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A Deeper Call to Being Child-Free

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Artist: Katie m. Berggren

I knew from the age of 4 that I did not want to have children. “I’m going to have puppies!” was my declaration when someone imposed their kid-wanting assumptions on me, when I was just a kid myself (why do people do that?). Throughout my childhood, I didn’t like dolls and preferred stuffed animals. It is believed that children hold the most genuine of truths, so I am happy to say that 40 years later, I have no regrets about being  child-free.

Throughout my teen and early adult years, the desire to have children did not present itself. “But what if you regret not having kids?” was the common response I received from others. As I grew older, I kept my mind open to the idea that I might meet the right person who would pull this maternal desire out of me. But that never happened. Except for two situations that lasted about a week, I never came up against a desire to have kids.

One of the situations where I did, was after a painful and disappointing relationship ended. I was in my late 20’s and believed that I had so much love to give, and needed to give it to someone who needed it. As I said before this lasted for about a week. I realized that, for me, this wasn’t a good enough reason to have kids. This belief was simply another co-dependent belief akin to my preexisting beliefs of: “if I only had the right relationship (job, home, lifestyle, etc.) then I will be whole and happy.” I think I knew then that replacing a baby for a relationship just wasn’t the answer.

As I look back, I am so glad I never became a mother. I know myself too well. I love my freedom and free-time. I cringe when it comes to unsolicited obligation and hate stopping what I’ve started. I know most people do, but when I have to sacrifice these things, I become depressingly miserable.

More importantly, I believe my life’s journey has been about growing and healing myself to the point that I truly needed to know how to mother myself. A few years ago, when I mentioned my decision to be child-free to a woman (that I have a lot of respect for), she replied with “You were too hurt”. I was immediately angry inside as my brain scrambled as if I had been clocked in the head. I didn’t know how to respond, and I didn’t want to ask for clarification. Now I know what she meant. This part of me that was hurt has always been here and wasn’t going to make room for anyone else, and I respect that. This hurt part in me needed me to be its mother, and being a mother to anyone else was not going to work.

I am grateful for my 20-something self that knew I couldn’t solve my heartbreak with a baby. There was a wisdom there that would reveal more of itself later. Yes, I do have so much love to give, and yes, there is someone who needs it. That person in need is myself, and I have more than enough on my plate when I take on that task.

Am I saying that you can’t mother yourself if you have kids? Absolutely not. I know many women who do a lot of inner-healing while raising children. Am I saying that every child-free person has a deep pain that needs healing? Definitely not. The decision to be child-free is an individual one, and I can only speak for myself. I have no desire to have children and  I truly believe that my decision to be child-free was born from a deep need for something else. There was a core place in me that was screaming for care, and needed all of me to attend to that care. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DAY 6 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WHAT WERE YOU DOING TEN YEARS AGO?

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10-years-agoWhoa. Life got ahead of me, and I am beeehind.

So here we go..

“Today, take some time and travel back ten years ago (2005) in your life. Review photos or journal entries to help remember what was going on in your life ten years ago. How things changed for you since then? Did you accomplish some goals along the way? Have there been setbacks? Are you better off today than you were ten years ago? What experience stands out the most for you?”

In July of 2005 I was in graduate school in the School Counseling program at San Jose State University.  I was living in Salinas, California, working as a Social Worker/Case Manager with adolescents, living in my childhood home with my sister, and in a relationship that should have ended a year before.

At that time I believed I was winning my lifetime battle with weight. I was very hyper-conscious (anxious) about my exercise and what I ate. For the first time in my life, I considered myself athletic. The gym was my church, and food was something to be feared and conquered. I was doing the diet thing really well, and felt both strong and scared.

Since then, a lot has happened. A lot of deconstruction and rebuilding. I have earned money, and lost money; lost weight and gained weight; lost hope and gained hope. I hasn’t been easy or fun.

I accomplished my degree, never applied it directly as I realized I no longer wanted to work in the school system, and acquired a second degree in Counseling. I also realized that my strict eating and exercise routine was actually a disorder.

I achieved a few goals then, such as traveling, moving to a new location, and starting my journey towards working independently. I also achieved a few things I didn’t know I needed. For example, and deeper spiritual self, deeper consciousness, and deeper inner healing.

There has been a slew of setbacks, Setbacks I would have never expected. Setbacks that, to this day still scares me.

Emotionally and spiritually I am better of today. However, I am not better off financially. I am actually in a worse state financially than I was 10 years ago.

There are two experiences that stands out he most. The 24-day European trip I had in 2008 gave me a life experience where I felt most alive. Then in 2009, I began the unplanned slow and intense deconstruction that lead to intense emotional despair, significant life changes, unlearning difficult life lessons, and transformation into a healing path.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 5 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WHICH IS A BETTER WAY TO TRAVEL FOR YOU?

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mode of travelWHICH IS A BETTER WAY TO TRAVEL FOR YOU?

My most pleasurable experience traveling was when I was bumped up to first class on a flight to Seattle. If I could afford to travel this way all the time I would. Ah, the leg room, the big comfy seats, the friendly service. It was truly a comfort I will never forget.

