This hot-button whine was sent in from one of our readers:
When you read an interview of some celebrity or hear someone say
“I never knew what love was until I had a child.”
So…is she saying that because I’m childfree I’m not capable or “real” love, or because I’m childfree I will be denied the experience of the highest expression of love?
Whether this makes your blood boil or cuts you to the core, whine away, sisters!
And if you have another great whine you need to get off your chest this week, here’s the place to let it rip.
This kind of comment does bother me. It isn’t meant to be condescending, but it comes across that way. I had to attend a shower at my office recently. At the end, someone said “Ok Moms, now its time for you to share advice!” I know that this was not meant as a slight on those few of us there without children, but it felt that way. I have worked with children for over 10 years and it was as though anything I had to say wasn’t valid. I am grateful that there are so many wonderful ways to feel loved, through a significant other, through friends, through family. I try to be understanding, but then again, I also don’t go around making comments like “I didn’t know love until I had a best friend, boyfriend, etc.” that would just be rude and discount other people’s experiences.
The “advice from mothers” part stick in my crawl too.
I have a friend who treats her hyper kid like he’s a “special snowflake”. My husband and I know that part of the problem is that they don’t consistently discipline and the kid knows how to get his way. They don’t like to be the bad guys. Then she blames his behavior on everything else (the other kids give him the hard time, the hot classroom, the face that he didn’t eat much at lunch). NO – it’s called being consistent, accountable and straight with your kid. It’s called riding out the wave of defiance. Following through.
But since I don’t have a child my opinion is crap.
I detest those types of comments. What’s even worse, if you’re a Christian and run in Christian circles, it feels even worse when people say “I never knew how much Jesus loved me until I had a child. Ugh. Does that mean that I can’t ever understand or feel how much Jesus loves me until I have a child. It’s insensitive, rude and really frustrating.
In other whines, my sister-in-law invited me to her 19-year-old sister’s (single, “accidental” pregnancy) baby shower next weekend. I can’t even pretend that I want to go. I’ve moved on, but when young kids get pregnant, it just rubs me the wrong way. If it was my best friend having a baby shower, I might consider…
Sounds terribly “unChristian” to me. Jesus did not reproduce on Earth, to my knowledge, and I certainly don’t recall any message on his part that read: “You will know how much I love you, when you have a child.” Really weird!
Pretty much everything is bugging me. We don’t have kids due to marital issues that we’ve worked hard to get through it. Things are good now but we’re in a rut. It’s times like these I wonder what we’re even working towards. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a place where we will actively try to have children. I’m 40 and the time is flying. Most days I can accept this and I’m mostly content with life. Lately though I just feel empty. My life today is exactly what my life was 3 months ago, 2 years ago and probably what my life will be like 5 years in the future.
I know I have power and opportunities to change my situation but today I just want to whine, and lament and be pissed off that I’m stuck. And if children don’t happen I need to find something far more fulfilling than what I’m doing now. Because doing what I’m doing isn’t making me happy any longer.
Whine away, we’re listening! Here, here! Good luck and I know you’ll do what you need to do to find that fulfillment!
I understand the rut that P is talking about–it’s frustrating. I’m 39, unmarried and childless, and my situation has been the same for some time. I have found that working towards things has helped. I applied for a long shot job that didn’t work out, but the process of updating my resume, researching the company and writing an amazing cover letter, left me with some an empowered feeling. I volunteer on some weekend to get me out of my head and I am considering doing some academic work. If I am going to remain unmarried and childless (and it is a strong possibility) I don’t want to be miserable. So, I am trying to force myself to try new things and be open to finding happiness, even if it is not in the way I hoped for it…
By the way, I HATE those comments that seem to overlook women like us. I am an educated woman, who has been around children in my family, worked with kids and families and my voice matters. It just happens that many people out there never consider how their words can hurt others.
I’ve only heard the “you’ll know real love” comment once. The one that gets me is the “your life isn’t that hard, you don’t have kids.” Excuse me? How do you know my hardships? Have I told you? No, because you don’t let me get a word in edgewise when you are talking about how great your kid is because he did something normal, like wipe his face with a napkin. Anyway, I’ve got to step away because I am so mad right now at the fact that I can’t have kids.
