The Choice

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Recently I have thought a lot about the words ‘Childless not by choice.’ This is what I am. A woman who did not choose to be without children, but one who had that decision thrust upon her. You can read my story here. I never thought much about the word ‘choice’ until recently. I thought I had some choice. I thought I had the choice to be positive or negative about my childlessness. The choice to accept the pain or find other avenues to express it and I also believed I had been successful at that.

But I recently learnt that I do not have choice. I do not have the control I thought I had. That even twenty years or more along the line (probably more than twenty, but twenty is all I want to own up to) the pain can still hit as acutely as it did at the beginning. It still has the power to paralyse me and stop me in my tracks and force me to question all those unknowns all over again and to ask yet again those pointless questions. Why her and why not me? How can a woman who is a useless and cruel mother have been allowed to be a mother when I couldn’t? Why was I denied and others who don’t deserve the right have been given it? Stupid and pointless questions that no one can answer and questions which frustrate and only cause me more unnecessary pain.

I started a group for women like me. I started a group so that other women wouldn’t feel like me. I started the Childless Support Group on Facebook so that women could move forward. Be positive and find a way through the pain with support and understanding. I started with six members. It now has over 800. I’m terribly proud of that group. But I felt the time came for me to step down.  I was coping with my childlessness. I had accepted it. I couldn’t shake my fist at a God I didn’t believe in and I felt it was time to live my life and to enjoy children who were not mine. I may not have been given my own but I could still love and enjoy children.

I sponsored a child in Cambodia. I wrote successful novels and continue to do so. I took up lots of hobbies. I travelled. I filled my life and grew closer to my step children and as a consequence to their own children-my grandchildren.

Then the punch in the stomach came. It is bittersweet. I have an adorable grandson, who lives with us temporarily and I adore him. We makes cakes together, chat together, do painting together, read books together. He hugs me, kisses me, strokes my arm at the dinner table. Tells me we can play a less energetic game if I’m tired. We go for walks together, laugh together and love together. Of course there is more that I can’t go into which makes this so much harder. I thought how lucky I am to have this. I thought I would never have children, let alone a beautiful grandson that I have grown so close to.

Then out of the blue, when I least expect it. While driving the car to the supermarket, I have to stop as I am so overwhelmed by loss that I cannot stop my tears.

I realised he is the son I always wanted. My choice to accept the unacceptable crashed around me. I had no choice. My emotions would always choose for me. The thing I never thought I would have has been given to me. And I never realised how painful it would become for me.

For the fact is someone else’s children, no matter how close you are to them, are not your children. They are the children of someone you love dearly and that’s a double edged sword, for while you can love their children it is hard to not envy them having a family in the first place.

There have been so many years of feeling self-assured and confident; confident that the pain could not get me anymore. I have been cruelly surprised.

But I am positive this will pass. That I will continue again on my healing route. I’m very aware of how lucky I am to have such love around me. How lucky I am to not only have a beautiful grandson but one who also loves me and loves spending time with me and one I see more than most grandparents do.

So for all those childless not by choice women know that the pain does ease. That a life can be lived and that children can be a part of it but beware the pain can hit at the most unexpected time even years after you think you have conquered the loss.

A loss is a loss and the pain will always recur at unexpected moments. But there is more to life than children. I will never cease to say that. Life is a gift, with or without your own children. Enjoy it.

*We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.*

Joseph Campbell