The norm in military life is to have children, at least a couple.
My honest conversation today is with Evie King from InDependent. She has been married to her husband for 8 child free years. She’s had rude things said to her, very invasive questions asked and has felt judged many times.
Evie and I talk about making choices that don’t follow everyone else’s expectations.
Are you married to a service member? How many kiddos do you have? And how long were you married before you had started your family?
Here’s the full Facebook Live, or you can read the full transcript below. You can also see the rest of the episodes here.
Full Transcript: Choosing Not to Have Kids as a Milspouse with Evie King
Pam: Hi, hello! And welcome to Military Spouse Spotlight. Today I have Evie King and our honest conversation is about being married for a handful of years and not having children. So I am a bit fired up today because I have got to get into this real quick before we start. Sometimes you can have… everybody gets self-doubt. Everybody gets a little bit of, “Okay, I’m doing this series. Am I reaching the people that I wanted to reach? Am I getting through to people? Is it coming across the way that I wanted it to? Making the impact that I wanted?” And so I shared, this morning, this episode and what it was going to be about, and instantly somebody posted… a man said, “Wow, another victim class.” And I’ve got to tell you that it really just fired me up, but in the best possible way because that is exactly why I’m having these honest conversations. People don’t talk about this stuff, not because they’re afraid of being judged, it’s because they know they’re being judged. We don’t have these conversations and then you sort of sit and feel… You know, some of the topics that we have covered, people may be struggling with stuff or you’re making personal choices in your life. And it’s not about complaining, it’s about sharing and connecting and realizing that we all have very different lives but yet so similar as well. So when you connect with somebody, it just sort of frees you up. So thank you Mr so-and-so. He will never hear that thank you because I have blocked and banned him from my page. Because I will not tolerate just negative toxic attacks without anything substantial behind it. There’s no point to it, but it has completely reignited the fire in why I’m doing this and why I want to have these conversations so that we can chat about the hard stuff and have a safe place to do that. So thank you for listening to that. Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Hi Evie, how are you?
Evie: I’m doing wonderfully. How are you today?
Pam: That is great. I’m fired up.
Evie: Yeah, I would be too. I would be too. Especially as the person who you’re interviewing about said interview. I’m, like, “Wait a second!”
Pam: Right? There’s just trolls on the Internet, but it goes to show you that people just attack other people, especially with the Internet these days. But that just holds no merit or value at all. But yeah, share with us how you met your husband and how it all began.
Evie: So my husband and I, we met in college who were both working as… they called them community advisors at the College of New Jersey, but traditionally people know them as RAs. And we both worked with freshmen. I was dating someone else at the time and you know, we got to know each other at trainings and everything. And then when my boyfriend and I broke up, John sent me a Facebook message asking if I wanted to get together and… I don’t know, he didn’t say a date, but like, grab food or something like that. And I made him work really hard for that.
He wanted to go off base and I was like, “No, let’s eat at the dining hall.” And the whole time we were there, he was talking about future dates and everything. And I don’t know, it wasn’t that I wasn’t attracted to him and I didn’t find him interesting. He’s really funny. He was very smart. But it had a whole bunch of other things going on, you know – broke up with my first boyfriend. I was working full time for my internship with Johnson & Johnson. It was like an hour drive away. I was in a play, plus doing the CA thing. So I sort of made him work for it, but then one day he sat me down at one of the dining halls and he was like, “Look, I like you, but I don’t like you enough right now that if you tell me you’re not interested, it’s gonna really hurt my feelings.” And for some reason that just really stood out to me. And after that, I just started looking at John very differently. He made this huge Valentine’s Day poster outside of my door. And I don’t know, it was just a fun dating time.
And then when we first started to date the second time (because then he left for bulk two or whatever is after ROTC) we started dating three months before he deployed and I kind of sat down with him and I was like, “Look, we’re not going to do the whole breakup before you go on deployment like we did, we went on training, so I want to know, do you want to date me? Because I’m not going to wait around for you. You know, I had a job and yeah… So we started dating on February 28th, so we’re a leap year couple.
Pam: Oh cool. That’s exciting. That’s so funny. Now how old were you when you started dating and stuff? Because you were really career driven and on the move with your life.
Evie: Yes, I was 20 the first time we started dating when he was still in college. And then when he came back and we dated the second time I was 21 and then we got married when I was 25.
Pam: Okay. And did you all discuss having kids before you got married? Like was that really something you talked about much or how’d that go?
