Monday, February 10, 2014

"Not a Mother" Mindfulness

Last month a received an email from Maaike, a woman from the Netherlands who shared one of her blog posts with me.
I was very impressed and touched by the way she honored her decision not to have children. I will share an excerpt here and invite you to click here to see the whole post:
"Everywhere I go, everywhere I am, I set up altars for the woman in me who will not be with child and will not give birth to a child. A choice. My choice. Every day I take a little bow to this choice and to the woman that I am today. And every day I check with myself if this choice still feels right, making sure that this is my path - that this is my life I need and want to live. Then I take a deep look in my husband’s eyes – he is inextricably linked to the choice that I made – and I know it’s right. I won’t wake up one day regretting this choice and blame him or myself for it. 
"Honoring the importance of this choice I decided to make this choice every single day all over again. But it is since a little while that it feels different. It's not just a choice anymore. It's changed into the realization that I will not become a mother for sure. Not only because it's my choice, but also because I am a woman of 39 and I truly feel that I am too old to become a mother. After losing a close friend earlier this year – this new awareness hit me really hard.

"I share all of this with you my fellow sister, because I need you and other women to read this - to know this. This is important. Choosing to become a mother is a choice for the rest of your life but so is the choice to not become a mother. Regret is too high a price to pay - either way."
I, too, reaffirm my decision not to have children even though that option for me is past. It feels good to check in with myself again, and again, and know it still is the right decision for me. How about you?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Valquiria's Story

I recently received an email from a woman who wanted to share her personal story about what can happen when you say "Yes" to starting a family when your heart and mind says "No."
To protect her privacy, we agreed we to use a pseudynom. This is Valquiria's story:
I’ve been married for 16 years and my husband and I live in Brazil. My husband always knew about my lack of interest in having children, but both of us thought, over the years, that something would awake in me that would make me want to be the mother of his kids. But that day never came. What came was his invitation to start trying seriously for a pregnancy because he wanted so badly to be a dad.
For fear of losing him, I relented.
The first time I had a delay in menstruation, I panicked.  I had never felt so sorry for a decision. I told my husband what was happening; that I was scared and it was not the time for me to be a mom. Fortunately, it was only a false alarm. But then I made my real mistake: once again, for fear of losing his love,  I let him think we would continue trying.
Meanwhile,as my true self continued manifesting, my husband showed me, excitedly, kid and maternity stuff, but that only made me want to run away and to be closer to my animals ( yes, I am a rescuer ). Time passed by, and the dreaded and inevitable questioning came. In a painful conversation, I told him I had agreed to try for children just for love – my love for him. Well, it happened that he did not take it well. I went through a long ordeal of psychological abuse and maltreatment. I had to hear very hard and offensive things, like “I’m wasting my time with you”, “I’m not nice to you because you don’t give me children”, “this is not a real marriage” and so on.
Apparently after some sort of inner struggle, he decided he would stay with me anyway. I don’t know whether this is a permanent decision for him. I’ve NEVER regretted my choice. I don’t want to parent ANYONE. However, it’s been a long journey to regain my self-confidence; and I’m having a hard time trying to be okay with the fact that I HAVE to consider and love myself more than anyone else. My feelings hurt not because I might, later in my life, regret not having sons and daughters, but because I’m breaking his heart.
I’m a 40 year old healthy woman. I got married for love and for love only. Contrary to what people think, choosing a childfree life doesn’t make me a bad or selfish person; it just means I have the courage to be true to myself. And this is priceless. If I could be of any help to anyone passing through a similar situation, I’d gladly help. We all have our reasons for not having kids.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Kids Don't Make Me Happy

I have to give Kudos! to Matt Walsh, a Canadian blogger and father of twins for writing this post My Kids Don't Make Me Happy

As a life and leadership coach who specializes in decision-making (including reproductive), I always say "One choice or the other will not make you happy. Happiness is a choice."
Matt made this point: 
My kids don't make my happiness. That isn't their job. My happiness isn't a responsibility that falls on their tiny little shoulders. Kids come into this world helpless, naked and needing, yet so many of us immediately shove them into the Happiness Factory and bark commands. "Get on the assembly line and build me some happiness! Quick! Do your duty, sir!" This is precisely why many mommies and daddies are NOT very happy people. Many are lost, confused and disappointed. They are anything but happy because they were fooled into thinking that they didn't conceive a human -- they conceived a little happiness generator. They were fooled, in many instances, by parents who know better.

Yeah, you have heard those parents. I call them the parenthood lobbyists. They say "it's the best thing..." or "You are missing out..." but they are only telling part of the story. The trick is to tune the lobbyists out and focus on what you really want and what your partner really wants. Then, whatever you choose, whatever the outcome, you can still choose to be happy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Taking Control at End of Life

What happens when you get old? It's an annoying question, I know, but even more annoying when you don't have an answer.

That is why I was thrilled to see NY Times Blogger Paula Span, elder care expert, tackle this issue head on and write in detail about the importance and challenges of a having a health care proxy.
While you may be able to convince a trusted relative, lawyer, doctor, or nurse to be your proxy, they may not feel comfortable in that role, writes Span:

"Geriatric care managers seem a better fit; they’re comfortable in hospitals and nursing homes and charge lower hourly rates than lawyers. Karen Wasserman, director of Your Elder Experts, part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston, serves as surrogate for a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor with no family, and she’s starting to see healthy people in their 70s putting their paperwork together and asking her staff to take that role.
“I don’t see it as that big a leap,” Ms. Wasserman said. “Often, it’s continuing the work we do anyway, advocating for our clients,” whom the staff has often known for years. “It’s often an honor to be there for these people. It’s part of the deal.”

