“It’s complicated.”

Jasmine, 51, USA

I’m childless by choice and circumstance… it’s complicated. I’m now in midlife, so having a child is not an option, but even when it was, I vowed not to continue the cycle of childhood trauma and abuse I suffered and witnessed in my family, so I had an abortion when I was 18.

In my first marriage (in my mid-20s), my husband didn’t want children and got a vasectomy to seal the deal. I carried that into my second marriage (in my 30s), but we were so happy (at first), and he was such a good man (for a few years), so I fell in love with the idea of becoming a mother. I wasn’t surprised or hurt to learn that I couldn’t conceive (likely because of scar tissue caused by the abortion or endometriosis). We talked about adopting, but we didn’t stay together long enough to make that happen, which is for the best.

In my 40s (and third marriage), I finally made peace with not being a mom because it wasn’t meant to be, and honestly, it’s not who I am at my core. I used to despise my mom for feeling that way (or rather, I assumed she did because why else would she abandon me?), but now I understand.

Motherhood and wanting to be a mom is an innate feeling for many women. I’m not one of those women.

Now, in my 50s, there’s no trace of guilt or regret for not being a mother. I can sometimes feel out of place being around women my age who have children (and grandchildren!), but I don’t envy them. I’m happy in my life.