About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I’m Going to Be an Aunt… and I’m Not Happy

Some years ago, one of my siblings expressed an interest in not having children. Based on the details of that conversation, I never categorized him as staunchly childfree, but perhaps more comfortably on the fence. He would have been quite happy to not have children, but becoming a parent would not be devastating either. Falling prey to carelessness, he is now going to be a father. And though I wish him happiness, I mourn the childfree community’s loss, and my loss.

My feelings on this are very complex, with tentacles that spread far and deep. I have spent (probably far too much) time reflecting on the extent of my sadness and why this should bring me to tears, and I believe I have come to a modicum of understanding of my heartbreak.

I acknowledge that many of my reasons are selfish. The rejoicing of my parents dredges up reminders of my family’s disappointment in me. I often think I have accepted, for example, my father’s wish that I, his firstborn, had been a son. Now that the son, the golden child, will give the family its only grandchild, I have a new and enduring reminder of why I am second-class.

I will be losing one of my dearest friends, at least for the next 12-18 years or so, and maybe for life. Every person I have known pre- and post-parenthood has become worse after becoming a parent. Perhaps I just know the wrong people, but I have only ever seen parenthood exacerbate people’s most negative qualities, or take otherwise kind and interesting people and push them further down the spectrum of selfish, entitled, single-minded, boring, obsessive, self-aggrandizing...

At the very least, I don’t like to be around children, not even relatives. I dread the thought of future family Christmases and reunions. We have had the most wonderful visits / holidays, vacations together, and so on. That will all be over. The quiet joy of meaningful conversation with people I love will be replaced with people being interrupted by and obsessing over a shrieking brat.

I wanted my brother to have what DH and I have. This one is a little sticky because, of course, for all of its benefits, it also entails the pain of being an outsider and a disappointment to others. Even still, I wished for him to have the best marriage possible, less worry, more general happiness, and freedom.

Or even, I wanted “more” for him -- more than just to follow the lifescript, more opportunity to grow his amazing accomplishments.

I’m also sad for the orphans. I realize I risk opening myself up for some snarky comment like “How many kids have you adopted?” or “Why don’t you adopt, then?” (uh, I’m not in the market to increase my family size), but I cannot help but find it devastating when someone chooses to create a new human being when millions upon millions of children out there are crying for homes.

And I’m sad for the child itself. The dangers and demands of my brother’s job are unfair to the child. The burden of the U.S. financial situation will fall even more heavily on the next generation. The world is in a tremendous state of unrest (as it always has been, I suppose). I still cannot fathom why anyone would rejoice in condemning a new life to this earth. "Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

So I muster a half-smile and a nod when the family talks about the impending child, but all the while I’m crying on the inside.

(Flashback: True Confessions about becoming an aunt.)

10 comments:

  1. I am very sorry for your loss. I have a sib, too, who I feel could do so much more with his life. However, I think I have it easier because he has been bitten by 'baby rabies' for a long time now and has never given me the hope that he will pursue his full potential and give up that false siren of parenthood. So, I have been given time to prepare for the eventual loss that will come.

    One thing I can say is that you have a community of support, who you have given so much support to here in the childfree world. From what I've read you've given so much hope to your students who value your support. Whenever you think of your family's reactions, remember the difference you have made for all of us.

    Thank you for the insight. I've wondered about the sadness I've felt whenever my brother's 'baby rabies' foams and now I can put an understanding to it.

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  2. Thanks, Alex. It is definitely a consolation to support and be supported by the childfree community online.

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  3. I am living this right now. While I don't have any siblings that I am close to, my husband is best friends with his brother. He and his wife had a baby about a year and a half ago and the entire family has been obsessed with them ever since. They are now pregnant with their second. It has been really hard for my husband to feel such a disconnection from his brother. Every time they talk on the phone it's always about the baby, and we get CONSTANT pictoral and video updates. It's SO annoying! At least we find it comforting to complain to each other about how baby-obsessed the family is, but I know it doesn't alleviate the pain he feels at loosing his brother to a baby. I hope your family will be more balanced than my in-laws are!

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  4. Oh, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this! I began dealing with something similar a little over a year ago, when my only brother was the first (and only one) to give our parents a child.

    Now, while I do have friends that have had children and haven't morphed into people I can no longer stand... I have hit one thing you're talking about.

