Do a quick lap around any military base and you’ll see them. Lots of very young parents with kids. In fact, you might see so many young families that you start to wonder if every military couple has kids immediately.
Not having children, for any reason (no judgment here!), super early in life does seem to be kind of typical. And if you’re one of the few without a mini-me at your side, it can start to feel a little lonely.
For the MilSpouse Without Kids: You’re Not Alone
Trust me, I get it. I starting having kids “later” in life, at least my military standards – which means my late twenties. We waited almost five whole years of marriage to even start trying for kids.
Now, that’s a good long while to wait. I’m glad we did. Our marriage is better for it. But when my Milspouse peers starting having kids in the first year or so of marriage, it did feel a little, well, strange.
Suddenly, I seemed to be one of the only people in my social circle without a child, who wasn’t actively “trying” or who wasn’t pregnant. Seriously. Every other weekend there was a baby shower or a kid’s birthday, a pregnancy announcement or a new baby food chain.
That’s a lot of babies.
It’s Easy to Feel Alone
Being an “older” military spouse without kids, or without plans for kids, does mean that you might often feel like the odd man out. You’re not alone. There are plenty of us out there!
Even though having kids relatively early can seem to be the norm, there are also lots of military families who don’t have kids. Yes, even as they (gasp) head into their late 20s and 30s, maybe even their 40s.
Questions & Opinions Galore
We got questions, at least at first. Especially as our first set of military friends started having babies, they began to wonder when we would expand our little crew.
“Will you try once he’s home from deployment?”
“What about when you PCS next?”
“What are you waiting for?”
And then, once we had our first child, the questions came again – really just variations on one central theme.
“Are you trying for number two?”
But what was worse than the questions were the opinions. No one really ever came right out and judged me, but mostly just shared their take on the situation.
I heard about how they didn’t want to be an “old mom.” And how they wanted to have kids early – just in case, you know. One common theme was to have them early, during training, when my spouse had more “time” and before true deployments started.
Some spouses planned to be pregnant during deployment and wondered why we weren’t. Others wanted to know if we’d be trying immediately following his return, and wondered why we were waiting so long.
We got comments about being young enough to still play. There were also some remarks about planning to have kids very close together.
None of it was really “you should do XYZ” but more just nudges, pokes and prods. Little fingers searching for information.
The questions and opinions created a lot of pressure, honestly. It all felt very personal. And sometimes, just sometimes, I wondered if I was a good enough military spouse, if delaying kids on purpose made me less than.
Your Business, Not Theirs
Some of us planned to wait on having kids. Others are handling complicated medical situations. And there are some who are just plain not having kids.
Whatever your reason, know that it’s okay. You don’t need to justify or explain your family planning choices to anyone. Yes, that does include your mother-in-law. And your MilSpouse bestie and the FRG leader.
Whatever you and your spouse are deciding about kids, whatever you’re going through, that’s between the two of you. No need to answer questions or listen to sneaky suggestions and opinions.
You do what makes sense for your family. No matter what you’re planning (or not planning), you’re not alone. There are plenty of other spouses who are walking similar paths.
There are those who wait, who take their time to plan for children.
Some choose not to have children, ever. It’s just not the cards.
There are others who would love to have children, to grow a family, but face hurdles. They are working through infertility, infant loss or other medical conditions.
And yes, there are those who have chosen to have kids early, to not wait or to create a large family.
No matter what path you are on, it is 100% valid. There is no jugement here. Just know that you are not, and will never be, alone in your decisions.
Have you ever felt “alone” on your military spouse journey?
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