dinner party

On Saturday night, we attended a dinner party with three other couples. The men all work together, but none of them had met each other’s wives. I am not always the most social person when I’m headed into a room full of people I don’t know, but I was happy to go along this time. And we had a great time.

One of the reasons I was looking forward to the dinner is because I knew the couple hosting the dinner (they are in their mid-30s like us) does not have children. Our childless couple friends are few and far between, and generally those we do have are working on having kids. We know we’re still a long way from bringing our child home, and those couples will probably have babies during our wait. And in my overly sensitive and dramatic mind, this means that we’ll be left without any friends. (I know this isn’t really true, but it’s how I feel sometimes.) So, anyway, I thought this was a great way to make some new friends, especially since they don’t have children.

I was surprised, though, to learn that the other couples didn’t have children either. One couple was in their 50s (Craig’s boss and his wife). Honestly, I assumed they had kids and perhaps they were grown and out of the house, and then after the dinner, I asked Craig and he said that they didn’t have kids. Another couple was in their mid-40s, and also had no children. Now, these are people Craig works with, and they were people I just met, so we did not get into the children discussion at all. Perhaps if we all get together another time I will try to feel them out a bit.

I guess it just makes me wonder if they chose to be child-free all along, and/or if they tried to have children but did not succeed. A few people asked us, prior to taking the step toward adoption, if we would consider a child-free life. The answer for us was always clear: No. We knew we wanted to have children, and we were open to considering non-traditional methods of building our family when the old-fashioned way didn’t work. But not everyone has that natural drive to have children, and there are also people who deal with infertility and then choose to be child-free if they aren’t successful in having a biological child. I’m always a bit fascinated by people who make that decision – not because I think it’s right or wrong, but because I can’t comprehend it, simply because my desire to have children is so great. I still grieve the fact that we will likely never have a biological child, but my grief is tempered by the fact that I know we will have our family through adoption.I wonder how difficult it would be to totally say goodbye to the notion of having a family. It must be terrible. But it’s a choice some make.

There is definitely a distinction to be made between being childless and child-free. I feel like we are childless now because we want to have children and we don’t have them yet. (But we will!) But child-free, in my mind, denotes a choice to live a life without children. I think there’s a shift in connotation that also helps with the distinction between the two.

Oh, and I should totally mention that this dinner party of eight included four artificial intelligence engineers (two were PhD linguists and two were computer scientists (Craig included)) and two statisticians (two of the wives). Talk about geek overload! While I certainly embrace my inner geek on many levels, the other non-professional-geek wife and I bonded over the fact that much of the conversation sailed over our heads. I am certainly not a dummy, but my knowledge and skills come from logic and reasoning instead of algorithms and physics. One conversation piece was about how one of the men is teaching a linguistics class and has a student who submitted a paper written entirely in Klingon. I’m not kidding!

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15 Responses to dinner party

  1. Megan says:

    thanks for asking about the photobook! We love it.
    The designer of the book asked has temporarily removed it from the site while she works on a new design. She is updating her fabric options and the overall shape of the book (to better accommodate vertical and horizontal photos). The site is http://www.kangaroodles.com
    I will post the updated link to the book when it is back up!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hee hee… geeks. 🙂
    Actually, for the first eight or so years of our marriage, Adam and I were planning on being child-free. We just enjoyed life so much and didn’t want things to change. And then something happened. It was like a switch flipped and I wanted to share my life with a child. So I guess I’ve had both perspectives at some time or another…
    Anyway, it would be far better to discuss this in person sometime. Come visit us in STL! 🙂

    • Kelly says:

      We know a couple of couples who have always known they would be child-free because they didn’t feel that urge to have a family and they loved their lives as they were. (We’re not really in touch with them anymore simply because of moving, changing jobs, and so on.) I guess I can grasp that perspective better than that of people who decide to have children but later change their mind. And we also know a couple of couples who had decided to be child-free but then had that switch flip and then decided to start a family (like you). I guess we are surrounded by so many people who have children (or who are trying to have children), it was striking to be in a room with 3 other couples – 2 of whom were 10-20 years older – without children. That just doesn’t happen in our regular social circle.

      And of course I would LOVE to meet you in person! I’ll let you know next time I head your way! I’ve only been to STL once but I enjoyed it!

