As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Just 43, Noël* has entered pre-menopause and is “finding that my days are so hard to deal with lately”. I hear that! It’s not enough that we’re dealing with the grief of losing our dreams, we also get to face the challenges of our bodies going through The Change. Where’s the good news?
Noël has found some inspiration in the form of a personal chero (a hero who happens to be childfree), a friend from high school who made her own choice to not have children. “She is a career person and does her job very well,” Noël says. “She wants the freedom, and she never looked back.”
Here’s more of Noël’s story. I hope you’ll find some encouragement here and start thinking about who your personal cheros might be and how they might inspire you.
LWB: Please briefly describe your dream of motherhood?
Noël: I ran out of time. I didn’t want to be a single parent, and my husband didn’t want any more children. I made a choice not to have any.
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Noël: I’m angry at times, and it’s depressing to see nieces around me popping out kids. It’s hard to be around them, and I don’t ever want to take care of anyone else’s kids!
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Noël: When I got married for the first time at 40, I realized that I had to make a choice. My husband, who already has two, didn’t want any more kids.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Noël: My last conversation with my mother before her unexpected death was when I was engaged. She asked if I was going to have any children, and I told her no. She wished for a “mini” me of myself, and it still hurts to think about that conversation. I see my sisters with their grown kids and know I will never have that bond. I will always be the “aunt”, and no one ever calls the aunt unless they need something.
LWB: What’s the best part about not having children?
Noël: Freedom to do whatever I want. Travel! That’s a plus!
LWB: What do you look forward to now?
Noël: Being extremely good at what I do and saving for my future. I have also thought about volunteering in other countries for children who are less fortunate.
LWB: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Noël: “Do you really want to reproduce your family history?” LOL! I have some bad seeds among my brothers, and I always think about that. You never know what you’re going to pop out, eh?
LWB: What have you learned about yourself?
Noël: I don’t need children to help me feel complete and happy. I’m already happy.
*Not her real name. We allow each respondent to use a fictitious name to conceal her identity, if she chooses.
Where are you on your journey? Are your wounds raw? Have you made some progress toward accepting a life without children? We can all benefit from hearing about your experiences, plus we’d like to support you. Please visit the Our Stories page to get more information and the questionnaire, and consider sharing your story with women who truly understand what you’re going through.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.