Evie: We did, we talked about having children. We talked about how we wanted to raise them. So before we could get married in the Catholic church, we had to go through what’s called Pre-Cana counseling, and in the Pre-Cana counseling there are married couples sit down with the couples to be married and it goes through a series of different, you know, “Okay, we’re going to talk about this topic. We’re going to talk about this topic.” And really what it was is… making sure that you as a couple had had these tough conversations beforehand. And when they talked about kids, John and I were really… we felt very comfortable because we’ve talked about how we wanted to raise them. We’d talked about the fact that I still wanted to work, not knowing at the time (I had a very good job) how hard it was to stay working as a military spouse. So I sometimes wonder how that conversation would have gone.
So, you know, it wasn’t something that we had not talked about. It wasn’t that I ever said I didn’t want to have kids. We just had been long distance for almost the whole time we had been dating. We only lived in the same state for three months. John deployed, he came home, then he deployed again, and then we got married and then he deployed again. We used to joke that we would date after we got married. And then the other part of it was that for someone who’s interested in working, I was (not to say that you should ever do something driven by fear) afraid… I’d had some interesting conversations with military spouses who had children because they didn’t have a job. And it was almost like they never went back to work after that. And I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to use not having a job to have kids and I didn’t want to use having kids to not find a job, because obviously, both of them together is really difficult. I see a lot of friends who do have careers and have children and it’s really tough. And I was afraid that if I had had a child before finding something career-wise that I enjoyed and found challenging that I would, you know, go 110% into being a mom and then would constantly wonder, “Okay, well it’s so difficult. Why do I want to go back to work? We have to find childcare and then we’re going to be moving.” And so I didn’t want to deal with that.
As you know, that’s one of many reasons we decided not to have kids yet, so that’s not the only one. But yeah, it was never something that we felt like we needed to do, which I think makes it harder. You know, I have friends who knew that they wanted to become moms right away. I have some friends who would be moms yesterday if they could. Then I have friends who absolutely 100% know that they do not want to have kids. And for me and for my husband, we fall into the… “I don’t know, our lives right now are really wonderful. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. There’s not a void in my life right now. But at the same time, I’m not sure.” I don’t want to have children and, going into some of the things people have said to me, people love to remind you that as a woman you have an internal time clock, like an expiration date. It’s like, “Well you can’t take too long because you know, eventually you won’t be able to have kids.”
Pam: That actually sounds like something that could come from a mom too actually.
Evie: Yeah. It’s for everyone. Male, female, people I’ve never met before… who love to say, “Oh well, don’t wait too long. You don’t have forever.” And then you know there’s a thing where at 35 you’re considered a geriatric pregnancy. That doesn’t exactly inspire someone to…
Pam: I had my last at 40 and oh yeah, you have to do all of the high-risk things and it was literally just because of the number. I opted out of a lot of those things personally.
Evie: Oh, I didn’t know you could choose to, so that’s good to know.
Pam: Yeah. Because I think more and more so, there are always going to be couples that choose to have kids at all different ages.
Evie: Well, where I’m from in New Jersey, most of my friends waited until their late twenties or early thirties (which is where I’m at right now) to have children, so actually with a lot of my New Jersey friends, which is not uncommon for the northeast, I am not behind. But for the military where we’re at, most of my friends have had children. Some of them have children who are even in school because they had them at 21 or right after they got married. And so for us, we’re very much an unusual couple, although I don’t really think so because I think there are a lot of couples who don’t have children. But the higher a job goes in the military rank-wise, people start wondering, “Well why haven’t you done it yet?” Although I would say, unfortunately, those questions happened right after we got married, and every year since at every military event that I go to.
Pam: And that’s what I was going to say is that people talk is that a lot of people are waiting until later to have them. And I still think that if you decide that you do want to have them, you still have plenty of time. But I’m also about to be 45, so I’m seeing age differently now. But no, I think that’s great. And it’s great that you’re both on the same page too, obviously, so it doesn’t create any of that friction. I wasn’t ever one of those women that was envisioning all of this stuff and my family adventures and how many kids I would have and all of that. I figured I was probably going to have them, but it wasn’t until I met my husband that then that started to come up. But then I actually wanted to finish college and stuff because I had gotten out of the army and then was using the GI bill to get back into school. And that was a big thing that I wanted to be able to say that I accomplished. And then it didn’t happen. Like he got hurt and then sort of it brought about that fear like, “Oh my gosh!” You know, that reality check of, “Oh, we don’t live forever. Okay, we better start now.” And then we had our whole fertility journey, but there were still so many times that I was like, “Gosh!” Because then once you have a baby, all of that hard stuff kicks in. There’s a ton of rewarding stuff of course, but it is not easy, especially in this lifestyle where the demands are so much on the military spouse to handle so many things. And so yeah, there were times I was like, “Why didn’t I just finish my degree?” Because it was so hard after I had kids.
