How Do Childless People Really Feel About Your Pregnancy?
By Rita Arens on May 19, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
Before my daughter was born, I regarded pregnant women with awe and fear. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to have something growing inside you, and I thought surely these women must realize their lives were ending as I watched.
Let's just say I wasn't very mature. I feared kids, too. I actually tried to convince a doctor to tie my tubes when I was 18. Thank God he had ethics and refused, because here I am writing about mommies and kids all the time. Ah, the irony.
My sister, Blondie, and I have had many talks about being childless versus childful, and ever since I became a mom, she's given me the "other" viewpoint. I have to give her credit for helping me find these links. Notes childless Blondie:
When I talked to Shrinky the other day, I told her that one of my local friends was pregnant and that this scared me. I was afraid of the relationship changing. It's happened time and time again. But with this particular friend, I can do or say just about anything and she'll never judge me. It's amazing, really. Her amount of compassion and nonjudgment. So I want to be that way for her. I explained this to Shrinky. I said, "I really don't want to lose her because she has a baby." We went through why I feel this way. I ticked off the names of friends I've lost and relationships that have changed over the years. We agreed that I should try my hardest to keep it in perspective. This is what people do. They grow up. They get married. They procreate. Well, except me. (snickers)
JP went to a "pregnancy party" even though she's childless and single.
Carissa writes wistfully of missing her friends and not being able to relate to their lives:
I have no idea what being pregnant is like and most likely never will – I know what I have heard from my friends or read in a book but not in person. I cannot tell my labor and delivery story or laugh about what my newborn baby is doing now. At some point these friends and I’s seasons will be the same again but for right now they could not be more different and I feel horrible but some days I cannot deal with their season and mine (and I firmly believe the opposite is true some days they cannot deal with their season and mine) – while we are happy for each other and want to be there for each other it is hard to be a true friend and listen and tell your friend it will all work out when you have NO IDEA what is going to happen. There are things we say such as “well I read that..” or “another friend did …” or “I wish I could help more than just listening” – and before you know it if that season lasts long at all you and your friend now just seem to be passing acquaintances.
Some childless women are temporarily childless, if you will, and plan to have kids later on. Others are childless by choice and have made a conscious decision to not ever have kids. And those who are childless by choice are really pretty tired of having their decisions questioned.
By contrast, society treats childless women as suspect. They assume that all women have maternal feelings, that all women yearn to create life. People in general assume that single and childless people are eager to view other’s snapshots of their children and grandchildren, or to have their working day interrupted by a co-worker who brings the newest addition to their family into the office. An assumption is made that childless single women are self-centered, soulless, emasculating creatures concerned only with their careers. And we’re certainly not deserving of time off, though we work as hard as our counterparts with families, and our taxes help to pay for the schools attended by the children of said counterparts.
Julie Maneti is sick of the childful thinking she should have to be part of the village just because she's standing nearby without a baby in her arms:
Hillary Clinton introduced Americans to the notion that "it take a village to raise a child," and while I'm all for setting a good example and enjoying kids, some parents seem to feel that everyone ought to be literally raising their child. That is not the job of family friends. In the same way that I don't pay their bills or mow their lawn, I don't think it's my place to help teach Johnny not to wet the bed. I'm getting a little tired of parents who take advantage of single friends, figuring that our lives must not be as busy, so hey, why not? Parenthood is an admirable job they decided to take on; to this point, I've decided against it. I guess that's why I get mad when they try to dump things on me without even asking.
I have to admit, it NEVER occurred to me when I was single and childless that I would have to participate in any way in my friends' children's lives. Yes. Horrible of me? Or justified? After my daughter was born, I went through a brief hormonal and crazed phase during which I needed and begged for help from everyone in grabbing distance. Four years later, I have different expectations for my childful and childless friends. If you have kids and you're my friend, I admit I probably expect you to discipline my kid. After all, you have practice! And your kid is probably doing the same thing my kid is! But thanks to my sister and my other childless friends, I don't expect them to do anything about or to my child. I appreciate if they let me bring her along when we're together, and I try to spend time with them without her, too. I'm learning to remember what it was like before I procreated. But oh, it is hard.