As I was writing a post recently, I found myself typing "my life is good now despite not having children." I stopped. I might have felt that way many years ago. But the word “despite” didn’t feel right for me now, in 2022. I asked myself, "is my life is good now despite not having children, or because I don't have them?" Maybe the answer is because. Sacrilege!
I will never know if my life is good despite or because. I will never know how my life would have worked out. Accepting that, rather than clinging to an idealised vision of what my life with children would have been like, is key to dismissing all the painful what-ifs. I'll never know how I would have reacted, or coped with any range of issues (I see the strength of my sister dealing with her CF child), or whether I would have had the energy, the temperament, etc to thrive as a parent. I might have. I might not have. Plenty of parents struggle. So there's no point in thinking about that. It might have been wonderful. It might not have been. If anything, everything I've been through in the last 20 or so years have reminded me that nothing is certain, and a happy ending is never guaranteed, regardless of the path we take.
The reality is that it doesn’t need to be an and/or situation. Maybe I could do all the things that I like about my life even if I had children. Almost certainly I would have found other things I liked about my life. Maybe the things I like about my life right now actually have nothing to do with the fact that I am not a parent. Maybe it’s all about attitude, luck, personality, life choices and opportunities. Realising that brings a feeling of liberation. Ironically, even though I write a blog about my life without kids post-infertility, my No Kidding situation doesn’t define my life – either despite, or because.
I think this is a progression of healing, and inevitably of age. I started off post-infertility being pleased when I could find joy in amongst the pain, finding positives despite my situation. I then moved to embracing my No Kidding life, loving the freedom I had because I wasn’t a parent. Right now, I think that I’ve moved beyond that too. My life is good now because a) I am lucky, and b) I choose to focus on the things I have, not the things I don’t. Life is a wonderful thing, and the alternative (death) is not. Right now I choose to live, I choose to enjoy my life, and I choose to be happy. As I age it will perhaps be harder to do this. So I’m going to make the most of life now, regardless of how or why it is good. My life is neither better or worse despite not having children, or because I don’t have them. The "why's" don't matter. In this moment it is good. That’s all I can ever ask for.