Sunday, July 29, 2007

babies, babies, babies, oh baby!



The past few weeks, my mind and heart have been obsessed with babies. I see pregnant women everywhere. Parenting and children are the center of storyline and plots of the books and magazines I have been reading. Baby, baby, baby, oh baby! I got babies on my mind. However, I have consciously made a decision to NOT have children, for multiple reasons, one being that I am a month shy of 44, and even if I did have a baby, through adoption or by giving birth, I would be of retirement age when s/he was in college. Not for me, perhaps for some.

My partner and I decided that if we had met ten years ago, things would be different. But in the five years we have been together, it is only in very recent history that we could even realistically ponder the question. Frankly,it just seems too late to even try (my partner is six years longer down the journey of life than I am). In spite of all the clarity, and feeling good about our decision, it is still hard for me. Especially in my perimenopausal state of mind.

I honestly never really thought that I wouldn't have a baby...or that I would choose NOT to have a child...come to think of it, I have never even conceived through, oh, say, an accident.
I often wonder what it would feel like to be pregnant...to actually give birth...and what my little girl or boy might have looked like. I am a TLC Baby Story nut. I cry every time a loving couple gives birth.

I love birth.

The truth is I love babies...and I love children. I am blessed to be in ministry with children and families, and to have many friends with delightful children in whom I celebrate and cherish.

The truth is, I could really be an awful parent...I can be pretty self-absorbed.

The truth is, having a child has not been a priority for me, and I certainly have a full life without children.

The truth is, it is the right decision for us.

The truth is, I still wonder if....

The truth is, it makes me a little sad sometimes...missing out on being a mom, missing out on that part of life....with all its challenges, heartaches, frustrations, and wonderments.

I think I need a ritual...to connect my mind and heart and body to the reality of the good and wise decision of my spouse and I. To simply be able to let go any residual longings I have...to let go of my baby thoughts, and channel that loving energy somewhere else.

So...what about this? Am I alone in my mid-life crisis, non-motherhood status? What do other people do, when they find themselves where I find myself today?

15 comments:

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

That is really sad, to wonder - 'What if' and have regrets and second thoughts. You can always be a nurturer to lots of other people's babies and youngsters, a kind of aunt, a kind of grandmother. There are many people like you - priests, nuns, lots of people, and many of them use this nurturing instinct to really move mountains - in overseas sponsorship, helping in child-care and even being an advocate for abused children.
Some of my relatives adopted children, Uncle Timothy and Auntie Tarisi raised about eleven children given to them.
w.

karlajean said...

Oh yes, and I do have so many wonderful children in my life that I have the opportunity to nurture and love....Thanks for your thoughts.

RevDrKate said...

As I read your post, I found myself thinking back to a time several years ago when I went through something similar. I had made a conscious decision not to have kids many years prior for lots of good life reasons and was at peace with it...but suddenly in my early forties...like a ton of bricks....second thoughts, regrets,the whole thing. I literally could not walk past a baby department without bursting into tears. It was really painful, but over time it passed. In retrospect, I think it was body wisdom/Spirit/God asking, "are you sure, time is passing, now is it if ever, think it through." And I did and came to peace again. I do like the idea of a ritual, that would have been a nice way of closing that chapter of reflection. Peace to you on this part of your journey.

Mrs. M said...

There's a book by Diann Neu called "Women's Rites," and I think there could be something in there that might meet your desire for a ritual. Or, failing that, contact her at WATERworks. (Sorry, don't know the address off the top of my head, but I'm sure that you could Google it.)

Mary Beth said...

I relate so much to what you posted, KarlaJean. I always thought I would have kids; and I always ALSO thought that I wouldn't want to do so unless I had a partner who was 110% with me on doing it. (No doing it on my own, for instance, as some of my friends did when their bio clocks kicked in in the late 20's...no thanks, not for me.)

I was 35 when I married my DH (my first marriage) and he already had 2 kids from previous marriages...and he is 15 years older than me. He was very NOT on board for more kids!!!

So, I had a choice to make: marry him and help raise his resident son (then 9 years old), or keep waiting to see whether the right person would come along.

You can tell what I chose. DH was VERY worried that I would end up resenting him over this, and I worked intentionally and hard on the choice I made, to be able to tell him that the decision was mine and I would do my honest level best never to try to put it onto him.

So far, so good. Yes, I have little twinges of sorrow that I didn't have that particular joy in life.

I also feel twinges of sorrow that I didn't run off with my high school boyfriend to spend the summer between HS and college travelling the country in his van...and that I didn't go to a small liberal arts college, which might have suited me better than the Enormous Football Military University where I ended up...and etc.

I believe that all the things I have and haven't done, make me who I am today, and I am in a good and blessed place.

