Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To be or not to be

A parent, that is.

Among those who have contemplated the question "to parent or not to parent"--as opposed to the many people who simply became parents with no advance contemplation of the matter--there appears to be a majority view and a minority view.  There are those who want (or wanted) to have children--the majority--and those who do (did) not--the minority.

Of the people who want(ed) children, there are two subsets, one large, one small.  The larger subset is composed of people who have had children or plan to have children and will have them with little to no difficulty (sometimes referred to here as "fertiles").  The smaller subset is people like me (and most of you reading this blog): people who do not have children, although they want them.  Most articles I have read on the subject refer to the people in this smaller subset as "involuntarily chil.dle.ss."

People who didn't, and don't, want children are voluntarily chi.ldl.ess, or, as I believe is the PC term in some circles, "ch.ild-fr.ee."  By virtue of my desire to have a child, to be a parent, I am clearly not on the same page with those who have remained chi.ldl.ess by their own choice.  I "get" where those who have, or want, children are coming from in a way I don't "get" people who don't want children.

During the time that we have been unsuccessfully TTC, I have often had occasion to reflect on all the people I know, friends and acquaintances, who are parents.  I know I have written on the topic here.  Not surprisingly for someone who is 40 years old (and who has some friends a few years older than she), the majority of my friends who have wanted children, now have them.  Sadly, heartbreakingly, I have a couple of friends who wanted children but couldn't have them.  But most of my friends over 35--even over 30--who are chi.ldl.ess are chi.ldl.ess by their own choice.

I have been surprised, though, to reflect upon the people in my life who do not have children and do not want children.  In many ways, they are not much different from MM and I.  By and large, they are caring and compassionate. . . in any case, no less so than our friends who are parents.  They give back to the community through their jobs and their volunteer work.  Many are enthusiastic aunts or uncles.  They are not more selfish than our friends with children, and they are usually just as busy as friends who have kids. . . just busy with different things.

I understand that the desire to procreate is partly biological.  But what is the difference between "us" and "them"?  Why is it that some people desire parenthood--desire it so strongly that they are willing to go to great lengths and great expense to achieve it--while other people have no desire for it at all?

I don't expect anyone reading this blog to have the answers to these questions.  In a sense, I am posing this question in exactly the wrong forum: among people who desire parenthood.  It's just something I've wondered about.

As much as I want to be a parent, there are times when I have wished I were one of those people who never wanted children.  Because there are few things more painful than hoping for something with all your heart and never having that hope realized, than continuing to try to achieve something when the odds are stacked against you because you cannot bear to give up the trying.

3 comments:

  1. I totally hear you! I wished God would take the desire away for children, if he didn't want me having them! He had other plans...

    Happy ICLW!!

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  2. Hello from ICLW! What a fantastic question! I've found the place that I would be okay not having kids, but it's still second best. Totally not my first choice. I feel like I would always have that small ache in my heart and sometimes wish that I could be completely free of it without having to spend thousands on treatments. *sigh* Either way, joy is imminent. I know it. :)

    ICLW #71

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  3. I consider myself lucky that I don't want more than one child...because if I did want a huge family it would be devastating. My co-worker is childfree by choice...nicest more giving and caring person you have ever met. Totally involved in the community, etc.

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