Childlessness doesn’t have to mean unhappiness, even for women who desperately want kids. Here’s why I’m okay with being childless (it’s not “childfree” to me, because it’s not my choice).
A reader recently said:
“We recently found out that we can’t have kids and have decided against fertility treatments,” says T. on 7 Ways to Make Peace With Infertility. “It hurts, but I am trying to learn to accept this. I want to be that happy, loving, cheerful wife I was before we found out our problem. I’m thinking I need to read a book, but where do I start?”
“I need to find my happiness,” says T. “I love my husband with my whole heart, but I just cry and cry every time I think of childlessness. I don’t want to see a counselor but it may come to that. I just don’t know where to begin to accept it.”
I think seeing a counselor is a great idea. A therapist – especially one who is experienced in infertility issues and childless couples – will give you an objective, healthy perspective on your life.
A comment from a parent who says the grass is always greener on the other side:
Here’s a whole different perspective on having kids – a reader just wrote this a few hours ago:
“The grass is always greener,” says B. on A Childfree Life After Infertility – 7 Ways to be Happy. “I love my kids but having kids makes your life suck. Enjoy your freedom. Kids have a way of zapping all the meaning out of life. You have to clean up poop all the time, your back hurts all the time, you can’t go anywhere, you lose intimacy, you go broke, they do stupid things, your house gets destroyed, they get you sick all the time, vacations are more stressful than your job…
Enjoy your freedom. If it feels like something is missing in your relationship, examine the relationship. Kids won’t fill that void, only complete honesty can do that. Kids only make it worse. Parenting is different than people think it is before they have kids. Yes you love your children forever, but everything else in life ends up sucking. I’m not a jerk, I’m just honest. Hope this helps.”
Why I’m OK With Being Childless
We can’t have kids naturally, unless God decides to miraculously create sperm in my husband’s body (he has azoospermia, which means he doesn’t produce those wigglies at all). While I’d prefer to have kids and would love to get pregnant, I’m still okay with childlessness. Not thrilled or happy with it, but…who says life is always thrilling and happy?
Here’s how I live with both childlessness and happiness…
I accept I’ll always be sad that we’re childless
The sadness of childlessness never, ever goes away for many women – including me. It’s like mourning my grandmother’s death or my sister’s choice to cut me out of her life – I’ll always be sad about the losses I’ve suffered.
To be OK (and even happy!) as a childless woman, you need to accept that you’ll always feel pangs of heartache, pain, sorrow, and even regret. Everyone has burdens to bear, crosses to carry. For some of us, childlessness is our biggest, heaviest burden.
Being a childless woman isn’t easy for anyone – and it’s especially difficult for women who yearn for kids. But, happiness in life isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about figuring out what you can give others and how you can brighten their lives.
“Growing up, I always dreamed of having them; being able to watch them grow and going to sport/school events,” says T.
Check out these options for childless couples – the last three will change a child’s live forever.
I stay emotionally and physically healthy
If you’re prone to the blues or depression, you’ll have a hard time with living with both childlessness and happiness.
I’m one of those lucky women who is naturally happy, positive, and optimistic. But I work at it – I do yoga, pilates, strength training, and cardio almost every day. I eat healthy foods, and avoid sugar, fat, and anything that makes me feel heavy and sluggish. And, I try to get eight hours of sleep a night.
You’d be amazed at how your health affects your mindset! And one benefit of childlessness is that I’m free to get as much sleep, exercise, and free time that I need.
I focus on the benefits of a childless life (and there are lots!)
T. says, “I’m trying to see the positives in a childless life, yet I break down when I do. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time around family/friends who do have kids and I wish I could experience what they talk about.”
Yes, it would be awesome to experience the joys and pains of having kids! I would love it – I am not childless by choice. But, for some reason, I can easily and happily focus on how lucky and fortunate I am to experience aspects of life that I wouldn’t get with kids. I’m free to pursue whatever goals and activities I want, I love my job, and I love my freedom.
You may find it helpful to read books – and blogs – by women who wanted to have kids, but couldn’t. Here are several books on childlessness and happiness:
- Childfree After Infertility: Moving From Childlessness to a Joyous Life
- Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility
- The Empty Picture Frame: An Inconceivable Journey Through Infertility
- Never to Be a Mother: A Guide for All Women Who Didn’t – Or Couldn’t – Have Children
One of the best tips for childless women is to connect with other women who have “been there, done that.”
I stay connected with my husband – and we have fun together
Here’s what Deneice Arthurton said in Childless Couples – Living Happily Without Children:
“One of the main reasons our childless state has turned out so successfully for us has been our strong relationship. Whenever something has come up we have talked about it no matter how uncomfortable this may have been for one or other of us. We still do this from time concerning not having kids, knowing that the demons of resentment get killed off if you bring them out into the open….What counts however is whether you can move on and build from these times. We did.”
Childlessness can offer happiness not only if you build a strong relationship with your husband through infertility, but also if you have fun together! Bruce and I travel, go boating, volunteer at cultural events, and do the most important thing of all: practice mindful gratitude for the smallest blessings and joys God gives.
I accept God’s will for my life – and sometimes I think He’s protecting me
Here’s where T. and I see eye-to-eye. She says, “I need to remember that God does things for a reason. Maybe we aren’t meant to have kids; what if we did and they had medical problems, then it wouldn’t be like I dreamed it would either.”
Sometimes I think we’re a childless couple because God is saving us from something. Schizophrenia and mental illness runs in my family, so maybe we’re being protected from that? I’m 41 years old now, and we didn’t start trying until I was 38. The chances of problems are higher for women my age, so maybe God is protecting us from children with disorders or handicaps.
Or maybe it’s not about God holding something back from us. Infertility has reared its ugly head in my husband’s siblings as well…so maybe childlessness isn’t something God has “given” to us. Maybe it’s just part of living in a fallen world, and accepting that God’s children all got their messes.
What do you think about childlessness and happiness? Are you okay with being childless? Comments welcome below…