As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Like many of us, Karen* held out for Mr. Right. By the time she found him and married him, it was too late for her to realize her dream of being a mother. However…he came with two teenagers, and Karen found herself in the unusual position of being a (step)mom, but not a mom. She once shared with me that at times it seems easier to let other people assume she’s their mom, but it leaves her secretly feeling a little bit like a fraud whenever she is invited to activities such as Moms Night Out.
Now “47 and holding (lol),” Karen has a different perspective on the childfree life she leads.
LWB: Describe your dream of motherhood.
Karen: Two kids—one boy, one girl—and a white picket fence.
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Karen: I’m childfree by chance because I didn’t meet the right person soon enough. But I do have stepkids, which requires a lot of work (their mom is not there to help much).
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Karen: My stepkids are almost raised. Now I’m looking forward to travel with my hubby. And I’m looking ahead to grandkids one day.
LWB: What was the turning point for you? (Either when you gave up on the dream of having children or when you felt you were able to move forward with a Plan B.)
Karen: Raising stepkids. I treat them as my own. Also, I was at a group event, and I was trying to somehow fit in with the wives of my husband’s friends. All they talked about were their kids and the teachers and other kids I didn’t know. I was soooo bored and wanted to escape, or at least have a conversation about some current event or travel or anything except their boring lives! I know I probably sound like a hater, but it’s how I felt—lol! A single dad finally came over and said, “God this is boring. Where are the cocktails?” I loved him for saying that.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children of your own?
Karen: I feel like I missed out on one of life’s big moments.
LWB: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Karen: “Look at the advantages.” For example, I didn’t have to go through pregnancies and births. I have more freedom to work, to be with my hubby, and to travel.
LWB: How do you answer “Do you have kids?”
Karen: “I have stepkids, which is enough for me.”
LWB: What is the best advice you wish you could have given your younger self?
Karen: “Trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.”
*Not her real name. We allow each respondent to use a fictitious name for her profile, if she chooses.
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Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.