Evie: Right. And I think the hardest part is explaining that to people who have children, right? That you have things that you want to accomplish before you have kids. Explaining to someone that I wanted to find a job before I had a child, they took it very personally, almost as if my personal choice was an attack on their choice. It was like, “Oh, it has nothing to do with you. You know, no offense, but it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me and what I want. My spouse and I have decided for ourselves and the decisions that we’re making, and that’s what’s best for us as a family.” I think one of the hardest things I ever heard someone tell my spouse and I was that we weren’t a real family until we had kids.
Pam: Oh, ouch. Wow.
Evie: Yeah. People can be very unkind and place their judgments on your life decisions. And so, it’ll be eight years this year, and having been married so long, loving life (I love where things are at right now), my spouse and I are wonderful. We’re currently geo-baching, but we’re about to move back together again and I’m so excited for that. And then, you know, all of these outside opinions on our life choice… and a lot of them, they’re not encouraging. When I say that we don’t have any children when people ask, rarely do people have anything good to say about that. And so it’s all of these very judgmental opinions being put on us that I’m having to sort of weed through and decide, “Okay, do I as Evie and John want to have a child because it is something we want or is it something that everyone else who has told me that I need to do in order to be a family?” You know what I mean?
And now it’s become more complicated because I have all these really negative things going through my brain where I’m not sure what is what, what’s what I want, and then what is what they want or what society is expecting of us to be considered a family, especially in the military community. In college, the first question people would ask was, “What’s your major?” And now when I go to military events, pretty much the first question someone asks is, “Do you have kids?” Or even, “How many children do you have?” So assuming that you have children. And when I say I don’t have any, for some people they don’t even know what to say after that. It’s like they have no concept of how to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have a child. And so I’ve tried really hard when I go to events to ask people, “How long have you been living here? What are some of your favorite things to do?” You know, things about them as a person. Not everything needs to revolve around whether or not you have kids. They’re an individual.
Pam: Right, exactly. Yeah. And I think sometimes women can also completely lose their identity in their children, you know? That happens to a lot of us moms, where you lose sight of yourself and it’s because of the kids that you feel that you’ve got your purpose. I mean, they certainly provide a purpose, but it’s almost like they don’t know how to function and think of their own personal goals and what’s driving them outside of being a mom. So then to meet someone that they feel like, “Oh my gosh, I just so can’t relate to that at all because I would be completely lost without children.” You know?
Evie: Right, yeah. When I moved to Korea and I didn’t have a job when I first arrived, I went to, I don’t know, a spouse coffee or something like that and when someone found out I didn’t have kids, they were like, “What do you do all day?”
Pam: That’s hysterical!
Evie: If you know me, I am not someone who likes to be idle. And I almost had trouble answering that question because I was like… a lot. I do a lot, but now that you’re putting it that way. I’m like, “What do I do?” Yeah, it’s very interesting. This is one of those topics that I think is very sensitive for both people. For whatever reason, when I say I don’t want to have kids, like I said before, if I’m talking to someone who has a child, sometimes they take it very personally. Almost like my decision to not have kids is somehow judging their decision to have kids. Really, it’s not that, it’s just that I don’t know if I want to have kids. And that is hard. Not knowing you don’t want to have kids is hard because, as everyone reminds me, there’s that ticking time clock. That’s if I want to have a biological child. And it’s just not that simple.
And then for the person on the other side, who either is like me and not sure they want to have children or has 100% decided that they don’t want to have children, it almost seems like at that point, in many ways you’re an outcast, you know? Someone has not invited me to things because I don’t have kids. I have had friends withdraw because they have children and they feel like I no longer fit in their lifestyle. And you know, I love babies! I always tell people that the people who don’t have kids make the best babysitters. Because we have energy and for us, it’s really fun. I love hanging out with my nieces and we would take them for a week off so that my brother and sister in law could have a week to themselves. And it’s not like I don’t like children. I have no problems sitting around a bunch of moms or dads talking about kids. I don’t have a problem with that. I just don’t have any pictures to pull out and show you unless you don’t mind me pulling out pictures of my nieces. And so I’m trying to be very conscious about how I treat others who are like me that don’t have children. You know, making sure that when I have conversations with them that I’m not making them feel like their decision is judged. Because the other thing that really is none of our business is that the person could be trying to have kids. And we have no idea. And having those conversations and those questions assumes that it is their choice and it might not be their choice, as I’m sure you know with your fertility journey.
