On Living Your Best Life: The Thoughts of a Childless Woman

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a sunset on "Living Your Best Life: The Thoughts of a Childless Woman" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blog
WOBBLE WARNING:  In this post, I talk about my husband, our infertility, and our childless life, among other things.  I believe you’ll feel empowered by the end, but there might be some wobbles along the way…

Last month, I told you that I was feeling uninspired, flat, blah.  So, I gave myself a break.  I didn’t post on social media for an entire week.  I skipped publishing a Monday blog.  And my hubby and I went on vacation.  The break worked.  I found my inspiration again, with thoughts of living your best life rolling around in my head.  Yes, you heard me right.  I truly believe that we childless are fully capable of living our best life.  But before we dig deep into that, I’d like to tell you a story…

Let me tell you a story…

Our Day in Key West…

That morning…

It was our one and only full day in Key West.  I was getting ready, as Dane and I chatted about what we were going to do.  We hadn’t scheduled any outdoor adventures because a tropical storm had brought a ton of rain to the region.  In fact, it didn’t stop raining the entire two days we spent in Miami.  So, we wanted to make sure we’d have some sunshine before booking anything in Key West.

Well, the rain moved out and it was bright and gorgeous!  Dane wanted to do a dolphin tour and snorkeling adventure.  That sounded fun.  We decided to try and schedule it for the following morning.  Unfortunately, it was all booked.  But they did have spots available that day at noon.

“Do you want me to book it?” Dane asked.

And my anxiety went through the roof.  I needed to finish getting ready.  We needed to eat breakfast.  Should I wear a hat?  Messy bun?  Ponytail?  Which bathing suit should I put on?  I was feeling very, very rushed.

But Dane really wanted to do this.  And it did sound like fun.  He assured me that we had plenty of time.  So, I told him to book the adventure.

At breakfast…

At breakfast, I could feel my nerves, my anxiety.  I was becoming more and more worried.  This was ridiculous!  We were on vacation.  This dolphin tour and snorkeling adventure was supposed to be fun!  Dane started telling me about the liability waiver, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  I told him I didn’t want to hear about what could possibly go wrong because my mind was already in overdrive.  I started to cry.  In the middle of the restaurant.  I was mortified.

I told Dane that I felt so silly.  That I knew this was supposed to be fun.  That he planned this amazing tour for us while we were on an incredible vacation, and I was crying!  I was so irritated with myself.

Dane told me not to be so hard on myself.  He gently encouraged me to talk to him.  And he told me that my concerns are always valid, that I can always talk to him.

Sharing my concerns with him—honestly, my fears—truly helped.  Tears no longer pricked my eyes.  I was calming down.  Though my stomach was still bothering me.  (But I was able to eat a delectable breakfast—surf and turf eggs benedict!)

At the dock & on the boat…

We made our way to the dock.  I took deep breaths.  I used the restroom.  It was finally time to board the boat.  No turning back now!

As we headed out to sea, I calmed even more, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and talking to Dane, as we sat near the back of the boat.  We drove for awhile before stopping, searching for dolphins.  It was a bust.  No dolphins.  So, we moved on and stopped again for a bit.  This time, we spotted some!  It was absolutely phenomenal to see wild dolphins swimming in the wide-open ocean.  Wow!

By this point, I was calm(er).  My nerves were (almost) completely gone.

Then, the captain said that our next stop was snorkeling.  And the nerves started to come back.


Once we arrived, we got our lesson about how to properly use snorkeling gear.  At 45-years-young, this was my first time ever to snorkel.  Cover-up off, I was feeling a bit exposed in my bathing suit.  So, I hung back for a minute.  Dane, on the other hand, was one of the first ones in the water, as he was so excited!

When I finally climbed down the ladder and into the ocean, I was excited and nervous all at once.  Though I had a pool noodle to help me float, I was dog paddling like none other.  I went to put my head underwater and was overcome with fear.  It’s like my brain was saying, “What?!  Are you nuts, lady?!  You canNOT breathe underwater!”

Dog paddling like my life depended on it, I was breathing so heavy and so quick that I wasn’t sure I could calm myself.  Dane told me we could go back to the boat.  But I didn’t feel like I’d given it enough time.  I’ve pushed through the fear at aerials.  I could push through this, too.

