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After years of struggling to conceive, choosing to live childfree can be a liberating decision. But moving from dreaming about a child to choosing a life independent of children can be a very painful process, and a slow evolution. It requires much soul searching, and an honest assessment of your values and goals in life.
What Does It Mean?
Choosing to live childfree doesn’t mean that you’ll not have children in your lives, point out Jean and Michael Carter, authors of Sweet Grapes: How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again (1998, Perspectives Press). Many people who choose to live childfree find themselves surrounded by children: nieces, nephews, neighborhood kids. Rather than thinking, “I wish I had a child,” you may now have more emotional slack to love the child in your lives with all your heart.
What Will It Be Like?
Once you make the decision to let go of your parenthood dream, you’ll be able to see “the glass half full,” to use this threadbare phrase. You can throw your “half empty” thoughts down the drain, and replace them with plans for travel, and your deeply buried interests in music, art, writing, or theatre. You and your partner can do things spontaneously again. You can spend money on what you would like to do in the coming years, instead of saving money for music lessons and dance classes and college tuition.
When you decide to live childfree, you’ll inevitably second-guess yourself at times, with “Have I made the right decision?” If this happens, it’s natural. Don’t fight your feelings, feel them. And let them pass. You’ve made a decision that required you to give up something you’ve always held dear. This grieving is part of “letting go”. You’ll gain the emotional space to begin living fully again.
If you feel a strong need to nurture, you can find plenty of children to fulfill this desire. Become a Big Sister or Big Brother, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, tutor at a local grade school. For some, adopting a dog or a cat from a shelter can satisfy the need to deeply love and connect with another spirit.
You’ll also have more time to nurture your friendships, to go out to dinner, or skip dinner or catch a movie on a moment’s notice. Most importantly, recognize the advantages of your choice and continue opening doors of possibility.