It happened so quickly. I was crossing a street and noticed ahead of me a woman and two small boys, about two- and three-years-old. As they rounded the corner, the wind caught the stack of coloring book pages the older child was holding, pulling them from his hand and scattering them across the sidewalk. As they scrambled to stomp on them and pick them up, I sprinted across the street to help.
I handed my small collection to the woman, then said to the young artist, “What beautiful artwork. Did you make these?” He looked up at me and beamed. And I looked into the eyes of the son I could’ve had and thought, I still want one.
And there goes years of therapy!
I think this has to be one of the hardest things about this journey. Even though we may have been told we can’t have children, or know we can’t have children, or have come to terms with our choice to not have children, there’s still that what if factor. The miracle cure, the quicky adoption, the rogue egg. It’s still possible, right? It’s not too late! If I still want this, I can make it happen! All those crazy-train thoughts waiting to bubble up to the surface at a moment’s notice.
Fortunately, my brain took over and, by the time I’d walked the rest of the way home, I had catalogued all my (very sensible) reasons for being childfree and overruled my flip-floppy emotions. I was back to being at peace with my choice. At least my brain is good with it. I just need to work a little more on getting my heart on board.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.