August 9, 2016 at 9:17 PM #1255
I have been struggling with the issue of children lately. I am in my late 30’s and single. I have wonderful friends but all of them, except for maybe 1 friend, is single and without children. The majority have children and are married.
The struggle is this: truthfully, I often resent hanging out with my friends and their children. I resent it and I love it. The children of the friends I love provide me with a feeling of a family greater than the one I currently have; larger I mean and not so lonely. I feel honoured to be included; however, when I am surrounded by mothers I often want to leave. The talks mostly always go to their children; which I obviously cannot relate to. So I have begun saying no to things where I think the topic of discussion will be around motherhood. Or I will not engage and try to shift the topic or my environment. I feel left out and I am tired of hanging out with my mommy friends and their kids all the time. It’s not just one friend. It is many of them. And I often have to accommodate their schedule and their location. I do have some friends that arrange specifically to hang out with me and do things we would enjoy as adults but not all of my mommy friends can do so.
Another reason why the topic of children is hard is because I don’t have them and the door looks like it may be closing. It’s a shocking part of my life to realize that the opportunity may not be there and that life turned out much differently than how I expected. At this point, I am not interested in having and raising a child on my own. Having a child with someone or at the very least having the conversation with someone about having a child, is something I never thought I would be robbed of. But that’s what it feels like.
I needed to share this because this is one of the challenges of being single at this age vs. being single at 25 that I struggle with. I never thought of this or experienced this when I was younger.
I know this is a phase and I will be fine but it is so hard, especially when I am on my own. People have been evolving and shaping their families (eg. their own children, their spouse/significant other) beyond the childhood family they were born into. I’d like to have something like that in some form.August 9, 2016 at 9:26 PM #1256
One more thing,,,,, another thing I find challenging is that I often have to listen and try to understand how hard motherhood is. When mothers get together, the topic often goes here. Truth is I don’t understand it and I may never understand it. And I am sure it is harder than anything I have ever experienced. Guaranteed. However, I find it frustrating that no one seems to ask or even care about how hard it might be for someone like myself, who is close to 40 and single without any children. And I feel like I have to spell it out for many but maybe I am afraid to have that convo…. Please understand, I love my mommy friends and I love mothers! God Bless All of them!!! I just find it hard to relate while accepting the fact that I am close to 40 and that door may never open for me.August 10, 2016 at 12:16 AM #1257
ZoeLove, thanks so much for articulating this. I turn 35 in two weeks and having children has been on my mind a lot. I very much relate to how you feel the need to distance yourself from certain situations. I have also been experiencing this. It’s a new feeling for me, as up until recently I couldn’t spend enough time with the kids (and parents) in my life. I am trying to be easy on myself, not judge myself for having these feelings (as Sara writes about in her book!) and also accept these feelings as normal. I think it’s normal to feel sadness/longing/maybe a little jealousy in these circumstances. I’m also very mindful of not isolating myself because I know that’s not healthy. So for me, right now, it’s all about finding the right balance of what feels health and positive vs. when I need separation. You’re not the only one experiencing these feelings if that makes you feel better.August 10, 2016 at 12:58 PM #1258
I’ve been struggling with this for two years now, and I totally know how it feels. Actually, I think I have been suffering from depression since last year I realized that indeed I may not have the chance to experiment motherhood for which I have been preparing so long. It is especially frustrating when I look around and see how many uneducated/frustrated/aggressive/or simply ignorant people have children and they seem to ruin their children’s potential because they don’t know better. I am not saying I would be a better mother, God knows I would make my share of mistakes, but still…I totally relate to your feelings, especially when people look at me in a strange way as if the fact that I am childless prevents me from having opinions/feelings /wishes related to children. I feel like I am never allowed to say anything, as if I were inferior or something. And yet, the fact that I am childless has nothing to do with my potential to notice things that go wrong.
