It's no secret that the husband and I can't have babies. We both want children, but sometimes things just don't work out the way we might want. Even though we want children, we're content with our lives. We've been blessed with opportunities that many others don't have, and we're able to use those opportunities to help others and care for our families. And anytime we feel a need for childish laughter, snuggles, sneaking into a kid movie, or for any of those fun things parents get to do, my sisters are always willing to let us borrow a kid or two for a while.
People with children always tend to feel a little sorry for us because we don't have what they have. But we don't need pity or sympathy, because our lives are full of amazing people and wonderful experiences.
We don't have children, but we've been able to help our family when they need us most. This year, my fourteen year old, pregnant cousin lived with us for several months while she attempted to get her life back on track. She's with her grandmother now, and is doing well.
The Keeper of the Cheerios and her kids lived with us for four years while Aloshua struggled through surgeries, long hospitalizations, and setback after setback. I've been able to be at his bedside with her day in and day out, and to learn everything we needed to know to bring him home so he could be with his family. I get to help care for his older brother and his little sister, and make sure all three have more love than they'll ever know what to do with.
And I get to go to work every day and help other families through the same struggles my family has experienced. I can't tell you how many times someone has come to me for advice or support when their children are going through a medical crisis. And I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to offer a little help when those families need it most. My husband has a friend whose young son is struggling with some serious psychological issues. His friend knows anytime he needs a shoulder to lean on, my husband will be there, and that even though we don't have kids, he can count on my husband to provide truly helpful advice and support.
Long story short, we don't have kids, but we do understand what it means to be a parent, and we both cherish being able to help those who are parents keep their families together through the worst life throws at them. Every year, we spend a lot of time educating people on the reality of preterm birth, and of life with a special child like Aloshua. We get to celebrate the successes not only for him, but for kids just like him, and we fight for those children every day.
We are blessed, and we make every effort possible to share our blessings with others. We do so because it's the right thing to do. So imagine my complete and utter fury when, last night, someone said we were "selfish" for not having adopted a child yet. According to them, if someone has the means to provide for a child and doesn't have one or adopt, they're sinful.
I'm very rarely at a loss for words, but last night, I was stunned into silence. And then I was furious. I'm still angry. I didn't respond to her though. I didn't say a word, because my story is none of her business, and telling it to her in a fit of anger wouldn't have served a purpose. Sometimes, my dears, the best thing you can do is walk away from an argument with your head held high, knowing you don't have to justify your life to anyone else.
But I'm telling all of you this story for a reason.
You see, my husband and I aren't childless by choice.
Once upon a time, we were pregnant. And we still remember how awful it is to lose a baby you desperately want. Once upon a time, even after going through that, we decided to begin preparing for IVF. Three months later, my neurosurgeon found another brain lesion, and those plans unfolded without our consent. This hasn't been an easy road for either of us, and it's one that's very personal. We don't talk about it often, and we've both struggled to accept the reality that we may never have kids of our own.
But we have accepted it.
We've talked at length about adopting eventually. We're both ecstatic at the thought of doing so, but we're also smart enough to realize that being able to provide for a child financially doesn't mean you rush out and adopt right away either. We've opted to finish our educations and check a few items off of the bucket list before we adopt.
I don't think that's selfish. I think it's smart. There's more to raising a child than being able to provide financial security. No one understands this better than we do. It's something we've thought about quite a lot.
As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I'm sick. I have a neurological problem that may never go away; one that sometimes causes frightening side-effects. My brain is damaged, it keeps sustaining damage, and we don't know why. We're in uncharted territory here, and so are my neurosurgeon and my neurologist. None of us know what to expect, but my husband and I both know that bringing a child home when momma sometimes can't remember entire conversations or has to ask what day it is ten times in a row isn't a good choice.
It sucks, some days a lot more than others, but that's the hand we were dealt. As much as we want children, we want to know that our children can depend on us no matter what. Right now, as sad as it is to say, we don't know that. How can we when we don't even know what's causing my lesions, let alone how to stop them?
Maybe this time next year, things will have improved, and we'll finally be ready to adopt. I don't know, and neither does any one else. But I do know that, right now, bringing home a child would be the most selfish thing we could do. So I'm okay with helping other families care for their children and waiting to bring home one of our own.
And if you don't have children, as I know many of you don't, you aren't selfish either. It's your choice to make, not anyone else's. Be proud of yourself for making the best decision for you and your family. That's all anyone can really do, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, no matter what anyone else has to say about it.
And people will say something about it. Every where we look, someone is saying something about the choices we make. If you have a kid out of wedlock, you're sinful. If you're married and opt not to have children, you're sinful. If you have children before you're financially ready, you're sinful. The list goes on and on, but at the end of the day... all the chatter boils down to one simple truth.
Things aren't always black and white, and it's not up to any of us to judge for anyone else whether they're doing the right thing or not. We don't know that, and it's not our place to pretend we do.
I didn't argue with this girl last night, because my choices aren't anyone else's business, and neither are yours.
Let me repeat that:
Your choices aren't anyone else's business.
Whether you have children, don't have children, get married, or stay single your entire life, whether you go to college or start work right out of high school, whether you take that high-paying job or spend your time toiling away on novel, you're the one who has to live with your choices, and you don't have to justify them to anyone else. Do what's right for you or your family, and don't worry what anyone else has to say.
Chances are, they're going to say it anyway and nothing you do will ever completely satisfy them. So stop trying, and remember you don't owe anyone an explanation, a reason, or a response.
This is your life, and how you live it is up to you.
Don't forget: 50% of proceeds from Fade will be donated to the Red Cross through tomorrow for Hurricane Sandy relief. An additional 10% will be donated to the March of Dimes, and another 10% to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas through March, 2013. You can purchase the novel (print or ebook) at the links below:
Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo