Monday, 11 December 2017

The surprising irrelevance of choice

When I was interviewed for the article that was published last week, the reporter and I had a conversation about labels, and I shared my view that I dislike both the childLESS and childFREE arguments, as I wrote here. Six years on, the No Kidding community adds the qualifiers “by choice” or “not by choice” much more frequently. So I got thinking about it again, concluding that - if I had to give myself a label - I am now childfree not by choice.

What I realised, though, and was even surprised by, was something much bigger, and that was how the use of this description now feels academic to me in 2017. I completely understand why others might want to use these terms, and I have done so when it felt right too, but now, when I have spent more time alive knowing without doubt that I would never have children than I did planning or hoping or grieving, the state of being without children is now my norm, regardless of how I got here.

Many years on now from my losses, the idea of choice (or not) no longer (or very rarely) enters in to how I feel about my life. I am a woman without children, and sometimes that's good and sometimes that's not so good, but most times it is irrelevant whether I chose to live this way or not; it is simply my reality, my life. I am pleased to say that the passing of time has therefore delivered a freedom from that pain that I could never have imagined back in those early days and years.







7 comments:

  1. I am struggling with the labels myself. I feel like sometimes childless is more accurate than childfree, and vice versa. I also struggle with the choice thing, because I wanted children and it was never my dream to not have children, but at some point I had to choose to stop, so was it really not by choice? I mean, definitely it wasn't by choice because I didn't choose to be infertile, I didn't choose to not be chosen by an expectant mother, but I did choose to stop. You could go dizzy with all the options. I'm just glad that you are okay now with your life, regardless of labels, and that one day I will be, too. :)

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    1. Oh, exactly. We're never constantly just one, or the other. It seems so silly to try to label ourselves.

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  2. Pamela right got on me about the labels. We live in such a labeled world that I think people attempt to make sense of any situation that is outside what is considered the norm (even when the norm is rapidly becoming the minority). The “I’m an X” is a way people attempt to connect as a default, even though the default can often be painful.

    You are Mali. And Mali isn’t defined by one label but rather has a collection of labels that are applicable for scratching the surface of who you are. Honestly, that’s something we should all be aspiring to. I know I do.

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  3. OMG this is perfect! I can completely relate to this revelation

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  4. Interesting. Like Jess I wonder what I am because I certainly chose not to pursue fertility treatments or adoption. I don't like 'childless' as it has too many negative connotations, but I sometimes don't identify with being wholly childfree. I'm just a person without children. I don't mind 'non-parent' but that also has connotations. I also feel that as the years pass it becomes less relevant: it's my normal and that's just the way things are.

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    1. I don't think choosing not to pursue fertility treatments/adoption or choosing to stop those when it was clear either it wasn't going to happen or it was taking too much of a toll means that you're No Kidding by choice. Unless you feel comfortable with thaqt.

      I'm glad you also feel it's your normal. There is a freedom in finding that the label is irrelevant, and that should be celebrated!

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  5. I've been using the term 'involuntarily childless' a lot lately. For me, it sums things up at the moment. I never thought I'd not have a family. I never realised I'd be infertile by the age of 27. I never knew IVF treatment would be such a hard slog. I never understood why I wasn't shown more compassion by people... and so on. Also... some people really don't know how to react if I say this... their faces throw all different sorts of expressions ;-)

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