This is only tangentially related to diabetes, and it definitely doesn’t apply to a good many of the people out there in the D-blogosphere, but it has much to do with my diabetes and I know there are others out there living with diabetes for whom this is relevant.
I know I haven’t written a lot about my existence as a non-parent. I have mixed feelings about my decision to not parent even though practically and logically I think it’s the absolute best choice for me. While there are a lot of factors that went into this choice, being diabetic is ultimately the main reason I’ve chosen to be child-free. I put my body through enough garbage by not taking care of my diabetes. Now that I’m doing right by my body, I want to maximize my mileage, and having babies is not a stress my body needs. Beyond that, as hilarious and charming as my genes are (that was a live demonstration of the pure hilarity), they’re also prone to depression and diabetes, and I couldn’t live with myself if I passed either, or heaven forbid both, onto another human. I can’t conceive of anything more devastating than that, and it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take, so I got my tubes tied in 2005. As I expressed to a friend out in the D-blogosphere just a few days ago, that’s a risk we all have to evaluate for ourselves. I’ve taken the less popular stance, but it’s the right thing for me.
After two of my friends got almost simultaneously pregnant back in 2004, my friendships with them changed. They wanted to talk about being pregnant and raising kids, understandably so, but eventually I got bored with those topics and really had nothing to contribute when it came right down to it. I had hoped that their interests would broaden again after the babies were born, and eventually that actually started to happen… just in time for them both to become pregnant with their respective second children. I remember sitting at my desk crying when I found out the one was pregnant again because I was an anomaly in a world of 30-something women racing to make babies. I didn’t have a friend in the world who understood what I was experiencing, and I didn’t know where to find one.
Maybe a year or two prior to that, I had discovered some diabetes message boards, and had experienced this incredible feeling of connectedness that had evaded me for so long, at least in regard to being diabetic. They weren’t real life friends, but they were always there, and had they showed up on my doorstep, I would have welcomed them in my home because they had become like surrogate family to me. It occurred to me that maybe I could find a similar group of people who had foregone the baby train, so I turned to the trusty interweb.
That’s when I found No Kidding, an international organization for childfree people comprised of local chapters that hold social events. I had never participated in any kind of social club, not that I can recall anyway, but I was willing to give it a try. Our social life had petered out with the birth of our friends’ children. It’s not that we never saw them, but it was much less frequent and the nature of our gatherings had changed since they now included young kids. I needed to befriend some other childfree grownups, and Jason was willing to try it in order to support me because he knew how sad I had been about the changes in my other friendships.
I found a South Jersey chapter and contacted the woman in charge. A few weeks later, I attended my first event, a women’s dinner, at a local restaurant. It was weird and I’m admittedly a little socially retarded so I was uncomfortable, but it was a favorable experience overall. This was almost two years ago. I don’t know how other chapters have their events organized, but South Jersey chapter members volunteer to host events, everything from dinners at restaurants to dinners at people’s homes to pool parties to hay rides to white water rafting. There are usually a couple of events per month plus a women’s dinner.
Contrary to how some people have described us or assumed about us, we’re not swingers or baby-haters. Most of us have nieces and nephews (or friends’ children) on whom we dote. Some of us have chosen to not have kids for every reason you can imagine, while others have tried and been unable to conceive. There are a few who want to have kids, but are happy to enjoy life without children for the time being, so the reasons for being childfree are many. There are couples as well as singles. There are people in their 20’s to as old as people can be. It seems that most of us have pets that are our children – and as someone who’s worked with too many poorly parented kids, I can say our pets get treated better than far too many kids.
As with any gathering of people who have a single common denominator, there are people we’ve meshed with more than others, and we’ve socialized with a few of them outside of the regularly scheduled events. It’s been a positive experience overall, and while I still love my other friends and their kids, I’m grateful to have a different set of friends who can stay out as late as they want, don’t have to schedule around babysitters, and with whom I can relate and I feel like I belong.
As I said, I know this is irrelevant to many people out there, but I was almost as grateful to find people with whom I could relate regarding this as I was to find other diabetics. Since diabetes has much to do with my decision, and I know there are other diabetic women who’ve chosen similarly (although I’ve yet to meet them…), I wanted to share this resource.