I love this piece : What Women Without Kids Are Teaching This Mom (though the headline is horribly clumsy – we can ALL teach each other, learn from each other).
Having children is the overwhelming norm, because the vast majority of adults are parents (as it says in the piece, very often without making a choice at all), and therefore there are so many assumptions about how it is NOT to have children, so many people who think they know what it must be like for us.
People who are now parents sometimes assume they know what it is like to not to be a parent because at one time they were not parents.
In my experience the place of having wanted to be a mother (and it not happening) is NOTHING like the before-wanting time.
And … yes, we did want children (very much). No it didn’t happen (cancer, miscarriage, IVF with pre-chemo-embryos that all failed), and yes there are losses that are ongoing. As there are in ANY life. There are also great things and wonderful possibilities. As there are in EVERY life.
Being a parent doesn’t make anyone any more empathetic, any more generous, any less selfish than not. (I never understand when people say “I didn’t realise how selfish I was until I had children” – really? Did you really think the world revolved around you before you were a parent? That’s pretty sad if it’s true.) There are awful parents who are horribly selfish, and there are utterly unselfish non-parents. There are people who start every second phrase with “as a mum/dad etc” – as if a) it’s not common and most people aren’t one of those things and b) as if people without children don’t remember what it was like to be a child. We’ve ALL been children.
Most lives are parenting lives at some point. Some aren’t. Every life matters. We can all learn from each other.
(If you want more, here’s a lengthier version of the same, from a few years ago. I still think all of these points are valid, and it has a link to a great piece by my Mrs.)