Out of Place – Tiffany’s Story
Someone once said “no one gives you a road map for the road less travelled”. The terrain is unsteady, roots pushing up out of the soil, rocks litter the trail. You push through, chopping down the brush, climbing and tripping and stumbling through. With no directions to guide you it’s uncertain and often intimidating. It’s a path for the resilient, the ones who can persevere, the brave.
The path we chose was one without children.
My husband and I got married thinking we would become parents, as most do. We talked about baby names and dreamed of all the “when we have kids..” scenarios. We spent 2 years waiting for that little pink line, attended far too many doctors appointments until we finally received the news. A diagnosis of PCOS and abnormal morphology left us at a loss. Children would be unlikely without medical intervention. I never doubted God could give us children, if that was the path that we were meant to travel He could do it, regardless of diagnosis. Nevertheless the news made us re-examine our life as we had planned. Not having children was now a very real possibility. What if we didn’t have children? What would life look like? What would be our new goals and purpose within a family without kids? All these questions hung in the air as we wandered further into the unknown.
The upside and the downside
We discussed what was important to us as individuals and as a couple; serving others, personal growth, being generous with our time and our finances, exploring the world, being happy. We knew this path would present unique challenges but also unique advantages, an abundance of freedom being at the top of the list. We didn’t want to spend our lives as non-parents the same way we would spend it as parents. We wanted to take advantage of last minute hockey tickets, spontaneous road trips, missions opportunities and fully embracing our wanderlust. We would be free to cut our shopping trip short to help a friend put up a Christmas tree, free to help a friend move and move again, free to bless those around us.
While we dreamed of all the potential, I mistakenly neglected to think about the struggles this path would pose. The heaviest of them being the loneliness. Your twenties are filled with engagements and baby announcements. As the former trickled off, the latter flooded in. Another baby shower, another newborn, another pregnancy announcement. As we gathered with friends and family it became more and more apparent I no longer truly fit. While the women stood circled in the kitchen talking about breastfeeding and how to properly discipline a toddler with a biting problem, I stood silent. I had nothing of value to add and I couldn’t relate to the struggles they were experiencing. The cats can be a challenge, but most parents don’t appreciate you comparing your pets to their babies –– “Spraying Luna with a water bottle works for me, do you think it would work for little Johnny?” A comment that surely wouldn’t fly.
Humans are communal creatures, we all need a tribe so to speak. It’s why at a party the women gather in the kitchen and the men in the garage. We want to know we aren’t alone in life. We were blessed enough to have supportive family and friends surrounding us, but I still longed for connection. I wanted to talk with others who could say “I’ve been there, I’ve experienced that, you’re not alone.”
Made for community
In true millennial fashion I focused my efforts online. I had found connection with others on Facebook for things like bible art journaling, minimalism and reading, so certainly there would be a place online for the childfree/childless people of the world. What I ending up finding was disheartening to say the least. Although there were many groups and pages dedicated to living a life without children, they were built on negativity and animosity towards parents and children. Inappropriate memes, rude comments, complaints and threads about how awful they think children are. Is this really the community I was condemned to spend my time with? Where were the happy stories of travel and marriage and generosity that I had envisioned?
A quote that always stuck in my mind was that of Toni Morrison; “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Similarly, if there’s a space you long to be that doesn’t exist, you must create it. I knew that if I wanted a space that focused on the positive aspects of living life without children that I would have to create it myself. I tried to imagine the place that I was longing for. It would be a place for those who are childfree by choice as well as childless by circumstance. We would show that living without children could be fulfilling, joyous and exciting even if it wasn’t a path you originally thought you were travelling. We would focus on the positive aspects of our own lives, without ever having to shine a light on any unfavourable aspects of parenting.
I transitioned my personal instagram to a childfree dedicated page and started planning a blog. I knew nothing about writing or building a social media following, but ‘fortune favours the bold’ as they say. As I shared my story and my own personal struggles my social media numbers began to grow. 300 followers turned into 1000 and then 5000. I received messages from people that said things like “you make me feel less alone” and “you have no idea what this page means to me”. I connected with people in America, India, Mexico and even my own province in Canada. I was no longer the one who stayed silent, instead I was the one shouting through the trees.
In the end I didn’t find my belonging anywhere, I created it and in turn gave the gift of belonging to so many others along the way.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!
Meet Tiffany J. Marie
Tiffany J. Marie writes a blog focused on encouraging childfree/childless women to embrace their identity and recognize their worth and roles outside motherhood. Having briefly walked the road of infertility to eventually choosing a path without children, Tiffany can empathize with both the childfree and childless. When she isn’t writing she embraces a slow, minimalist life with her husband Phil and their two cats; Audrey and Luna. Tiffany spends her free time hiking, baking, or settling in with a good book and a hot tea. You can connect with her at her website or on Instagram.