To really want children(41 Posts)
More of a musing than an AIBU but I don't know, I am single and getting to the stage where having a child may prove difficult if I don't meet someone soonish.
Obviously that could still happen but I am having to face up to the fact it might not.
If - and I know it is an if, but if it doesn't - I don't know. What sort of life will I have? What sort of future? The media representation of single childless women is so bleak and while on the one hand I know that's complete nonsense I also think I've internalised it on some level as the thought of being childless really upsets me.
Has anyone else experienced anything similar?
I think you've put your finger on it already, OP - it's the gloomy representation of childless women that you've internalised that is getting to you as much as your own understandable feelings about wanting children.
I never wanted a child, then we decided to try to conceive when I was 39, acknowledging it quite possibly wouldn't happen, and that we would be ok with that. Conceiving immediately shocked me, and I realised how much I'd internalised the media focus on fertility falling off a cliff at 35 etc etc.
Our son is two and wonderful, and life is very different to life before we had him, but, much as I adore him, I am absolutely sure that I would have had a differently fulfilling life had I not had a child, and that certain things would have been a lot easier. My numerous 40-something friends without children are doing interesting things, and able to take risks, move countries and make new starts in ways that are more fraught if you have children. I would say their lives are at least as fulfilling.
I always think that this is a thing that's down to you. Yes you could be happy having children, but you could still be happy not having children. You can be happy !
I think one of the issues is that while I admire those who long for travel and adventure it just doesn't really appeal to me! I am a homebody really!
I think that's very true Luann and I am mostly happy.
Just the same I think possibly my future might be quite lonely, which is frightening in a way.
No you don't have to be lonely, just because you don't have children. A lot of my my friends in the five years younger than me don't have children, and aren't likely to have them. They have jobs that they like, friends that they like, family ditto. Their lives are full and complete. They do things that I can't do, but they are brilliant godparents or aunties, all the fun with none of the grind.
You will have the kind of life you choose. It's entirely in your hands.
I'm child free and have a great life! I've got tons of friends which I have made by going out and being pro active. Some have children whom I love, many don't. My friends are of all ages and nationalities, from their twenties to their fifties.
I play sport, socialise, read, learn languages, go on cycling holidays across continents, enjoy my job (and my sleep!) and have a fulfilling life.
Forgetting everything else, do you want to have a child? Not a pregnancy, not a baby, but a child, who will grow to a teenager, then to an adult. Is that what you want? A lot of women think of the image of a baby when thinking of what they want, but it's a long term consideration.
OP on the thing about being a homebody... I don't know if this helps but if you enjoy all the domestic stuff, nice house, cooking etc, I don't think you need to feel that's "wasted" if you don't have kids, in fact they tend to make it very difficult! Sometimes we sit watching Bakeoff and they'll say "so and so is a stay at home mum with 4 children" and we're like HOW? How does she manage to ever bake anything? Her kids must be in school. Ours are little and this is the first Christmas when they've copped on that anything has happened and while it is nice to take them to Santa etc, still most of it is about crowd management at this point. And keeping control of the glitter. One of them always tries to eat the glitter.
But having children is no guarantee of not being 'lonely' in the future. Yes, whilst your child/ren are growing up and dependent on you, you will certainly be responsible for them and busy. But there are plenty of people who are lonely as they get older, despite having children.
I know many older people who have very little or zero contact with their grown up children. The best way of avoiding lonliness (sp?) is to lead a busy, fulfilling life - which may or may not involve children.
I'm 30 and I have two under the age of three. I don't particularly enjoy this stage of motherhood, the relentlessness, the sleep deprivation, feeling like I've lost myself etc. And as they get older their needs will change but the worry will always be there, will they be okay walking out the door, who are they with, will they be safe etc.
Being a mother has moments of utter joy, but there is a constant undertone of worry, guilt, fear for them and that in itself can make a person miserable. I have a few single and childfree friends who are utterly happy, spending theirfree time socialising, hobbies, coffee with friends, and none of them seem lonely or miserable.
The single lady in the late 60s who lives across the road from me has a better social life than I had prekids and all her nieces and nephews adore her!
Having a baby over a fear of being lonely in my opinion isn't wise, because motherhood can be devastatingly lonely, especially if you do it alone.
I had lots of friends who decided to be childless and they were always out doing fab stuff. When I met my partner and had my son I moved away and we drifted apart but they had no regrets I don't think.
The main issue is that you are not really making that decision yourself, it's being made for you and that's scary. I agree that your fertility does not fall off a cliff and I suspect if you TTC in the next few years you will be ok.