What is worse is the fact that I work in a community where there are a lot of childless/unmarried women of all ages. It saddens me so to see what frustration has done to them…. I know now that this lack of fulfillment may turn you into a really sad/bad person…I think that from now on this should be my fight: if I don’t get what I have been hoping for for so long, at least I should pay attention not to let my sadness poison other people…still preserve some dignity.August 10, 2016 at 5:38 PM #1259
ZoeLove, thank you for your post. I have been struggling with the same situation and relate so much to everything you wrote. We all want to talk about the things that matter most to us, so I understand why my friends want to talk with each other about their kids, but it makes it so hard for me to feel like I am part of the conversation. It’s an awful experience to be among a group of your closest friends and yet feel completely isolated, but that seems to happen to me more and more lately. I also find it hard to listen to my friends complaining about the difficult aspects of both marriage and motherhood. I have no doubt that both can be very hard and I understand their need to vent about it, but sometimes I just want to ask them if they have any idea how lucky they are and how much I would give for the lives that they have with their partners and children. It isn’t easy and sometimes makes me feel like I need a whole new group of friends. I have also thought about talking to them about it, but my fear in doing that is that they might just stop inviting me. I love the friends I have and really value those relationships (some I’ve been friends with since elementary school), so I try to remind myself that this too shall pass, that one day their kids will be older and I will feel more connected to their conversations again. It isn’t easy, but thinking ahead to when that time will come has helped me to feel that things aren’t as hopeless as they sometimes seem.
I have also found it helpful to try to meet up with my friends one-on-one rather than a big group. That isn’t always possible, but I find that when it’s just me and one other person the conversation is a lot more balanced.
It’s hard to find new friends in our 30’s and beyond, and while I’m doing my best expand my circle to include more single/childless friends, it isn’t easy. I’m grateful to have found you all here and have a place to come where there are others who can relate.August 10, 2016 at 6:48 PM #1260
Mariposa, I also relate to the fact that friends who complain about marriage and motherhood seem very annoying to me because they don’t know what it is like to be without a family…But what I find even worse is the fact that their complaints have somehow robbed me of the hope ( illusion?) that marriage and motherhood are worth hoping for…I mean I already have 5 or 6 divorced friends and the rest of them tell me how difficult it is to be attached. While I can totally understand marriage can be indeed a struggle, I also feel at times like I have divorced three times and now I am deprived of any energy and optimism… It is weird, it’s like being one of those therapist traumatized by the dramatic stories of others….August 11, 2016 at 12:20 AM #1261
Oh boy, can I relate to everything written here. I particularly relate to the women who complain about their husbands and children. They can complain all they want, but I don’t think in a million years they would want to trade places with me. If they ever lost their husband and children, or never got to have them at all, they would be devastated.
I know I recommended Melanie Notkin’s book before, but she writes about the concept of disenfranchised grief. It truly is a grieving process for many women to come to the realization that the husband and child they dreamed of are just not going to happen. Society does not acknowledge this in same way it does infertility or other struggles. Besides, with infertility, in most cases, at least you have a partner who is dealing with the infertility with you.
I think the worst part of all of this, at least for me, is no one truly understands. My parents are supportive, but they don’t get it because they’ve never been through it. My siblings don’t get it and don’t care, quite frankly. I have some great friends but they’re all of the mindset, “Oh, it’ll happen eventually.” I just want to scream — “This is a big f**king deal, not being able to have a husband or a family!”
Having the love and support of an intimate partner is an entirely different experience than any other relationship and cannot be replaced with friendship. I think as hard as I try I always feel lonely without it.August 11, 2016 at 1:19 AM #1262
Hi Ladies. Thank you for your comments. It is something that seems to go on without people even stopping to realize “Wait a minute! I wonder how this feels like for her.” Beachbum– the comments ” Oh, it’ll happen eventually” drive me bananas! Mostly because people who say this seem to think that life panned out this way for them because that’s how life pans out for everyone and the idea that maybe, just maybe, it was luck does not cross their mind and perhaps if it does it can be a bit scary to face that. I’ve also had comments from friends saying “Oh just have a baby on your own. You could do it!” It’s not a matter of thinking I could do it, I know I can (especially since my mother offered to help) it’s a matter of I don’t want to! This is not a time I hope to wave my femininst flag. Having a family is something I want to share with a person.
Overall, although I need and want to express these feelings, there has to be a way of getting past this. And maybe time will heal and acceptance will draw in. Beachbum– it is a big F&*$ing deal. A very big one.August 13, 2016 at 4:15 PM #1269
Wow, so much I can relate to here!
Last year, after a slew of tests and doctor’s visits, I was told that I had a low to now chance of conceiving. It was devastating to me, not because I had this huge yearning for kids (I don’t) but because the choice was taken away. This buzzfeed video accurately describes that feeling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV-p58vPq_I
I had friends who desperately wanted to have children; I was never one of those women. I always felt this yearning to adopt, but didn’t really find the idea of being pregnant or giving birth that appealing. Still, the ption being “taken away” really saddened me. And of course I thought “who’d wanna marry me NOW?”