Pam: Yup, and it was two years long so we went through a lot of seeing everybody looking pregnant during those two years, you know. Like I couldn’t get away from pregnant people. It’s like, “Oh my god, another pregnant person!” And that’s all I wanted at that point. Because when all of a sudden you can’t get it? It took me years to finally get to the point where I wanted to have a kid. I was terrified of having kids for so many years and then I got to wanting them and then it was so hard and all a sudden I was obsessed with having a kid. Oh gosh, it was crazy.
Evie: Well exactly. And it’s not like you wear something that says, “I’m trying to have kids, people!”
Pam: Or, “I’m trying, we just had a miscarriage. Don’t ask me if I have kids!”
Evie: Yeah, so I tried to be very conscious of that because we don’t have kids currently by choice. But I know a lot of people who don’t have kids and it’s not by choice and for them, those questions bring up a lot of pain and really it’s none of that person’s business who’s asking the question whether or not that family is trying. Sometimes just to show how rude I think those questions are, I’ll respond with, “Well, my husband and I are practicing all the time.” If you’re going to ask me kind of an invasive question about what’s happening in my uterus, then I’m going to make it a little uncomfortable for you. It kind of depends on what the situation is. But I’m like, “Look, if you’re going to make it uncomfortable for me, then I’m going to make it a little uncomfortable for you, so you think twice before you ask that question again next time.” So I have various ways that I say, you know, that we’re practicing all the time, right? Whatever.
Pam: That’s so funny. Probably a lot more practicing than those of us with kids.
Evie: Interestingly enough, it hasn’t been so bad here at Fort Bragg, but also my time here has been very different. My husband was not in a traditional unit. I was not involved in spouse coffees. We didn’t have an FRG. So most of the ways that I’ve met military spouses was through, like, Hiring Our Heroes, so it was really focusing on the military spouse as an individual and at these sorts of events those questions didn’t come up as often. Now they’re more from the family side of things, but in Korea, it was all the time from every side. Like I couldn’t turn without someone asking me if I had children or when I was going to have children or why I didn’t have children, or what I do with my time and everything. So I think there’s been like ebbs and flows, but it has never gone away. And I sometimes wonder like, you know, in the military, we talk about how families are issued yet you’re incomplete when you have not been issued kids yet. He never ever have it. All right.
Pam: Exactly. Yeah. I was kind of curious what your FRG experiences were like being a couple without kids. And I know it kind of depends on the unit too, like most of the units that we’ve been in had an abundance of families. The unit that we happen to actually be with here at Fort Riley is a unit of mostly single soldiers. So the FRG and the whole like family element… it just has a very different feel because the unit’s different. So I know it kind of varies by location, but what have your FRG experiences been like not having kids? Because that’s the family readiness group, so that’s what that stands for.
Evie: So I became an FRG leader a week after getting married.
Pam: Oh wow. Welcome to the party!
Evie: Yeah, I’ve only participated in FRGs as an FRG leader. So I’ve been an FRG leader three times and I told my husband no more. So it’s been a little bit different for our FRG, but when it came to like the battalion and the battalion coffees, I got invited to brigade coffees, so with the more senior officers’ spouses, and that’s really where the conversations happened. So not so much at ours. I think people were just really appreciative of what John and I were doing, especially in India because a lot of people don’t go there with their families, especially where we were. They were denying a lot of command sponsorship when we moved there, and so we had a lot of single soldiers and then a lot of geo-bachelors. And so we would make pancakes for them and do a lot of stuff like we were a family. But the spouse social events, that’s where those questions were asked. And the brigade social events, which there were a lot of because the FRGs themselves have a lot of spouses up in area one.
So we did a lot of group, battalion and brigade events as a group. When I was in Korea, a lot of us started off with no children and then ended with kids, and that was a good experience for me because we all started off in kind of the same place and we would hang out together. Those of us who didn’t have children. And then towards the end of our two years there, a lot of them had young infants and we would continue to do a lot of the stuff that we did before. But you know, obviously now factoring in nap time. I mean there were some things that I did with friends of mine that didn’t have kids, and those who did have kids would have their own little mommy group that they started to go to, but we always stayed friends.
