Aging without children
Aging without children

When we are born, none of us slide into the world with labels stating who we will be as adults. No matter what our parent’s plans for us would be, we are the ultimate chooser of our destiny. Although some of us are born preordained onto specific paths, the paths we eventually choose for ourselves are not always the best. For many, choices often lead to life sentences of regret. For the rest, it is what it is, so let us move on and live as best we can.

When I was 20, my life took an unexpected turn off the highway of life and exited down a dark road. For 16 years, crack cocaine would drive the vehicle of my life anywhere and everywhere. Eventually, my role as the passenger became the norm without resistance or question.

Before marrying my first husband and a drug addict, I had a miscarriage before knowing I was pregnant. This incident made me realize that having a baby and addiction would not mix. At the time, I was not willing to stop abusing drugs. It was easier to avoid becoming a crackhead mother than to give up the drugs I had begun to love so much. 

I had seen too many drug-addicted mothers and fathers, with too many neglected children. I was not a responsible adult; how in the world could I be a responsible parent? If getting high was my priority, I had no right to have a child until my focus changed.

Shortly after the miscarriage, I decided to have my tubes tied with the idea of reversing the procedure when I got it together. However, life seldom has an interest in your plans, and years later, I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. Any chance of becoming a mother was gone. At the time of the hysterectomy, I was still living as an addict, smoking crack every day. 

My interest in being a mother had not kicked in, so I never blinked an eye at losing my chance at motherhood. It was just one less problem to interrupt getting high. That was the focus of all my daily thoughts.

When I made the cognitive choice to achieve sobriety, it was also time to face the reality of not having children. I decided not to dwell on what was forever lost to me and move on with other interests. There would be no tears to shed over the past. Not having children was the right decision at the time.

What kind of damage would I have caused by smoking crack while pregnant? What kind of mother would I have been choosing a crack pipe over a baby bottle? How long before the authorities took my child? What other horrors would my child face because of me?

Unable to answer the questions with an absolute conclusion, as well as the fear of giving birth to an addicted baby, I knew my conscious decision was one that I had to live with forever.

I do not mourn a childless life. I cannot consider what should of, would of or could have been. If that was my daily focus, there would be no reason to get out of bed each morning. Even with a skewed mind, I knew I, a drug addict, had no business bringing life into this world with nothing to offer.

I do have a good life without children. There is no time spent worrying that I will be alone in my old age. I have no guilt not bringing a human being I birthed into my substance abuse world to provide them with a miserable life.

Once I made life-altering changes to stay sober, it became customary for people to ask why I do not have children. Most of the parents whose children I have worked with assumed that I was a parent because I worked well with their children. How I responded to their question depended on how I felt during that moment.

Perhaps it was a selfish decision to have my tubes tied and not give up the drugs, at least in other’s eyes. However, I have worked with drug addicts for 17 years, and I have not seen a good crackhead mother yet. Children raised by grandparents who thought they were moving into a footloose and fancy-free lifestyle they had earned; has become the norm. However, they are now getting children up for school, trying to help with confusing homework, going to PTA meetings, and dealing with keeping their grandkids from the drug dealers who stole their parents away.

The children and young adults born into a drug and alcohol environment, who I have worked with, struggle with life, and fitting into social norms. Many are substance abusers themselves. Few can hold jobs. Several are born addicted to drugs and will more than likely have mental health issues. Some will die early, and others will eventually end up in prison or killed while committing a crime.

If my crack addicted life led my child to any of these, here would my regret. I do not regret having my tubes tied. I did not choose to have a hysterectomy; Mother Nature choose for me. I will always feel my decision was the right decision at the time.

As I continue to live my life in my senior years, I chose to adapt to a life without children, without tears or guilt. After all, neither would change anything. For those who feel that they are equipped to lecture me about going forth and multiply as a proclamation, I simply tune them out. Not everyone who can have children should have children.

Do not allow anyone to charge you with guilt for doing what was best for you and your situation.