Usually, I can get through the day but today, I can’t. I’m tired of trying to fight being sad about not being able to have children. I guess the bad part is that I don’t feel like I’m progressing. The infertility doctors won’t work on my until my blood levels are within normal range, so I am working hard to lose weight and eat right and for what? For my non-existent children that I plan for and name and still hope for beyond abandon? Isn’t this the definition of insanity?
As a variant, I often see/hear friends and family say things like, “my life had no meaning until I had a child,” or, “I don’t know how I’d live without my kids.” Really? This bothers me because I think a kid’s job is to be a kid. Parents who say these things seem to need their kids to give purpose and meaning to their own lives. In the process, they diminish my own efforts, and that makes me really angry.
That comment bugs me too. I hear you, P.
My whine isn’t so much about fertility but I haven’t complained to y’all yet and I can’t talk to my friends about it anymore.
I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 months ago back in March and am still struggling. There were some behavior issues with him and also I just had some doubts. He is newly divorced, 2 kids and a vasectomy. I was happy to have the kids in my life and I imagined how things could be if things turned out well with their dad. They were 1/2 time with their mother so the BF and I got to have grown up time and kid time. I was really struggling with not having kids of my own—really struggling. I heavily considered a donor conception and went for testing to see where my hormones were (I’m 44) but finally realized it wasn’t for me. Anyway I ended up ending our relationship . I sorely regret it. About a month ago we spoke and when I alluded to us reconciling he said “I have children so I have to do what’s best for them and me.” which I totally respect. I am feeling guilty and regretful that I threw away a relationship that was amazing. When I think about asking again to try and reconcile (and I really don’t think he will) I find myself thinking that we can work it out and , at the same time, a voice in me says “there is someone else for you don’t settle. ”
I guess I am so tired of being alone (my husband died 8 years ago.) I feel like I was careless with love; there were a lot of great things about him. My heart is broken and it’s my own damn fault.
We recently took a road trip. Upon stopping for lunch in a restaurant, we struck up a conversation with a lady that had six kids. We marveled at her travelling alone with her six children. She responded by saying “that’s what happens when you buy a mini-van, you just keep getting more children”….after which we walked out to the parking lot and got into our “mini-van”…without children! It took the wind out of our sails for about an hour or so! I know she didn’t mean to be hurtful, however the comment did sting and was just a painful reminder.
Oh Brigid, big, big hug to you!!
Oh, and another thing…. The other day I was talking a friend who tried for 10 years to get pregnant which she finally did.She knows about my hopes and dreams for kids. Anyway, her son is now 11 and going through some hard times. She was telling me how worried she is all the time and said ” sometimes having kids isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” I know having kids isn’t easy but sometimes it’s hard to listen to the gripes. I guess I should be out swinging from the chandeliers, buying $1000 shoes and thanking my lucky stars I have no kids or stinky husband to put up with.
It’s very very lonely.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
Wow, ladies, I feel like I’m reading large sections of my own story in your comments here. Thank you all for speaking out and reminding us WE ARE NOT ALONE!
J Thorne says
That “I never knew what love was until…” comment is such a load of sappy garbage. We all have different experiences in life and for someone to sum up “love” in that way is ridiculous. Celebrities always seem to say that in interviews after they’ve had a child. It’s nauseating. And it’s often followed by “Now I have someone else to focus on besides myself” . Yeah, no kidding!!! Comments like that make me really angry.
Makes me wonder about how limited their lives have been.
My whine today is I was talking to a male co worker and he made a comment about teenagers, and he said to me, you know what it’s like. I said I don’t have children and he said VERY loudly, ‘What!” “You’re childless!” AND we work in cubicles! I was so embarrassed as if he was saying something is wrong with me. All I could think to say was it just didn’t work out for us. I know he didn’t mean it to be rude but it made me sad the rest of the day.
I wish I had been there to say “What? You’re brainless!” back to him. (Of course, I would only have thought of that response half an hour later, and the impact would have been lost. Sigh.) Anyway, I’m sure anyone who heard that thought that he was a total, thoughtless idiot.
(It reminded me of a nurse saying to me – when I was in hospital for my second ectopic – “you know how babies are.” And I said “no, my babies keep dying.” I hope it made her think, and I hope she never said that again to someone without checking why they were in hospital!)
