I am 31. My new husband is nearly 41. We do not have children and so far are not planning on having them. But I am realizing that not having children is tougher than it looks and not just for the reasons you are imagining right now (haha!-- You!).
Being childless and specifically choosing to be childless is not the norm. Perhaps we would fit in better in Germany where birth rate is way down or a big city where all the people are career driven and "independent." But, here in suburban America, we are the oddballs, and because we are the odd-couple-out in family oriented Simi Valley, it is highlighted most every day.
For instance, yesterday was Halloween. And, up go all the pictures of all the children in their (ridiculously) cute costumes in emails and on facebook. Scrolling down my fb news feed, I see picture after picture of cute toddlers romping around in cozy costumes. And, and I can't help but think. "Wow. . . I am living a very different life."
I don't want this to be misinterpreted as bitter. It is really much more of an observation about my life, where I live, my relatives and their life spaces. I realize that I am not experiencing life the way so many couples are living life right now. I am not concerned with the elementary schools in my district, whether there is a dress code, how I am going to afford a child's tuition, nor how I am going to keep them awake and smiling through their drowsy-tantrum time before bed.
I have to believe I am just as busy and concerned in my daily life, just about other things. But, because I am not experiencing life in the same way as my friends and family members, it is hard to create a feeling of being "in it" together. I am realizing more and more how friends are born out of enduring the same or similar life challenges. Getting through undergrad or grad school, putting on a performance, competing in the same bowling league. When you are in it together, you can't help but connect. The same enemy drives you together whether it be, late night papers, lack of sleep, giving a shouting kid a time out or losing on a 7/10 split to your rival team.
So, it is hard to hold a conversation about feeling depressed or stressed at work when your poor friend or sister is up to her ears in dirty laundry, a screaming child, dinner burning on the stove and a child coloring the walls. And, likewise who am I to offer her advice or comfort!
It creates an unfortunate gap that takes more effort to overcome than I expected. I will go so far as to say that it takes more effort to maintain a long and established friendship with someone who is currently not "in it" with you than someone new who is "in it". Being "in it" together makes the here and now relevant for both parties.
We shall see how things shift as toddlers become children, become adolescents. . . But according to my mom (who is both wise and observant) life with children is always about children. (Perhaps it would be less so if my sister and I didn't call her so regularly through out the week! Love ya Mom!)
I say all this with the full knowledge that I may change my mind and that Dan and I may decide that we will have children. But, for now the decision and the observation stand, and I am left to wonder who else might be in my life space so we can be "in it" together.