    My brother, who originally didn't want children, and his spouse have become granola parents. They also seem to think my niece is the smartest kid in the world, and my sister in law spends quite a lot of time playing facebook games. :/

    Both my brother and his spouse have done some morphing into self-righteous parents. And their marriage has already been suffering since the pregnancy was announced.

    I'm so sorry for your loss! Maybe, just maybe, you'll be surprised. I pray so, for the sake of your relationship with your family.

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  5. falfie and autumnal, thank you for your comments. It helps to know that I'm not alone.

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  6. I am child free by choice and I Don't get what is so upsetting about someone having a child. I guess I get excited for other people's joy! My friends have changed but I think that is more growing up then having kids and deep down our old selves are still there. I even changed over the years and it has nothing to do with who had kids and who didn't.

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  7. green_eyed_leopards, I truly envy people like you who can happily share in that experience with others. Life would be much easier if I were 'normal,' for lack of a better word.

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  8. To me it sounds more as what really upset you most during this time was your feeling about being a disappointment for your parents, as well as fearing a loss of a good relationship with your brother. I think this is a commun feeling for many of us, though in different levels.

    More the need of feeling accepted and appreciated by our parents, if we ever have felt any form of guilt because of not becoming the way they would have liked us to being. I think most of us might long for our parents approval as well as them feeling proud about us, in some way or the other. Deep down inside, I do think most of us wants this.

    Although we also need to reminding ourselves that it is how God thinks and what He wants for us that is the most important. That He created you different than how your parents expected or wanted you to become like, should be what should matter the most.

    I beleive God puts some persons in some families who are not supposed being everything the family had in mind. These ones will become more the contrary as well as doing or thinking things differently. Being different is never an easy path, but doing God's will and going on the path He has for us, this is much more important than having a easy and comfortable life. There is a reason for why God made you the way you are, embrace it with thankfulness.







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  9. I recently went through a similar situation with my sister in law. My brother and I were never close so it was a surprise that when the baby came my brother became better. More nurturing and considerate. I was shocked at his behavior but sourly disappointed at my sister in law's. We were very close from the moment we met. I loved her and viewed her as a role model or my own big sister (I've never had any). I lost the intimacy we had once their son was born. And I mourned. I gave them space. I let the friendship go for a while so they could focus on figuring out their new family dynamic. The way I kept sane and free from resentment was to view this new baby as a person, not a child. I don't know if that makes sense, but I chose to view him as a fascinating person (imagining what he would be like in 20+ years) who I was interested in seeing how he develops into who he already is. Yes, he is still a child (2 years old now) and he has all of the messiness and complications of being a child which I find overwhelming, but he is still someone I'm going to love. The way that my relationship with my sister in law has healed was for me to start focusing on how I could uplift and encourage her in who she was as a person not just a mother. I also had to realize that being a mother was the one thing she was most insecure about and encouraging her in that was essential even if it was annoying or painful at times. Over the last 2 plus years, I've found that even though we are not as close and our relationship is different, she still values me as a person whom she can let loose and be herself around even if it is not as frequent as it used to be. In this society where motherhood is prioritized over the child free, I find it my own personal goal to reinforce to mothers' that they are good enough, they have value, they are worth it, just in themselves. A message I think all women (mothers and the child free need to hear, daily).

    When I see people post pictures of their impending pregnancy or new babies or even older children, what I see is their fear, excitement, and pride, and a cry for support and love. Those that seek the most attention are those that need it the most. You don't have to be happy for them but you are called to love them if you want to keep them in your life.

    This comment might be irrelevant now that it is 2 years outdated but I've just discovered your site. My husband and I are a year into deciding to to be child free. I was openly indifferent but inwardly dreading having children. Your site is a huge encouragement. Thank you! I'm discovering that my resentment comes from not having the support or attention that mother's (especially new mothers) get when they announce that they are expecting. No one has told me "YAY! Congratulations on deciding not to have children! We are so excited for you! Please post a picture every day so we can comment and tell you how cute and glowing you look because your tummy is remaining so flat!" I'm a sucker for words of affirmation. Hope your relationships with your brother and sister in law is healing or has healed since then! Just remember that God uses all things to bring us closer to him (even if it is in ways we don't like). Thank you again for your voice and boldness on these Childfree matters.

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    1. Thank you so much for your feedback. I am pleased to report that my brother and sister-in-law have remained pretty cool people and have been extremely respectful of my general feelings toward small children (e.g., not constantly shoving baby pictures in my face, haha!).

      I wish you the best on your childfree journey!

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