But speaking of lack of identity… so my first coffee as a military spouse was a brigade coffee, and I went to this coffee and the nature of my husband’s position meant that I was invited to a senior leader spouse coffee, even though he was a captain at the time. And a lot of these were women. They were all ladies, so I will say women, who had been married to their soldier for many, many years and had kids. So setting the stage, I had just left my full-time position and I didn’t know if I wanted to have kids yet. John was about to get deployed, so we definitely didn’t want to try and have kids before he left. And so I go to this coffee and it might’ve just been the people that I talked to, but the only thing they could tell me about were their spouse and their kids. And I remember asking one of them, “Well, what sort of hobbies do you have? What do you like to do?” And she was like, “Oh, I don’t have time for me. I don’t do anything for me. But you know, everything I do is for my kids or my husband.” And for someone who had just given up her career to marry her soldier…
Pam: Yeah, that was terrifying-sounding.
Evie: Yeah, that was terrifying.
Pam: And I think a big part of it too is that when you first have your babies, your life has just completely turned upside down because you have this baby. And depending on how your baby is… every baby is demanding. You certainly get different levels. Mine never wanted to sleep. They wanted to eat every two hours. You know, they either had reflux or they were colic, and then one was reflux and colicky. So my husband was never around. They’re screaming all day. Like it just so hard. Like frazzled, losing your mind, your hormones are all over the place, but yet you’re totally in love with this little baby too, you know, so you’re kind of just everywhere. But yeah, it is a lot.
I also couldn’t imagine not having them. We did wait. We were older when we got together. So I was turning 30 like a month after we started dating, and then we dated for three years and then it took a couple of years, so I was in my mid-thirties by the time we had our first, turning 40 when I had Cruz. So I had three that were five and under. I know, it was a lot! But because of our fertility journey and it taking two years, we knew we wanted them close in age. Not necessarily 16 months apart like the first two were, but we didn’t know if it was going to take two more years to get another. So we’re like, okay, let’s not waste time. So six months postpartum, we started trying, I got pregnant and then actually stayed that way. So that was a lot – two babies in 16 months.
But they are thick as thieves and also fight like crazy. You know, they have instant friends no matter where we’re moving, which is great because they’re so close in age now. I don’t have a sibling that’s able to babysit for the others. Ryder’s nine now, so they’re definitely getting to an age where they can help out, but not like a teenager with a two-year-old or something. I’m still very much in the thick of young kids and all of that. So it’s definitely an interesting journey. And when you’ve got the young ones, you are in the really tough stuff and as they get a little bit older and you do get some freedom, that’s when I realized I had to start finding something for myself again. Like my entire identity couldn’t just be wrapped up in them. Because I had always wanted a career. I didn’t know exactly what that was going to be, what it was going to look like, but I knew that I wanted one. And so it’s tough.
It’s tough, sort of pushing back against what society, what my family thought that a mother was. And it’s amazing how much all of that can like influence your decisions and hold you back and keep you from doing things. I didn’t even necessarily realize how much I was letting it shift me or make me feel like I had to be a mom a certain way until I just started allowing myself to take the steps to build my business and do all of that. And then it was kind of like, “Oh, this lifestyle…” Not that the hard stuff went away, but it wasn’t as difficult because I was doing something that really fueled me and excited me and it made me appreciate my family more, and my kids and husband and stuff because my entire identity wasn’t just wrapped up in them. You know?
Evie: And I think that can even be said for a married couple. I think it’s important that I continue to develop myself and do things that don’t involve my spouse in order to continue to grow and stay interesting for me as well. I want to be an interesting person. I like to think the military spouse landscape is changing rather than the fact that just here at Fort Bragg, I’ve been with a lot of spouses who are career-oriented and family-oriented who are doing both really well. It’s hard obviously. I’m not saying it’s easy, but they’re doing both and they’re still able to do things for themselves as well. And so I like to think that the military spouse landscape is changing where we’re encouraging spouses to go out, have a career if you can find one, reminding them that you’re not a bad parent for putting your child in childcare, while I have been told… I have been told that I would be a bad parent if I put my baby in childcare before they turn one. Because I was like, “Oh yeah, I want to go back to work if I have a child.” And they’re like, “Ooh!” And they go back to that judging off of their choices. And so I like to think that the military spouse landscape is changing because I see more of that here. I see more support for that here.
