On Being Childfree – Helen’s Story

Welcome everyone! This week I’m very pleased to welcome Helen to the blog to share her story. It’s interesting, when I started this series I imagined that it would be predominantly people around my age who would want to have a platform but I’m so thrilled to welcome those who are older. Helen turned 70 this year and describes the challenges of being married to someone who didn’t want children. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.

I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.

(If you would like to see where it all began, click here. Thank you so much for your support, if you would like to share your own story please email me on booandmaddie22@gmail.com)

Devon

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I Am: Helen, 70

Home Is: Devon

I Do: Retired

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I didn’t really know if I had a story to share and it’s not a very long one but I thought maybe I could help people to see that sometimes you make a decision and it’s ok to have doubts about it. Nothing’s ever really black and white is it?

My name is Helen and I’m an older lady having turned 70 this year. I should say right away I don’t have children not because I couldn’t but because my husband didn’t want them. It was quite an interesting experience growing up in the era I did because now we look back at it and see women as casting off the generations before, fighting for rights in the 70s and lots of women entering the work force whereas my mother stayed at home apart from the war. At the time though I suppose just like anything you’re not always really aware that you are living in a time of great change, it’s more a retrospective thing if that makes sense?

It may sound strange but it almost felt frowned upon to not work when I was in my 20s and 30s, for a woman. At the same time it felt like the “have it all” scenario before that even became a thing. We were meant to work because our mothers couldn’t but also still be having a family so I just assumed we would and to be honest you didn’t even have the conversation about children because not having them wasn’t a thing.

Once we were married though my husband made it really clear that he didn’t want children. I suppose like a lot of us women do, we live in hope that maybe a man will change or as more and more of our friends and family settled so too would we. It didn’t happen though and honestly, it wasn’t even the conversations about when we were going to have children that bothered me rather than divorce was still something that you didn’t do back then. I guess this is my chance to be completely honest and yes, I considered it in my darkest days.

We were happy of a fashion but again it was still the time when men and women had quite different leisure pursuits in their spare time. It wasn’t like we spent all of our non-working hours together and sometimes I felt lonely. He was a really good man, very hardworking and affable, not some layabout who didn’t contribute or spend all his time in the pub (and we knew some of those). I did count myself lucky as I saw some friends of mine who had the children but a miserable life.

Strangely enough it wasn’t even that I had a particular yearning either or urge as some describe it. It’s been later, much later where I’ve thought I may have regrets. Donald died 3 years ago after a short battle with cancer. It’s not being worried about growing old alone as I’ve got a really full and engaged life and my friends tell me some of them rarely see or here from their children so it’s no guarantee of escaping loneliness, having a child. It’s more those big milestones, like seeing your child get married, or maybe having grandchildren. Again, nothing is guaranteed these days is it? Young people are bucking trends more than I have hot dinners. But I do think about it and whilst I’d say I’m happy most of the time I suppose I do wonder what that “other” happy may have looked like.

Thank you so so much to Helen for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Helen’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.

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