I have friends who don’t have kids, but they all have spouses, so they’re not going through it alone (although it is different being the woman vs the man). I had one friend who I shared this with who told me she had received similar news. As she so perfectly put it “it exacerbated my loneliness”. I didn’t tell my family (all my siblings are male and have kids, my mom would freak out) and only told a handful of friends. It was really hard to tell people. I felt sorry for myself and felt they would just feel sorry for me as well.
Slowly, I made peace with it. I told myself that so many people have been told they could never have kids and they surprised everyone when they did (we all know someone who knows someone who this happened to). I also told myself that people who give birth to children aren’t always the most nurturing and supportive people, that I can make more of a difference in a child’s life by giving them love that they may not have from their own parents. Just by virtue of the fact they they are biologically theirs may make someone their mother, but not necessarily the best and most loving female figure. I love being an Aunt(ie) and strive to be the best one I can be.
There’s other stuff I wanted to comment on, but this post is long enough right now, lol.August 14, 2016 at 1:32 PM #1274
I’d love to hear more from people who are facing the possibility that they may never become a mother, and are quite upset about it. My sister recently said to me that she didn’t have much sympathy for me because if I truly wanted to become a mother, I could become one, either through adoption or artificial insemination. She said if I truly wanted to become a mom, I’d find a way. I found this statement a little callous. While I’m happy for single women who are brave enough to do either one of these things, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I can’t imagine being inseminated with a stranger’s sperm and raising a child that is half his, and not know who he is. For me, it feels scary and unnatural.
I’m also not keen on adoption. I’ve known families who adopted children and had a lot of behavioral issues with the kids. I know the age of the child at the time of adoption factors into this. Maybe it’s because my mother is a therapist who counsels children — the majority were adopted have dealt with a lot of issues. Like I said, adoption works out well for a lot of people, and I’m happy for them. But for me, it just doesn’t feel right.
I’ve definitely been one of those women who imagined getting pregnant and becoming a mom from the time I was a small child. I played with dolls, played house, even remember putting a pillow under my shirt to pretend I was pregnant when I was playing as a child. I picked out imaginary names from my kids. Even as an adult I felt what I could only describe an as instinctive, biological craving to have a child. Like my body and my heart and just everything about me was built to do this.
Acceptance. Acceptance. Acceptance. I know no other way.August 14, 2016 at 10:53 PM #1280
Wow, beachbum, I’m really sorry your sister said that to you! It’s hard when people don’t empathize or even sympathize. That was not a nice of her to say, at all.
I’m with you on not wanting to have a kid on my own. As I said. I’ve never been one of those “OMG I CAN’T WAIT TO HAVE KIDS/BE PREGNANT!” but I do love children and wouldn’t MIND adopting if need be, but still not on my own. Being a single mom is HARD. Parenting is hard enough with two cooperative parents. I mentioned once to someone (married with kids) that I wouldn’t mind fostering or adopting kids when I get married and she said “You can still adopt or foster a kid now”. I didn’t appreciate that. She knows first hand how hard it is to raise kids, I don’t think she would ever want to do it solo.
And yeah, I have heard about behavior issues with adoptive children. One of my friends adopted one as a baby and he even looks more like her kids than her youngest son, but he still has some issues.
There was someone being interviewed on NPR who talked about the day she froze her eggs was the day she met her now husband. She had kids in her 40s I believe. I’ll have to find her name and post it.
In the meantime, here’s a blog/community for women who are single and/or childless, by choice or otherwise:
http://gateway-women.com/August 15, 2016 at 4:18 PM #1284
Thank you so much everyone for all of your comments :-) Everyone has their hardships including people with children, spouses, partners and those without. There is no need for competition on who has it the hardest although sometimes I find myself feeling resentful that others seem to think that my life does not have it’s hardships simply because I am not married with children. At the end of the day, I have come to realize it is a waste of energy and setting boundaries is something I feel is necessary at least for now by saying no to people (with kids and/or without), places and events where I feel won’t give me a positive feeling and devoting more time to people and places that are positive for me. Meetup groups are a great way to find and develop new circles of friends and hopefully my “old” and “with children” friendships will feel more energized as I would be fulfilling my needs in other friendship circles.
