An LDS perspective on moving from childless to childfree living.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Last Sunday was our nephew's mission homecoming. This is an event where after someone has been away from home on a mission, they speak in church and there is usually a get together afterward. While at the get together, my DH and my niece, LA, started talking about math that was way above my head (and I went through Calculus), so I went to see if there was someone else to talk to. I saw one of my SILs holding my niece, K's baby boy, H. He was born last June, and I haven't been able to hold him. I have wanted to, but I have felt like crying every time. This day, I didn't feel like crying. I held H until they were leaving. This was a huge step for me! I don't know how long it has been since I held a baby.

Nobody tried to take him from me. I wonder if my SILs all talked about me and to let me have the space I needed and time I needed and then the opportunity to not be interrupted when I was ready.

While at the get together, I started talking to a neighbor. She asked if I had kids, and I said, "No." She asked if we had considered adoption. I told her we had, that we had a failed match, and that no one wanted us after we turned 40. She asked if we considered older kids, and I said that my education background was somewhat a hindrance. I know what fetal alcohol syndrome looks like at 12, because I have taught kids in school with those and a host of other problems. She told me she is a counselor who used to work for a local adoption agency, but left when they became unethical. She continues to consult and do home studies.

A few days later, this neighbor texted to tell me there were 5 and 10 year old siblings she heard about who need a home. I wrote back and thanked her for thinking of us, but explained that 5 years ago, we made the choice to embrace childfree living. It was easy to explain that. I didn't feel guilty for not considering these children. I also think about where we are in life. Our youngest niece is 11, and all our friends children are close to grown. I don't want to be raising two elementary-aged children in my late 40's.

I had another experience this week. I made an appointment to see a social worker to gain some skills in how to deal with a co-worker. She helped me identify the issue (my co-worker has no sense of boundaries) and some things I can do to establish boundaries at work. That was useful information. In the course of the conversation, she asked why I thought I was so driven at work. I told her that because we didn't have children due to infertility, I filled that gap in my life with work. She said, "Have you ever considered adoption?" I wanted to scream at her. I had the conversation with my SIL's neighbor earlier in the week and stayed calm. I was in this session for a work issue, so it bugged me that the social worker would bring this up.

I feel like I have made a lot of progress as far as embracing childfree living and being able to explain that choice calmly and without feeling guilty.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trip to Europe

We just returned home from 18 days in Europe. DH and I have not been out of the U.S. before (except ports on a cruise over 20 years ago). It came about quickly. DH was invited to attend a conference for work in Stockholm. We had been talking about going to Austria and Germany. We decided I would go with him, and we would go on to our vacation after the conference. We had 35 days from invitation to boarding an international flight. I know this would have been very difficult to achieve if we had to arrange child care, so I'm looking at this as a positive of being childfree.

The last night in Stockholm, we went to dinner with the other four men from DH's work along with one of the presenters they were networking with and his wife and two small children. DH and his boss were talking technical engineering stuff with the presenter, so I visited with the others. One said he heard we were staying and asked about plans for the rest of our trip. He then said, "How old are your kids?" I'm sure what he wanted to know was how he could figure out what to do with his kids so he and his wife could take an extended vacation. I responded with, "We were never able to have children." He said he was sorry and the other man sitting across the table said, "I'm sure that is difficult, but a blessing to be free to go on a great trip like you have planned."

There are always hiccups when you travel, but overall, it was a marvelous trip! Here are the highlights.

Stockholm - 5 days

Vienna - 2 days

Bad Goisern (Alps) - 3 days

Salzburg - 2 days

Fussen - 1 day

Rothenburg ob der Tauber - 1 day

Bamberg - 1 day

Dresden - 3 days

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I Still Can't

When I found out my niece was expecting, I decided this was my opportunity to truly move on and be an active part of my grand-nephew's life. I wanted to go visit while K was still off work, but every time I went to call to see if it was a good time to come, I couldn't.

On Independence Day when we had a family barbecue, K was there with baby H. There was some kind of internal instinct that made me want to hold him. When I started to walk toward H, the tears welled up in my eyes. 

