whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

what to do when you’re 30, married, and not a mom February 19, 2011

First of all, let me start off by saying I LOVE my friends who are moms. They are amazing. Nearly all of my closest friends are moms. I admire them and I am glad there are special groups, Bible studies, events, and blogs for them. Most of them probably feel lonely and stressed at times, and I totally understand that. They have a LOT on their plates. So, none of what this post is about is meant to be hurtful to any mommies out there. Some may struggle enough as it is with feeling inadequate (even though they are totally amazing parents).

Like I just said, there is a lot out there for moms. Especially for Christian moms. But at a certain point, especially in Christian circles, you start to get weird looks if you don’t have kids. You’re the odd one out, kind of like it was when you were single and all your girlfriends were getting married. If you’re lucky you might know of some books about infertility that someone told you about. But other than that, being an “older” young married woman in the church (and in the south no less) can be downright depressing.

The Mommy Clubbers. I know the women who do this probably don’t mean to, but some have a major Mommy Club mentality. These are those girls who ask you if you’re pregnant and tease you every time you have a stomach ache (or sneeze). They are the ones who totally ignore you unless they need a baby sitter. They are the ones who never talk to you anymore because they spend their time only with other mommies. They are the ones you thought were good friends, until they got pregnant and began to talk, blog, and tweet about nothing else but their pregnancies and children. These are the Mommy Clubbers.

The Condescenders. Then you have the older women who ask if there is something wrong with you since you don’t have kids yet. They seem to think you exist for little else and that your life must be dreadfully empty without the pitter patter of little feet running through your house. They tell you that if you would just “stop trying” you’d get pregnant, just like so-and-so that they know. Again, I’m fairly certain these ladies mean well. But they are the Condescenders.

The Concerned. Then there are the people you work with and for. They range in their feelings. Some hope you never get pregnant or adopt because you do such great work and they’re afraid you will quit. Some think you are working on your career because you are just killing time before the kids start coming. They can also be Condescenders, but for the most part they are just the Concerned.

The Torturers. And my, oh my. We haven’t even talked about the family. One individual family member can fit into all three categories, as well as the special category really only a family member or in-law can occupy: the Torturers. They meddle. They press. They pester. They hint. They offer advice on what worked for them or so-and-so to get pregnant. They are desperate for grandchildren/nieces/nephews. And of course they too mean well. But they are the Torturers.

The True Friends. And of course there are those amazing diamonds in the rough who invite you into their lives as parents. They answer your sometimes way too personal questions about pregnancy, labor, the adoption process, or all the special challenges and rewards that come with being a parent. They see parenting as a lifelong learning process and admit it when they don’t know all the answers. They continue to invest in your friendship regardless of your mom-status. They allow you to speak into their lives and enjoy having you around them and their kids. These are the True Friends.

What I find is that for many of us in this older age bracket, we live very fulfilled, happy lives. We have loving relationships. We have careers. We have LIFE, even if we haven’t technically brought life into the world. We may yearn for children, and others of us may not. The point is, while we may spend much of the time feeling put down and left out, we’ve got to learn to live with the Mommy Clubbers, the Condescenders, the Concerned, and the Torturers. We can choose to cut ourselves completely off from them, but I don’t think that is the answer.

So instead I just have a bunch of questions. 🙂

What if you don’t want to have kids?

What if you just want to wait to have kids?

How do you interact in a loving, Christlike manner with the above groups of people?

What are some loving responses to the questions and annoying put-down remarks?

What do you do when you’re the “last one” without kids?

What about dealing with fertility issues?

What if you CAN have your own kids but you’d rather adopt?

Does your husband feel any pressure? How does he deal with it, and how do you deal with it together as a couple?

Do you have True Friend moms in your life? How can we be an encouragement to them?

I guess more than anything I’m just hoping I’m not the only one who feels all this. Some days are better than others. Some days I don’t think twice about any of it. Other days it is all I can think about. So, is it just me?


19 Responses to “what to do when you’re 30, married, and not a mom”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You are most definitely not alone. *HUGS* The hardest thing for me is that my husband really doesn’t understand. He worries that he is not enough and that maybe i only want kids…not to be married to him. i don’t know how to explain the empty ache i feel. As you said, on some days it’s not even a thought. But on others . . . it fills your heart and your mind to the point of being unbearable.

  2. Allie Says:

    I have felt a lot of what you’re talking about, even though I am a mom now. Getting married at 19 meant a lot of raised eyebrows and curious stares at my stomach, which then continued for almost ten years. You’re right that there is life, and life abundant, both with and without children. Know that you are impacting more lives than some mothers ever will, and that God loves to fill every empty and lonely hole in our lives.

