By Laura LaVoie
It is surprising how often conversations with parents turn to my lack of children. Maybe it is because the conversation starts out focused on their kids, and without common ground to chat about, my situation is the only feasible next topic. And yet, some parents wonder why I don’t really engage with them.
Parents are right, you know, when they say I will never know what it is like to have my own children. I will never have someone call me ‘Mommy’. I will never experience the “joy” of childbirth. I will never see my children grow up and become productive adults.
I will also never experience the heartbreak of some mothers. Not every child is what the parent hoped for, and not every adult is productive.
I will never know what it is like to be a mother.
Yes, I wasn’t “blessed” with children. Or, more accurately, I chose not to be blessed with them. There is always that implication that I missed out on some grand life mystery. That my only purpose on this planet was to make more people to put here who will, in turn, make more people. I failed. I have made no more people.
I could say a lot of mean-spirited things in response to parents’ unsolicited sympathy. I could imply that by having children, they missed out on all kinds of opportunities, too. They weren’t blessed with the freedom to travel or to volunteer. They weren’t blessed with spontaneity.
I really wish this “us vs. them” mentality didn’t have to permeate communications between parents and not-parents. Yet, there always seems to be a sense of competition. Who made the best choices? Maybe it is true that we will never completely understand each other’s perspectives. Maybe that just needs to be OK.
It is important for me as a NotMom to acknowledge that my life is very different from that of a Mom. I should not declare that it is somehow better, and I hope Moms will communicate respectfully as well. It’s a fair mantra: Please don’t view my life choice as ‘emptiness’, and I won’t view yours as a burden.