The question was, “What does it mean to be childless by chance? Did you wake up one day and say “Dang! I don’t have any kids!”
And I answered, “Maybe.”
It’s much easier to understand what it means to be childfree, or childless by choice. You didn’t want kids, and you don’t have them. Done and done.
Flip side: I know dozens of women who would tell you they never, ever chose not to have children. Ask why and start counting the ways.
Start with the A word: Ambivalence. I’m an example of that. When I really wanted kids — would kill for one — I knew that my husband and I were on the road to divorce.
Just an itty-bit older, with a second marriage, a bit more income and a couple of Caribbean vacations under my belt, it was easier to say, ‘Well, if it happens, it happens.’ Even so, when diabetes moved me to the top of the High-Risk list in my 40s, I didn’t remember the days when I thought I’d be OK without a child. I only knew that in that moment, I wasn’t OK without one, and that other A word, Acceptance, came slowly.
As for Adoption (oh heavens, another A word), I was open to it, but HubbyMine was reluctant. We argued, but not for long.
So, if I agreed not to adopt, and I was intermittenly ambivalent, where’s the “chance” in this scenario? And wasn’t it my decision to slow efforts at pregnancy in my first marriage? Who would even notice another divorced single mom? Besides me, that is.
Women like me find a better fit under the Childless By Happenstance category, according to Ellen Walker, Ph.D. Dr. Walker is the author of Complete Without Kids, which she describes as “a guide to childfree living by choice or by chance”. (see TheNotMom review here).
Dr. Walker brings some clarity under the big umbrella of By Chance. For example, she refers to women without children due to infertility or disease or imprisonment, as being childless By Circumstance. Her definition of Happenstance includes Moms and Dads, too: the many adults who are parents because of an unplanned birth. You might say that unprotected sex leads to By Chance parenthood, but Happenstance parenthood is more apt.
By Chance and Happenstance would certainly apply in the case of my e-friend Sue Lick. She’s a voice for NotMoms who didn’t have a child because of who they married. Hubby didn’t want kids or he didn’t want any more of them. Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence T, knows that story. But, at least she’s still married to the guy. What happens after a divorce, or Sue’s experience: his death?
‘By Chance’ is a big ol’ tarp thrown over a zillion stories in the No Kids universe. Unplanned, complex or simple, tolerable or sad, no reason is invalid, and each one is as personal as a tampon. ‘By Chance” means “not by deliberate choice.” Go into more detail with people if you want, but know that you don’t have to. Ever.
**The I Forgot to Have Kids Magnet is sold at ThreeDog.com.