When I saw the image below I thought surely someone had snapped a picture of Mark and I on our last vacation—just kidding! This couldn’t be us. We don’t look this good and we weren’t alone on our last vacation. We had five kids with us. We also wouldn’t be lying on the sand. We Floridians know that you can’t get all comfy and serene on sticky, itchy sand. Nope, these are models for sure. The sand that this lovely, serene couple is lounging on is the soft sort found on the beaches in Sarasota where my husband grew up. We go there often—it is soft to walk on, beautifully white and makes the water look clearer and bluer. However, it’s still sticky like all sand and so fine that it is harder to get off.
As unrealistic as the image is I was especially intrigued when I saw the title:
“The Childfree Life…When having it all means not having children.”
My dispute with the title is not about the children—to have them or not. My issue is this: you simply cannot “have it all.” I don’t know anyone who “has it all” with or without children. It concerns me that people reading this might develop a false perception of life. They might actually believe that they can have it all and become desperately disappointed when they discover they can’t.
Life is sticky. I don’t care what sandbox you choose, with or without children; you will get sticky. And sticky lives are not perfect and often difficult. Every day I talk to women online and in person about life’s difficulties–about illness, struggling relationships, addictions, unemployment—all of which have nothing to do with whether or not they have children.
I agree that motherhood is not every woman’s calling. There are many women with amazing gifts that have given their lives to using those gifts for others—scientists, politicians and missionaries like Mother Teresa. They are pursuing a passion beyond their own personal gratification–a passion that they have been uniquely gifted with and called to use for the benefit of others. They are not spending their time selfishly trying to have it all.
Motherhood is no less a calling. Mother Teresa had a mother! She was extraordinarily close to her mother, a compassionate woman who instilled in her daughter a deep commitment to charity. Many a mother has sacrificed her own personal gratification for the life of her child. And she did not count the cost but considered it a blessing.
Having it all is an empty delusion. And if anyone thinks that giving up children is going to buy that delusion, I am concerned for them. They will discover their error when they have their “all” only to find that while the sand looks really good; it is sticky and itchy and…empty.
Count your blessings moms—I have five. Two of my blessings came to me through adoption and they actually did cost a lot in dollars! But I don’t count the cost because I don’t miss the money. I would, however, deeply miss the blessings if I hadn’t sacrificed the money.
I may not have it all but I definitely have a lot.