Right now on CTV channels they are running a promotion about showing a daytime lifestyle show (daily hgtv before there was HGTV or any of that) your “find” at Value Village (second hand store) and the prize… “how would you spend a MOM Cation- you and a friend could win a spa getaway…..”. SERIOUSLY???!! A mom-cation? Does that mean a vacation from all the mommy worship?
Worse yet my bf who has 2 20 year old daughters, one who is a wild party animal staying with his sister. She is exacerbated by her behavior and attitude and when I said “if she’d been staying here she’d been out along time ago” (she’s been getting a free ride and an allowance every week too and does nothing but give back attitude) and BF said ” oh sure ms no kids thats what you’d do”. He said this on the phone a safe 500 miles away or i’d have killed him. But i’m a very forgiving woman and he did apologize.
I have one coworker whom I regularly wish to strangle due to her constant, “Only a mother could…” comments. I’ve found that one thing that works for me is to envision myself responding to her by suddenly spouting gibberish and galumphing off like some sort of Tolkien-esque goblin, since I don’t rate as full human in her eyes anyway. I doubt I’ll ever have the nerve (and she wouldn’t get it anyway, although some of my other colleagues would), but the absurdity makes me smile as I roll my eyes and walk away.
I feel that way when I tell people I don’t want to adopt. Is like if adoption is going to solve the infertility problem.
I’ve never had anyone say to me, you don’t know what love is until you have a child, although I have read it on the internet. I do know several people who had very difficult children and they say they “love them, BUT….. ” Their lives are so difficult with these children I know they think a lot about what could have been if they didn’t have them. So when I read this phrase on the internet, I think of these friends and I don’t get upset because it’s simply not true. Hope the rest of you are having a better day today.
Had a lovely night out last night at a local festival. Hubby and I were enjoying ourselves when we ran into a group of his extended families. After the usual “hello’s” and “how dos” we caught up. One aunt said, “okay P, what ages are your children now?”
“Oh, we don’t have kids. We have dogs.”
“Oh I thought you had children.”
“Nope, our dogs keep us busy.”
“Well, why the heck did I think you had kids? I guess I’m thinking of so and so.”
Then another aunt asked many questions about our dogs, clearly trying to validate us.
It was “nice” and I appreciated the effort. I believe it was done with good manners and intentions. Still I felt a shift in the mood. Hubby and I chatted easily but I could feel the sad pitying looks washing over us. In the corner of my eye I saw them look at each other, then smile at us extra brightly as we chatted about our work and the rest of the family. In this large Catholic family most of these individual families easily have 6, 7, 8, plus kids. What they must think of us.
But that wasn’t even the worst part. When we left the original aunt pulled me close and tripped over her words as she said, “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? What for?”
“I shouldn’t have brought THAT up?”
and then a helpless, “I didn’t know”
followed by a more desperate, “I SHOULD have known.”
By this time the other aunts were on the edge of their seats, (politely) wondering where this conversation was going end up. I took control and spoke loud enough for everyone to hear, “hey, no worries. Hubby and I have 20 nieces and nephews to keep us busy. HEY, we get to be the fun aunt and uncle. Now a bad life over here.”
We all smiled and they hastily made many favorable comments about how lucky we are to be the “fun” ones. To further emphasis my point I talked about an upcoming outing we are planning with the kids. They smiled brighter than ever.
We walked away and I swear I could HEAR them all slowly exhaling at the same time. I mean, it was so obviously that they felt genuinely terrible for us and our lot in life. Today I’m angry that I had to work so hard to comfort them and to prove that we’re okay, normal people. You need a strong weapon to slay pity. I showed my best game face. I remained positive. I showed them that you can build a valuable, good life without a baby. But for some reason – today – I feel like less of a human being because of what I don’t have.
I think, in dealing with this whole issue of not having kids, one of the worst things is to feel like I am receiving the pity of others. I absolutely hate it. And it does exactly as you point out, make you focus on some ideal that is lacking.
I agree about pity. Jody Day writes about the “otherness” or “the other” status often assigned to child-free women in her book. I personally feel this sense of “otherness,” or lack, when other women express pity toward me. I hope to ultimately find unexpected power and ownership in being different. It’s a journey, that’s for sure.
Nell Larkin says
I gave up the chance to have children because of someone I loved, but I’ve kept it private. So when I hear people say that having children has “taught them what real love is” I always wish I had the nerve to tell them that they DON’T!