Guest Author - Lori Bradley
Based on some of the commentary on the Married No Kids forum this month it seems parents are concerned that childfree folks have nothing to do. They think our empty moments build into discontented hours and days. People with kids, of course, think they fill time with very meaningful activity: spending every waking moment with children - at the water park, at parties, even accompanying kids to school. Most people with kids make comments such as, "I don't even remember what I did before I had children. My time felt so empty."
I don't buy for a minute that kidfree time felt empty when parents were experiencing it - the feeling occurs only in retrospect - compared to the more frantic lifestyle of parenthood. Parents seem to forget their former life lives and become hyper-focused on every detail of their children's lives. In my opinion, and speaking from my own childhood experience, kids greatly appreciate time to play with other kids, to explore and talk without parents mediating their imaginations.
But, back to the point: since so many parents seem to view childfree people as inevitably lonely and unfulfilled, I want to collect stories with an opposing point of view. If you want to share your story please send a comment to this article: What do your do with your valuable childfree time? What are the focal points and pleasures of your life as adults without kids?
In my small city, I've come to know quite a few people who are committed to living without procreating. Here are a few of my favorite stories:
One childfree friend I know is undergoing a difficult divorce so spends her free time walking the beach to relax. She's a spiritual, quiet, introspective person and is honest in admitting that she can't handle the outpouring of energy required to maintain kids. She enjoys visits with her nieces and nephews, and dotes on them lovingly, but is always happy to return home to peace and quiet. She rents a beach house off-season and takes long, cold, lovely walks during the winter, returning home to read by the fire and paint the seascape.
Another friend realized early on that she wouldn't be able to care for kids with her very severe form of bipolar disorder. Over the years she learned to manage the disorder and became successful with her art. She does regret not having kids, but is now nearing her sixtieth birthday. So, she fills her days making pots and babysitting for other people's kids and grandkids, With a playful nature and passion for the small pleasures in life she's become everyone's favorite substitute grandma.
And, another artist friend realized in her teen years that she never wanted kids or even a married relationship with a partner. Still, she's not a loner. She fills her evenings with dinners and drinks out with friends and her days teaching high school art classes. She's a passionate and gifted teacher. She immerses herself in the lives of hundreds of students with the same concern a good parent gives to offspring. She's a teacher her students will remember for life.
A childfree couple I know embrace frenetic activity with enthusiasm. The husband owns a chain of fast food restaurants and his wife runs an animal shelter. The husband pours all his money into local charities and has been honored many times for his donations to children's causes. He jokes that he never had kids so he could support everyone else's. His wife is equally intense about her shelter. She is there every day, doling out medicine and advice from 10:00am to 10:00pm, feeling guilty when she takes a day off because she has the flu.
None of these people are lonely or bereft, and conversely, most contribute a great deal to their friends and communities. In fact, I've never met a childfree person who leads an "empty" life. I have more stories to tell, and I love to hear new ones. So, again, if you'd like to share some of your own ideas and stories on leading a rich, rewarding childfree life, please send them to me so I can share them with other readers.