By Kim Barrs
I am a 36 years old single female with no children. I know some of you might already be feeling sorry for me. Don’t worry…I get that all the time. I can already see your brows furrow. I can hear the sad sigh that follows with a hug and tell me that “everything happens for a reason.” Stop it- really it’s okay. I know that life does take a path of its own and it might not always look the way I envisioned it when I was five years old playing with my favorite cabbage patch dolls pretending I was the mommy. However, I love my life and I love the perspective that I have gained as a friend, aunt, teacher, and community leader without being a mother.
See the thing is I love kids…I mean truly LOVE them! Children make me feel young and keep me informed of all the current trends like Under Armour, American Girl Dolls, and Minecraft. I get to organize craft days with kids, and holiday parties too, photograph special moments so the moms can enjoy themselves, cook fun dinners for kids that cater to their likes, babysit, tutor, and help bait a hook all while standing in awe of the amazing task of watching others parent. Not being a parent has allowed me to enjoy children but not have to deal with runny noses or too much discipline. I am not saying I would not completely enjoy having one or two of my own one day but since I have not been given that gift I choose to focus on the presents I was afforded.
At age 25 I was diagnosed with cancer. I went through chemotherapy for 6 months and immediately went into menopause thus not being able to get pregnant. I was fine with the fact that it did not seem like I would be able to be a parent mainly because my own life had been spared so it seemed tough to complain about anything. It was also difficult to watch my friends start having children and breeze through pregnancies and parenting with vibrancy and energy that I only dreamed of at the time. I was astounded by the amount of love I felt for all of my friend’s children but I could hardly imagine being able to raise one myself because I was having a hard enough time taking care of my own needs. Healing from chemo was a rough uphill battle and most of the time I felt very lost, lethargic, and lonely. Thankfully, I soon began teaching 5th grade and absolutely loved it. I adored being around children and received great joy from helping develop life long learners all the while relishing in my student’s many successes. I also began volunteering with the Junior League of Tampa whose mission is to help women and children through various programs and projects. Although, I myself did not have a family of my own I felt satisfied that I was giving back to our youth and community.
Up until this point I had been the only one of my contemporaries that had any major medical problems. This soon changed. Several of my good friends had major complications with their pregnancies. Complications that the doctors were saying would lead to lifelong struggles for their children or worse yet they might not ever even get to meet their precious babies. This seemed inconceivable to me. I mean how on earth could the gift of a pregnancy turn in to something so scary?! I knew what it was like to face my own mortality but it seemed to me that the joy of pregnancy and innocence of babies and children should be spared from this knowledge. Watching and witnessing people I loved go through this adversity had a huge impact on me. Years later some of these amazing women that had struggled with scary diagnoses during their pregnancy now had healthy babies and children.
These talented and philanthropic women along with a few others started High Risk Hope and later asked me to join. It was a huge honor for me to be asked to stand with these mothers as the only one without children to serve on a board that would help make a difference in the lives of mothers, babies, and families that were struggling with high risk pregnancies. Our job was to help bring these families hope and that was something I knew a great deal about. Hope is a powerful feeling that can in fact change the outcome of a once believed grave situation. Hope means that everything will turn out for the best and the way it was intended. I have had to muster up hope for myself when no one else believed in me. It can be hard to look in the eyes of your doctors, friends, or family and know that they feel sorry for you because of your condition and the prognosis is not good. It feels hopeful to believe in your gut and intuition that there is a better way to move forward and to achieve it. When I used to play with my dolls I did dream of having little children of my own but I also hoped for a wonderful, happy, and successful life. All of that has happened for me and my future is bright! I have learned in life that everything truly does happen for a reason. We all have special gifts to give. My gift was not to be a biological parent to a child but my heart overflows with joy and love for all the children I do have in my life. I am grateful for the perspective I have been given and for all the babies, parents, and children that I am surrounded with and hopefully I have been blessed with helping. Of course, it is their love and time that has been the best gift of all to receive.