Sunday, May 12, 2013

I'm Not A Mom. Do I Cry or Cheer? 12 Reasons to Cheer for Being Childfree (Right Now)

This week, I was in CVS buying a pile of cards. Two of my friends had babies. My brother and sister-in-law’s and parents’ anniversaries are coming up. And of course, Mother’s Day. (Any other card-worthy occasions we can add to make this divorcee feel sorry for herself?)

You should know that I pride myself on finding the perfect card, which means I’m one of those annoying people in the card aisle who has to read every card before deciding on one. As I waded through the sappy Mother's Day cards, tears sprung to my eyes, quite unexpectedly. Would anyone ever buy me a Mother’s Day card?

Well-meaning friends and family often tell me how “lucky” I am that Max and I never had kids because when we go our separate ways, it's over. They also say that being 33 isn’t that old for me to have kids with someone else in the future. But let’s be honest: I’m not getting any younger and I’m not in a relationship, so do the math. (For goodness sake, I still LIVE with Max.) The harsh reality is that I might never be a mother because of the years I spent trying to salvage a sexless relationship.

Before Max and I got married, we agreed that having kids was a deal breaker – we both definitely wanted to be parents. As our sex life disappeared, we took to telling people that we weren't sure if we wanted kids. This actually was true for me; I knew my relationship wasn't stable enough to bring a baby into the mix, which genuinely made me NOT want kids, even though Max and I would've been a fantastic team as parents.

Now that I'm single again, there are moments when I'm so unsure about where I stand on motherhood. Being 33 and childless is not a choice I made, but rather a corner I backed in to. Max stopped having sex with me and there was nothing I or any therapist could do to reverse it. I admit it: I’m angry at Max for possibly taking away my chance at motherhood. Some part of me will always resent him for it, whether that is fair or not.

But I prefer to have a positive outlook, so here are 12 reasons why I’m glad to NOT have kids at this exact moment in my life:
12.There are no Baby Einstein videos or Old McDonald mp4s clogging up my iPhone. My phone contains stuff that amuses me and only me.
11. I can answer a booty call and not come home until 3 a.m.
10. My breasts are mine.
They are playthings that nicely fill out sweaters, and not a food source. Hot!
 9. I could splurge on my right-hand ring and monogram necklace. I never would’ve done that if I had kids.
 8. I can waste time if I feel like it. Yesterday, I ran a 10K then sat on my friend’s couch smoking some weed and watching How to Train Your Dragon. Find me a mom who wasted a Saturday that stupidly and awesomely.
 7. Since it’s just Max and me living here, it’s not hard to keep the condo clean while it’s on the market. When my parents put our house on the market in the late 1980s, they had three kids under the age of 11. Sounds like a nightmare!
 6. I have time to dedicate to keeping my body and soul healthy.  Exercise and volunteering are critical for keeping my problems in perspective. I ran a 15K last month and plan to run a half marathon by October. I’ve also been going to yoga and Spinning regularly for months now. I am keeping up my volunteer work; this summer I’ll spend a week as a volunteer sleep away camp counselor for kids with cancer. If I had a baby, I just wouldn’t have this kind of time.
 5. I make meals that I like. No chicken fingers, no pureed apples and pears, no Puffs.
 4. If I had a baby, I would focus on my baby and not other people's babies. Since I don’t have my own, I get to focus on my niece, nephews, and my friends’ children. I play with and snuggle them and then give them back when they start whining or smelling suspicious.
 3. I don’t bore people with the hideously dull and/or disgusting details of diaper rash and sleep training and teething. I find other ways to bore people.
 2. It’s Sunday morning and my big motivation to get out of bed was to go to my 10 a.m. yoga class. You parents whose kids wake you at 6 a.m. on a Sunday have my condolences.
 1. When I felt I had to get a divorce, I didn’t have to consider anyone’s feelings except Max’s and mine. I truly cannot imagine going through a divorce with children.
A theme I keep coming back to is how remarkable it is that I can experience polar opposite emotions in the same moment. This Mother's Day, I'm simultaneously relieved and heartbroken to not be a mom.

