Book Review: No Kidding

Hubby and I enjoy going to Chapters (a large book store in Canada). We grab a drink from Starbucks and look at books. A couple months ago, I came across “No Kidding” and it became the one that I browsed through whenever in Chapters. This collection of personal stories are short, easy to read, and thought provoking.

book-review-no-kidding-women-writers-on-bypas-L-NzEZ2vI opened this book expecting to read stories by women who are happy with their choice not to have children. To my surprise,  I didn’t find this book to be all positive re: being child-free. While some of the stories left me feeling neutral or encouraged, there were quite a few stories that left me feeling sad and discouraged. In some cases, I wasn’t convinced the author made the “right” choice to remain child-free. Some woman knew since they were a child that they did not want to raise children. Often, this early “knowing” was a direct result of a troubled childhood OR a mother who complained and/or looked miserable while raising them. Other women in this book placed their career as their “baby” and before they knew it, their possibility to have children biologically was nil as their egg supply was finito. There were others who called themselves “conservative or traditional” who didn’t have children as they held out for marriage and it never happened. These women were not willing to parent without an equally committed partner.

An encouraging theme through out the book was that regardless of the reason for remaining child-free, all of the woman feel that they are living a full life. None of these women are in a deep dark hole as a result of never having children. Some feel that not having children was the best thing they ever did. While others, not sure if it was the best idea, have come to terms with their reality. Even the select few who still experience some longing re: children (but its no longer a possibility) are mostly satisfied with their life. As a result of this book, I’m more aware of the variety of paths that lead a person to live child-free.  And encouraged that these authors are happily living their lives – whether they intended all along to be child-free or not.

On turning 30 and not having children

In April, Lord willing, I will turn 30. In recent months, I have started to think about this. There’s a real panic that sinks in when I remember how close I am to my 30th birthday.  As I dig deeper, the panic seems to stem from the reality that I won’t be a mom by 30 years of age. While I may not have dreamed of having children as a child/teen/young adult, I must have assumed if I did have any that I’d have them by 30. When I compare myself to friends my age or younger than me with children, I feel little. Gosh, they seem to have accomplished so much in their lives and they aren’t yet 30!

What’s interesting is that I have had others (some young moms) compliment me in what I have accomplished thus far in my young adult years. I received my masters and work in my field. Due to not having children early in marriage, we have been able to pay off our student and consumer debt.  We purchased our home 3 years ago and do upgrades when we can afford to. We have traveled to a few of our “bucket list” locations. Of greater significance is that we have had these years to work on our marriage and that has produced much fruit!

Some young mothers can struggle with turning 30 and feeling that they haven’t accomplished a lot while at home raising a young family.  Yet, here I am, turning 30 in April and feeling anxiety when comparing myself to young mothers. I know that “comparison is the thief of joy” – T. Roosevelt but it’s so natural to compare. The preconceived notions on where we need to be in our lives by a certain age aren’t helpful. They only make a non-mom or a mother feel lousy.

I’m mentally preparing myself for 30. Trying not to compare or freak out. I may not be where society might peg me by 30 (a mom), but I don’t want that to take away from the blessings I have to celebrate in my 30 years of existence. Here’s to not panicking, feeling like I’m not enough, or that I’ve accomplished nothing. We’ll see if I can keep this perspective when the dreaded 30 is days and not months away.

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3 thoughts on “knowing” you want to be a parent

Here are some thoughts that I have had since writing last week’s blog post:

1. I was never the type of girl who dreamed up and planned details of my future wedding. That just wasn’t me. I thought about finding the man of my dreams and being married but that’s about where the dreaming ended. I did not know what colour my bridesmaids would wear until I was making the decision while engaged. It really shouldn’t come as any big surprise that I haven’t always dreamed of having children.

2. While there seems to be a lot of women who always knew they wanted to be a mother, there are others who thought they never wanted children and changed their minds. There are some who never gave whether or not to have children much thought until at some point in their lives, they did. A person who hasn’t always known is not any less worthy of being a mother or father than those who always knew.

3. Just because a person always wanted to be something doesn’t mean that ends up being their reality.  Sadly, there are lots of women who always knew that they wanted to be a mother who never ended up being one. Life sometimes gets in the way of our dreams. Knowing that one wants to be a parent isn’t a guarantee that it will happen, unfortunately.

Ultimately, I want to keep in mind one of my favourite quotes: “Comparison is the thief of joy”  by Theodore Roosevelt. Comparing oneself to mothers who have always known that they wanted to be one can make a person feel inferior. I plan to remember point #2 and keep in mind that comparison is the thief of joy!

Have you ALWAYS known you want to be a parent?

As a young girl, teenager and young adult, my friends have made statements that they always knew that they wanted to be a mother. They say this without wavering, without any doubt. Gosh, to have that kind of confidence! It’s fascinating to me.

It also makes me feel like an odd duck. I have been meaning to ask my mother if I ever told her as a child that I wanted to be a mother. I have a feeling that I didn’t as I can only remember one conversation re: children and I remember her sharing that it’s different when you have your own.

