Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Kids? Find a New Dream

Dear friends,

I spent four days last week on the road at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have gone to this conference many times, but rarely have I come away feeling so inspired. The workshops I took, the connections I made, and the friends I spent time with all gave me new energy for my work. There were hundreds of us at the Doubletree Hotel. Many were parents or grandparents. Many were married. Many had jobs doing other things besides writing. But I didn't see any of that. There were no family groups to make me feel left out. No kid-centric conversations. For those four days, we were all writers. Nobody felt left out or different; we all shared a passion for words and books, from the high school kid who writes about rock stars to the 80-year-old writing a murder mystery. 

I can go to events like the conference because I don't have anyone except my dog to take care of. A phone call brings my trusted dog-sitter, and I'm free to go. If I had children, it would be more difficult. Not impossible, but tricky. When my husband was ill, I had a hard time getting away even to run a few errands. What I'm saying is being on your own is not all bad.

Most parents wait until their kids are grown to follow their own dreams. A lot of people who want to write don't start until retirement. But you and I can do it now. Whatever your passion is, dive into it. Following your passion for whatever interests you can take your mind off your lack of children, put you together with people who share that passion, and give you a new purpose for your life. I know many of you wanted to be parents and wrapped your lives around that dream, but sometimes we have to find a new dream. If it's something you and your partner can share, all the better. My motorcycle-riding cousin and his wife come to mind.

Maybe you're still trying to figure out whether or not you'll have children. But why not find something you love to do while you're figuring it out?

As you may know, I'm in the process of transferring this blog to a new site. After Aug. 19, I will only publish new posts at the new site. All of the old posts are already there. Please switch over to as soon as you can, and if you want to comment, do it there. Thanks. 


Anonymous said...

I finally feel like I'm "getting it". For so many years I thought "someday I'll have a baby-not now." No big deal, right. A 20 something has the luxury of thinking such things. Then I started thinking, "okay, for real. I will have a baby-soon." I remember telling my friend that I would make a decision on when I'd have a baby by the time I turned 30. Mind you that was not HAVE a baby by 30 but DECIDE when to have a baby. Then later-"Well, now isn't a great time, obviously. But people are having babies after they turn 40 these days. Not a problem. I'm "making the most" of my 30's. Forty is the new 30." Really?

Now that I'm firmly 40 I believe the gig is up. Clearly I do not want to be a mother. I don't want the mess, Don't have time. I'm sure I can't perform that balancing act that women must make when they want a career and family.

My husband & I were discussing a family member & her children. We privately think she's doing a terrible job. We talked a lots. My husband said, "Man, we would have been terrible parents." We laughed. I agreed with him. I suppose even the worst people pull it together & cobble together an ok life for a child. I'm sure we would have. But it wasn't in the cards.

I do have sadness from time to time. I think about being old and alone, dying in a nursing home with a nurses aid checking on me. That could be how it ends for me. On the other hand, I just enjoyed a lovely lunch & have a nice evening planned. I might knock off work early and get hit by a truck on my way home. We don't get to pick how we die, where we end up, how we decline. God gives us life and situations and we must live our lives with truth and honor and the promise of eternity.

Most of my adult life I've lived, thinking I'm getting away with some great caper. That I'm "getting out" of motherhood. I dodged diapers, the breastfeed debates, vaccination decisions and a myriad of other things. I keep running, feeling secretly glad to not have to deal with a 2 year old's meltdown in walmart. Relieved that I can eat ice cream for dinner and skip church if I want-because I'm not a role model for anyone. I'm free of the rules & chains that come with motherhood.

While I'm relieved and happy-I'm not gleeful. I know I'm missing out on some really great things by not having a child. Nieces & nephews are a good substitute but not the real thing. I know this and part of me is sort of sad.

But I'm mostly happy. I'm not sure why I kept telling myself that eventually I'd HAVE to have a baby. I worried myself for years thinking that this is the year I SHOULD then eventually MUST, focus on having a baby.

I lived with guilt. Feeling bad I could hop in my car and drive away while others had to fuss with the car seat before leaving a good 10 minutes after I've hit the road. I somehow assumed I was less of a woman because my life was "easy" & theirs was something hard that I could never handle.

I'm finally getting it. The story of my life is the people I love-not just the people I create. I live a good life. A great one. The chapter entitled, "and she never had children" is a short one in a lifetime of great highs and some really interesting lows.

I know many people visit here because they really do want motherhood. So this isn't a "stick-it" in their faces. My struggles have been real and this place has helped. I know I'll be back because I don't always feel this strong. Some days I might regret my choices. But I've turned a corner and for today I'm not going to feel sad, depressed or guilty. I'm living my life authentically. It feels good.

Thanks Sue, for the spark. I'm going to work harder to follow my passions. Many blessings to you! Anon S

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Thank you for this comment, Anon S. If you have time, I'd love it if you could post it at the new site, too. I'm glad you've found peace on this issue. Blessings to you, too.