Obviously, childcare and the lack of childcare is an issue no matter where people are at. I see that the military spouse is still the primary caretaker. I have heard leadership tell another soldier who had to leave early to pick up their son who was sick from childcare, “Well, why isn’t your spouse doing it?” He was like, “Well she did it the last time, but she has a full-time job too.” And he said, “But your job is more important.” And so that still is there. I think although you do have some leaders who are supportive of that, but generally, it’s my military spouse friends who are leaving their jobs early to pick up their sick kid. That happens more often than not. Especially when they’re young in childcare or at school. So those things are still there, but there’s more of a conversation around, “Okay, how do we create a space where if a military spouse wants to work…” And again, that’s if they even want to, because not everyone does. My mom wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
Pam: Yes, mine too.
Evie: That it was a sacrifice. My mom loved it and now she is working after that and she loves that too. But if you want to work, I still think that there are things that as a community we need to do to create a space where we can be successful in our careers. Because you can only call out of work to take care of your sick kid so many times before the job’s, like, “all right, we need to have a real conversation about that.” Yeah. And realistically, just because your spouse is in the military doesn’t give you a free pass to just continue to call out of work because they can’t be involved in that part of the kid’s life. So those are the things where I see changes happening. They do stick out in my mind, wondering like, “Okay, if we decide to have kids, how much am I going to be able to rely on my spouse to help with that? You know, he works a lot. He’s gone.
Pam: I was going to say probably not much. Yeah.
Evie: Right. And that’s something that also weighs on my mind when making that decision and it’s not a decision that you can’t take back.
Pam: No, absolutely. I completely understand that. I grew up with a mom that absolutely loved being and perfected being the stay-at-home mom. The house was always flawless. Like, everything. The laundry was always caught up. The house was always vacuumed. The dishes were always right. The sink was always empty. I am not like that. But it was really, really tough for me when I had kids and then I knew what she did as a mom wasn’t what came naturally to me. And then it’s easy to make yourself feel like you’re failing or wondering what’s wrong with me that I’m starting to feel this itch, that I want to have a career and that I want to do something. And a lot of this military spouse life can be very lonely because you’re constantly moving you might not have a ton of people. You’ve got friends all over the world, but not a lot of people locally to connect with and sit down face to face and share some of these things that you’re going through and how you’re feeling and stuff. So yeah, it’s really, really difficult and I’m a big fan of building an online career. That’s a way I have been able to keep it mobile and take it with me.
Evie: But that can bring its own challenges of isolation because if you don’t get out of your house and you’re constantly connecting with people only online and then not creating those in-person relationships that we as human beings need… So, so, so many things about remote work are wonderful but it also brings a lot of different challenges. But then I’m currently in a job where I cannot remote work and that brings its own frustrations, so people have their different challenges.
Pam: All right, so we’ve had tons of comments. I want to read some of these. So Brittany said, “Ah, this was me too. We were married for seven years before we had our daughter.” Your husband joined in and he said, “I asked her if she wanted to go to eat and she made us go to the DFAC. Oh, the fond memories.” Jamie said, “We were married for seven years before we had our daughter. Three of those years we were dealing with infertility treatments and finally IVF.” I have known so many people that have been through IVF actually. And then she had to cut out and she’s going to finish watching the replay later. Brynna said, “We dated for a while. My husband, pre-military, worked in professional baseball. I worked as an assistant at a fitness center, a personal trainer. We always said we’d never have kids. Something changed and we decided to try. I have an amazing son now. My husband’s career in the military is not your typical military experience. Four years after a child, I’m just now back into my career. I hear the, ‘When’s the second kid coming?’ The struggles that come with being a mom and a military spouse are quite the challenge.”
And Maxine joined us and she said, “Yes, I am married to a service member for 21 years with one (yes, one) kid. And we waited eleven years after marriage to start a family. And yes, people were all up in our business. Married life is not all about having a bunch of kids to fit into other people’s norm. To each his or her own. People need to respect the choices of others. Period. Full Stop.” I can tell she’s fired up too, woo! “Can you tell that I personally relate to the frustrating topic? I support you, Evie King!”
And then Christina said, “You shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why you both choose not to have kids.” So true. And Jerry said, “Evie and John are one of the absolute best families I know. Love you guys.” And then we’ve got another, “I adore you, Evie. I agree about how people seem to project a bit of their experiences or what they perceive yours to be or should be. I absolutely love my child-free friends and their marriages.” She also said, “I think as spouses, a good icebreaker is to talk about kids. It’s most often how people connect. I think it’s also the societal pressure of being a mom or parents without being your own person.” And there’s still more. Sheena said, “Yes, we struggled with infertility for three years.” Christina is an FRG leader. Way to go, Christina. I know that’s not an easy job.