There are childfree folks out there that would, literally, rather die than relinquish control of their end of life decision-making and that poses another challenge. Are we ready as a society to let them make that choice, like Switzerland allows through the Exit organization? You tell me?

Photo credit: Flickr Photo by Flatbush Gardener

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parents Supporting Their Childfree Children

I have been very fortunate in the fact that both my parents have always supported my choice to remain childfree. This is not always the case for childfree folks, as I documented in my book Two is Enough and the documentary film The Childless by Choice Project. Some parents do put a lot of pressure on their children to produce the grandchildren. Other parents just can't understand why.

I had a really happy childhood, with a Mom and Dad who were excellent role models for Parenthood. Yet I chose to remain childless by choice, not because I didn't know how to parent but because I didn't think parenthood was a good role for me.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "Oh, you would be such a great mom!" And maybe I would be but I am convinced that had I been a mother I would have experienced many  unhappy and frustrating days wondering why I had chosen this path when other paths seemed so much more appealing and natural for me.

This is why I was glad to see Barbara Walters, one of the hosts of  the current events show The View defend her daughter's decision to remain childless.  As a career television journalist, Barbara Walters knows more than most women how difficult it can be to navigate motherhood and career and clearly she is very proud of her daughter, saying that she's very caring and loving, particularly to old people like herself.
One of the other women on the panel already had a child but was planning for more and couldn't wait for the opportunity to breast-feed a baby. You could tell by the faces of the other women on the panel that breast-feeding an infant was definitely not something they were wishing for as they lay their head on their pillow at night. And this is why The View's panel of five women works so well and why we tune in. These five women are a diverse group from all walks of life and they have a variety of experiences and opinions about issues that concern us all.  Yet they can agree that parenthood is not for everybody and recognize that although they would happily choose parenthood for themselves they can understand why some women and men may not want what they want.

If these five women of The View wanted the same things, believed the same things, and held the same opinions  we wouldn't be watching the show.  
Lucky for us, and lucky for the networks who profit from these shows, we respectfully disagree!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Childfree Life featured in TIME Magazine

The Childfree have made it to the front Cover of Time! Four years after my book Two is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice was published and one year after the release of my documentary The Childless By Choice Project, I finally feel like the childless by choice have been recognized as the important emerging demographic that it is.

As I have said repeatedly, the rising numbers of childfree couples is a trend, not an aberration. The trend to postpone or ultimately forgo parenthood is a global trend that is likely to continue in the short term, as competing opportunities for women expand. It was nice to see that media outlet like TIME took notice and did such a great job of documenting this trend. And it just happened to coincide with the inaugural celebration of International Childfree Day (August 1) Kudos to Time and staff writer Lauren Sandler!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Going Childfree - A Guy’s Perspective

Amy and Lance Blackstone are a childfree couple with a new website and blog called We are {not} having a Baby. I chatted with Amy and we thought it would be cool to guest blog on each other's sites. Amy's husband Lance offerred to give his perspective as a childfree guy who came from the assumption of parenthood. In the Childless by Choice Project I made a real effort to include men because they are often overlooked in the discussion of voluntary childessness, but not here, not now. Here's Lance's story:

Growing up I knew that I’d have kids of my own. The path was obvious: grow up, date, get married, have kids and be a dad. Preferably in that order. No steps optional.

This is how it works.

I’ve occasionally been wrong, but for the sake of this post I'll assume that many guys have a similar mindset.

I first actively questioned the obvious path around nine when I realized kids are a LOT of work. I have first hand experience of this. You see I have four siblings, all older sisters. Yes, four older sisters; thanks for the sympathy.

At that point two (only two!) of my sisters still lived at home with yours truly. We were an absolute handful, or more truthfully, I was an angel with two wicked, older step sisters.

I kid, I kid! Love you, my actual real, not step, sisters!

Where was I? Yeah, well, I watched mom and dad try to deal with angry, petulant, self-centered tweens and teens with endless needs and demands for time, food, money, laundry, etc. I thought to myself “Why would you do this to yourself?"

Yes, I know. Wise beyond his years, you say.

Speaking of, I’ve always been a pretty logical thinker (he says about himself). Illogically, I often assume others to be the same. Logically/illogically I figured I must be missing something. People put themselves through so much effort and heartache while giving up so much freedom, and time, ergo there must be more to the story...

I chalked it up to not understanding; to being young. I sez to myself "When I'm more mature I'll get it, and when I get it, then I'll want kids”.

Because this is how it works.

Time rolled on. I grew up (arguably). I dated. I got married. It never happened though. I’ve never wanted kids. And it's not because I never saw an upside - I do see how meaningful kids can be to parents that really want them. No, I've never wanted kids because I clearly see the downsides and for me the cons outweigh the pros.

Now I’m in my early 40’s. I’ve been married for 18 years. I love my life as it is, childfree. Speaking of, as I write this, my wife and I are on our way to a tropical island for the next 5 weeks where we will host friends and family. You think we could pull this off if we had kids?

For me, this is how it really works.