Birthday Turmoil

This is probably going to be a rambling post of a more personal nature so feel free to move along if you are uninterested in what is going on in my brain today. Next week is my birthday. I am now squarely in my late thirties, which just boggles my mind. Mike and I are in the process of getting life insurance set up and I was talking to my Dad about the different options when he said, "I'm glad that you doing these things now that you are middle aged." I know that he said it to get me worked up and it worked. I said that middle aged is not until your 50's and he pointed out that unless I'm wanting to live into my late 100's than I'm probably approaching the mid point which is what middle aged is after all. (The picture above is of Kate and Ani this summer on the last day that I saw Jess and Kate before they moved. It's one of my favorite pictures of either of them that I've ever taken. It's actually not staged. I caught them sitting on the sidewalk in their matching vests, they looked up at me and I snapped the shot.)

I think that late thirties has a more powerful meaning to a childless woman than anyone else. I've talked about our decision making about parenthood before but never in that much depth. For one thing I wasn't really able to talk about it even to friends until the past 6 months. I saw a counselor earlier in the year when the girls were moving to help me get to a point where I was more sure of our decision. I say our decision but honestly it was my decision. Mike always said that he was happy with whatever I decided. He would be happy to be a father but he was perfectly content with our life the way it is. And I knew that he wasn't just saying that which actually made it harder on me.

We tried off and on for 3 years to get pregnant. I never pursued any outside help since it was not a driving need for me to reproduce. There was a year in the middle when just seeing a baby could cause me to go in a tailspin though. My sister got pregnant with her 3rd child in the middle of this time. I know that I wasn't nearly as involved as with the other two girls and feel much less connected with Savannah because of this.

Some friends of ours are having similar problems and we were talking recently. She is actually 5 years younger than me and they were only trying for about 9 months before they headed to the fertility specialist. He is a lawyer so they have the funds to make it a priority but there is also a difference in her need to have a child. Even when we were in the middle of trying and I would be really hopeful about a particular cycle I still was never as devastated as she is. I sometimes wonder if that makes me seem less compassionate or "less of a woman."

The one thing Mike is very solid on is not wanting to adopt. That is my biggest hurdle. I'm very open to pursuing adoption or even fostering but Mike has various reasons for why he doesn't want to consider it. I'm accepting the fact that he's not going to change his mind and that pretty much closes off the future of us being parents. I have started to tell people this and let them know that I'm okay with it. We both have lots of outside interests, jobs, and other roles that fulfill us so we do not have to have children to make our lives complete.

One of those important roles for me is obviously the beloved Aunt. I'm very lucky that I have Ani and Kai that live so close to us. Because Mike's sister has some health issues whatever time and resources we are able to provide are always gladly accepted. I am able to build a stronger connection than is normal without too much worry of crossing a boundary with the parents, although this is something that I am always aware of and considering. Kai and Ani call my parents grandma and grandpa and consider the girls cousins. Having this enlarged extended family is good for them as Mike's sister and her husband don't have a very large family and they have only ever known one grandparent in their lives. Kai told me last time we were at the farm that he considers us his second family which I thought was very sweet. When I told Mike he said that we are his actual family but I knew what he meant.

But no matter how close my relationships may be to my nieces and nephews I know that it will never be the same. I will not have that lifelong bond with another person as a mother. I'm okay with saying that now but I do wonder if I will regret the decisions we've made in ten or twenty years from now. I really didn't want to just wait until I was 40 and let the decision be made for me. I wanted to be proactive about the process and commit to our path which I think I have.

I'm still unable to use definitive language when I talk about it but it is more a matter of how I'm afraid of being perceived I think than anything else at this point. We have made the commitment to live our lives together and to support each other's passions without children. Because we don't have kids we have more expendable money to pursue our interests and to travel than we would otherwise. Even though Mike is not crazy about traveling I've got him to commit to a nice long vacation every other year.

We are going to the farm for the weekend with the kids and Ani and I will be celebrating our birthdays together. My Dad is also having a big bon fire party tonight for the opening of hunting season and there will be a blue grass band and a hay ride for the kids tonight. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures from the weekend to share next week. If you made it to the end of this post thanks for hearing me out. I guess I just really wanted to get this off my chest.


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Lin said...

I think this is a great "healing" post, Paige. I'm glad that you have come to the point where you can say that you don't plan on having children. I know it is hard for family and friends to understand your decision, but I truly respect it. For whatever the reasons are, I think you are an incredibly strong person to make that decision that most of society wouldn't understand. I cannot imagine the pressure you experience to have children.

Good for you, pally. I'm amazed at your strength and I think you just need to refer to this post when someone presses for details. I think it explains it all. After that, it is nobody's business.

I think if you feel that you need to have a child in your life that you can also volunteer for organizations that need adult volunteers and role models for children. There are ways to have children without bearing them and having them live under your roof. I volunteered for years as a reading coach at our school and those kids still come and give me a hug. I think you can touch lives and make changes in this world by volunteering to be with children who need it.

Good luck, Paige. I'm behind you all the way.

Ann said...

It's nice to read posts that are of a more personal nature from time to time. I enjoy learning a little more about the person behind the blog.
I hope you enjoy your Birthday.

Pricilla said...

I never wanted children either. Nor did my husband. I am now 50 and have never regretted the decision. We had a great life. I have had serious health problems and am thankful that I didn't have the kids 'cause I never would have been able to care for them. Some days I can't care for myself!

It doesn't matter what other people think. You truly don't start realizing that until you hit your mid 40ies.

I also love being an aunt. There is nothing wrong with that and it's a wonderful role. children need adults in their life beyond their parents.

selahestelle said...

This was a nice post for me to read. I think every woman should ask herself these questions when making this decision. I know people who have never had children and it seems like there's something missing. I know other people who have never had children and they seem like they're doing the right thing. I think as long as you have people/pursuits in your life that make you want to give of yourself in a selfless way, that you are A-OK.
My daughter is named after the older woman who lived next door to me growing up. She and her husband never had children, but my sister and I were her grandchildren. She had an amazing garden that was a highlight of my childhood.

Duni said...

That is such a precious picture of the two girls sitting side by side.
For various personal reasons your words really touched me. Thank you for being so honest.

Anonymous said...

Paige - Happy Birthday to you! Love them November girls!
Thank you for such a candid, honest post. I try so hard not to take for granted my kids (hubby thinks I spend too much time with them). I am praying for you that things will work out the way they should...and praying that that involved children. It must be good to get that stuff off your chest.

Jude said...

It feels good to put your feelings down on paper or your blog if your really brave, it's like baring your soul.Your decision to have children or not to should be no ones concern, but yours and your husband and if it's something you're okay with then those people that love you should understand.

I had one boy and as much as I loved him I had many thoughts through the years of what a bad parent I had been by keeping him when I was so young. We all tend to torture ourselves about many things. Whatever your decisions I'm sure they will be the right ones for yourself. I hope you have a great Birthday.

Martha said...

Happy Birthday, Paige.
Best to you and your hubby and I wish you all the best.
Beautiful post.


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