I asked Dane to stay above water while I went under the first time, just to make sure everything went okay.

He did.

It went fine.

So, I started exploring—staying close to Dane, holding his hand.

I tried to put my ears under and that was just too much.  So, for a while, I got my eyes underwater, but my ears stayed above.

I tried to put my ears underwater again.  I didn’t like it.

So, I kept exploring with them above water.

And then, I tried again.  This time, I was able to put my eyes AND ears underwater!  And it was absolutely incredible and amazing and phenomenal.  And I was so proud of myself!

By this point, I was having so much fun.  Dane and I went underwater and looked at each other.  He made me laugh!  Which was mean because I had to come up and clean my googles and empty my snorkeling “straw.”

We continued to explore.  Then, I heard Dane call my name.  Coming above water, he told me that they wanted all snorkelers back on the boat.  And I was disappointed.  I wasn’t ready to stop yet!

Dane got out first.  I got out second.  The cover-up stayed off.  And we sat at the very front of the boat on the ride back to the dock.

Late afternoon and evening…

Back on dry land, we went to the hotel to freshen up.  I changed into my brand-new white dress.  We watched the sun set over the ocean, tried conch fritters for the first time, got Key Lime Pie, and visited the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.

And we agreed that this was the best day.  And snorkeling is the BEST experience we’ve ever had while on vacation!

Why have I told you this not-so-short story about our vacay?  Well, because I think it demonstrates some important things we childless need to remember as we strive to live our best lives…

On Living Your Best Life . . .

#1:  A rough start does NOT mean ruined.

Our snorkeling adventure day was the best day.  100% truth.  It was also a day with a very rough start.

I think sometimes we childless feel that our adult life is ruined because we had a rough start.  We wanted to be parents.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out like we hoped.  So, life is ruined.

But is it really?

It rained almost non-stop the first two days of our vacation.  I cried on the third day.

Ruined vacation?

Nope.  Just some bumps.  A rough start.

The snorkeling was phenomenal.  The evening was fantastic.  The next day was beautiful.

We wanted to have kids.  No luck trying the old-fashioned way.  We monitored ovulation, went to infertility specialists, did seven rounds of IUI (including a clinical trial), attended adoption meetings, even considered sperm donors…

Still no pregnancy.  No baby.

Ruined life?

Nope.  Just some (really big, ginormous, painful) bumps.  A (ten-year) rough start.

After deciding to try and accept a childless life, we’ve had some pretty phenomenal, fantastic, beautiful times.  An incredible fur baby, hosting a foreign exchange student, spoiling our nieces and nephews, and some unforgettable childfree vacations…

A rough start does NOT mean ruined.

#2:  Share with someone you can trust.

I do not believe I would have enjoyed the day as much as I did if I hadn’t talked to Dane.  I fear that I would have continued to beat myself up, telling myself that my concerns were silly.  Having my feelings validated by Dane relieved a tremendous amount of pressure.  It allowed me to cut myself some slack and turn my attention to how I could move forward.

Often, we childless do not talk.  Whether it be because we feel our fears, concerns, emotions are silly or because we haven’t found anyone who gets it, we turn inward and quiet.  But there are others who truly understand, who will validate your feelings, who will stand alongside as you bravely step into this childless journey.

So, find someone you can trust and share, fabulous one.

There are closed Facebook groups specifically for the childless.  Find several linked on the Childless Resources Page here at Not So Mommy…  Just click here.  Also, you can always contact me if you need a listening ear.  Because I never want anyone to feel alone on this journey.

#3:  Take the journey step-by-step…

It took me a moment to muster the courage to actually get into the water.  Then, I had to try a couple of times before I actually got my eyes underwater.  It took me even longer before I got my ears underwater.  And you know what?  I celebrated each step I took.  First, I was proud I got in the ocean.  Then, I was proud I was snorkeling, even if my ears were above water.  Finally, I was super proud when I put my ears underwater!  Every step was an accomplishment.

As for my childless journey…  There have been numerous steps…

I began by trying to embrace my dog mom role.  Then, Dane and I became host parents to a foreign exchange student.  Since 2014, we’ve taken step after step after step to not only accept our childless life, but actually embrace it.  I’m even beginning to embrace some childfree aspects (like travel), though I’ll always consider myself childless not by choice.  (Read more about that here.)

