First I'd like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for this website, and the incredible work everyone here is doing to form a supportive community for women like me who are embracing the choice to be childfree.
I have never had a maternal instinct or pictured myself as a mother, and I had a very rough family/childhood, and it took a LOT of therapy and sheer will to upright my life. I met my now-husband when I was working on my PhD and at that point I was still in the fuzzy "yeah maybe someday" abstract possibility space. But once we married and I stopped the pill it was like a force field stopped me from being able to continue. And then I finished my PhD and started teaching as a professor of sociology and I have total clarity that this is what I was put on the earth to do: to teach young people about conflict, peace and liberation--to help them grasp the dynamics of oppression and transformation--and to help them articulate their own values and visions. I have so many books to write, so many documentary films to finish. I am exhausted but really happy.
And I'm 40. And my husband really wants a child. But the more I spelunk in my heart, I encounter so many reasons why being childfree is my path:
1) logistics/timing with my career
2) he is wonderful, but was very spoiled by his Italian mother and doesn't help around the house much, so it's pretty clear I'd take all the load
3) we have no money, very little savings
4) I have a moral complaint with bringing more people into this crowded terrible world--who am I to yank someone into this existence that it has been a life-or-death struggle for me to find peace in? Why not guide and nurture people who are already here?
5) I had an ambivalent mother who resented how motherhood held her back professionally and also was destroyed by guilt and shame for neglecting motherhood and for not having the right emotional makeup to raise a mentally healthy child. It would have been better for her to maximize her strengths and give what she was meant to give, but being a mother compromised BOTH of her paths and really damaged both of us. We are for the first time in more of a place of peace because I have forgiven her--she had her own wounds form an angry mother, and she definitely tried her best. I'm different from her, and I have the emotional resources she lacked, BUT we are very similar in our devotion to our careers, and I don't want to repeat history.
6) Pregnancy, Ugh, Childbirth, BAHHHH! Nursing, GAHHHHH. Sleeplessness, vomit, screaming, tantrums, BLARGHHHHHH
7) Babies and pregnant women gross me out--I still need to do some processing on my overwhelming feeling of disdain, like "you fell for it!"--BUT when I pass dogs or puppies I feel the deep heart-full full-throated longing and tenderness that I assume some women feel for children.
8) I'm finding the courage to understand I can't just have a child out of guilt and obligation for my lovely husband.
9) I just...don't want to have a child.
So, I've pretty much figured out what's right for me.
But. I'm really sad for my husband. He has always wanted it. He isn't actually very realistic about it and I think he wants it because he's maintained a pretty abstract fantasy, and because he is very unfulfilled in his work. But nevertheless, he's really devastated that I'm coming into clarity and we're not on the same page.
I really love him and want him to be happy. But I realized my brief window of willingness was more about wanting him to be happy and enjoying the fantasy of me being able to fulfill his dream or be that mother-earth type person we wanted me to be.
But I'm not. I've got other gifts. And that's okay. I am starting to accept that.
Still the idea of drawing this bright line and being the cause of the collapse of his dream is really tearing me apart. It's the very last piece of this puzzle before I can free myself into my power, into being who I was meant to be. We are in therapy together, and we are each in individual therapy, but I'm still paralyzed.
I thought I might drop this line and see if any of you have any wisdom to share on the particular topic of navigating the painful space of embracing my path and yet disappointing a beloved husband who is still caught in unexamined longing for children, who feels robbed and betrayed by my choice.
I'd really appreciate any thoughts you have.
Thank you so much.