom, it's hard to hear sometimes.

You want to think you know what you want, what's best for your life, and we can only do the best with the information we have. She's one of the lucky ones, bless her heart. She's got a beautiful baby boy who she loves to pieces and who enriches her world and her marriage. Would she feel the same if something was "wrong" with him, as was her biggest fear when she was pregnant? Who knows. She can't speculate, I can't know.

Would I have the same experience? Would I suddenly accept all the changes in my life, the knowledge that I could no longer plan to travel the world as I want? That I could no longer work like I do? Maybe, maybe not. We know my niece's mother never bonded with her and rejected her, leaving my brother to raise her while she skipped town. It doesn't happen for everyone.

I don't like that her situation pushes my "what if" buttons. Between her, my friend who is currently undergoing IVF at 39 after being a "career girl", and others, the "what if" buttons get pushed. It's uncomfortable when that happens. Makes me doubt my own judgment. But when I question my choice, when I wonder whether I'm making the right one, I always land in the same place:

It would probably be nice to want a child. But I don't want that life. My husband doesn't want that life, and we can't count on the hormones to come a-rushin' in to change all that when we become parents.

So there's some mourning. This isn't as easy a decision for us as it is for some childfree couples, the ones who outright dislike kids and the whole idea of parenting. We talk about it, what it means, what we want, and wonder if we'll come to the same conclusion.

But at the end of the day, we're happy with our family just as it is.

10 comments:

LKid said...

I don't have someone like this in my life, but I just keep remembering that I would much rather live with the regret of NOT having children, than having children and having to live with both the regret and the children.

I still haven't had my maternal instinct show up. I don't think it will.

bonclyde149150 said...

I wonder if that's how your friend really feels and she isn't saying what she thinks people expect to hear. Hmm. It's a lot for her to adjust to in such a short amount of time considering not too long ago she didn't want to be part of the mother club.

Stasha said...

If she was anyone else, I would wonder, but I don't doubt it for a second from her. I truly believe this is how she feels, which is why I think it's so remarkable and fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Oh trust me it's easy for your friend to say this at this age. He's an infant, right? I had a friend tell me, "Oh, mommy jail isn't so hard!" ("Mommy jail" is what I call motherhood.) I said, "Ha! Talk to me in three years." (Except I left out the "Ha!") I know some people think that the infant stage is the hardest - and I have seen some parents nearly break under the pressure of sleeplessness - but infants are for the most part NOT defiant, NOT whiny, NOT mobile and trying to get into absolutely everything.

I have yet to meet the parent of a toddler or older who isn't Wiped. Out.

I know they probably still feel The Love when they are Wiped. Out. But I feel so much love - The Different Love - for all of my nieces, nephews, godchildren, and guess what? I'm not Wiped. Out. I feel fine. I feel mostly pretty great!!

Meg said...

This so perfectly describes how I feel. I read a lot of childfree articles/essays/blogs, but yours is better than any other at capturing my confusing mixed emotions, fears and relief/contentment.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Meg.
It's important for us to feel OK with feeling confused. Thanks for your blog posts

Anonymous said...

Wow this is first time Ive really gone into child free blogs and 1st time I've seen in type, how I feel! My husband I've been with for 10 yrs is one who absolutely did not want kids and when I met him at 35, after being w wrong guy for 14 yrs, I was just happy to find a great man. Kids were not a deal breaker. I told him he Bly had 5/6 yrs if he changed his mind, he didn't, I had few scares that made me realize I didn't want kids but in early 40s I sucdenly hoped for an accident! I think because it was "closing time" I'm More than happy w our child free life (just retuned from Europe) but when w friends w kids, I admit I sometimes get jealous.

Anonymous said...


People have a way to synthesizing happiness even when things don't go as planned. Even people who have debilitating accidents or go to jail for crimes they didn't commit have ways of rationalizing the experience.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

I'm sure your former CF friend who had a child really is happy. I'm also sure that this woman from Resolve who badly wanted children, couldn't have them, and then decided to be Childfree is genuinely happy too. Maybe even you would be very happy if you had a child.

http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/living_childfree/a-personal-story.html

I don't have a conclusion to this other than that people are surprisingly adaptable when things don't go as planned.

Anonymous said...

The Anonymous just before me wrote : "I don't have a conclusion to this other than that people are surprisingly adaptable when things don't go as planned."
Thanks! For some reason, I really needed to read that tonight :) It really helps. I had forgotten it, but it is very true and I'll try to remember it from now on.

Anonymous said...

I went through a period from age 26-32 where I had a childcare business. I was basically an 'on call' nanny for 8 families, so I experienced a lot of different family dynamics. Up until this business, I THOUGHT I wanted children... 'as many as God will give me' I used to say. Its funny how the REALITY of what caring for babies/children really means has made me CHANGE MY MIND. The sibling fighting... its dreadful! The constant messes they make... exhausting! The outright defiance 'Put your shoes away, please.' "NO!" Family after family, kid after kid, I looked for the 'children bring you joy'... and I couldn't find it. Ok, actually I did.... when they were sleeping.