Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice
When I was a child my family moved around a lot and I was forever starting at new schools. At a school I was enrolled in when I was about eight, the teacher put a chart on the wall and a star was added for every times-table you could recite. When you had eleven stars (from your ‘two’s to your ‘twelves’) you got a little notebook as a prize. I had already learned all my tables and I really wanted the notebook, but I never let on. I think it was partly because I wanted to fit in at the new school and partly because somehow it felt like cheating to make use of my advantage. So I held back, reciting my times-tables in dribs and drabs and getting my prize near the end of the year, along with everyone else.
Even though I’m almost thirty years older now, I still find myself having similar feelings. In discussions with friends of hopes, dreams, plots and plans for our lives, I hear a lot of “Once x starts school I will have more time, but I can’t really start anything new until then” and “When y has left home we’ll be a bit more mobile but for now we’re staying put” and “There’s really not much point in even thinking about a major change until z is a bit older”.
In my own life, there is no x, y or z. No doubt I’m in an especially fortunate season, but right now there are just things I want to do, ways I want to live, and immediate possibilities for working to make them happen. Yet somehow, instead of owning and maximising that advantage, I’ve sometimes found myself feeling as though I should hold back. Again, it’s both a desire to fit in and a sense that it would be somehow indecent and unfair of me to take full advantage of my situation.
Since becoming aware of this funny, illogical tendency, I feel much better placed to recognise and reason with it. After all, I support all my parent friends and family in their endeavours to maximise all the happiness and satisfaction and success possible in their roles. Why on earth wouldn’t I maximise what’s possible in mine? Why should I hold back?
But in the meantime, I wonder if there are other non-mothers who have sometimes found themselves holding back, rather than fully embracing the opportunities unique to the lifestyle we’re living?
[The beautiful image above is borrowed with permission from Sweet William.]