Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrate the Road Taken

You’ll regret it someday. This sentence is one everyone hears at least a few times in their lives, often muttered by friends or family after life changing decisions like getting a tattoo, dropping out of school, or joining the circus. The childfree hear “you’ll regret it someday” from friends, family and perfect strangers who believe the decision to remain childfree will lead to a bleak future of sadness and regret. Rarely do people point out to a parent-to-be their possibility of future regret yet the decision to have children is filled with more struggle and sacrifice then remaining childfree.

For many parents the thought of regretting their children is a completely foreign concept, but some parents express quiet frustration of their irreversible decision. Parental dissatisfaction must be quietly expressed; it is less acceptable for a parent to show anything but infatuation with their children than it is to be childfree. Anonymously, parents acknowledge their trials and tribulations on True Mom Confessions and True Dad Confessions. People post about their loss of freedom, lack of time to themselves, decline of sex, and deterioration of their marriages. Parents express breeder’s remorse on being unable to complete more education, travel the world, learn a foreign language, or enjoy an evening out. These sites serve as excellent reminders that regret is not reserved for the childfree.

Regret comes from decisions you can’t take back: that tattoo of an ex’s name, a one night stand, the nose job, or mutually exclusive decisions (e.g. I couldn’t backpack Europe after college and afford an apartment with friends in DC, go to Georgetown and Mary Washington for my undergrad, continue my career in consulting and have dinner every night with my husband). Bypassing a European backpacking adventure after college was a tough decision, but lead to a career path that brought financial security, the opportunity to travel extensively, the dream of living in the DC area, and the chance meet my husband. Attending a large university might have brought a broader business network and potentially greater riches, but my decision to attend a small, liberal arts college offered me a wealth of experiences and opportunities that no large school could ever provide. Every choice requires a sacrifice; if you get hung up on what you missed out while pursing something else, life will be filled with nothing but regret.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
- Alexander Graham Bell
Life is filled with tough choices, we all give up something in pursuit of something else and the choice to have or not to have children is just another in a long list of life decisions. Admitting to the potential of regretting the choice to forgo motherhood is blasphemous in the childfree community and could open up a can of worms with my hopeful family, but let me make this clear; potential for regret is no reason to bring a child onto this planet. Sure I could regret not having kids, but chances are I would regret giving up everything a good parent sacrifices when children come into the picture. When presented with a fork in the road we can take one road and obsess where the other road went or make a directional decision and keep moving forward, never looking behind. Either we regret the road we didn’t choose or celebrate the path we did; we cannot “have it all” due to a lack of time, resources, and competing priorities. Rather than dwell on what life doesn’t have shouldn’t we each focus on everything it does have? While I will never have children, I have plenty of time to pursue hobbies, advance my career, travel the world, enjoy a full night of sleep, and retire early. Who could regret all that?


5 comments:

Steve & Stepher said...

I think this is beautifully written and more than a little true.

I'd much rather regret not having kids than having them and being unhappy living w/the consequences.

Having children was never even a thought for me; I just knew I didn't want them.

I can't imagine myself regretting my decision down the road. Not after living this life and having so many other choices and opportunities.

Steph

PS - I call TMC -- Instant Birth Control!

Claire said...

I just discovered this blog. Very nicely put! My husband & I are also childfree & we can imagine no other way of life. In fact, to attempt makes us a little nauseous!

I'm getting to the age now where people are starting to stop asking (as if it's any of their business), but when they do, I've started to say "Oh! I knew I was forgetting something!" - shuts 'em up everytime.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Claire, welcome to my little corner of the internet! Looking forward to your comments and commentary.

I went out to your site and I see we have more than being childfree in common, I too share a love of wine and food.

Claire said...

Yay! Welcome to my site as well!

My husband & I organize a childfree group in St. Louis, & there are quite a few of us that are into wine & food. We've made some great friends & we have a grand time - when we can remember it - ha!

Anonymous said...

i APPLAUD YOUR COVICTION ON NOT HAVING CHILDREN. i ON THE OTHER HAND WAS FOR THE CHILDREN. i CAN'T TELL YOU HAW MUCH JOY AND HOW MUCH THEY HAVE SHOWN US. iT HAS BEEN A WONDER. wHAT i HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT THOSE TROUBLESOME HUSBANDS. tHE THE MOST i CAN GET OUT OF THEM IS TO TAKE THE GARBAGE OUT. wHERE ARE THEY FOR RECITALS, pLAYS, CONCERTS. jUST A SIMPLE COMMMUNICATION IN THE FAMILYWOULD BE SURPRISING. tHEIR lIES SECRETS ARE WHAT DAMAGES A FAMILY,tHE italian men are the worse. They have the most damaging lies.

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