Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Not a Childless Couple June 10, 2010

This week I decided it would be a good idea to join a local social network for childfree people. I’m not really sure why I thought it would be a good idea, as I already struggle to find time to spend with the friends I have, but childlessness is at the forefront of my thoughts right now, and so finding others like me just seemed like a good idea, even if only for research purposes.

I found a nationwide group with a chapter that meets regularly in my area, and set about finding out more. The FAQ’s explained that anyone who had never parented was welcome to join. Childless individuals (me) whose spouses had children (my husband) could join, but the spouse could not. He or she could, however, come along as a guest.

I didn’t have chance to assess how I felt about this line of exclusion, because another one of those awful revelations swept up and clobbered me in the head.

My husband and I are not a childless couple.

I realize this should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. My husband has adult children from his first marriage and because I’ve never known them as children, I don’t think of them as children, and I’ve certainly never parented them.

This realization left me feeling very alone. My husband is my teammate; he’s the person I turn to first when I need help. We’re a good team and we’ve weathered all kinds of things together. Being childless is one of them. Except that now it isn’t!

I know that this changes nothing in my relationship with my husband. He is no less supportive and it doesn’t take away from his own struggles, but it struck me that our losses are different. I lost something I’ve never had; it was the loss of the chance of an experience. He lost something he’s already known, but something he wanted for me. It’s a subtle difference, but enough to knock me off kilter for a couple of days.

Are there other childless stepparents out there? Does your spouse feel differently about your childlessness?


6 Responses to “Not a Childless Couple”

  1. loribeth Says:

    Not a stepmom here, but I’ve been on childless/free forums with women who are. In some cases they had positive relationships with their stepkids & the ex-wives, in others, not. Some had husbands did not want more children — in some cases, after initially giving the impression they did — which created a real dilemma for these women — stay & live childfree — or leave, try to find someone else to have a baby with (in some cases overcome fertility challenges too) — or pursue single parenthood?

    I found a forum for childless stepmothers that you might find interesting:

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Well, my first husband had a daughter by another marriage. Although, he never did one minute of parenting. We were married when she was between ages 4 & 13, but i only met her once. He never understood my desire for kids & he never took his obligations seriously.

    My current husband had never been married before, or even with anyone. (A friend of mine, childless, recently discovered her husband had a grown daughter from before he knew her – he hadn’t known about it as the mother had denied to him the child was his. They’ve loved to get to know his daughter & grandson. We won’t be having anything unexpected pop up like this.)

    I don’t know where i fit on a social register of “childless/child-free.” Part of me wants friends who would understand, but also there are these divisions like you mentioned that just seem ridiculous.

    Although, maybe that is just being human. I read stories of women who have lost their children to cancer or whatever. I understand their pain, but part of me says, “At least you got to be a mama.” And i’ve had someone recently say to me, “At least you didn’t have a child only to lose her.” (“Yeah, but at least you got to be a mama!”)

    Somehow, instead of building bridges, some of us at least seem to be building walls that divide us.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      As I think I’ve talked about before, not having children you really wanted is a loss, and it needs to be mourned just the same as any other loss. And how do you weigh one loss against another? You can’t. I’m definitely in favor of bridges over walls.

  3. Angela Says:

    Hello. This is my first posting to your blog… I must admit you and this site are a life-line that I have been searching for desperately as of late, more so than ever. My husband is older and does have two ‘children’; now both in their early 20s. I didn’t meet either of them until they were in their late teens, but my step daughter (who I call my daughter) did live with us for about a year before heading off to college due to some behavioral issues.

    I completely understand where you are coming from in your statement that the losses are different. At times, though not often, I get angry because he does have children. He got to experience the journey of parenthood – twice. I know he is sad because we aren’t able to share that journey together, but in some respects I think he is a little relieved.

    Given the differences in our losses, I feel his ability to relate to my pain is diminshed. I don’t question his love for me, or his lack of caring, but I seriously doubt he will ever know the true extent of my pain or heartache. On my good days, I say I am grateful for that; as it is an immense hurt. On my bad days, I am bitter because I wander in a place of isolation with a burden that feels to heavy to bear and there is no way for him to join me.

    • Hi Angela,
      I’m really pleased you found the site and I very much hope you will begin to feel less isolated as you get to talk to other women walking in similar shoes. Just knowing you’re not alone is half the battle. 🙂

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