    I hope that I am a True Friend, at least most of the time. 😉

  3. I have most of these types of “run-ins” with acquaintances and almost complete strangers! I am almost 30, but people mistake me for younger. The best part is our conversation: “Do you have children? No? Aww, you have plenty of time.” Then when they find out my age they say, “Well, women are having children later these days.” About ½ my friends are moms, and they do not behave as though it is weird that I haven‘t had kids yet because they understand where I am at in life as opposed to them. One friend in particular of mine, who does not have children, has become so frustrated with being asked why she has not had children yet, that she wants to start telling these intrusive strangers that she is barren, to make them feel equally uncomfortable. Yes, she has a strange sense of humor and is frustrated. My husband and I do not feel the need to explain ourselves too much when asked, we just simply say it is not time just yet and that we would like to have children someday soon. If pressed I give them EVERY detail until they are completely bored. 😉

    • Ash Says:

      I’ve had more “negative” comments come from strangers than people close to me. It’s interesting. Whenever someone not close to me asks inappropriate questions, I inquire as to why they are asking. It sort of puts the ball back in their court and seems to help them examine themselves a little bit.

  4. That is a good idea. I am still learning to say, “Why do you ask?”

  5. Tamara Says:

    Ash, I’m sure you’ve seen by now that I posted a link to this on my Fb page. Hope that’s all right by you!
    And this reminds me … I really need to start that Gilead Girls blog. There are so many of us … and it really can become a lonely road if you feel like you’re the only one on it.
    So, to the questions I think I can answer:
    What if you don’t want to have kids? What if you just want to wait to have kids?
    For a long time, Matt and I didn’t know whether or when we wanted to have kids. We weren’t those people who grew up longing to be parents. I mean, we both assumed we’d have kids some day, but we didn’t rush it and it wasn’t something that was a major priority for us. This was really hard for some members of our family to deal with. I mean, the second you get married, people want to know when kids will also be in the picture. We didn’t know, and we weren’t ashamed to say that. It caused a lot of heartburn in the family – they thought we didn’t love children or that we were going to end the family name or something. Children are our inheritance, after all. What does it mean about us if we didn’t take that really seriously?
    How do you interact in a loving, Christlike manner with the above groups of people? What are some loving responses to the questions and annoying put-down remarks?
    That’s the harder question. At first, we were very polite about it. When we were pressed about it, we’d say things like, “Only the Lord knows” with a sweet smile. Then, as we pressed toward 30, the questions became much more offensive. I have, on more than one occasion, burst into tears at the prodding of well-meaning people. Some family members have started to say things like, “Aren’t you so grateful you don’t have kids? You couldn’t have this career” or “Isn’t a blessing that you are barren? Just think of how different your lives would be.” And that hurts more than anything else these days – that assumption that I am grateful that I don’t have the “burden” of raising a child. As you know, I had a woman sort of forcefully pray over “my womb” and tell me that our barrenness was sort of a result of our lack of faith. That kind of stuff was much more difficult to deal with. But the reality is the same. Only the Lord knows. It’s always been a good answer – and it’s the only right answer. We are trying to be faithful to Him with the gifts, time, resources, etc., that He has given us. Our ears are pressed against His lips. All people need to hear is that you are trusting Him. They don’t need details, because it only makes them – those kind people on the periphery of your life – more curious and more prone to strange suggestions and remarks.
    We are so over keeping our story to ourselves. What we say now is, “Only the Lord knows, and in the meantime, we have come to understand that it is His will that we are actively loving and raising up future generations to know and love Him.” That’s our truth. We are called to make disciples, whether or not they come from my womb. We are called to look after the fatherless and the widow. And there are currently 147 million orphans in the world who need homes, prayer and support. Until the Lord brings a child into our home, the best we can do is spread that message and offer those prayers for those kids.
    What do you do when you’re the “last one” without kids? What about dealing with fertility issues?
    Here’s where that Gilead Girls blog will be really, really handy. You’re not the “last one.” You might be the last of your friends or the last of your siblings to raise a child, but you’re not ever alone. You should seek out others, constantly reaching out for the kind of support that others who have gone before you can offer. If you don’t know anybody, email me. I know lots of other women without children and in various stages of the process. I have friends who are seeking the help of fertility clinics, friends who have gone through IVF, friends who have had successful adoption stories, friends who are trying to have a successful adoption story, etc.
    Also, I personally find such comfort knowing that there were many women in the lineage of Christ who dealt with infertility issues. Hannah is a personal hero of mine. In the midst of her pain and sorrow, she chose to praise God and to serve Him long before she was given a son.
    Does your husband feel any pressure? How does he deal with it, and how do you deal with it together as a couple?
    I think Matt feels just as much pressure as I do. His family has probably been harder on us than mine. They all mean well, of course, but their comments are little more cutting. I think Matt has always felt more secure that life would be fine whether or not we have kids. He has been such a wonderful support in getting me there too. It’s taken a long time, but the Lord has given us the comfort that He is our legacy, first and foremost. Together, we pray about children constantly. We not only pray for wisdom and direction, but we pray for the child(ren) that will live in our house. We pray together that that child or those kids will know that they are loved, that their home is a place of peace and adventure and godliness, and that they will come to know Christ. Praying about those kids with my husband is one of my favorite things. It is balm for an aching heart.
    Do you have True Friend moms in your life? How can we be an encouragement to them?
    True Friend moms are such a blessing. I have one who allows Matt and I to not only continue to participate in their lives as individuals, but in the lives of her kids as well. She allows us to be “Uncle Matt and Aunt Tamara,” human jungle gyms and story tellers. It is important to tell them how much they mean to you. I’m a card person. I think everyone loves real mail, and everyone appreciates a thoughtful thank-you card. I am also a huge advocate of gift cards to local restaurants – we like to provide date nights for the parents, so that their marriage continues to be nurtured apart from parenthood. Which reminds me – one hugely important thing for True Friend moms is to make absolutely certain that your friendship and conversation doesn’t only revolve around the kids. Make sure she knows you don’t hang out with her just to hold the baby. Make sure she feels validated as a woman and not just as a mom. Moms give up much of their identity for the sake of their kids; the last thing they need is for you as her longtime friend to see her only in her mom mode. So continue to invite them to do the things you used to do. For us, it’s game nights and road trips. They can’t always make it, and it requires flexibility on our part, but it’s so worth it for your relationship.

