Childless Fourth of July

It’s a drizzly Fourth of July on the Central Oregon Coast, which does not bode well for the planned parades and fireworks, but I’m content to stay home and enjoy a good book, maybe watch a video. I do worry about the puppies not getting out to play, but they’ll be all right.

If I had children around, it would be a different story. After all, aren’t they the ones who get the most excited about Fourth of July? The food, the fun, the fireworks are all new and thrilling to them. We have something in the nearby town of Yachats called the La De Da Parade. Anybody can join in, the sillier the better. If we had kids, could we deny them the privilege? In a tiny town like Yachats, they might well be representing their scout troop, their school, their dog club, their swim team, whatever. I might even be walking with them in the rain from the Commons around the downtown streets and back. Rain or not, that’s what moms do, right?

When my husband and I attend the parade, we watch from the sidelines, then skedaddle to a nearby restaurant for a romantic lunch for two, eating seafood croissants at a table overlooking the bay while all those parents and kids scramble to reunite and find something cheap to eat before dashing off to other holiday events, all of which will culminate in finally opening the big box of fireworks the second it gets dark.

As a non-mom, I can choose to stay home and do nothing special. I don’t even have to watch fireworks. I can just close my eyes and remember the many fireworks displays I have seen before: at the Calgary Stampede, at Great America, at Disneyland, at the Bees Stadium in San Jose after the baseball game, and so many other places. I can even track back to my own childhood. We could see the big fireworks show from Buck Shaw Stadium from our driveway. Dad set off smaller fireworks from the red, white and blue box Mom had bought earlier in the week. My little brother and I watched, swirling sparklers around, painting pictures of light in the darkness. I can still smell the smoke, hear the crackle, whoosh and bang of the Roman candles and firecrackers, and see the bright colors flashing in the street. The whole neighborhood came out, the summer nights were deliciously cool, and it was so much fun.

If I had children, I couldn’t deny these experiences to them—or to myself. It would be like getting a chance to relive my own childhood and share the best parts of it with a new generation. Although I’m not sad to stay in on this rainy holiday, I am aware once again that my life as a childless woman is different from the lives of those who have children and grandchildren, different from the life I could have had.

I’m wearing red, white and blue. Why not? It’s Fourth of July. Have a happy holiday and do something to delight the kid in you.

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