We always thought we would have kids. We started trying when we believed we were ready. A month went by, then two months, six months, a year. Nothing happened.

Something was wrong, but nobody could tell us what - and they still can't to this day. We tried IVF three times but our results were not good. We were devastated.

Eighteen months after our last IVF cycle, we knew we would not be having our own children. And, somehow, we have moved to a life that is much different to the one we thought we'd have.

This blog is about what we do now we know we won't be having children - the thoughts, dreams, realities, sorrows, and joys that have become our new life path.

I hope you will enjoy what I will be sharing, and I hope that if you are at the point where life without children is a reality for you, that you might find some hope and inspiration here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

You don’t know unless you have kids…

I get quite frustrated and upset when people say or write this statement followed by whatever it is that they think people who don’t have kids don’t know.

Okay – it’s true that because I don’t have children I can’t possibly know exactly what it is like to parent a child 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I know that. But I’m not totally ignorant about children either.

These kinds of all or nothing statements completely disregard the knowledge I do have about children and the feelings I have for the children, and other people, in my life.

There are many things people who don’t have children supposedly don’t know.  I want to mention a few of them:

Kids are gross and dirty. Trust me – I know. While changing my three week old niece’s diaper she did an almighty, runny, smelly poo and then stuck her foot in it. It’s not the only time I’ve changed pooey or wet diapers, or cleaned up snot, or wiped up vomit (sometimes all three substances end up on me…) And, oh my goodness, the smell of poo when children are teething! Nothing else quite like it…

Kids take their time. When you’ve sat with a child for an hour trying to get them to take a few more mouthfuls of their dinner, it’s not that far of a leap to realise this is a regular occurrence.

Kids need you. On many occasions when I’ve looked after children there have been times when whatever I was doing was put aside to hold a crying child, a child having a tantrum, a child who wants a cuddle, a child who is tired, or a child that really needs me to play with them right now.

Kids are too honest – meaning they may say things that hurt feelings. I’ve been told that I didn’t need that extra biscuit by one of my nieces. I ate it anyway - it was chocolate...

Kids break stuff and hurt themselves. Yep – we’ve lost ornaments and dishes to the hands of children, and the kids we love have taken tumbles and falls while we were looking after them. That’s why we have children’s paracetamol, Disney character band aids, sunscreen and insect repellent for children, cough medicine for children, and a dust pan and broom at the ready, in our own home.

As a parent you would put your life before theirs – you would plead that your life be taken in place of theirs. You would put yourself in danger to make them safe. I would do anything to make our nieces and nephews safe, even risking my own life – and I would do that for our friends’ children too.  I don’t have to be a parent to have that level of protective instinct and love.

Speaking of love – one of my least favourite sayings is “You don’t know what real love is until you’ve had children.” Seriously? So my love for Kirby, my love for my family and friends is not real? I actually find this offensive. I love my nieces and nephews with a love that is so tremendous that I sometimes feel like I must be shining with a boundless happiness. That is real love as far as I’m concerned. And, let’s face it; there are parents who don’t love their children. Parenthood isn’t a guaranteed path to knowing what real love is.

Nobody can know what it is like to live anybody else’s life. I get it that I don’t know what being a twenty four hour, seven day a week parent is like – but I do have knowledge and feelings and fears about the children in my life. These are real and I will not let them be disregarded. My experiences and feelings are mine. I feel deeply, I care deeply, I love deeply, and I know stuff.


Mali said...

Oddly, I've also just written a similar post about those statements that we just can't understand until you have kids. I understand your frustration!

Kate Bettison said...

It's a constant issue we have to deal with! It would be nice if people could be a little more sensitive, but I guess if they haven't been in our situation, or have known someone in our situation, then they probably don't even think twice about making these statements. What is your blog Mali? I would love to read it.

Familyofthree said...

I can totally relate--it took us 13 years to become a family--and during the first 12 years 11 months and 29 days I was told "You don't understand, you don't have kids" Yet the second they placed my son in my arms I was suddenly "just as smart and understanding" as all the other Moms. I was no different on 9/13/11 than 9/12/11 but boy did everyone else view me as such. Great post!!!

Kate Bettison said...

Hi Familyofthree - thanks for your comment. That actually raises a really good point - the whole "you don't know because you don't have kids" puts a ridiculous pressure on parents in that they believe they do have to know it all - and then feel they are no good as parents because they don't. One of my friends is going through exactly this - she feels like she is not good enough, but she is - even if she doesn't know it all and has difficult days. Congratulations on your son! Two years of age is such an interesting age - lots of learning, lots of fun, and lots of tantrums to boot!

Northern Star said...

I totally relate! This comment / sentiment would always bother me. I think more than us not understanding what it's like to have kids, others have a harder time understanding that it's the one and only thing we want most in the world and living every day without this blessing was the hardest thing we'd ever have to do.

Kate Bettison said...

Hi Northern Star (love the name by the way!) - it can definitely be hard for other people to understand what it's like to not to have the children we so desperately want. I'm very lucky in the most of my friends and family are supportive and absolutely lovely, but they admit, as well, that it is very difficult for them to understand what it is like for us.