I recently stumbled upon the Childless by Marriage blog. Author, Sue Lick, married a man who already had children and didn’t want more. She understands that she made a choice and is largely happy with her decision, but is still coming to terms with being childfree, and the hole that has left.
I know that some of you fall into this category, so I thought I’d share her blog here.
Last week, she posted about childlessness from the man’s perspective and included a link to Him+17, a blog written by a man who married a woman 17 years his senior and was unable to have children. The author of that blog responded to Sue’s post and I found his comments insightful. He says:
“The struggle, I find, is understanding the various shades of my reactions to childlessness. Likely, this is an ongoing, never-ending effort. There’s the honest grief that I’d have loved to bring forth a child with my wife, watch the baby grow, and then enjoy (I would hope) a subsequent friendship with the adult who I helped make. There’s also the part of me that just feels plain left out in a societal, cultural way. At family events, with friends who have children, I’m partly the odd one out.”
Ah, yes, I’m all too familiar with those reactions, but here’s what he went on to say:
“Of course, everyone feels left out in some way: the family that only had daughters or only sons, the man or woman who never married. Perhaps people with kids sometimes look at my wife and I and think, ‘We could have had a life as free as theirs.’”
Although I know that thought offers little comfort, this does go back to a comment loribeth made on this blog a while ago. She said, “Everyone has holes in their lives; mine just happens to be child-shaped.” I think about that comment often.
Him+17 goes on to say:
“I’m missing something; I’m not sure exactly what. I’ve tried to fill that gap by spending time with young people, by being a mentor through teaching and as a volunteer with Big Brothers. It helps, but truly, I’ll never understand on the most fundamental level what it means to love one’s own child. As I age, as I learn to live with the reality, this reality remains a grief, sometimes sharper, sometimes less so. I suspect it will never fade and never become something to which I grow accustomed.”
Sadly, I think he’s right. From my own perspective, I have come-to-terms with the fact that I’ll never have children; I can even write a short list of reasons why my life is better without children, but I don’t think that hole in my gut will ever close up. It’s a part of who I am now, like the scar on my knee that I don’t think about most of the time, but is always there and makes one knee different from the other. My experience has changed me and, no matter how well I move on with my life, I’ll always be a little bit sadder and my sense of humor will always be a little less sharp because of it.