Take your childless journey step-by-step, too, fabulous one.  And celebrate every step you take towards accepting, embracing, redefining, finding joy despite…

#4:  Trust that you made the right decision.

You know, once I finally got into the water, I tried to go under so I could snorkel.  And I failed.  I was so freaking scared.  But I stayed in the water.  I leaned on Dane for support.  (Remember point #2?  Share with someone you can trust…)  I tried again.  And again.  And again.  Until my new surroundings and new way of breathing seemed normal—even fun.

Once you decide that it’s time to let go of the dream of having a little, that it’s time to try and accept a childless not by choice life, do NOT go back!  I know it’s freaking scary.  There will be wobbles.  There will be grief attacks.  But lean on those who’ve gone before for support.  Try.  Try again.  And again.  And again.  Eventually, your new surroundings, your new way of life…  It will become more normal.  Dare I say, it might even be fun.

#5:  Best does not mean perfect.

You know, I have told you that our snorkeling day in Key West was one of our BEST vacation days ever!  Now, you might still doubt the truth of this statement.  I mean, it got off to a rough start (including some tears).  Plus, there were some wobbles once I got in the ocean.  So, how could it possibly be the best day?!

Well, because best does not mean perfect.

I have not said that snorkeling day was a perfect day.

Because it wasn’t.

Rough start, tears, nerves, wobbles…

Not perfect.

But it was the best.  Because we found joy despite…

So, when I talk about living your best life, I do NOT mean living your perfect life.

We couldn’t have the littles we desperately wanted.  That sucks.  Always and forever.  Sucks.

Life is not perfect.

We can, however, find joy despite not having children.

We can live our best lives.

If we accept (eventually embrace) that best will still involve rough starts and tears and nerves and wobbles and even some epic grief attacks.

Because best is not perfect.

So, go live your best life, fabulous one.


So many HUGS…

If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments.
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Featured Photo: Taken by me while on vacay; Edited using Canva

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Mali June 14, 2022 - 12:14 am

I like all these points, especially the first and last. Best does not mean perfect is a hard lesson for some of us to learn, but it’s very worthwhile. And a rough start (or end) doesn’t mean everything is ruined or meaningless. I’m glad you had a lovely vacation. (Sometimes I don’t mind the rain – it’s an excuse to enjoy the hotel! lol)

And I understand the snorkelling (NZ spelling! lol) anxiety. I’ve snorkelled in the South Pacific (the Cook Islands and Fiji), and on the Great Barrier Reef. Both were amazing. But that first breath with my face in the water always feels so wrong, and I admit I hyperventilate for a breath or two until I relax into it. On the Barrier Reef trip, my husband and I were the oldest on the tour, but we were the last to come in (except for a few divers), and only when we had to! Here’s to future snorkelling adventures.

Brandi Lytle June 14, 2022 - 12:25 pm

I always love your insights, Mali. Thank you for reminding us that a rough end also does NOT mean ruined.

Your snorkeling adventures sound incredible! Dane and I are looking forward to our next opportunity to get back in the ocean…

Sherry June 13, 2022 - 4:21 pm

I knew that snorkeling adventure would take you out of your comfort zone. I LOVE that you adapted and overcame your fears and misgivings. Your husband is amazingly perfect for you. He completely understands, listens and encourages. I love him so. This blog is insightful, and truly does show that perfection isn’t always attainable. How you make the best of it despite……..well that is everything!

Brandi Lytle June 14, 2022 - 12:23 pm

Very well said!

Tammy Datzman June 13, 2022 - 3:52 pm

Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. My sister’s all have kids and my niece is expecting. I am happy for all of them but many times my heart simply aches and the tears just will not stop. I am trying super hard to enjoy the moments that I have right now. I love, my Heavenly Father, teaching firsties, my hubby, my two furry kitties, my friends, nieces and nephews, etc…
Thank you for validating how we all feel with positivity. I enjoy each and every post. Bless you!

Brandi Lytle June 14, 2022 - 12:27 pm

I’m so grateful this post resonated! And so grateful that you find Not So Mommy… “validating.” Your positive words mean more than I can express…

Sending you loads of gentle hugs as you navigate your niece being “p.” I know you will find joy despite… And if you need to shed some tears, remember that’s okay, too.


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