Why Don’t You Have Children Yet?
If I received a pound for every time I was asked whether I had children, then got that all too familiar look plus the smart comment, based on the enquirer’s immediate conclusion and judgement as to why I didn’t, I would be a millionaire by now!
The comments hurt deep down but I just kept quiet and pretended like it was all ok, when in actual fact it wasn’t ok at all. For someone battling an internal fight, there are no obvious signs on the outside.
Put it this way – if you had a huge spot on your nose, or there was something else you were very conscious of about your body, how would you feel if someone said something about it. Would it hurt you? Yes? Though we wouldn’t expect people to be that cruel, would we? (I know there are a few that are this cruel by the way). Any decent human being wouldn’t give a snide comment.
Learn To Be Non-Judgemental
Just because you can’t see another’s circumstances for being childless (we don’t want to walk around with a post-it note on our forehead), learn to be non-judgemental. (This also goes for any issue in other people’s lives). Don’t jump to your own conclusions about someone else. Learn to hold your thoughts back before you speak. And if the other person doesn’t choose to share the reason why they don’t have children, please respect that. Whatever you may think is likely not to be the truth. We humans are curious and want to know about others circumstance – it’s part of our nature of survival. But let someone share their story with you when they are ready. There are many reasons why people don’t have children. I can only fight the corner of those of us with infertility as that is my experience – of the realisation that it is something beyond your control. So, just to reiterate – being childless is not of our choosing. It happens, if it happens, when the timing is right with the Universe.
We are now more aware of mental health issues – the disease that no one can see but is very real – the silent disease. And for any couple finding themselves trying to cope with the endless challenge that is infertility bear a huge emotional roller coaster ride that can affect mental stability and can be there for many years. Be aware that you can be adding to the anguish by what you say. We are doing a nice job of feeling a failure, that our body is letting us down anyway, without someone else adding to the mix.
What NOT To Say
It is difficult to know what to say, even if you don’t mean to hurt. Phrases such as the ones below are really not helpful:
“Well, you’re building up your career.” The truth is – no I’m not, I’m just working a lot in order to fill the big void and to stop myself from continuously thinking about my infertility problems.
“You don’t know how lucky you are not having children. No wonder you look so young. And you can go out anywhere or go on exotic holidays whenever you want”. The truth is – I don’t feel “lucky” at all – how does that work in your head? I don’t particularly want to go on any exotic holidays and if that were the case, I would give up anything if I could have a baby.
“Well, don’t leave it too long, time is ticking”. Oh really – you don’t think I don’t know that already!!
Don’t even say “just relax and it will happen” as alas you may get punched! We know that can work, but somebody saying that will only serve to raise our stress levels higher. If getting pregnant has not happened within 5 to 10 years, then just relaxing will not be the answer. And the more you say this, the more our blood pressure will be raised as we hold back our response.
And probably the worst one of all (apart from saying you could get a dog. Not that there’s anything wrong at all with getting a dog to give him or her the love in place of a child, but that is up to the couple, not you, to decide) is “why don’t you adopt?” People say this like you go to the supermarket and ask for the “blonde hair, blue-eyed one off the second shelf”.
Why Don’t You Just Adopt?
And one of the worst encounters of judgement and stark comments that I ever had to face about our childlessness was from an employee from the Fostering and Adoption Service in the local council. In fact, I was truly humiliated in front of a small room full of strangers (I only knew the host when I went to their cosmetics party). I wasn’t even able to walk away. Yes, I just pretended it was ok to speak to me like that. This is a particular circumstance that I wish I could turn back the clock and actually speak my truth. Particularly because of who they were – I couldn’t think of anything more horrific an ordeal to go through than a couple deciding to adopt.
I’m sure it’s not really like this if you go through the adoption process, but this person was actually making fun of me. Them Q: Do you have children? Me A: No, Them Q: Are you married? Me A: No (we weren’t married at that time, even back in the early 2000s a lot of couples weren’t married. I didn’t see the need to justify or share my heartfelt worries with a complete stranger I’d just met at a small party). Them Q: Oh, are you a lesbian then? And laughed out loud and looked at her friends. So, I realised I was faced with someone who was prejudiced all round to anyone who didn’t fit in with this person’s “normal” or black and white at that time. I could only feel sorry for anyone who did seek to adopt who had to deal with this person, whatever their circumstances for adopting.
So – to all those who have felt the need in the past to pass your own judgement and comments, whether you genuinely feel inclined that your comment would help or you feel you want to pass judgement and mockery on the other person, I beg you not to say anything unless it’s something that can truly help them. Don’t get me wrong – we also don’t need to be felt sorry for. Just honour each person’s own life’s journey.
Coming To Terms With Being Childless
As I write this now in my 50s, I rarely get asked any more. I now know that what you think, you attract – I choose no longer to make myself a victim. I’ve recently found out through my spirit guides (and through a fantastic intuitive mentor to help me connect) why having children wasn’t on the cards for me in this life, and I’ve come to be more at peace with this now.
Potentially I could be a grandma now, but I never will be. All I ask is for those who are Grandmas to be forever grateful for their gift. I needed to go through this experience in order for me to be in the best place energetically to help other couples overcome their infertility journey (I hope to see many who will ultimately have the chance to be Grandmas in the future!).
The thing I actually feel worse about is that I didn’t speak up to those that hurt me deeply at the time. That I may have inadvertently left them to hurt another. So, this is my way of making up for that now. I am a much stronger person than I was 20 years ago. I also now don’t care what anyone thinks of me if I want to speak up for myself – in the best possible way of course – I certainly don’t mean/want to be negative, I just want people to understand the anguish they can cause by what they said or do.
We should all spend our energy focusing on ourselves and our own journey – your time would be much better spent this way, than spending your time and energy judging what others have or haven’t compared to you.
This is for anyone who has suffered at the hands of those judging them for the reasons they don’t have children. If you feel the need just to pass these words on without having to explain it all, please feel free to do so.