Furthermore, I have nieces and nephews who delight me immeasurably, and two stepchildren who have provided interesting challenges (and joys...but we happen to be very much at the challenge stage right now!).

And I believe that the University work I do allows me to make a difference in the lives of many young people. And the church work. Etc.

I guess my take on it is, I can't have everything...and I have not got biological kids. But I have also not contributed to overpopulating the Earth.

Maybe it's all my rationalization, but has worked for me. :)

I do recommend a ritual of some sort; a way of marking and honoring the decision. I have done this in small ways along my path, and it has been healing and affirming.

Blessings to you...

Sally said...

I cannot know how you feel since at 45 I have 5 children; however I offer you this prayer from Nicola Slee's "Praying like a woman:

Though this belly has never been swollen with the burden of a baby, let me grow big with the longing for justice which will be for all of the children of God.

Though these breasts have never suckled an infant, let my largess of love nurture those who are hungry for the feast of life.

Though these arms have never cradled my own child, let them reach our tenderly to those who pine for a mothers love.

Though these lips have never spoken my own babies name, let me croon blessing and balm and healing on many a charmless unlullabied life.

Though this mind cannot truly imagine my own childs life, may I dream dreams for children whose prospects are pitiful and whose hopes are slender.

And though I have wept over my unborn childs unfulfilled possibilities,
may I never be so absorbed in my own small griefs that I have not compassion to weep with the motherless child, and the childless mother, to grieve the abandoned infant and to rage over the still born babe.To sorrow over the squandered life and to lament over each uncherished son and daughter.

May I offer these arms,
Open this heart,
proffer this body,
to each baby screaming for justice,
each child reaching for love
each neighbour longing for mercy
each mother mourning the useless spilling of blood.

Childless and childbearing we belong together

We are each offspring of the body of God.

Deb said...

One of the best "moms" in my life is a woman Episcopal priest who knows and loves me as a mom yet has never birthed another human life. So all that to say -- you are likely nurturing and loving others in this life and God will grant you joy even in that.

peace

deb

karlajean said...

Thank you for these beautiful resonances and words and poetry. Thanks for reminding me of WATER~~and Dianne Newu...and Mary Beth, your journey sounds very similar in some ways...not rationalization, but very good sound thoughtful reasons. I definitely think a ritual/something to mark the decision is important, and Sally, my deep gratitude for a prayer that leaves the walls of my heart strengthened by the gift of the art of words.

Shawna Renee said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles. I have decided not to have children due to multiple health problems. In fact, I probably couldn't get pregnant at this point. My husband and I have decided not to adopt for much the same reasons you and your partner have: we'll be in our 60s by the time they're gone! So you're not alone. But I'm different than you because I always suspected I wouldn't have children.

Sally, the prayer you posted is incredible. Thanks. I hope you find your ritual or create your own.

Leah Sophia said...

Beautiful blog and comments, and Karlajean, as you said, some things we may suspect of being defensive rationalizations actually are good reasons. Sally, thanks for the wondrous prayer! I'd never heard it before; it is to treasure!

Diane said...

Karla -- this is a great post.
really helpling me. When I got married I was 42 and my husband already had 2 boys, 16 and 11. I kinda hoped... but it really was not to be.

There are some times I feel sad. I love babies, and always wanted to be a mother. I had this secret desire to have a girl and name her "Emma" after my grandma. Even adopting would have been ok.

But I love and pray for the two boys, especially I am close to the younger one, but I am sensitive that they do have a mom, too.

Blessings on you.

Lorna said...

((((hugs))))


God gives you a hope and a future - different to what you'd planned or expected or even hoped for - but a good future none the less. You can trust Him :)hang in there and may you find REST with the decision you've made

RevAnne said...

My husband and I are also mostly intentionally childless...Because we are both pastors, we often hear the well-meaning but painful question, "Do you have any children?" or worse yet, "When are you planning to have children? You're not getting any younger."
We made a decision years ago, after learning that I have PCOS and would likely have major difficulties getting pregnant, that we would seek out other ways to nurture others in our lives.
My niece (the most exceptional child ever) was born 16 months ago, and I cry at least once every visit because I'm overwhelmed with so many mixed emotions (often more positive than negative). I have a church full of children and youth, and they are all "mine" in a way. But there is still a sense that I am missing out on "what might have been."
I appreciate your search for some ritual or way of acknowledging the complicated feelings that being childless for whatever reason can inspire. I don't have any sage advice, but I can offer prayers and empathy...and tell you that you and your DH are not alone in this.

SpookyRach said...

I have nothing very meaningful to add to the great comments you've gotten so far. Nothing more than to just wave my hand in the air and say "me too! me too!"

I've never wanted to have children, and life has worked out in a way to make that the right decision. I hope...

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