Monday, 26 January 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Imagine if …

I often find that people with children, when they hear women who embrace their life without children (either by choice, or because we had no choice), find it necessary to comment that they couldn’t imagine life without little Jack and Jill (or whoever).

Of course, they can’t (or won't) imagine their life as it is now without their children. To do so would be to imagine them gone, to feel their absence, their loss, and to imagine and feel the grief of this loss. Of course they can’t do that. And none of us are ever suggesting they should try. Maybe I should say that in future. Because it might be nice if they tried to imagine what their lives would have been like if they had never had children. Then, they might start to understand.
 

16 comments:

  1. I've run into this too, with a couple of different responses. The first is they think back to their lives pre-kids, prior to the deserve to expand their family. The second usually results in a shutter and a look of horror. They toe into that world for just a second and it scares them to touch on the grief.

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    1. Yes! The comment "I know what it is to live without children, because I've already done it before my kids" is one that infuriates me. Well, actually, no. That's completely different.

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    2. It IS different. Beyond the whole grieving factor & the impact that coming to terms has on your life. As one great blog post I once read points out, when people think about their pre-kid lives, they're thinking about when they were in their 20s & living it up at parties & bars, etc. You can only do that for so long -- whether you wind up with kids or not. Most childless/free people in their 40s & 50s are not out partying & running around like they were in their 20s. They have jobs, aging parents, homes to keep up, friends and interests, just like parents do.

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  2. That may just be the most annoying comment ever; especially if you're hearing it over and over and over and over again.

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  3. I can't imagine life without my husband, but that doesn't mean that single people (by choice or otherwise) have an empty life.

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  4. Hmmmm...I've never actually run across these comments (the can't imagine one and the one that compares it to their pre-children period), but can imagine being annoyed if I ever hear them.

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  5. Looking back, I think what helped me made the decision to move on from treatments was that I did envision or had friends that were childfree. I also see this over and over again on twitter or on blogs, the idea of not having child/ren is something that many won't even try to imagine. If more people did, this choice, life without children after fertility treatments, would not be so problematic.

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  6. I can't even believe that someone would actually say that. It's tactless.

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  7. This is a great post--I am so sorry that you get those comments. How amazing to compare imagining the absence of their little Jack or Jill, the loss and the grief of that, to a taste of the loss that goes with having wanted children and being denied them. I feel that people are so often not able to see beyond their own experience to maddening levels, and this post is perfect for attempting to help them understand, or to dip their toe into it, as Cristy said.

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  8. I've noticed this in myself, with my own road not taken. Huge difference between taking a different path and having the path I'm on radically, tragically altered.

    Thanks for putting words to this.

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    1. Yes huge difference. I sometimes imagine "what if" I'd made different choices where would I be, but never tragedy.

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  9. I can actually imagine what life would be like without my son. He was born about one month before I was going to call it quits on adoption. So yes, I had imagined exactly what my life would be like. I had already planned a nervous breakdown in an exotic locale and then I would come back and rebuild my life's goals. My life would not have been worse, it simply would have been different.

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  10. I promised myself travels to Afrika, distance from the 'ordinairy life' I felt no part of. I wanted to feel truly by myself, crying on this stone on the savannah. And start over where humankind began. I figured after that I could do anything.

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  11. Perfect post Mali. Sums this all up so well.

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  12. For what it's worth, I have children, and I also find the comment "I can't imagine life without my children" really, really annoying, too.

    I can imagine life without my sons. . . not a life where I'd lost them (too horrible to contemplate) but a life where I never had them and just remained childless. I think that ability comes from being nearly 41 years old when they were born and having already thoroughly considered the possibility that I might never be a parent.

    I don't think it's ever entirely possible to imagine walking in another person's shoes. . . but people should at least try, or keep their thoughts to themselves if they can't be kind.

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  13. Beautifully put. I find that to be such an annoying comment, but never know how to respond to it. It would be nice if people put a little more effort into trying to understand another's position. For example, I can imagine how hard it must be to have children, work full time, and have to still deal with the rest of life. I can imagine it. So, sometimes I wish people could imagine my situation a bit better than they typically do.

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