Tag Archives: Childlessness

Children: On Being Childless Sort Of by Choice #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 3 in the #AtoZChallenge 2018, in which I share random reflections. Today, for my letter C post, I’m going to write about children – or the lack thereof. YOu see, I am childless sort of by choice. Want to know more? Read on.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have multiple disabilities. I am blind, autistic and mentally ill, among other things. Any one of these disabilities would’ve been grounds for involuntary sterilization had I lived some forty years ago. Even now, it may be relatively easy for me to get sterilized should I so choose. After all, many people are still of the opinion that certain people with disabilities shouldn’t have children.

Now I should be politically correct and say I strongly disagree with this stance. However, with regards to my own personal situation, I don’t. I can see why I wouldn’t be fit to be a parent and the reasons are not entirely unrelated to my disabilities.

I never really had any sort of strong “Mommy feelings”. That being said, as a child and teen, I always thought I’d have children when I’d grow up. It probably was society’s expectations that planted this idea in my head, as I never quite imagined how lovely it would be to hold a wee little baby, or how I’d ooh and aah at my four-year-old’s clay sculpture.

As a child, I obviously couldn’t believe why people didn’t like children. I was a child and I liked myself. Besides, everyone has been a child at some point, so how could they not like children? Now that I’m an adult though, I don’t particularly like children. I don’t hate them either, but I don’t feel I should be having one or more myself.

Society’s expectations do not get unnoticed by me though. This I think is the main reason I’m still not entirely happy with my choice not to ever try for a child. I also sometimes wish I would be a good mother, but to be honest, I can’t be.

As such, I find myself inbetween the childless not by choice and the childfree/childless by choice communities. I am childless by choice, but I a not really happy woth this choice.

Grief

A few days ago, I read a post on grief as it applies to parents of special needs children. I am a disabled person myself, not a parent, but I can relate to a lot of what is written in this post.

Having been born with most of my disabilities, I didn’t have to face the sudden loss of a normal life, as people with acquired disabilities do. I did have to face the loss of the remaining sight I had growing up, and this has been tough, but I’ve never been fully sighted. I’ve also never been non-autistic, but in this light, I can relate to the issues faced by parents getting a new diagnosis for their child, since I wasn’t diagnosed till adulthood.

Grief never really ends. You can not feel it for a while, but something can always bring you back to the grieving place. For example, I thought I’d accepted my blindness after I had lost my last bit of vision when I was seventeen. I grieved this loss for a while, but then I picked up the pieces again and thought I was fine. But I wasn’t. When, in 2013, I had surgery that could’ve restored my vision but didn’t, I was brought back to the grieving place all over again. I knew this could happen, as I knew the results of surgery were uncertain, but still, it was tough.

Sometimes they’re the bigger life events that take you back to the grieving place. Sometimes, it’s an anniversary or special event. For example, I’m taken back to the grieving place now that it’s high school graduation time. I did graduate high school, but never succeeded beyond that and never had a good high school experience anyway. I also grieve when my relatives are talking about their college endeavors, because I realize I’ll likely never even get close to finishing college.

Sometimes, they’re the tiny nuisances of life that make me grieve. The Internet is becoming more and more visually-oriented, and this makes it tougher for me to get by. When I see a great crafting idea but can’t seem to reproduce it because I can’t see the pictures, I grieve. When I join a blogging community and 99% of the members are Moms, I grieve. And as for real life, when the weather is beautiful outside but I can’t go for a walk because the staff don’t have time to accompany me, I grieve.

Some of my grief involves current inabilities, like the inability to go for a walk whenever I want to or the inability to see pictures. Some grief involves the loss of dreams, like the dreams of a college degree or a child. Some grief involves the loss of freedom and independence. Grief, in short, comes in many forms and shapes. How to deal with it? I wish I knew.

The Twisted Twenties

Second Blooming

When the topic for this week’s spin cycle was announced, I was immediately interested. The topic is “aging”. Ginny Marie over at Lemon Drop Pie came up with the topic when she learned about the average age mothers gave birth to their first child. It is 29 here in the Netherlands, so Ginny Marie and her co-host Gretchen were significantly older than that. As I’ve written before, I’d always thought I’d have my first child at 27. This obviously didn’t come true. Now rest assured, I’m not going to write about childlessness again, if for no other reason, then only because my family is going to think I’m pregnant.

Instead, I want to write about the looming idea of aging when you’re relatively young. I’m going to be 28 next month. However, I feel much older at times.

I’ve always had this feeling. When I was nine, I worried about needing to leave the parental house when I’d turn eighteen. This feeling of doom continued to haunt me until I was in my early twenties. In 2008, it was at its worst. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. I had my reasons for this, but most were completely outrageous and irrational.

Being in your twenties is interesting. It may be that most people in the online world are in their twenties, as I see no communities specifically for those my age. I’m too old for the teen communities or even the college communities, but I am still so significantly under 30 that I can’t get myself into communities catering even loosely to the over-30.

I remember when I was around fourteen reading an artilce in a youth magazine about college students and their identity crises: they’re too old to be protected by their parents, but too young for buying a house, marriage or children. I am older than all young adults quoted in the article that I remember, but I still feel this way at times, even though I got married at the rather young age of 25.

Now that I’m approaching age 30 (or at least, am close to my late twenties), I can feel the ticking of time again. I don’t have the feeling that I’ll die young anymore, but I do realize that it’s about time I get a life. And there, sadness sets in, as I may never have the life I planned for myself when I was young.

Disability and Childlessness: It’s Complicated

I am disabled. I am childless. For a long while, I identified as childless by choice. In a way, it is a choice, because I do not experience reproductive problems that I know of. In another way, it’s not a choice, because I would’ve wanted to be a parent. I’m not “childfree”. I am disabled, and this has influenced my decision to remain childless. That doesn’t make it not a decision, but it makes the decision tougher than had I truly been childfree.

On Musings of an Aspie, there’s a post on honoring your choices as an autistic woman (or man). It is a postscript to the autistic motherhood series on the Autism Women’s Network. The post concludes that older autistic parents have a responsibility to share what they’ve learned with the younger generation of autistics. This, in my opinion, goes for autistic childless people too. As autistics, we often feel left out, and it’s important to have people whose experiences we can relate to who are older than us and can share with us what they’ve learned. Likewise, we need to be mentoring the even younger generations.

I find it extremely hard to connect to people with whom I have enough in common that we can share our knwoledge and experiences and support each other this way. This may be because I have multiple disabilities. The Internet has opened a world for me, but when, with this current blog, I began to spread my wings outside of the disability blogosphere, it also amplified my differences. It may be just me, but I see Mom bloggers everywhere.

Childlessness, like disability, is a minority status. And now that childlessness is no longer the only way for disabled women, it adds up to someone’s otherness. I’m not saying that childlessness should be the norm again for disabled women. What I do want to say is that it’s still a reality for a lot of disabled women (and men), and that it’s often still a painful reality that is complicated by prejudice and stimma both surrounding disability and childlessness. I do understand that the assumption that disabled people are childless by default, needs to be challenged, but this assumption should not be replaced with additional stigma for the person who finds their disability actually does make it impossible for them to become a parent.