It was a little awkward this Mother’s Day. I am of a ”Mom” age, and the frequent assumption from kind strangers is that I must have children. When a grocery store clerk and my yoga teacher each wished me a Happy Mother’s day, I smiled and said thank you, knowing there’s no need to explain or correct random folks. But it feels weird, like I owe the world an explanation why I’m 44, in a good stable marriage, and childless.
My now-husband and I talked about having children before we talked about marriage. I brought it up because I am a few years older than he is, and if we were going to try for babies I wanted to do so with as young a body as possible, especially given some medical issues that had recently come up. He asked my opinion and I said I wasn’t opposed to children, but not very excited about the idea either. If he really wanted them, then we should try. J laughed, and said he felt exactly the same way, not opposed but not excited, and two people meh on the idea should probably not be parents. We each had siblings who had kids, so we decided to lean into being Auntie and Uncle.
It helped that our parents were already grandparents. For me, it would have been much harder to make this decision otherwise. My mom, who is and was a great Mom, is a fantastic Grandma. In all the pressure I’ve occasionally felt, none of it has ever come from her.
But the topic doesn’t ever go all the way away. Friends and relatives still ask when we’re having kids. That’s always the question, when we’re having kids, not if. It took some practice but I’ve gotten better at replying “We chose not to have kids” and then saying nothing else, even after the almost inevitable follow up questions of “Why not?” or “Are you sure?” or my least favorite - the knowing “You’ll change your mind.”
If I’m honest about it, even in my daydreams I never saw myself married with kids. Occasionally with a child but no husband, never as a classic family unit. I’ve heard women describe that yearning to be a mom, but I’ve never felt it myself. I’m happy to hold someone’s baby, but don’t melt and wonder what if when looking at tiny infant hands. I love my Mom and know we share a special bond. My Grandma (her Mom) and I were super close too. When it occurs to me that I’m never going to experience the other side of that bond I feel wistful, but that’s all.
I do wonder every once in a while if this means something is wrong with me. After all if you’re in a hetero-normative relationship, having children is still the common thing, so we’re the odd ones out. Or I am, it fascinates me that J almost never gets asked about us having kids. Somehow answering for this decision we made falls entirely to me.
We are content with our decision. I don’t feel like anything’s missing from my life. But it’s still hard sometimes, to put my best face to the world as a woman who doesn’t have or want kids, and to be that person unapologetically. Sometimes it feels as though the world is maneuvering me into a story where I’m among the broken, and I’m the bad guy for not wanting to be fixed.
***For LJ Idol this week everyone partnered up and wrote one of two topics. My partner is tonithegreat (and she is), her entry on very different Mother's Day thoughts is here. As I started thinking about this topic I got lyrics from Chess stuck in my head "Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be and doing what I always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all." which led me to take location in a more introspective, less physical direction.***