I also believe that regarding significant others and children, things can change for a single girl in an instant. I live and work in the States and I’ve met some people who meet their partner and BOOM! things change rapidly.August 29, 2016 at 5:05 AM #1342
I posted this in the Other Great Writers/Publications/Works topic but thought it fit well here too for anyone who might not be reading both threads. Tara Henley’s documentary ’39’ about women reaching their 40’s without having kids:
I was invited to two different events for today, a baptism and a baby shower (a stellar combination that had me remembering and wishing for the days when having two simultaneous invitations made me feel happy/popular/included instead of just crappy!). I’m feeling a bit emotional in general this weekend, but I went to the baptism and spent most of the service blinking back tears and thinking about whether I could be okay with never having a family. I distinctly remember turning 30 and telling myself that if I made it to 35 and still didn’t have a partner, I would start looking into having a child on my own. I was sure that by then I’d be ready – I’d be five years older and wiser, in a better place financially, and just more capable at life in general. It also still felt far enough away, and while I continued to hold that idea in my mind, it was more just a comforting back up plan than anything I thought about too seriously. Fast forward five years, here I am at 35. And while all of those things above are true to some degree, I don’t feel at ready at all. There are just so many barriers, plus life is more complicated now in other ways, and rather than feeling empowered by the idea it mostly just makes me feel sad. I know I still have some time to figure this out, but it’s scary to think of that window starting to close and a bit jarring to come to terms with the fact that my back up plan maybe isn’t the best plan after all. Lots to think about for sure. ZoeLove, thanks for your words above – you are so right that things can change quickly and I love having that hope to hold on to.August 29, 2016 at 11:35 AM #1343
Thanks for your post ZoeLove, I really get where you’re coming from and struggle with these feelings too. It didn’t feel like that long ago when I set the deadline of 36 to have a sperm donor baby. I turned up to the appointment and got a referral for the tests, but I couldn’t bring myself to get them done. Now I’m 36 and it feels like I’m no closer to finding a partner or having children than the moment I set that deadline, all those years ago.
Like Beachbum, I’ve decided that although I’d do a great job as a single mother, I don’t want to do it alone. I feel the same way about raising a child that’s half a stranger, not feeling connected to their history. I have friends who have done it and have no regrets, but I guess I’m an eternal optimist who hopes it will happen naturally one day soon.
Spending time around friends’ kids and my nieces and nephews is such a joy, but it’s also painful knowing I may never be anything more than an aunty. Finding out that yet another friend or sister is pregnant is so difficult, even if they understand what I’m going through. A friend who had a stillbirth said she imagined that her grief from losing a child and mine from never having the chance to have one were more similar than different. Which was a lovely thing to say, even though I don’t think they compare.
Anyway, I guess there’s nothing to do but be grateful for what I have and accept that this may be all there is for me.September 8, 2016 at 11:40 PM #1371
Beachbum and LoneStar, I’m also struggling with the reality that I may be unable to bear children. I’m 33 and was recently diagnosed with endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserve. I am considering freezing my eggs but given my numbers, the specialists I saw predicted I’d have to do several rounds in order to get enough eggs to be considered “useful” down the line. I simply can’t afford that, not to mention I’m not sure I want to put my body through multiple rounds of hormones.
All this happened the same year several friends either got pregnant or had babies. It’s been tough to deal with. I have all the same fears you mentioned, plus I felt resentful that other women get news like this once they’re already married and have a spouse to lean on for support. It felt lousy sitting in the waiting room of the fertility clinic with my mom when everyone else was coupled up. Frankly, it also made me feel dried up and undesirable: it’s terrible to feel like part of my body is shutting down when I feel like other parts of my life are just beginning to flourish.
A few things have helped. Reading about infertility (and especially pieces from women who are going through it) showed me that it’s common enough that I eventually felt less “damaged.” Also, making a list of all the wonderful things about not having children was useful, not because I was trying to convince myself I didn’t want them after all, but simply to show that no matter what you do in life, you’re missing something else. I am friends with a couple who never wanted to have kids and they do things my friends with kids simply can’t. They also seem more in love and relaxed with one another than couples who have children, but I recognize that doesn’t mean kids = unhappiness, just that it’s easier to be romantic when you don’t have the pressures that come with kids.
Finally, after a lot of soul-searching and meditating, I realized that to me it was more important to be with the right man than to be a mom, even if waiting for the former means the latter can’t happen. Of course not everyone feels this way, and I think I still would be sad if I find out I really can’t conceive, but for me it was an important discovery that helped me relax and organize my priorities. I still fear how I’ll raise this with my next serious boyfriend. I’m not sure how it will go. But I have to trust that whoever it is will be mature enough to realize infertility is very common, and at least I know in advance of trying to get pregnant that it might be a challenge. My heart goes out to everyone struggling with this. It’s so tough.
Re: hanging out with friends with kids and hearing about them non-stop, I wish these moms could be more sensitive and not get so wrapped up in their own stuff that they can’t stop and consider that maybe, just maybe, their topic isn’t interesting to everyone. It’s basic manners, right? I’ve made a conscious decision to limit my time with the worst offenders.
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