For short distances I like the train. Being in those old Amtrak buildings, and boarding the train feels so nostalgic to me. The click-clack of the tracks, watching people come and go at the stops along the way, getting to meet fellow travellers, really warms me up to this mode for short distance travel.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 4 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WRITE ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN

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inwardWRITE ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN

On day 2 of #NAJOWRIMO, I wrote about an aspect of the road less traveled as an inward journey.

“The weight of living life from a place of grasping for safety brought me to my knees. All of my familiar ways no longer worked for me, and I was faced with resigning to hopelessness or going through a re-birthing process that was painful, unfamiliar, and foreign to my family, friends, and community. I had to look back at my life, reach out for help, and learn how to walk in this world in a different way than I was raised and accustomed to. Although most of my life consisted of consciously doing things different than my family, in this moment in time, I was stepping out of my unconscious family patterns, and seeking my authenticity in an existential way far deeper than I ever had.”

Of all the journeys I have taken, this by far is the most important. It was, and continues to be, a journey to re-claiming myself, re-membering myself, and coming home to myself.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 3 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE PLACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRAVEL TO

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imgresMAKE A LIST OF ALL THE PLACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRAVEL TO

I was in middle school when I asked my mom if we could go to Australia. At the time we lived in an agricultural town in California, and had only driven annually to Juarez, Mexico to visit family. And here  I was, all 13 years of me, asking my mom to go to Australia.

Her answer? “We can’t go there! We don’t know anyone in Australia!” That moment gave me a glimpse into my mother’s world, and a better understanding of her. Maybe it also gave me a better understanding of myself as well. I wanted to go to places we had never been to, and never considered knowing people at these places as an issue. Elementary school field trips made me realize that visiting new places gave me a jolt of excitement and a sense of wonder. If a country or other location fascinated me, why not travel to see it?

As I grew older, my travels took the shape of spontaneous day trips to unfamiliar locations. My first cross-Atlantic journey took place in 2008, where I traveled through Europe in 24 days. I don’t know if I ever felt more alive than that time, and I hesitate to try and re-create it, because it just cannot be. However there are a few places from that trip I would like to re-vist and spend more time in.

Brussels, Belgium
Prague, Czech Republic
Venice, Italy
Paris, France
London, England

Other places I would like to re-visit:
Austin, Texas
Seattle, Washington

As for new places to visit:
San Antonio, Texas
Nashville, Tennessee
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mexico City, Mexico
New York, New York
Giza, Egypt
Marrakech, Morocco
New Delhi, India
Auckland, New Zealand
Croatia (coastal)
Athena Greece
Berlin, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dublin, Ireland
Antarctica

In looking at this list, I am realizing that if I want to visit at least half of these places, I need to get-a-move on!

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 2 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WHEN HAVE YOU TAKEN THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED?

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WHEN HAVE YOU TAKEN THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED?

When I look back I feel like “The Road Less Traveled” has been a common theme in my life. Do you relate to this? I know I can’t be the only one.

I am a Chicana who grew up in the predominantly Mexican/Chicano town of Salinas, CA. As a kid, I felt like I walked in two worlds. The social world of my peers where we played familiar games, and my personal life which was rich with a curiosity of how this world “worked” and mainly consisted of wildlife documentaries. These documentaries excited me and made me happy, however when I tried to share this knowledge with others, they were not interested and quickly diverted to their playtime. Even though I was very young, I could feel the difference between us. I had no idea this would be the pattern for most of my life.

Most of what I have done has gone against the grain of my family’s values. The excitement was pleasant but the loneliness was painful. Moving away at 15, then at 19, choosing to not have children, preferring to live alone, being vegan and feminist, and constantly challenging the status quo were discomforts my family had to grow accustomed to.

Although these experiences shaped most of my early life, a more recent experience stands out as a very significant example of taking the road less traveled.

The weight of living life from a place of grasping for safety brought me to my knees. All of my familiar ways no longer worked for me, and I was faced with resigning to hopelessness or going through a re-birthing process that was painful, unfamiliar, and foreign to my family, friends, and community. I had to look back at my life, reach out for help, and learn how to walk in this world in a different way than I was raised and accustomed to. Although most of my life consisted of consciously doing things different than my family, in this moment in time, I was stepping out of my unconscious family patterns, and seeking my authenticity in an existential way far deeper than I ever had.

This poem not only captures the experience for me, but became an anchor I would return to several times to help me through that dark and painful time.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 1 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE CITIES YOU HAVE SPENT AT LEAST ONE NIGHT IN

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Okay, so this started on July 1st, but I’m jumping in now! It’s hard for me to turn down a writing prompt, especially a month’s worth of them. Will you join me?

So, here we go.

ALL THE CITIES YOU HAVE SPENT AT LEAST ONE NIGHT IN

As a kid, our annual family trips consisted of:
Riverside, California
Las Cruces, New Mexico
El Paso, Texas
Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico (once)

Then with my mom, when I grew older:
Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico

Then on my own:
San Jose, California
San Francisco, California
Seattle, Washington
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Friday Harbor, Washington
Washington, DC
Portland, Oregon
London, England
Wurzburg, Germany
Brussels, Belgium
Prague, Czech Republic
Vienna, Austria
Rome, Italy
Venice, Italy
Lucern, Switzerland
Paris, France
Austin, Texas
Olema, California
Santa Barbara, CA

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