Friday, November 28, 2014

NaBloPoMo: What Constitutes Fulfillment

Because I know folks who are perplexed by people who do not have children, and questions why (as in, "Why don't you have children?"): These questions imply that there are, in fact, reasons why people do not have children. "Because we don't" does not compute; "no particular reason {that we k now of" also causes confusion. Without having gone the route of being extensively tested for this sort of thing, we simply don't know why. I have my suspicions, and one two good thoughts as to why, but I'm unwilling to put myself through the emotional misery to determine a biological reason.

Ultimately, though, one's purpose in life does not solely need to be tied to having children; I would argue that one has more than one purpose in life.

"You might need kids to have a purpose. I do not.

Here’s the biggest thing that kills me about people who insist that deep down I want kids – they often say something like “but kids are the biggest blessing!” or “you won’t be truly fulfilled unless you have children,” or “you’re missing out on the best part of life.” These statements may be true for other people. They are not true for me, as the above paragraphs should have clued everyone in to.

My purpose is not tied to having babies. My purpose is in helping people who are already here, not in creating more of them."

The fact is that I go back and forth when it comes to my desire to have children. I sometimes wish that I could have the experience of being pregnant...once. I'd like to know what it's like. I'd appreciate the experience of raising a child, I think, but like marriage, this is not necessarily a strong, overwhelming urge. (I figured if I got married, great, but if not, that was really okay, too. I met someone who I wanted to marry, and in short order we did in fact get married, but it wasn't something I especially wanted to do until I met Ed.)

I also do wonder if I'll get to be older and wish I had exhausted all my mental, emotional, and financial resources - even during moments when I think that would be foolish, since that would imply that I'm incapable of fulfilling my own needs and providing and taking care of myself, which is necessary to be able to take care of the other people in my life whom I care about.

"At least I’ve thought about it – perhaps because I’m often asked to justify my position or explain why. To end that conversation I now sometimes say I couldn’t have children.

It’s not an outright lie. As it turns out, much as I had thought, the desire to have kids just wasn’t strong enough in me. It was there a bit; like a radio signal that came and went. I’d look at friends’ kids and I’d feel a pang but then it would go away like the beginning of a threatening headache that melts without medication."

It comes down to personal fulfillment. I live in a culture in which women are, I feel, pressured and otherwise expected to have as many children as soon as possible, with the singular definition of purpose and fulfillment. If the fulfillment is to care for others, though, there are many ways to do that (I happen to be in a career that exemplifies that). 

"But raising your kids or someone else’s isn’t crucial to fulfillment. 

'Women without children are perfectly capable of being happy,' Gilbert writes. 'What they’re often missing isn’t kids, but a society and a culture that values and respects them.' 

This is as true a thing as I’ve ever read on the subject. Fulfillment, after all, is a feeling of a job well done, a sense of peace at having met a goal."

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