I (Shannon) was recently reading the book, “Southern Lady Code” by Helen Ellis, and a chapter resonated with me. It was a chapter called, “Free to be…you and me (and childfree).” It moved me so much, that I thought I should write about how it made me feel, as it may inspire others who are in the same boat, to feel comforted that it is okay to be a dink. I just wish I would have read this 10 years ago, or that Helen Ellis would have written it before now, but that wasn’t her path, and things happen for a reason- or so I am told.
What is a dink, you ask? A dink is an acronym: “Double Income No Kids”. Gerry and I, of course, both work, but have no children- our choice. A topic that I do not often discuss, but according to a therapist I once had, it was an issue for me to feel that I did something wrong by not having children. It is our choice to not have children, despite that not being the original plan.
A few years after we married, we made attempts to get pregnant. Realizing that I was having trouble becoming pregnant, and it not happening on our timeline, we continued to face the disappointment as a family was disappointed in us. Well, my family, I should say. My mother shouted from the rooftops, even on my wedding day how she wanted grandkids, ASAP! Mom and I have worked through this now, but it was such an intense pressure I experienced- not just from her, but mostly anyone and everyone around us. My grandmother told me constantly how badly she wanted to be a great-grandmother! Ughh! Ger never faced the pressure that I felt, because society doesn’t put that on men. Ger has never been asked why he doesn’t have children. Even as I embark on my 40’s, am still asked why I don’t have children, to which I now reply, “Because we don’t want children”. Thankfully, I married a man who is so supportive and expressed in the beginning that he’d be okay if we had kids, or if we didn’t have kids. Once I realized that we were having trouble getting pregnant, I told myself that no matter what. if we couldn’t have our own, we would adopt, when we were ready. We talked about it each year, and we always put it off, thinking that one day, we would feel so moved to do it, that we would pursue that path. Well, it never happened. We never felt that tug, that calling, that magical feeling that we should move along with the process to have children, physically, nor by adopting. We enjoy our lives- even though we don’t have children (human children, that is). And guess what, it is possible.
Ger and I are able to do things we wouldn’t be able to do if we had kids: travel at the drop of a hat, have drinks after work anytime we want and take as much time as we want, have the expendable income to live life the way we want (though we are mostly minimalists) but we also can retire the way we want. We can sell our house on a whim, and live minimally on the coast, without worrying about the school districts, or the effect these changes will have on a child.
Our former business was our baby. We put everything into it, and we wouldn’t have been able to have that experience if we had children. I cannot help but think that we wouldn’t have absorbed the unconditional love of our pets if we had children. I attended a women’s social event a few years ago, and there was a psychic as one of the “experiences” of the event. I took my turn to talk to the psychic and one of the questions I asked was whether we would have, or adopt a child. The psychic quickly replied, “Would you want to be your own mother?” Ouch! Maybe she could tap into my obsessiveness to dote, caudal, and worry about my pets… not sure. Yes, I know, we have free will and all of that, but it was another musing that I filed away to contemplate later. After a few years of going back and forth, trying to make a decision for those around us, we decided, being parents to a human wasn’t for us, and all of a sudden, I did not just accept it, but I embraced it. To think, now that I let myself off of the hook with all of the pressure, I could now live my life the way I want, and those around me could get over it, and just do the same with theirs.
Now, I have no problem admitting proudly and freely that Ger and I are pet parents extraordinaire! If I were a pet, I would want to be ours. Betty White, and our past pets (Kiko, Wilson, and Pharrell) live(d) pretty cushy lives. It breaks my heart that all pets don’t live the life they did/do. I am unsure if we could be the pet parents we are if we had human children. We also adore being Auntie Shan and Uncle Ger! That role is fun and rewarding for us. I also know there are people in this world who should not have been parents, and their resentment is evident in their daily lives. It is sad, not just for them, but for the other beings that they brought into this world.
I know that being a parent, non-parent, dink, wife, or whatever title I have or do not have, doesn’t define me, or make me who I am. Just as a mother, father, teacher, doctor, mechanic, or any other role in your life doesn’t make you who you truly are. I highly recommend “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. Singer discusses the definitions of who we are, and how your roles do not define your true self.
So, if you are reading this, and feel camaraderie in seeing that life is fulfilling as a dink, and you feel a sense of comfort knowing that you are not alone in your dink-dom, then good. My blog job is done. For us, this adventure called life has its lessons, and embracing what has been set before us now, is the biggest lesson we have learned, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.