When a couple is childfree, there is often a set of assumptions made about them. One such assumption is that they have free time to do all the things that people with families and “real lives” don’t have time to do. I know this, because I speak with my younger sister often. She and her husband chose not to have children together, and so she has not raised or parented a child.
She is not the only one. There are several other people who I speak with regularly who have not had children. Some because they could not, some because they chose not to. Childfree is a phrase that was made popular by a wonderful couple, Jean and Michael Carter. The Carter’s wrote a book called “Sweet Grapes”, one of my all time favorite books.
I have written about the book before. I come back to it again as it is a book that empowers choice. Infertility takes away our choice. Or does it? It certainly seems that way. It certainly feels that way. I know it probably even looks that way to others. Childfree even looks like a person or couple has had no choice.
Yet we still have choice. We may not have a child in our homes the way that we once dreamed of. They may come as a foster child, an adopted child, a donor egg or donor sperm child; yet they are all children. They may not even live in our homes; they may be a beloved niece or nephew we dote on. The child in our life may be someone we mentor or teach to read or take on trips to a museum.
Childfree does not mean we don’t have a “real life” or that we have nothing to do with our time but lament our loss. Childfree is the life that we embrace when we are ready to make a choice to end treatment. Childfree is the life that we choose when we decide to move on and explore new possibilities in life.
So before you make assumptions about that person or couple who doesn’t have to find a babysitter for a Saturday night or who can take a vacation on the spur of the moment, just take a moment to consider what it may have taken for them to have gotten there. They may have been on a road similar to the one that you are on. They may have made a different choice than the one you are making.
We all get to make choices. Even when struggling with infertility.