Mariah said, “We had 13 wonderful kid-free years. We had the comments coming from everyone. Other people assumed we hated kids or never wanted one of them when, in fact, we love children, but chose to wait. I focused on my career and our life together. We decided to wait for many years and enjoy our time. Then infertility hit and delayed our journey.” Bianca said, “Being in a military community made infertility and pregnancy loss miserable. No one should ever assume you have kids. It took us four years and people would be shocked. We didn’t have any yet at 27 and 29.” That sounds so young to me, but yeah, I know how the military is. And then there was a little bit more that Mariah added. She says, “I no longer have any time for myself, especially with my spouse away for a year. I can now no longer relate to those without children. Unfortunately, friendships from the past have faded as we are at different stages of life. We always agreed that I would give up my career to raise our children and I have no regrets or resentment. I can relate to both sides on this.”
Evie: Yep. You know, when you make that decision, you shouldn’t have any regrets. I forget who said it but people assume that because you don’t have kids, you don’t like them. That just makes me laugh because I forgot that that was a follow-on question that I received at a battalion ball or something. When they found out we didn’t have kids, they’re like, “Oh, you don’t like children?” That’s so funny.
And I think out of all of this, what it has made me really aware of every time I get asked about children, is that all I can think of is, “Okay, right now it’s a choice. But for all of my friends where it’s not their choice… how are they feeling right now?” Because we’re talking more and more about infertility issues and I cannot imagine what that must feel like. And so I try, every time that happens, to offer up my pain and say, “Okay, right now this is my choice, but what if John and I decide to have kids and then we end up not being able to as well? What does that look like?” So that’s why I think it’s important that we have these conversations because everyone’s life is very different. You don’t know why they’re choosing to have kids or not. Whether they’re choosing to have kids out of a choice or not, it’s not a reason to make someone feel like they don’t belong, that they don’t have a family and that they’re making the wrong choice.
I had people who told me like, “You’re going to regret it. There is no greater joy in the world.” Sure, that could be true for you. But we need to create a community where families are families, whether or not they have a child. And we go through our own struggles. We go through our own choices. And personally, I would rather someone who didn’t want to have kids not feel like they’re pressured into having kids and then feel miserable and possibly not be as good of a parent because that wasn’t the right life choice for them. And so regardless, I try to be very supportive and have conversations with people. I’ve had some really wonderful conversations with some fellow military spouses who are like me and just don’t feel like right now is the time. And for some of them, they have a timetable.
For others, it’s just that they just don’t feel like now is the time,… and then you’ll get, “Well, it’s never the right time.” Well, that doesn’t make it easier. So if you’re out there and you’re like me and uncertain, I think that that brings… it’s a different kind of not having children. The people who are 100% sure they don’t want to have kids and those who are trying to have kids and can’t… it is a scary thought because I always wonder, what if when I finally do say like, “Oh, now I do want to have kids.” I’m like, post-menopausal or something. And obviously, we would adopt – we’re not against adopting. But I think I don’t want the reason that we have kids to be because I’m afraid of time running out. Right?
Pam: Yeah, I totally get that. And I’ve got to say, as somebody who is about to be 45, we didn’t know we wanted to have three, but then after I had our second son, it was my body was speaking to me. I definitely had this yearning to want another. So the biological clock is definitely real. So I think that at some point in time it probably will kick in and then whether you’ve actually realized, “Okay, that’s my body just trying to get me to do something.” And whether you choose to do it or not… because then after the third for me, it tried to creep in a little bit and I squashed it like real quick! Like, squash that down. No, we had three boys. I was 40. I am not the going through that again. So your body does start speaking to you. I don’t know exactly when menopause happens, but I’m probably not too far off of it anymore. I’m certainly getting closer and my lord, it’s crazy. It goes so fast.
Evie: Yeah, and you’re right. Your body does speak to you and I’m trying to be very in tune with that. And that’s why I was saying it’s really hard now because I would be lying if I said that. A couple of years ago when people would ask me if I wanted to have kids, I would almost have like a physical reaction of… I would get really tense and a little defensive. Now I’m a little bit more easy going about it. The thought has entered my mind a little bit more frequently. My husband and I have had more and more conversations about it. But again, now it’s like weeding through all of the seven years of things people have been saying to us and deciding like, “All right, is this my body saying something that I really want? Or is this what everyone is telling me that I want? And it’s just been seven years of that to the point where now I believe it to be so?” So it’s definitely complicated. But I have to say, reading those comments… people who waited more than five years to have kids? I think that’s amazing because there aren’t that many that I’ve met, right?
