One of the many things I love about the internet is the ability to take a peek at happenings all over the world, hear different points of view, and experience the sensibility of different cultures. Take this article, Leading a good life without kids, for example, that appeared recently in Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror.
As I began reading the story of Lathika, I wondered if I was reading a fairy tale.
“Lathika played with her doll, Fiona. She loved “Playing House” and dreamed of growing up, getting married and having a family of her own one day” felt like a tame way of expressing the desire for motherhood.
When I read, “The years went by and Lathika did not mind the pain and discomfort of regular tests for her fertility for she was now desperate to have a child,” I scratched my head and started wondering what was wrong with Lathika. I have never spoken to anyone who “didn’t mind” the pain and discomfort of fertility treatments. I wondered if Lathika was some kind of Zen master (mistress?) who calmly took whatever life dealt her, or if the author of the piece was just clueless about the emotional frustration of infertility. I also wondered if perhaps Sri Lankan culture forced Lathika to put on a brave face and keep her real feelings to herself. That I could understand.
I read on about Lathika’s attempts to fill the void in her life with creative pursuits and volunteer work, and the calmness of the writing began to wash over me. I nodded my head at the quote, “Your children are not your own,” because I’ve always had that thought about the role of parents in the lives of the human beings in their care (more about this in another post, I think.)
By the end of the piece, I was touched by the message. Although I still wasn’t convinced that “we leave Lathika happy and fulfilled” in her new childfree life, I found myself catching my breath at the idea that “destiny had planned a different life path for her.”
We have an idea about what life is supposed to be like for us. We grow up, fall in love, have children, create a life for ourselves, and live to see our grandchildren become adults and create their own lives. But we all know that life isn’t as clean cut as that.
Maybe destiny has planned a different life path for us, too. Perhaps we can’t see what that path is yet, but like Lathika, I feel strangely comforted by the idea that a different, maybe even better life could be ahead for me because I don’t have children.
Pamela Tsigdinos says
“destiny had planned a different life path for her.” I fought that idea for a long time, but now embrace it.
I don’t like to think about it as destiny. I guess the truth is destiny is “just what happened” – you can’t change that.
But sometimes people seem to identify destiny as a magical force that is somehow controlling everything. Although I believe in God, I believe in free will, and that he’s not up there forcing our lives down a single path.
Crap. Sorry. to get all philosophical, but I just had to say that! 🙂 But I also had to say it, because I think when people are dealing with the pain of being childless, attributing it to destiny can make it harder. I’ve known several friends who’ve struggled with WHY this was God’s will for them, and why God chose this path of pain for them, and they get all crazy and start saying things like “I’m not like everyone else. I’m not normal. Something’s wrong with me. God knew I’d be a bad mother. Or maybe I’m going to die young and God knew that, so he didn’t let me have kids.” The truth is, none of us knows anything, and all we have to do is look around to see that if everything was “fair” it wouldn’t be happening the way it does. 5 minutes of viewing Teen Mom on MTV is enough to see that.
For me, it’s easier to just say life is a mystery for us all, and I’m riding this train, just like everyone else. And my main goal is to have as good of a time on the train ride as I can, and not let my enjoyment be stolen just because I don’t like the particular train car I happen to be put in.
I guess I believe in destiny. I certainly find myself saying “everything happens for a reason” a lot. But I also believe that if you live with good intentions, good things will come to you.
I think back on relationships gone astray or jobs I didn’t get. At the time, I hurt or struggled; but those things weren’t meant to be. And now I’m here with a good man by my side and a decent, stable income in difficult economic times.
What good comes of not having the children I’d expected and planned for all my life? I don’t know yet, I really don’t. But in 25 years, maybe I’ll reflect and see it all clearly.
After everything I’ve been through I find myself a little more cynical about the whole god and ‘meant to be’ destiny question. And this is coming from someone who has made her way to pray at the Vatican twice.
I think I’m still in the muck of everything, so I accept that I may not be seeing my own situation very clearly quite yet. But right now I don’t think god or destiny had anything to do with my circumstances. I think I have to learn how to accept my situation and find a way to funnel all the love and joy and thoughtfulness that I would have spent on my children into something else. If I can find a way to do that, then I will have had a meaningful life, and I will be able to look back and smile. I guess I think destiny is just whatever ends up happening to you, and what you do with that.
I certainly don’t believe in “things happen for a reason.” I’ve blogged about that.
But I do believe that “a different, maybe even better, life” is there for us. And I’m glad it comforts you to think so too. I believe we just have to grab it, looking forward at what we have, not back at what we will never have. There’s a real freedom and even joy in letting go.