Questions from a reader:

I’m reading your book. On page 130, you talk about the child you were carrying at age 21 and how you chose not to carry it. Can you explain? As a reader of your words I want to understand what you mean. Did you think you couldn’t love a child of your own? Do you still feel the same way now? Did you change your mind later and have children? I have three children and they have taught me how to love. Without them, I wouldn’t have ever had the deep desire to be rehabilitated or be able to fully break the cycle. I feel sorry for anyone who feels they can’t love enough due to their past. I found those words to be very crippling if others listened. That’s a big platform to steer people on. A slippery slope. Besides this part of your book, I have enjoyed your words.

Dear you…

Your questions are at the heart of a collection of essays I’ve been writing. Together, they form a book I hope to publish next year entitled A Letter To The Daughter I Chose Not To Have.

In the spring of 1984, at the age of 21, I got pregnant. I was a senior in college, about to graduate, and it was the first time I’d had sex. I woke up the next morning knowing I was pregnant. Within the month, I’d had an abortion. I am grateful I had that option and am equally grateful that there were plenty of methods available to me to prevent pregnancy in the future. I support a woman’s right to choose.

What I knew then – what I’ve known for as long as I can remember, even as a small child – is that I didn’t want to be a mother.

It was never about not being able to love.

It wasn’t about being damaged.

There was/is nothing wrong with me physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

I eventually met and fell in love with a man who had three children from a previous marriage and who’d “had his tubes tied” as his then 10-year-old daughter informed me, wanting to make sure I knew. We laugh about that to this day.

And I haven’t changed my mind. I did not have children.

I didn’t not have children in order to break a cycle…
I broke a cycle by honoring my desire not to have them.
I broke a cycle by choosing a life I wanted.
I broke a cycle by choosing to love my life.

It was never about not being able to love.

I am glad that your choice to have children resulted in your ability to break the particular cycle that was being handed to you via your maternal lineage. Children are amazing teachers. Having three stepchildren who now, among them, have four children, I can attest to their wisdom and am grateful for all the ways in which they taught me about love. Their mother also taught me about love in an unexpected way.

All of the people who have come into and go out of our lives are teachers who can show us what love is (or isn’t).

I can’t measure the amount of love you feel (having chosen to have children) and compare it the amount of love I feel (having made a different decision).

What I know is that feeling love is a choice you and I can make in any given moment. Love is always available to you and me, for you and me, and through you and me.

What do you think?

Much, much love,

Karen