    • Ash Says:

      couldn’t have said all this better, Tamara. Thank you for your insight and for sharing your story– you and Matt are a huge encouragement to many!!!

  6. Leslie Says:

    This is a very well-put post and I am very glad you wrote it, Ashley.

    There are sub-groups to these too. When I first became a SAHM, the other SAHM-ers welcomed me into this great club and shared yummy secrets about being a SAHM. And then after about 6 months of that when I thought I would pull my hair out, I was shunned when I put my kid in preschool.

    Some other things I have experienced:

    Being called a wimp because I do not wish to have another biological child.

    Someone walked away from me MID CONVERSATION when I told them I have an IUD and do not want more kids right now.

    The concerned and meddlers try their hardest to persuade me that my son needs a sister. its fun to watch the shock on their face when I tell them that when I’m ready I’ll go get one, particularly with an afro. [we want to adopt for our next child(ren) ]

    And other questions:

    What do you do when you are a concerned friend and it’s totally acceptable to ask your friend where they are on the kid spectrum but are terrified to do so?

    What do you do when you are expected to volunteer in the church nursery for an hour but the idea of it makes you want to jump off a bridge? When in reality, your own toddler leaves you wanting to hide in a closet and you love him more than all the other little angels?

    How do you show the proper love and respect to a single mom?

    Why do churches want to segregate us into life stage groups when we could benefit greatly from those in other places in their lives?

    Is it appropriate to kick someone in the face if they tell a potentially adoptive parent who has struggled with infertility that they’re “having a baby the easy way”?

    • Ash Says:

      I feel so much for you, Leslie. I don’t understand what makes people say the things they say, except that perhaps they are hurting and afraid and insecure themselves, and it comes out in these ways.

      As for some of your questions, if it is a friend or family member genuinely asking, I’m usually open to talking about where I’m at with the whole kids thing. I may temper my answer depending on who it is. Like Tamara said, “Only God knows” is a really good answer I need to remember. But at any rate, I think that when someone is asking me about it with love in her heart and is willing to truly listen to what I have to say (not just see it as an open door for her to give me her opinion), she shouldn’t be afraid about asking. Because yes, it is an awkward, painful subject. But I do like knowing I have close friends and family I can talk to about it all who are going to be thinking of me and praying for me. Not pitying me or trying to “solve the problem” but just really walking through it with me.

    • Ash Says:

      AND… about churches splitting people up by age groups, marital status, parent status… yeah. Really glad my church doesn’t do this. I totally agree that we all need others in the same place in life because we need to know we’re not alone. But being quarantined by life stage all the time can really rob people of the richness of relating to people unlike them. I remember being in college and thinking a college-only church would be the best idea ever. Then I started realizing that if I ever wanted to learn how to be married or how to live in the real world, I had better get around people in different stages of life than I was.

      Yet more support for the need for mentoring… 🙂

  7. I agree. The first thing that came to my mind after reading this post and the comments was, “Where are the older women like the ones in Titus 2?” Women of every age and stage need mentors. I pray that I can find one and I pray that I can be one.

    (I found your post via Leslie’s link on FB.)

  8. Laura Says:

    This is so weird because a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to write 2 articles on similar subjects. Y’all have given me a little more insight. Thanks!

  9. What a great reminder to those of us who have kids that we need to be mindful of our friends who don’t. The things we say, even the way we schedule our social time, can feel exclusive. At MOPS International we are all about getting moms together to talk about life in motherhood, but we hope never to do it at the expense of our trusted lifetime friends. Here’s to fitting into that True Friends category!

    • Ash Says:

      Sorry for the delay in this reply! Thank you for your sensitivity and especially the work you do through MOPS.

  10. Chris Says:

    Too neat….. a place where, as A man… I can hear what’s up. I have children too. Raegan Aiddan and Marshall….6 5 1…… the blessings of our wonderful children are the perfect examples of visual and mental kodak moments. from the times when they wake up in the middle of the night,diaper changing?, colds, teeth, clothes, playtime, daycare,school,girls scouts, soccer, meetings meetings meetings! church was like a different part of the house on another block! I truly believe that deep consideration should be thought of before a child gets here. A new me emerged with each birth. I can get so protective that I lose out on opportunities to exercise the sharing of our faith…… any way go to go to work

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