I’d like to do a little PSA here. Contrary to some viewpoints, our role here on Earth is not merely to procreate. I blog on family here, and we all have people in our lives we consider “family”. Although traditionally, family had more to do with lineage, nowadays, we see this concept has broadened to the community around you that supports and loves you.
My core family includes my husband and children. We fit the traditional mold: husband and wife, three kids, a dog and a little white picket fence (okay, it’s chain-link, and you can throw a few chickens into the mix as well). But family doesn’t have to be kids, or even bloodlines.
I want to focus on one specific type of people that I include in our slew of aunts and uncles and those who are invested in our core family. There are people – couples – who actually choose to not have children. There are others who have tried for years to have their own, or have been waiting for that perfect someone and have remained single and childless. There are many people in our lives who do not have children, and I have something to say to them:
Thank you to all of you who do not have children of your own. I know you have your reasons, and even if that reason is that you simply don’t want to share your time/energy that much, that is 100% valid. Every parent in the world can attest to the fact that having children is the most demanding/hardest job you can do – because there is no break. You are a parent 24/7 for the rest of your life. That’s a huge undertaking, and honestly, none of us realized the full extent of what we got ourselves into until it was too late!
Thank you for being a part of our lives, and loving my kids like you do.
Thank you for having the energy to come and get a “kid fix” and give us a break.
Thank you for not being so sleep-deprived from the needy demands of infants that you can barely make coffee, much less come over to visit.
Thank you for having enough flexibility that you can do whatever you want to do and you don’t turn down adult time once again because you can’t find a babysitter.
Thank you for being the conversationalist that doesn’t spend four hours going on about your child’s potty-training or the five hundred adorable things your new baby did today.
Thank you for being confident enough in who you are, what you want, and how to take care of yourself that you are able to give from a full cup.
Thank you for being a support to us parents – to remind us that we, too, need to take care of ourselves and not fall into the martyrdom of parenthood that causes us to live in reaction to our children’s’ demands.
Thank you for taking me out of the parent role and reminding me that adults can play without kids being the focus of everything.
I chose this role of motherhood. Some didn’t and accepted the responsibility anyway. Some chose it, and yet they never got it. I never want to complain about what a pain kids can be when others have experienced the pain of longing for their own.
So all of you childless people out there, I own this motherhood thing. I take full responsibility for my decision to mother, and I will do it with a grateful heart. I will have my good days when I gush about how fabulous my children are and how much I love them, and I will have those days when I want to throw in the towel and give up.
And either way, I appreciate you. I love your energy and spirit to be who you are regardless of what expectation society puts on you. I love that you live in the now and not in the longing, and you remind me to do the same. You aren’t so exhausted and drained from kids that you don’t want to see another one, and you help me remember who I am beyond motherhood.
I will always be a mother. It is a part of my identity. But it is not my only identity. I need to remember myself, to take care of myself, and remember those things that I love that may come to the forefront when the early childhood demands wane and my children become more self-sufficient.
You inspire me with that. You keep that hint of yearning in me that sees what you may accomplish – leaving the house on a whim without coordinating babysitters or tying a million shoelaces, doing art whenever you please and not worrying about who is going to get into all your paints, watching whatever show you want to watch on television, fixing a fancy feast with no one to complain that their food is touching or that they absolutely hate broccoli (even though it was their favorite yesterday).
You may be the beloved aunt, uncle, or friend – to me, to my husband, and/or to my children. It isn’t dictated by blood, but by choice. You have chosen us, and you send the rockstar birthday gifts on time, say “sure” to the last-minute offer to go grab a beer, and are that novelty of an adult that focuses on my kids without navigating their own zoo in the process. I thank you.
It takes a village to raise a child. I’m grateful that this village includes more than just the parents. Take a moment to show gratitude to those adults in your life that do not have children. Whatever their story may be, they deserve some gratitude and appreciation for the role they play in your (and your children’s) life.
Please share in the comments below your experience with kid-free adults – how have they helped you?