What does Mother’s Day mean to you after your divorce?

Related reading: What not to say to people who don't want kids.

15 comments:

  1. This is such a good post. Especially "backing into" not having kids. Like you people always tell me how lucky I am that me and my ex never had kids together. But I am clear I want children and often times fear I am getting too old for that to happen. This year when I was checking out Mother's Day card i found myself a little emotional. Just like when I was looking on facebook and saw my friends celebrating their mother's day with their children i felt a slight twinge of sadness. This was a first for me. But I like the silver lining you wrote about. There are many advantages to not having kids at this moment. The good news is we get to have our children when we are with the right man and they will see a healthy relationship and we will be having them for the right reasons not to just save a marriage. Great read!

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    1. Monique, one of the best things about keeping this blog is "meeting" people like you who understand how complicated emotions can be surrounding divorce.
      And absolutely, I'd rather wait to have - or *gulp* never have - children than bring them into an unstable relationship. How anyone can think a baby can save a relationship, I'll never know. Looks plenty stressful for functional, normal couples!

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  2. I like 3 on your list. I went for lunch with a group of coworkers and one actually started asking another about her potty training protocol and then shared his tales of potty training. Horrors! I actually had to look at him and tilt my head as if to say "Really? During a lunch out?"

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    1. I was at happy hour once and the group started talking about labor and delivery! Appalling. And disgusting. Thankfully I had a friend there who didn't have kids, so we talked about The Bachelor.

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  3. I just turned 36 and I don't have any kids either. Like you I can't imagine having kids and bringing them into my current relationship. The husband and I have been married for 12 years, and about the last few have been kinda crappy. I am however a furkid momma to a 4 year old wiener dog that I love very much.

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    1. Then it's all about being the best momma you can be to your doggie! :)

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  4. My ex and I never wanted kids. In fact, before we got married in 2004 he got a vasectomy. He didn't like me having to take birth control forever, so he got the vasectomy so I could be chemical free. We both agreed that if later in life we decided we did want kids we could always adopt. Neither one of us felt our genes were so great that we must reproduce them.

    I can't imagine how hard divorce must be when kids are involved, so as hard as this is on you now, it could be so much worse.

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    1. It's hard to not have kids and know what I might not ever... but yes, I appreciate that when we finally don't live together anymore, the relationship that Max and I have will be one we choose, not once we were forced into.

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  5. Nannypology StoriesAugust 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Well put. I think it is TOTALLY true to feel both ways at the same time. And that is so normal that if it weren't the case I'd think it was weird! I'm creeping up to the age where people have started asking me when I'm gonna start "taking care of kids of my own". Well, not now! I am gladly going to keep collecting that paycheck to play with other kids, thank you!

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  6. It's strange though, to have opposing feelings at the same time, but that kind of sums up my life since filing for divorce!
    I think you are very smart to not jump in to having kids if you're not ready. Having kids is kind of a lot work, don't you think?!?!

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  7. As someone who is childfree by choice, I still find it baffling how so many people seem to think it makes our marriage somehow less-than. We are very happy and just celebrated our nineteen anniversary. A fulfilled, purposeful life does not have to include children. (BTW: I wrote a childfree post for Mother's Day too - smile)

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  8. Happy anniversary! I have a friend who also opted to not have children, and no one can believe it. They're both wonderful with children, but they didn't feel having kids was right for them. Good for them for not giving in to societal pressure.
    I *hope* I have kids... but that said, I also hope I won't feel that my life is incomplete if I do not become a mother.

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  9. You're 'childless'! There's no such thing as 'childfree for now'. Childfree is a permanent state, you've decided for whatever reason you're not having kids, they're absolutely not in your future. You are childless in that you might have them one day.

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  10. I hadn't thought about it that way.

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  11. It's just something the 'childfree' are a bit strict about. There's a big difference. Sometimes I think I'm more 'childless' because I didn't meet the right person in time and the choice was never really mine. But I'm not pining for a child and am happy not to have one so I do class myself as childfree.

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