Now today was the day to bless H at church. Baby blessings nearly always happen the first Sunday of each month. I haven't gone to church that day for a long time, and I didn't again today. I wanted to be there to support K, but I started to cry getting ready, just thinking about attending H's baby blessing. 

I still can't. I wish I could.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Are Your Plans for Father's Day?

My DH doesn't talk much about our childfree situation. He came home from work yesterday and said, "You should have seen Greg's face when I dropped the Father's Day bomb on him." I asked what he meant.

He said that he and his co-worker Greg, whom he doesn't know well, were talking and Greg asked DH what he was doing this weekend. DH responded that he had nothing out of the usual planned. Greg then said, "Don't you have plans for Father's Day?" DH answered, "My dad died in 2005, my grandfathers are both dead, my wife doesn't have a dad, and I don't have any kids. We have no plans."

DH said there was a look of shock on Greg's face, then Greg walked away without saying anything. I'm proud of DH for saying something, but it just goes to show that most people don't know how to respond when faced with information that is unexpected or out of the "norm." 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rough Weekend

It has taken me a couple of days to be able to write this, because I had such a difficult weekend.

On Friday, June 9 at work, I wondered about my niece, K. I remembered her due date as June 5, and I hadn't heard anything about the baby coming. I sent her a text to let her know I was thinking about her and saying it should be getting close. She responded that she had the baby on Wednesday, June 7 in the evening. She said her mom, my SIL, sent out a group text, including my DH but not me. I became very angry at DH for not telling me. I know he thinks he is protecting me, but I know K is PG, I have seen her multiple times, I know her due date, I went to her shower, so you can't keep a new baby from me.

I set my anger aside, because I did not want to have a bad weekend. DH didn't say anything on Friday or Saturday. We had an enjoyable time working on cleaning out his mom's house and working in our yard. We also went to a cousin's wedding reception in the evening.

Sunday I went to Relief Society and the lesson was on Home-The Basis of a Righteous Life. The title didn't bother me, but the content and the way it was presented was horrible! The teacher only focused on the mother-child relationship. At one point, I think trying to be inclusive of those who do not have children, she shared the following from Ardeth Kapp, a former young women's leader who never had children:
"A little lad new to our neighborhood looked up with eager eyes asking, 'Can your kids come out and play?'
A coldness seemed to creep over me as I almost whispered, 'I don’t have any.'
The child in a somewhat questioning tone asked, 'Aren’t you a mother?'
With a quick and somewhat abrupt response my voice cracked, 'No, I’m not.'
The little boy’s eyes squinted and with his head cocked to one side in the innocence of childhood he asked the question that I had never dared to put into words. 'If you’re not a mother, what are you?'"
The teacher did a cursory, "Everyone can mother children without having your own children," then off to the responsibility of mothers to their children.
I wanted to leave, but I didn't want to make a scene. I don't know if I would have been as sensitive if I hadn't been excluded from knowing K had her baby. I cried for about 20 minutes until the lesson was over. Two kind women, JD (a friend from high school) and RL (my former Visiting Teacher), stayed and talked with me. The question I asked was this: How many couples do you know who are over 45 years old, who have been married more than 20 years, who are faithful and active in church, who don't have children? JD could think of none. RL's brother and SIL couldn't have children, but they did adopt two girls, so to me that is still not the same as my situation. The other thing I pointed out was that in the video the teacher showed, was a phrase about the Lord trusting mothers, ". . . everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you." So, the Lord doesn't trust me? That's the implication, and no one picks up on it!
In the LDS church, there are so very few of us!
I had a text conversation with a woman I Visit Teach who struggled with IF, but has since had three children. She was not in Relief Society on Sunday, but she heard some women talking about it in the neighborhood on Monday. She said she overheard them say something to the effect of, "That sure would be a hard lesson for someone who didn't have kids." She reached out in support, which was very kind of her.
Then this evening, my current Visiting Teacher showed up at my door with a card and flowers. This was very sweet as well. I do love the Visiting Teaching program and the relationships that are built through it!
I was very upset when I arrived home from church. I explained what happened to DH, mentioning that it started on Friday when I found out K had her baby, but no one bothered to tell me. He was kind as well. He let me cry it out, then we went for a drive up to the beautiful mountains near our home and stopped for dinner.

