For a long time now it has been really hard for me to admit I will NEVER be a father. Just writing this, cascades painful thoughts and emotions through my mind and body. Yes, it’s true, men can suffer too. Unfortunately our male-dominated society only seems to believe in certain kinds of male behaviours. The archetypal “Hero” is often displayed with Super Powers and being tough. Being tough is apparently a good trait to have and showing any form of weakness is bad. Does being tough, make you a man? Does fathering a child, make you a man? As a child I was told not to cry as it is a form of weakness and I was led to believe real men don’t cry.
When I was younger I thought before I became a father I would get a good job, buy a house and find someone who I truly loved. It was extremely important and necessary for me to lay down the right foundations, so that I could provide for and give my children the best opportunities in life. Unfortunately fate had different intentions and delivered a devastating blow for me when I was 36. Everyone in my family seemed to be having children, so why not me? After several weeks of tests my wife and I went to see a female doctor who said to my wife “If he manages to get you pregnant it’s highly unlikely you’d carry full term.”
My own brother never invites me or my wife to any of his children’s birthday parties. I’m not sure if he thinks it might hurt us or if he feels awkward inviting us around. The line that divides us is my brother has children and we don’t. Suddenly strangers have replaced us. They are invited to parties we should be going to. When I look on Facebook, I see other people enjoying the festivities and interacting with my nieces and nephews. I now feel like I have been cast aside and forgotten about as I serve no purpose. I have no children to take around to play with my brother’s children. My aunt who I was really close to as a child goes to visit my brother, because he has children. She has never come to visit me. My own Mother asks me to do things for her instead of my Brother, because he’s too busy, as he has a family.
When I open up to people about being childless and share personal information I feel uncomfortable, because usually the automatic response from many people is “Have you thought of adoption”. People believe adoption is a substitute for not having any biological children of their own. To me I see this as thoughtless and very insensitive, which can instantly open up wounds again after enduring so much heartache. For me adoption would be a reminder of what a failure I have been.
I remember I once felt brave enough to open up to another man who was my Manager. He asked me one day what was wrong, so I took a chance and fully exposed my feelings and trusted him. I said to him I have found out that my wife and I cannot have any children. My Manager at first was a little bit sympathetic. What really shocked me was when he went on to say that what keeps him going in life is when his Grandson and Granddaughter come round and he sees them having fun. At this point I nearly exploded and had to walk out the room. I was so angry.
Other people also make comments saying “Why do you need to have Christmas off work as you don’t have any children?” This to me is extremely offensive and hurtful as Christmas should be enjoyed by everyone whether you have children or not.
I feel that World Childless Week has given me the opportunity to express my feelings in a way I’ve never been able to do before. It’s good to have this platform so I can pour out my emotions through this week and try and encourage other men to do the same. This feels like the start of my journey where I can start to remove the bandages and release my pain.