Pam: Yes, exactly. That’s why I want these conversations because I know we’re all out there with all of our different life circumstances. And especially as military spouses. We are just spread out through the whole world. So hopefully this reaches whoever needs to hear it and that is the point. And thank you for being so open and honest with your conversation. I absolutely loved it. It was so good. Real quick before we get to your links, I am going to share that I have a live training coming soon and in order to attend it, you’re going to need to have a special link. So it’s going to be 5 Success Habits of a Happy Military Spouse (How to Prosper Beyond the Boundaries of Military Life). So drop an “I’m in” in the comments and I will make sure that you hear about it and get the link. It kind of goes in line with what we’ve been talking about today. So maybe your kiddos have gotten a little older and you are ready to get back out there and you feel this calling to do something else. I will be sharing how I made it happen. I am putting your social media and website address links up right now, so why don’t you tell us about InDependent.
Evie: Definitely feel free to reach out to me if you want to have a private conversation about what I talked about. This is the first time that I’ve ever publicly opened up about not having kids, so when Pam asked me to do this… I did hesitate because having had a lot of judgmental comments thrown my way and the fact that the Internet makes people very bold, I was worried that those would happen. But I was like, “No, there are other military spouses like me out there and we need to have this conversation.” So Pam, thank you for having me.
Pam: Yeah, I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” Because I didn’t know what your story was really. I just knew that you had been with your husband. I thought I’m going to reach out to her and I’m going to throw this out there and see. So I was so happy that you wanted to and then I wasn’t sure how it was going to go and it was fabulous.
Evie: I was nervous before, before the Live. I was like, “Okay, how much of my story should I share?” But hopefully, it resonated with some of you. But anyway, my name is Evie and I am the executive director of InDependent, which is a nonprofit and we focus on military spouse wellness. We do that by connecting military spouses to health and wellness resources, and creating opportunities for military spouses to connect for friendship, accountability, and inspiration. This month is actually women’s health month at InDependent so we’re going to be having a lot of conversations around things that you don’t tend to see too much of on the Internet, but that need to be talked about. We decided that there was enough of a need for us to do that, so that’s what we’re focusing on this month. We’re mostly well known for our virtual military spouse wellness summit, which Pam was a part of this year and we’re so glad to be working with her throughout the rest of the year. I also work full time as a government contractor and then I do some other jobs on the side. So yeah, I’m all over the place.
Pam: Yeah, InDependent is amazing. It’s such a fabulous resource for military spouses. I am honored to be a part of it. And people can still join the military spouse summit, correct?
Evie: Yes, we will be opening up the wellness lounge in May, so right after the summit and then we’ll be opening it up again in May. You’ll have access to all of the interviews from the wellness summit, all of the workbooks that have happened, all at a little bit of a reduced price because obviously you missed the magic that goes on during summit week. But the interviews, the conversations, giveaways… it’s a really incredible week, where military and first responder spouses just come together and focus on their wellness. But we wanted to ensure that the resources and the wonderful interviews are available. This year I think the interviews were really fantastic.
Pam: Yeah, it is amazing live, but if you missed that, these interviews are all great at any point in time. I mean, there’s so much variety and range in what the topics are, and I just planted all of my stuff and my cloth planters, which was a recommendation from one of our speakers… and it just goes to show you – I’ve always wanted to explore gardening and I watched the gardening interview and I got so much out of it. So every single one is filled with so much goodness. And then there’s a handful of other military spouses involved in those. So if they want to sign up for that, where is that? On the InDependent site?
Evie: It’s not currently, but it will be.
Pam: Okay, so we’ll keep an eye out for that.
Evie: Yeah, definitely follow us on Facebook because we’ll be posting it there, or you can just send me an email or join our mailing list and we’ll also be sending it out that way.
Pam: Good deal. Well, thank you so much for doing this. We chatted our little hearts off. That was the longest interview yet! We tend to do that when we can jump on calls together.
Evie: It’s always such a pleasure to chat with you. And again, I would love to know, and I’m sure Pam would love to know too, in the comments what your experience has been like. Because mine is just mine and I know that everyone’s is unique, but I would love to read more about other people’s experiences in the comments. Not only to be able to be there with you in that, but also because it’s kind of comforting to read. You know, saying that so many of you waited seven or even 11 years to have kids… it’s nice to know that I’m not that much of an oddball out, right? Not for that reason, anyway.
Pam: And it’s a great reminder that we’re all on a different path and there is no right or wrong way to do it. So we can all learn from each other too. Thank you so much for everything and enjoy the rest of your day.