I have been told I’m lucky for not having kids.
Usually this is in the context of well-meaning friends sharing their heartache over their kids going off the rails. They lament to me about their heartache and then say something along the lines of ‘You’re lucky you don’t have to deal with that’ or ‘You’re lucky you don’t have my problems’.
What these people often do not realise is I would gladly take on that kind of heartache.
I would gladly take on that kind of heartache.
I understand where my parent-friends are coming from. They are experiencing real problems with their kids and genuinely struggling with them. Sometimes they just need to vent, and I get that. Other times, they are sending up a flare, crying out for help. I totally get that too.
Being told I’m lucky in childlessness can come across as laughable or even offensive. There are times I have laughed out loud after being called ‘lucky’. I laugh because I am not entirely unsure I would otherwise cry.
Those who are childless do not feel ‘lucky’. They do not feel lucky when they are grieving their child they nearly had—but didn’t. They do not feel lucky when unable to join in the child-centred conversations around them. They do not feel lucky on Mother’s and Father’s Days.
Those who are childless do not feel ‘lucky’.
I am generally a positive person. Naturally optimistic, I am always looking for the silver lining in any situation. But it is hard to find a silver lining while your heart feels like it really might break in two. When I am in the middle of a childless-related wobble, ‘lucky’ is the last word that springs to mind.
Part of me feels like giving some choice responses to the ‘lucky’ comment:
- I’m lucky? Lucky to be stuck in a cycle of endless grief?
- Children are nothing but heartache, eh? Would you happily live without yours?
- I’m lucky? Wanna swap your heartache for mine?
Perhaps our friends do not understand how we feel. Perhaps they struggle to empathise. Perhaps they are trying to cheer us up. If that is the case, I appreciate it. I really do. And I would probably do the same thing in their shoes.
What would be more helpful for me, however, is this: instead of telling me how to feel (lucky), ask me how I do feel. And some days I might feel lucky. I might feel grateful to not have the heartache of my parent-friends. But other days, I might be in the middle of grief.
Sit with me. Then I’ll know I’m not alone.
On those days, don’t try to cheer me up. Don’t try to figure out how I feel. Just say, ‘That sucks’, and sit with me. Then I’ll know I’m not alone. And, blessedly, I have plenty of friends who do just that. They stay with me, in the middle of those sucky feelings. And God does that for me too.
I may not be ‘lucky’, but I’m certainly not alone.
Have you ever been told you’re lucky for being childless? How did you respond? What would you say if someone complained to you about their kids? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.