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LJI:18 location, location, location (intersection)
I am where I want to be in my life.  I am married, have a good job, and we’re getting ready to buy our first house.  What I don’t have is children.

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.***

i don't want kids either, and haven't for a long time, but i'm not married so i don't get people asking me about it. it seems vaguely sexist and patriarchal that your hubs almost never gets asked, but you do. like, do people think that you're the only one with an opinion? you make the decision whether or not to have kids and j just falls in line? what do people do when they ask "why not?" and you don't answer? (i think you're right not to get into it. for one thing, it's no one's business.)

also? i think "not opposed to kids but not excited" is a good reason to not have them. it's too big a thing to feel meh about.

I've never quite been able to parse why folks only ask me and it's never sat quite right with me. I do get the feeling that some folks absolutely think I pushed this on J, which give him, give us, some credit please.

Heh, I am always tempted to answer the why not with "because of the cancer" which has been in remission for years and likely not an issue but it's a shut up line if ever there was one. If people are pushy I tend to just point that out "it's a personal decision" and walk away.

You don't "owe" anyone, especially strangers, any explanation for your life. If you don't want children, really want, children, that is between you and your husband, not Hallmark or other people's expectations. I agree with your last sentence.

Thanks. That's just it, children should always be really wanted, and that's not where we're at.

Children are gifts that require a lot of time, love, and patience. To bring one into this world without giving thought to this is irresponsible. Many are ill equipped for the task. My stint in foster homes because my mother wasn't ready at 19 when she had me, and 14 months later my brother, drove that lesson home.

I applaud you understanding this about yourself and others need to keep their opinions to themselves, even if their well intended. Hugs and peace~~~

It's the thing I have to remind myself of when I'm taking a deep breath to avoid speaking too quickly, most folks have only the best intentions and are excited about the idea of J and I with kids. But it's incredibly awkward, kind of like asking a woman if she's pregnant before you know she is. If yes, everyone's happy but if no - hoo boy.

My wife and I are child-free, and it's come with its share of challenges. But I did notice that I'm not the one who gets bugged about children. It's probably because, as some have pointed out, that a woman's body is not her own.

It occurs to me when I watch friends with kids that we just have each other to talk to and deal with all the time. Sometimes kids can be a mediating force. It's interesting to know you don't field the questions either, I can't quite decide if people ask the woman because it's obviously more work for us, or they think the man doesn't care as much, or what.

This is totally your and your hub's call. My daughter gets the same Qs all the time. It annoys her. It feels sexist that ppl say this to her but not so much to her husband.

It really us a thing people only ask the female half of a couple, so weird and strange. A good basic non-answer and walking away is the best I can recommend.

I'm with you. I don't have or want children, and honestly I don't know why people do. When they passed out maternal instinct I was off picking daisies or something.

Heh, I must have been a daisy field over. Honestly I've felt that pull once or twice but it was more than a decade ago now, and it passed so quickly each time that it never felt like a thing to act on.

This is such an upbeat and peaceful entry. I applaud your self-knowledge!

I am grateful that you got peaceful out of this, because it has taken time to make my peace with this no matter what anyone else says or asks. Thank you.

I hadn't thought about "location" as being a state of mind, but it really fits.

It seems unfair that your husband doesn't get the same amount of questioning about kids and his decision regarding not having them. I guess people can easily imagine a man not getting the pangs of wanting to be a parent, but surely all women will!

Sexism-- still not dead.

Thank you - I was a little nervous about taking location in such an abstract way.

I want to keep hoping that they're asking me and not my husband because they're respecting the nine months of wear and tear, but I don't think so.

I feel what you're writing about, or did. I did eventually become a parent, but it was late, and for years, there was a lot of what you write about.

It doesn't help that days like Mother's Day have become so commercialized, making many an awkward moment. Father's Day too, but for different reasons.

Thank you for sharing this. Sorry to ramble on your page.

Please ramble at will. That's the thing, people are allowed to change their minds too, just don't tell me that I'm going to in some distant future.

I'm glad you found your place as a parent when you wanted it.

It always seems unfair that the woman gets all the questions - my husband doesn't get any of the questions that I do.

Honestly I am fascinated (and a little thrilled and vindicated) that so many other women have the same experience I do of being the only one asked and having to explain while our hubbies are all "why are you so frustrated with Aunt Gertrude"?

I'm much the same way as you. I'm 49, married, no kids. I get exactly where you're coming from on this. I sort of wanted kids (at least one) when I was younger, but that boat has long since sailed and hubby and I are happy as we are. *Hugs* to you and yours!

Yup, I kind of wanted a child in my 20's but had no man worthy of being husband material and wasn't going to go it alone - whatever my childhood daydreams were. By the time I found the right guy, that urge just wasn't there, as I said, for him either. Probably part of what makes him the right guy.

It's always tough to live up to someone else's expectations, especially when it is that of a parent. And really, at least some of the time, those are projected issues.

I think women probably are the ones to ask about having kids, as they're the ones who carry them! But happiness is the element that should matter the most, and hopefully everyone can appreciate that!

Good wishes!!

I keep hoping that asking the women is about respecting the pregnancy that they'll have to undergo, but I'm not sure that's where everyone comes from.

Yes, if people are happy then everyone else can go hang! Or maybe just let them be happy.

Thank you!

I can relate ru this so much! After my husband and I got married, we said that maybe after a year, we would start trying to have kids. That year came and went. So did another year. Eventually we both admitted that we didn't feel strongly either way whether we wanted kids or not. And from there we decided if we don't strongly about having kids, it's probably best not to have any.

We have five nieces, and I love being Auntie Kim. When people ask me if I have kids, I usually reply, "Oh God, no. But I have a cat and five nieces."

One thing you mentioned, when people say, "Oh, you'll change your mind," that drives me crazy. When a woman says, "I want to be a Mom," no one tells them they'll change their mind, unless it's sarcastic. Irritates me!

Exactly - "if we don't feel strongly about having kids, it's best not to have any". It still astonishes me that people push back on this.

I get less of the "you'll change your mind" now that I'm older, but I agree with you that it is so frustrating and no one ever says the same thing to a woman trying to get pregnant because then they're aware of how rude it is.

It's a very complex decision and a lot of people don't get it.

Yes it is, and everyone has to make it for themselves.

I love what you did with the prompt here:) Also, this entry spoke to me on a personal front because right now I am at the stage where I need to make this decision about having kids in my/our life or no and this really hit home with all the points you talked about.(like feeling a bit weird this mother's day, nobody questioning the hubby , the biological clock and medical issues associated )It's good to be sorted in your head. Kudos to that!

Thank you. I was a little nervous about this piece because I know there are a lot of moms in Idol; I had no idea there were so many non-moms in a similar place or making the decision for themselves. I wish you good thoughts in sorting this decision out for yourself.