Welcome everyone! It’s week thirty of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and this week it’s Pamela who we’re welcoming to this space. Pamela had to give her baby up for adoption and honestly, I just can’t even begin to comprehend how painful that must have been. I’m so honoured and grateful that she shares her story. 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.
We Are: Pamela and Robert, late 50s and early 60s
Home Is: Cornwall
We Do: We’re both retired
There’s a phrase that you’ve probably heard, along the lines of “time heals all wounds”. Is it true? I can’t really say, I suppose it depends on the individual concerned. I’ve definitely had a good long time to think about it though, 45 years in fact.
Before I tell you my story, I will say that I’m happy. Really, deeply, truly happy. I have a good life, a good partner, a good home. We live in Cornwall, both retired, lots of friends and activities that keep us active and young at heart. Everyone has a past and baggage, some of us have it from a much younger age than others.
I grew up in Liverpool, the oldest of 7 children in a very poor, working-class family. My Mum was a single parent, my Dad left when I was 5 and I never saw him again. My 3 younger siblings all have different Dads. It was definitely a struggle and my Mum tried really hard to make sure there was always food on the table but she wasn’t around that much. There was so much expectation on me to look after all my brothers and sisters and I did my best but I resented it so much too. What about my childhood, my fun, my time?
I know too that we weren’t the only family in this situation and definitely don’t want to sound ungrateful or spoiled. I do think it’s hard though for any child to have to grow up before their time. I already felt so wise by the time I was just 12, even though as it turned out I still had so much to learn.
It was a boy from down the road, older of course. I had so much need to escape at times and we used to just mess about. I thought I knew everything and that I wouldn’t be as stupid as my Mum to “have babies”. What did I know though, I was just a baby myself. Too young to be sexually active, too young to have a baby of my own. I didn’t really understand what was happening, I was already 4 months pregnant when I even realised. I hid it for another month before my Mum found out.
What happened after I don’t remember too much anymore. I had my baby, a little girl, and I never saw her again. Children from older siblings were often swallowed into the family as younger siblings back then, it wasn’t uncommon (think Kat and Zoe in EastEnders). We just couldn’t afford another mouth to feed and had no say. Apparently some nuns came to the hospital (how cliché) and took her away for hopefully a better life.
Life has been very up and down in the intervening years. For a long while I had this indescribable pain, that hurt so so much. I sobbed, tears that shook my whole body, for what felt like months. I left school and went to work in a shop, and what I went through was never spoken about again. Ever. My Mum passed away some years ago and I had wondered if that might be the time that we could lay the ghosts to rest but it never happened. I never blamed her, but I did wish that things had been different.
So eventually, in my early 20s I took the slow decision and journey to change, to make a better life for me and put myself first. I didn’t cut ties with my family but I did leave Liverpool and gradually saved up enough to enrol in college. I had no idea then whether I’d ever have children or even let anyone get close enough to me but it was time to look out for me.
I met Robert at the accountancy firm I worked at in London when I was in my early 30s and he was in his mid 30s. He was kind, supportive, funny and we fell in love. I told him what happened and he put no pressure on me to start a family, we agreed to see where things would take us and as it happened, it wasn’t meant to be. I have no regrets about this, we built a wonderful life for ourselves and relocated to Cornwall 5 years ago. I can’t deny there have been times when I’ve wondered about what might have been – seeing friends around me have children, then watch those children get older, graduate, start to get married. I would have loved that life, but I also love this one. In order to move on, you have to find a happiness, as so many other story posters have shared. Not a better one, not a worse one, just a different one. For a long time I thought maybe one day there would be a knock at the door, especially around the time she would have turned 18. It hasn’t happened yet, and I’m ok with however it pans out. Whatever will be, will be.
Thank you so so much to Pamela 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 Pamela’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.