      • Elizabeth says:

        I agree – it seems odd to me to want kids so badly and then just decide you don’t. I wonder what happened in people’s lives to make them change? My hypothesis is that they reach some sort of “peace” with what life has dealt them. Which is wonderful on one hand, but on the other… wouldn’t they want to even consider adoption if having kids was *that* important? I don’t know. It’s a hard perspective for me to understand, too, because we just never felt a strong pull to have our own bio kids. I guess if you just don’t feel the need, you just don’t.

        DEFINITELY let us know if you’re ever in town!

        • Kelly says:

          Ooh – I love this reply-via-thread feature in WordPress. Very cool.

          I agree about the peace-reaching – both that it’s wonderful for people who reach that point, but also a bit baffling since obviously people like us consider adoption to be a wonderful way to build a family. But, to each his own.

          I just realized that I used exclamation points on all three of the last sentences in my reply to you. It’s good that you’re still open to seeing me if I ever end up in STL, even with all of those exclamation points denoting way too much excitement and eagerness. I do admit to being a geek on many levels, right? 😉

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Well, I might have to retract my offer, now that you mention it. I can’t be around someone who’s that excitable. 😉

  4. Angela says:

    One of the in-laws is child-free. This person never wanted children and often ranted about it when my son was younger. I found it very annoying. I didn’t know who she was attempting to convince of her stated bliss because I never wanted to trade places with her. Now that we’re adopting a child she understands parenting is cleary a choice for me and I apparently enjoyed it.

    I’ve never asked, but she says she’s never wanted children and always knew she wouldn’t have any. Funny how I don’t have many people in my life with children and you guys are surrounded by people who are planning families. Life can be a little twisted to say the least.


    I really appreciate you commenting on my blog often. You’ve inspired me to move forward by following you. I don’t feel so alone in the early stages of the process anymore .

    • Kelly says:

      Ditto, Angela! The blogging community has been so incredible to me, and I like to return the favor. I appreciate your thoughts and comments as well. We’ll both get to our Ethiopian children some day, and we can stick together along the way!

  5. Jenny says:

    it’s also hard for me to comprehend couples that decide not to have kids. i guess i generally assume they’ve tried and couldn’t and i know that’s not always the case! some people just don’t want kids! your dinner party sounds similar to many i attend… matt’s doing his phd in English and the guys (usually, although there are several women in his program) all begin to “talk shop” and the spouses bonds over the fact that we have not clue what they’re talking about!

  6. Zoe says:

    The dinner party sounds like fun, despite the Klingon talk. I think when you don’t have kids it can be very helpful to have friends who are in the same boat. But as you say, people are without children for different reasons. I know couples who are child-free (by choice), and who are childless (not by choice). The latter don’t always feel drawn to adoption, and I get that… it is its own way of building a family and probably not for everyone. In our case, my husband was never particularly desirous of having children by birth… he would have welcomed it, but adoption was his first choice. I wanted both. 🙂

  7. Eileen says:

    I often think the same things about other “childless” couples…are they working on it? Infertility? Was it a conscious choice to not have children? That last one boggles my mind too. Almost everyone we know has kids. I do crave having friends IRL that have been in the same boat….I recently reconnected with a friend from high school who has gone through the whole infertility thing with his wife. There were many times, especially after we decided to stop IF treatment, that I wished we did not want kids. I thought that it would make my life a whole lot easier. But the heart wants what it wants. (I think that’s from a movie). Good to hear you had a good time. It’s also good you had someone to talk with there besides your dh!

  8. Kelly says:

    I’m a big fan of geeks, but that dinner party talk may have put me over the edge 🙂

    So my two cents – I can actually totally understand those who do not want children. To be carefree your whole lives. Although I never felt that way myself obviously. What I don’t understand is wanting kids and then changing your mind if you have fertility problems. Seems strange that those folks wouldn’t be open to adoption. I mean it’s a family that you want, right? But I guess some people just can’t imagine their kids not being born to them. And I guess it’s good they can admit that because I don’t think anyone should go into adoption thinking it’s Plan B and that they’re not 100% committed to the idea.

  9. Christine says:

    A dinner full of geeks… I think I would have needed a nice glass of wine for that!

    And I totally second Kelly, she pretty much wrote what I was thinking… only much more coherently!

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