by Belinda S. Han, MA
My name is Belinda, I am the oldest of five manly brothers and one very feminine, blonde haired, blue eyed sister (she has such a sensitive disposition that she cannot even handle moths). I have been married to a not-so-tall, but very dark, handsome, and strong man for nearly a decade. I have been blessed with a good education and meaningful work, I am a religious person, I have two of the most rambunctious and loving miniature dachshunds ever created, and (drumroll please)… I am childless. There is a difference between being childless and child-free. When a person is child-free he or she has chosen not to have children. When a person is childless he or she is unable to have children. Like in many conservative faiths, family and children are at the center of my religious culture. A few months ago I came across an article with an intriguing title: 5 Things Couples Dealing With Infertility in Your Ward (LDS Congregation) Wish You Knew. The title immediately caught my eye and I was excited to read it.
Here are the highlights:
- Never talk about children, motherhood, or anything else child related; you could offend those who are childless.
- Childless people want to feel like a martyrs, so make sure you always recognize his or her childless-ness.
- Always assume that speaking about children with a childless person is a painful topic (refer back to #1).
- Don’t ever be real about your parenting struggles and/or triumphs with a person that is childless; he or she might get offended (again, refer back to #1).
- Do not ever, I mean EVER share your feelings about how important and meaningful motherhood and/or fatherhood is (and, once again, refer back to #1).
I was completely flabbergasted to read such a condemning article. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is one of the dumbest articles that I've ever read. Can you imagine having to hide who you are because someone who is different from you might get offended? This is like not sharing a delicious Ancho Chicken Taco with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream recipe because there could be someone out there who is allergic to ancho chile and you might eternally damage their self-worth by saying how delicious this recipe is (by the way, this recipe looks AMAZING!!! You can thank me later for the link). I get that a human life and food are two very different things, but think about it.
Those of you that have children, do you ever have those fleeting moments where you see someone like me and have a twinge of jealousy because I get to go to the bathroom alone, or I get to go grocery shopping alone? But in the end you would NEVER trade your life for mine? Well, it's the same way for some of us that cannot have children. We have those moments of jealousy watching you get baby snuggles and being called mom or dad. But in the end, WE ARE HAPPY WITH THE BEAUTIFUL LIVES THE LORD HAS GIVEN US! I cannot tell you the joy I feel when a good friend whispers in my ear that he or she is expecting, when I see the miracle of a glowing woman with a round belly, read the thrilled social media post when that four month appointment comes and the doctor tells the prospective parents the gender of their little wonder, the dozens of pictures of the birth day, the announcement of the little one’s name, weight, and length, the month by month play of the child’s first year, the painful Lego moments and first days of school, the potty training triumphs and frustrations, the heartbreaks and joys of children growing up and becoming independent thinkers, and the list goes on. My life is completed by the diverse experiences of those whom I choose to surround myself with, and I hope I do the same for those who choose to allow me to surround them.
So, DO NOT stubble awkwardly when you speak about your life, children and all. Be proud of who you are and what you have! Speak freely. Ask me how many kids I have, and when I say none don't look at me with pity or like I'm suffering. God has a plan for each of us. We each have a specific role to fill. My role is different than yours, this is how God intended it, and I thank God each day for the beautiful and miraculous life he has given me.
And the next time you walk past me with one of your adorable children and/or an Ancho Chicken Taco, hold tight to BOTH as I may be inclined to do a little neighborly “borrowing.”
Belinda grew up in San Diego, California as the oldest of 7 children (5 brothers and 1 sister). She moved to a small town in Utah while in high school and has never looked back. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from Utah Valley University (UVU), a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, and is completing a Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University. Belinda is the Director of the internationally recognized Center for the Advancement of Leadership at UVU and an adjunct professor in the Woodbury School of Business and in Student Leadership Success Studies. Over the last several years Belinda has presented at professional conferences around the world including the most recent International Leadership Association Global Conference in Barcelona, Spain. In 2007 she married the handsomest, most charming, and hardworking man ever born. Together they have 23 nieces and nephews and live happily in a small brick home with two fireplaces and their pups, two miniature dachshunds named Doc and Pepper (like Dr. Pepper, Belinda’s favorite drink).