Thursday, 13 September 2012

REWIND: End Of The Line?



Originally posted on Y360  24th September 2006


Reposted on Multiply 19th May 2008


Addition note for those reading this on Blogger: In reference to the mention of my age and single status in the closing paragraph, please remember this was originally written six years ago, before I met Joanne.


This blog has been more difficult to write than I first thought. I first got an idea to write it when I read in several different people's blogs "funny things their kids had said or done". Then, in the course of a recent conversation with a friend, the subject of kids came up and I said my usual piece: "I don't have kids. Never wanted any" It got me thinking later, how did the friend perceive that? I didn't give any further explanation, so they could have interpreted that in many ways. And the more I thought on the subject, the more I realised I hadn't really seriously thought about it for quite a long time. So, I'm going to put it all down here in the hope it will make it clearer to me. And maybe get some insights from others.



I decided at a surprisingly early age (mid to late teens) that I never wanted to have children. And at that time and for many years after, there was only one reason in my own mind. My own father left when I was very young (I think I must have been about two years old), leaving my mom, with help from my grandparents, to raise me by herself. He was a womaniser, he dumped my mom for another woman and over the years (I am told) he dumped a succession of women, each time for a new one.  That would have been bad enough, but he didn't seem to care if I existed or not unless it suited him.  Over the years I never received anything from him at Christmas or on my birthday. The only times I would see him was if there was a new woman in his life and suddenly he wanted to show off his son. I guess that really hurt me, but not on a conscious level until I was older. All credit to my mom, she never tried turning me against him, in fact she rarely even mentioned him. She told me years later that she wanted me to make my own mind up about him. And I did. When I was old enough to work things out for myself, I quickly grew to hate him. How could anyone be so callous? Two events at the end of my teenage years really drove it home. First, a very serious motorcycle accident. I was in hospital for weeks and was very lucky not to lose my right leg below the knee. Not a visit from my father, not a card, not even a message through my grandparents on his side of the family (I should credit them, they were proper grandparents to me, I think they were ashamed of my father for what he did or rather didn't do). And then a few years later, he turned up on my wedding day and expected to be accepted as the proud father. He even brought us a large wedding gift. I ignored him and his gift. Remember I was still young. Forgiveness is not something the young are good at. The upshot of all this was.......I was scared of becoming like him. I couldn't bear the thought of having a child and he or she hating me as much as I hated him. 



When I married, the girl I married also did not want children. Her reasons were different to mine (she wanted a career).  We discussed it many times, to make sure we were sure. And each time we both agreed  that we were certain. We were together nearly twenty years and in all that time, we never changed our minds. Maybe the fact we were so similar in our views meant we were never forced to REALLY consider what we were doing.
 
In recent years my views on the subject have started to change. In 2004, when I went to live in Sweden, I experienced 'having a family' for the first time. My Swedish girlfriend had two teenage daughters. Ok, I know getting an 'instant' semi-adult family is not the same as having your own family, watching them being born, growing up, etc......but it did start to give me some clues about what I had been missing. It also made me face a fact that I had denied to myself, there was another reason why I didn't want children. I was an only child myself, and as is well-known 'only-children' can be very self-centered and selfish, particularly when it comes to relationships. They've never had to share love with siblings for example. So, I suddenly realised that another reason for not having children was that I did not want to have to share the love of the woman I was with, with another person (a child). I had never realised this until I was actually in that situation. I guess the fact I now understood this meant I was mature enough to cope with the situation. I certainly learned a lot from that relationship, even though it didn't last.



So now here I am, 47 years old and nothing to show for it in any terms that could be called important. I am fairly pragmatic about it. I know it is unlikely now that I will get the chance to be a father. Yes, I know physically it's possible. But look at it in these terms: I am most likely now to get into a relationship with a woman around my own age, which more or less rules out the possibility. I suppose it's possible I could meet someone younger who wants to have children, but it's not likely and I'm not particularly looking.



If I had to sum it up, it would be that hindsight is a wonderful thing. It's a pity we don't get it in advance. But then it would be called foresight. Any regrets? Still not sure on that one………

22 comments:

  1. Wow your story could just as well be my story up to a point. Makes me wonder what would have been if I hadn't of had a child....

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    1. Will you be writing about your experiences? I see you have started writing something of your childhood years.

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  2. of my six siblings three of them do not have children...two did not want them and I am not sure about the other one...
    there are more and more people making the same decision (perhaps for different reasons?)

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    1. Many different reasons, I suspect. Would one of them be an actual concern for the future of the planet?

