Being childless felt like my dominant identity and the when/if/whether question preoccupied me. When I remarried — to a man who knew he didn’t want kids — I finally settled the question for myself. And by my late 40s, I came to acceptance.
Now in my early 50s, I’ve found my people — city dwellers who are thoughtful about engaging with young people and creating strong community even if we don’t have what looks like a conventional family life. While I still sometimes feel a sense of sadness or loss, those feelings have largely receded. I experience joy and pain on my path, just as parents do on theirs.
Over the years, I had many conversations about my situation with trusted friends and family and with a therapist. But my memories of those decision-making years are tinged with a sense of isolation and secrecy. Even though I found people to talk to, those exchanges were always one-on-one, only with those I confided in most. My struggle was largely in private.
In the past few years, I’ve begun to see signs that younger generations are finding new ways to support one another and ease loneliness and seclusion.