The crazy thing about me not having a memory of always knowing that I want to be a mother is that I love kids. Yes, I really enjoy being around OTHER people’s children! I have worked with children in various roles (babysitter, mentor, camp counselor) and sometimes my love for OTHER people’s children is so deep that my heart could burst.

What I have found interesting is that a lot of my friends who always knew that they wanted to be a mother have said that they don’t like other people’s kids. They tell me that they love their own but don’t care for “other people’s kids”. Prior to having children, some have never worked with kids before, and a few have never changed one diaper! It blows my mind that they just KNEW they wanted to be a mom without having exposure to being a caretaker for a child.

Anyways, why haven’t I always known that I want children? Is there a maternal switch in my brain that’s missing? I have been told the following reasons for why I MUST be a mother: “you are too good with children to not have them”,  or, “you’d be a good mother because you are warm and loving”. So I don’t think I missed the memo re: always knowing due to not being nurturing or mother material.

Here’s the best answer that I have for you today. I think that I haven’t always known because I think too much. I believe that I may be a realist. It’s more natural for my head to guide my heart than vice versa. While some may think of children and dream of all the lovey dovey stuff, I can quickly come up with the pros and the cons.  I don’t picture a beautiful, lovely, easy pregnancy — I weigh that image with the knowledge that you can experience morning sickness every single day for 9 months. I don’t JUST picture a cuddly newborn, I also picture the adorable baby crying and screaming at all hours of the day and night. I don’t only imagine a cute toddler but also see a little ham who just colored on the walls for the 5th time this month. I don’t solely dream of the joy I’d experience at my child’s graduation from high school, I also imagine many hours of worry and fighting before they get to that point in their life.  Maybe I’m a realist or maybe I’m just being negative, I dunno. I believe the *always knowing* that a person wants to have children must be driven by the heart and not the head. While it has been said that 2/3rd of pregnancies aren’t planned,  the ones that are planned may be as a  result of always knowing through a heart desire.

I love children, and I have no problem loving other people’s children!  I may be a mother one day, but I won’t be able to say that I always knew. I’d be lying if I did.

What about you? Have you always known? Why do you think that is? And if you haven’t *always known* please leave a comment too. Thanks! 

The best things my mother taught me

With my mother’s birthday being tomorrow, I figured now is a good time to reflect on what she has taught me.  As a teenager, I often focused on my mother’s flaws (like how she knew NOTHING, hehe, not true!). Into adulthood, I began to appreciate her many strengths and realized that the world would be a much better place if there were more people like her.  Here are some of the best lessons I learned through my mother:

1. She did not praise everything that I did.  While both she and I knew that I wasn’t going to be a super star athlete, mom encouraged my ability to relate to people of all ages.

2. She taught us that sometimes, giving to others isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. I remember giving away a favourite piece of clothing to someone that would wear it more often than I did. For the remainder of the day, I kept thinking about the item of clothing and regretting giving it away. When I talked with my mom about it, she shared that it’s good for us to practice giving away something that we like, to give away something that’s not easy to. By doing so, it helps us to not hold so tightly to our possessions. Also, we should give people our nice things and not just our garbage/yucky stuff that we ourselves wouldn’t use. This lesson really changed my perspective on giving.

3. She carried with her a perspective that we are rich! As a child, I hated wearing second hand clothes and we never had nearly as many toys and videos as our friends did. When my mother would tell us that we were so rich, I did NOT believe her. I thought we were poor. As I grew older, I now understand that she wasn’t comparing us to my friends. She was a) celebrating that we had our basic needs met and then some and b) she was thinking of others around the world who had much less than us. Her perspective has tremendously helped me as an adult when I think our house is too small, our vehicles too old, etc. I remind myself of the fact that, “we are rich!”, and this perspective causes me to want to give more to others.

4. “Giving to others” could be my mother’s middle name. The best thing about this? She isn’t just a mom has has given so much to her children. Or a mother who has given so much to her children and her church. She’s a mother who did those AND looked for opportunities to be a blessing to those outside of her circle. She looks out for the underdog, the people that others may miss ministering to and she finds ways to encourage them. She befriends the homeless. Mentors and loves new immigrants and refugees. She does the simple things like find shoes that fit a homeless man or brings a thanksgiving meal to one that may not eat today otherwise. My mother didn’t just teach us girls to give to others with our money and that’s where it ended. She modeled with her actions what loving others well can look like.

5. She sought opportunities to challenge herself. My mother would tell you that hospitality does not come naturally to her. She would often be stressed before having company over. The beautiful thing about this? She forced herself to do what did not come naturally again and again and again. Eventually, when I was a teenager, she had new immigrants to Canada come and live in our basement apartment! I love that she challenged herself to do what did not come naturally, and God has really blessed our family and others as a result.

I could continue writing about what my mother taught me about money (which has been tremendously helpful!) but I will end this post here. I guess the best “things” my mother taught me aren’t things at all. These life lessons have left imprints on my heart and I hope they will remain there forever.

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