I am blessed to have been raised in a close-knit home by two loving parents who stayed together for eternity. Both “only children” they were thrilled to have three daughters who wouldn’t be lonely growing up, like they were. Unlike all the other parents I knew, they encouraged us NOT to have children, often saying they had no desire to be grandparents, and if we got pregnant we’d have to raise the child on our own. This was a deterrent to having babies “out of wedlock” I imagine, but the message was repeated throughout our lives. My oldest sister and I grew up without a thought or desire to be mothers.
In college, I volunteered at a neighborhood clinic offering pregnancy tests, counseling, and education. This was during the Reagan-era “Gag Rule”, where we weren’t legally allowed to discuss the option of abortion. (How dare they? Of course we did.)
At age 30, I fell in love with, and married a man who had a 2-year old son from a fling he’d had prior to meeting me. During the proposal, he explained I’d be marrying not only him, but his son. Forever. It was a vow I took seriously. My little stepson lived with us part-time, and I grew to love and adore him. His father, a newly famous musician, traveled frequently and would come home from tours exhausted (and hungover). It was up to me to have milk and cereal in the house, plan play dates, birthday parties, trick-or-treating, and Easter egg hunts. It wasn’t an easy time, but I loved it!
The next year, despite using birth control religiously, I discovered I was pregnant. My husband said he didn’t want the baby—that he already had a child he couldn’t properly care for. My heart broke, knowing that even if I had wanted a baby (and I did not), my husband did not care what I wanted. I terminated the pregnancy. I’m sure there are rock stars that make wonderful husbands and devoted fathers, but this wasn’t the case. After a few years, he ended our marriage, and with it, my rights to be a stepmom.
Many years later, at 40, I married a really lovely guy, who had never married, and did not want to have children. Did I, he asked? I thought long and hard. Nope. Bingo! We moved to the west coast (a shared lifelong dream). We have a beautiful home, and travel overseas every chance we get. This is not something we could have pulled off, if we had children. My life is so much richer for having experienced being a stepmom all those years ago. But I don’t imagine I’ll ever regret not giving birth.