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  3. You write with a genuineness that I admire. I don't know how many people are as self-aware as you are; that really pulls me into your narrative. My hat is off to your mother for her neutrality.

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    1. Thanks Benni. It just seemed to me that if I was going to write about my life experiences, they should 'warts and all', not sugar-coated or glossing over the difficult parts.

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  4. Mitch....not everyone wants children, regardless of the reasons, it's a personal decision. Not having any was the right decision for yourself, at that time. And if you are still not sure if there are any regrets about having made that choice, then I would say it is still the right decision....for you. I'm sure there are many things you have done in your life that would not have been possible if you had kids. There's always a trade off in most decisions we make in life. For me, I always knew I wanted kids from the time I was a young child, and I cannot imagine life without them or without my grandchildren. But I also had a very different childhood than you had with a loving mom and a very dedicated father who, in my mother's words, " made a better mother than most mothers were." As I said before, parenthood isn't for everyone and if you had (or still have) those kinds of doubts, then you probably made a wise decision to not go down that road.

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    1. Thanks Karen. You are probably correct. When I was saving these old posts, I read this one again, and asked myself the same questions again. Nothing seems to have changed in my thinking.

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  5. Another great read Mitch, I mad a similar decission at a relativley young age as well thanks for posting Mate;)

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    1. Thanks Baz. I'm assuming your reasons were different to mine though?

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  6. Looking of the conditions of the world becoming worse each day compared to the old days I decided not to have children so I also dont have any .

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  7. Looking at your comment and some of the others, it seems my decision isn't as unusual as I thought it was.

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  8. Well, Mitch,, first time making a statement on this new blog site.. And there are some who can't wait to have children.. and there are those that just don't want them.

    Why do the ones that want them think those that don't want them horrible people? Where in the World does it say that EVERYONE has to have children?? I certainly didn't want any. But I did contribute to one.. Yes.. I had only one child.. And after he turned 18 I split. Wanted my own life.

    Raising Children takes time, and energy, and your life. Which he took al the time. I was not the best Mother. And now I'm sorry for it. But you can't change anything. I need to learn to deal with it. And the only thing that is missing from being a Mother to a Son, that doesn't want to get Married? is I'm not a Grandmother. Do I miss it?? What is there to miss if I have never been one...

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    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for reading my post and commenting. I don't recognise your avatar. Do I know you from Multiply?

      Thanks for your open and frank comments on your own experience. Yes, I know what you mean. Lot of folks have said to me over the years "you don't know what you're missing". That's true, I don't, really. But that's the point you were making. How can you miss something you've never experienced?

      Used to be a time when it was frowned upon to be childless by choice. Today, it's not so much, as I can see from other comments above.

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  9. Like you I never wanted to be a parent, but unfortunately I did not have enough parental guidance to know where and how to get free what I needed to prevent it when I got married, and no money to go to a doctor for it, so ended up with my oldest son. The second came along the one time I forgot my preventatives. After he was born I didn't leave the hospital able to have any more.

    I don't regret having either of them, but wonder how my life might have turned out if I hadn't. Now I see my oldest son being the same kind of father his turned into - absent due to not being with the mother, and not letting himself care about his son because he doesn't want to deal with the pain of not being able to be with him. In fact, I see him being even more distant from his son than his own father was from him. In his case I think it is because he had to help me raise his little brother, and his brother has turned out not-so-good, so I think he thinks his son will be better off without him around.

    I think you did the right thing. When you know what you want, you know. And when that doesn't happen, the results aren't often very good. I knew in my early teens I did not want it, and I am not happy with how either of my sons turned out. I constantly blame myself for not being there enough for them, not providing enough discipline, etc.

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    1. " When you know what you want, you know. And when that doesn't happen, the results aren't often very good." The funny thing here is that I've been told by several friends that had I had children, I would have made a great father. I often wonder on how they came to this conclusion, what criteria did they use? Maybe they think I would overcompensate for my experience with my own father.

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  10. Very interesting post, Mitch! Your write is very clear, leaving no doubts about the reasons for your decision... I understand them very well....

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  11. You know Mitch, I was asked by Liz and another friend to write my life story and just said it was so horrendous I couldn't put anyone through reading it. They still wanted to know anyway. I said I would think about it. Still don't know that I will.

    Reading what you have written here has got me thinking about life and took me back years. Keep writing my friend.

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    1. I think you should consider it. I found it to be quite therapeutic to put down in writing episodes of my life, both the good and the bad, and share them with other people

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  12. PS, your eyes are so very sad in this picture.

    Huggles.

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    1. Actually, that photo was taken just after I had recovered from a long illness, and I still wasn't feeling 100%

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