Can you make a concerted effort to get out there and date until you drop? That's what I did at 36 and met DP and we now have DS.
While I agree that you don't need children to be happy, if you want kids and are able to take care of them you could consider alternative ways of becoming a mum? Like sperm donation or adoption?
Believe me Ragwort I know that, which is why I won't consider sperm donation or adoption. I made the mistake of trying to have a child once due to being lonely.
I don't bake when I said I was a homebody I just meant I wasn't really into travel or the adventurous scene which is where it seems more socially acceptable not to have or want children.
NewEra definitely, theoretically at least - however I don't have much luck or interest when I try to date and end up with a smattering of men I just never gel with!
I used to have a job where I toured old people's homes, and I can categorically state that having children does not mean you won't be lonely in your old age. (Most studies put the causes of loneliness down to the deaths of friends, partners and loss of social networks after you stop working, NOT childlessness.)
My god mother has three kids who have gone on to have five grandchildren, and most of them still live either at home or very nearby. I had always thoughts of her as a sort of earth-mother-ultimate-matriarch, so it really surprised me when she said, very matter-of-fact, 'I never wanted to have children. I think if I had my life to live over again, I probably wouldn't.'
FWIW I don't have kids and am very unlikely to. I sometimes worry about 'the future' and whether I'll end up a lonely, dried-up old spinster, but the thought of having to look after children every day for years seems so much worse
Tiger I've acknowledged this.
Just the same, I do think a future without any family at all has just a tiny bit of bleakness about it, and FWIW I am highly unlikely to live my days in an old folks home - we tend to go with a bang pretty early, hence I have no surviving relatives.
Even if I did I wouldn't want them to sacrifice their lives at the expense of mine. You can want children in a company sense - to just know they are there, living, being happy (hopefully) not as an inbuilt housemaid. That's really where I was going with the 'lonely' comment. I would be delighted if I had an adult child who emigrated - obviously I'd miss them but if their dream was to live abroad I'd want them to pursue that and I would never, ever, want them to sacrifice it for me or any other reason.
But there is a HUGE difference between "my family live on the other side of the world" and "I have no family."
I'm currently duffed up with my first, but I asked my mum this sort of question a few years ago - is it really worth having kids when they're so expensive, ungrateful, wreck your body and put you through sleepless hell? She told me she thought that the childless people she knew were more self-centred, not in a bad way, but in that they didn't consider what would come after them as much as people with kids do. They didn't have to be as politically active/aware or concerned with leaving a legacy as they only really had to look after themselves. But that they also seemed perfectly happy within themselves and could go on all these trips and things, do whatever they liked (and had tons more money to do it with!).
Mind you, my mum got herself sterilised very quickly after having me, hated having a baby and, later, a teenager and is now living a very fulfilling life as an artist when she's not teaching EFL to young adults. I'd say it's a subjective, individual thing. You will make the most of what you have either way.
They didn't have to be as politically active/aware or concerned with leaving a legacy as they only really had to look after themselves
Actually, the opposite is the case - childless people are MORE likely to volunteer/contribute to their community/become involved in politics, etc.
seemed perfectly happy within themselves and could go on all these trips and things
Ah, the childless. So shallow and self-indulgent, and concerned only with 'trips and things'.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'legacy' though - a child is not a 'legacy', it's a human being. (And we are exactly running out of those at the moment.)
That's really unfair tigermoll. I don!m't think the pp was having a go at all, no need for that response.
Sorry, tigermoll, just repeating what my mum said. It made sense to me at the time. People had already mentioned travelling upthread, so yeah, trips and things. Maybe my mum just knows 'shallow' people.
A legacy is whatever you think it is, something for the next or later generations - I didn't mean a child. Making a mark, curing cancer, winning a Nobel prize, writing a book, becoming prime minister, setting up a local charity, doing something in local or national politics, whatever. I think my mum meant making the world a better place, to be honest. Again, maybe her acquaintances are just awful people and don't care about what the statistics say.
Apols, Teeste, reading back through what I wrote, it does sound a bit snarky.
I suppose it wasn't clear whether you agreed with what your mum said or not - if you shared her view of the childless as less politically engaged and more self centred. I guess I've made myself pretty clear that I do not
No worries I'm 34, so my experience of older folks with no kids is somewhat limited. I don't think people suddenly grow a social conscience when they have kids, no. My mum was a Friend of the Earth before she ever considered having me, so maybe she was just projecting, I dunno. What she said did make me think, which is why I mentioned it, but I'm not sure it influenced my decision about kids.
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