It has been four years since we closed our adoption file, and I still have struggles! I think I've moved on, but not completely, not yet.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Niece's Baby Shower and A Wedding Shower

I'm going to be a great-aunt, very soon. I attended the baby shower last night. I did not want to shop for a gift. I am a teacher, so I decided to start my great-nephew's library. I went to the bookstore and bought five classic children's books, wrapped them, and put them in a cute fabric bin to match the nursery. It was the favorite gift! And I didn't even have to walk into the baby section of the store. I'm hopeful that becoming a great-aunt will be a good experience.

This morning was a bridal shower for the fiance of DH's cousin's son, like my second-cousin-in-law? Anyway, DH and this cousin (father-of-the-groom) were close growing up and the groom was named after my DH. We do things with this cousin and his wife, so it isn't as strange as it seems to be invited. I didn't know anyone on the bride's side, and I ended up sitting by an older woman who turned out to be the bride's grandmother. We had a good conversation for a while. At one point she asked me, "So do you have any grandchildren?" That is the first time I have been asked that question. Do I look old enough to have grandchildren? Maybe? Maybe she thought I was about the same age as her daughter (mother-of-the-bride) who is a grandma.

I responded that we were never able to have children. She proceeded to tell me she understood and that her two daughters were adopted. It ended up being a great discussion, and I look forward to visiting with her again at the wedding in a couple of weeks.

I'm handling this all much better than I did four years ago when we first closed our adoption file. I want to be able to hold my coming great-nephew without crying. I want to be able to have relationships with the young children in our extended families. I also want to enjoy the freedom that comes with living childfree and be proud of having a career where I do well and am respected.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Circle of Life

My sweet MIL passed away last week.  Her funeral was yesterday.  This is DH's last parent, so he is feeling very lost about where he belongs.  We have a good life, but we were talking about regrets, since he had recently asked his mom about her regrets.  Interesting that both are related to children.  My MIL said her regret was having children before my FIL was able to earn a master's degree.  She said that would have allowed him greater job opportunities.  They struggled as he supported a family including four children on a teacher's salary.

DH and I both said our regret was not having children when we were young, before he got leukemia.  We basically did what his mom wanted his dad to do.  We were waiting for DH to finish his degree, only three classes left, when he was diagnosed.  Would we have had the same regret as his mom if we had children too early?  Who knows.

Major life events like the passing of a loved one make you reflect on your life and on the future.  I am happy.  DH is happy.  We have a great life childfree together.  Who will be there to plan our funerals?

In addition, I saw our oldest niece, who is PG with her first.  I found out she was PG on Christmas Eve morning.  DH told me while we were talking that morning.  He said he had known for a couple of weeks, but with my anxiety over my job change and leaving my students mid-year, he had been trying to find the right time to tell me.  He knew he had to tell me that morning, because we were seeing his whole side of the family that evening.  Anyway, it's a boy, and she is showing.  I will be a great-aunt the first part of June.  This is all good.  She has a kind DH, they have both graduated from college and have good jobs.  The situation is ideal.

Knowing a new baby will be in the family, and knowing I will never be a mother, I'm trying to decide how involved I want to be.  I haven't held a baby in a LONG time.  I can't even remember when.  Do I go to the baby shower?  Do I offer to host a baby shower?  Can I even buy a gift? 

I have been able to throw myself into my work, so I haven't had to think about my childless situation in a while.  Yesterday, I had to face it in the form of my PG niece.  I truly thought I had moved past being childless to enjoying living childfree, but my niece being PG has me thinking about what I don't have instead of focusing on the good I do have.  I need to get back to that way of thinking.

I know lots of people in our situation have become great-aunts and great-uncles.  I hope I can hear from some of them about how they have managed that transition.