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Life Without Kids Before Life Without Kids

I went back to write this comment, but it got too long, so I decided to put it here since it was post-length vs. comment-length.

Mali had a really interesting mini-post about people referring to their time pre-kids as their life without kids; in other words, saying that they understood what it was like to live without children because they had lived part of their life without children.

But not having done something [yet] is very different from definitively not having done something [full stop].

Think about it this way: if I said imagine if you had never been to college, could you honestly look at what life was like as a high schooler and say that you totally remember what life was like pre-college and therefore can understand what life is like for someone who has never been to college?

My understanding of what someone’s adult life is like who hasn’t been to college is a very different experience from what my life was like prior to going to university.  As a college graduate, I am afforded opportunities that aren’t open to people who haven’t been to college.  I have friendships based out of that shared experience.  I am treated differently by greater society.  And society, in general, is skewed (like this post) to the assumption that everyone has been to college.

And maybe you are reading this and you haven’t been to college.

And if that is the case, I can’t say that I know what it is like because my experience has been different.  And that’s okay; we don’t need to have the same life.  But I do need to be willing to listen to your reality if I want to try to understand.


1 Middle Girl { 01.27.15 at 7:53 am }

. . . willing to listen. That is key.

2 a { 01.27.15 at 8:48 am }

It’s been my experience that very few people actually want to understand… 🙁

3 Sharon { 01.27.15 at 11:55 am }

I didn’t have my sons until I was nearly 41, so I lived a fairly significant chunk of my adulthood not having kids and a portion if that thinking I’d probably never have kids (married late and didn’t plan to be a SMC; infertility). So although I have children now, I actually think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be childless. Not based on being childless at 25, before moving on to the parenting stage of my life, but from having actually lived through years of really wanting children and being unable to have them while well into adulthood.

4 Working mom of two { 01.27.15 at 12:54 pm }

I agree with Sharon. Hitting 40…41…many years of IF etc. is different as compared to your typical fertile person referring to remembering sleeping in on weekends etc. I would agree though that even that experience is not the same as the finality of living child free. Because although I really feared that’s what would happen there was a smidgen of hope and I was continuing treatment. So I don’t truly know what living child free is.

5 Northern Star { 01.27.15 at 3:35 pm }

Hear hear. Great post Mel. I’m going to jump over and read Mali’s.

6 Cristy { 01.28.15 at 12:30 am }

So agree. Which is why your point about being willing to listen is so important. Thanks for delving into this.

7 Rachel { 01.28.15 at 5:56 am }

Great post and so true…I think what people are missing when they claim their pre-kid year is like living childless is the emotions that go along with living childless after infertility. The realization that the dream you’ve dedicated years and thousands and everything else you have to… Will not come true and you need to realign your dreams. That’s the part that no one can understand if they haven’t experienced it. Even me, as a TTC infertile without children yet can’t understand because I still hope to realise my dream.

Not having children yet, living child free by choice and living childless after infertility are all do incredibly different experience. The only thing they seem to have in common is that they are greatly misunderstood!

8 andy { 01.28.15 at 10:25 am }

That’s a really great analogy!

9 Tiara { 01.28.15 at 10:47 am }

Very well said!

10 Mali { 01.28.15 at 7:49 pm }

Thanks for highlighting this Mel. I like the analogy. And Rachel hit the nail on the head too.

My only other comment is that I thought I knew what it was like to live without children too, until it was a 100% certainty. There’s a mindshift that takes place then, when you know there will be no “miracles” or surprises or what-ifs, or even any hope that any of these will happen.

Making an effort to understand though – that is the gem that all of us in life look for in our human interactions.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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