The Children Thing.

At thirty-eight, childless and unmarried, time with babies is both precious and painful.

Today, I got to meet my friends’ baby boy. Charlie is just over a month old and everything you would hope for in a new baby. He is big, healthy, strong and beautiful. His little hands are perfect. His ears look like tiny little pieces of art. His body is warm, and his cry both sweet and commanding.  I loved every minute of getting to hold this little guy. Even when he cried, I loved trying to comfort and soothe him. He is perfect. And he is not mine.

I’m no longer at the age where friends are having their first babies. I’m past that age. Charlie is a second child. I have one friend who recently had her first, but most are having their second, third or fourth by now. And I have none.

Odds are good that I won’t know the experience of learning of a pregnancy and sharing the news with a happy partner. I will not carry and birth a child. I won’t have those happy hospital photos where I am holding my newborn and hoping I am covered and look halfway decent given the presence of a camera. I won’t have the coming home photos where I’m slightly overweight but doing the best I can to have my hair done and at least be a little made up. And I certainly won’t have that lifetime of watching a child grow, constantly remembering the moments, hours, days and months when he or she and I were one.

I remember being in college and sitting with some girlfriends talking about future dreams. One of us asked the question, “If you could have anything named after you, what would it be?” One of us answered, “A building on campus.” Another said, “A scholarship.” I answered, “A granddaughter.”

In my mid-thirties, after the fourth time that someone I could see myself loving chose someone else, I started preparing myself emotionally to be single and childless. I don’t know how other people do that, but I started telling myself that children change things in a way that I don’t want.  After thirty-something years of living on my own schedule, how could I possibly cater to someone else?  After years of training and traveling freely, how could I give that up? Right now, I choose what I want based on my own timing and schedule. Whether it’s about work or travel or exercise or my interest in movies or concerts, I don’t answer to a family; I do what I want. I don’t have to put my own needs and desires after that of a child. My time and money are mine. I have lived my entire life with the freedom to be selfish. A child would end that. I would have to become selfless, and that would be bad for me, maybe even impossible after all these years.

And I believe me most of the time. Most days, I think and believe that I am over the desire to have a child of my own. But when I hold a newborn and watch a family work together to take kids to the park and get them fed and keep them happy – when I see a little girl share in her mother’s beautiful red hair or I see a little boy named after his dad – I know I am watching my dream pass before my eyes.

Freedom is good. Being able to take off for a last minute weekend away is a wonderful thing. Having the time to train and commit to something like Ironman is fantastic. But having a child? Starting and raising a family? That is real and precious life.

It’s just not mine.

12 thoughts on “The Children Thing.

  1. Arline jon, lots of time I wanted to ask how come you are not married?, but was not sure if you would appreciate it. now that you have brought it up, I would like to talk to you about it.Life is not over till it's over, and for as long as you have youth within you, you can get married and have children. the point is, all that you said a child would demand of you, had to be given up for a husband first!! once you have done that, the child will only take more. you can not afford to be "selfish" long before you get that child. and just because so far you have not found "The one that you could love", doesn't mean you won't find him later. "your history is not your future". please write to me. with lots of hugs on your way.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. When I read this post, I thought these things, immediately:1. I needed to hear that today. After a rough day and a rougher night with my kids yesterday, I needed to be reminded how much I WANT this motherhood thing … how much I've always wanted it … and the extent to which this IS my purpose (even the hard parts).2. It is never too late. You have good years of biological child-bearing still ahead of you if that's what you decide you want or need. And after that, there are plenty of other options. It is never too late.3. You are 100% right about what you have to give up. The thing is? When you're ready and when it's right, the sacrifice comes easily.4. Your life is your choice. If you want children, you can have them. If you want to be the favorite "aunt" to everyone else's children, you can have that, too. Don't assume your story is already written.5.xoxo

  3. These thoughts were mine several years ago. It is so difficult for a parent to speak to a non-parent about this subject, but you must know that if you are so 'selfish' as to want a child, you can without waiting to find the perfect partner (they do not exist). Your self-sufficiency and your childlike wonder and love is all a child could ever want and need from you. I do not think you would view that as much of a sacrifice of who you ate today.

  4. Does this post mean you still want a child?Or does it mean you wish it could have been achieved, but you feel like it is not "your life" and you are pretty much resigned, for lack of a better word?If having a family is still on your mind, I would encourage you to join single moms by choice in Austin and "explore" things. (I put the link below). I used to attend and it was an interesting group. Some people were just thinking, but others were trying, and it gave you insight into how it gets done…there's donor sperm, adoption, people using donor eggs AND donor sperm (it's more common than you think), etc.Do you have any idea of what is holding you back from pursuing single parenthood? Because if it is what you want, I think you would be an awesome parent!

  5. Poignant post. I think you should bring your dreams to bear. Even if having a biological child is no longer possible (and by no means does it seem so, from reading the enlightening comments of your wonderful female friends), you could adopt, foster, etc. You have so much love to give – to a partner, child, and others – that I think you have an imperative to live the life you imagine!

  6. Such a beautiful post! I could tell it came from your heart. I have no advice, no suggestions. I do have a daughter, who says she does not plan to have children. I have stepchildren so I do have grandchildren. For many years, I was the aunt who had no children. I never expected to marry let alone have a child. My daughter was/is a miracle in so many ways.

  7. Writing down our innermost thoughts makes us vulnerable, but it is such a precious gift we leave others. I don't want to write any sentimental mush that will trivialize what you have written because it is so touching and honest and genuine. OK..but I can't stop myself!!!! Taline jan, you words carry your name, your heart, your thoughts and your soul. A granddaughter may or may not appreciate her grandma. She may live in such a way that will dishonor your name and all you stand for, but your words will ever be true to who you are. Also, you may be pleasantly surprised when you least expect it…you may yet have a granddaughter who will be joy of your old age! 🙂 His timing is perfect! Love you!

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