My stepdaughter Gretchen took offense at recent postings referring to her. She was hurt that I didn’t use her name, although I was simply trying to protect her from embarrassment. Then she went on a rant about how I wasn’t involved enough with her and her children, especially when the kids were young. She talked about how her own mother took the kids home with her for long periods and spent lots of time with them. When I explained that her father was an obstacle to me being a hands-on mom/grandma, that her mother had first dibs, and that the kids were often with their own father, she said I could have worked around all that. As I pondered this, my own feelings greatly hurt, I began to realize that perhaps I didn’t become one of those huggy grandma types because I didn’t know how to interact with kids. Not only have I never had my own, but I haven’t had much opportunity to be around children. Mine has always been an all-adult life. Dogs, I get. Children, not so much. So if I didn’t charge in and create a close relationship, I’m sorry. I thought I did pretty well, considering. I do know this; parenting is tough, and step-parenting is even harder.
One of my missions in this blog and my other writing is to make people understand that women who don’t have children miss a lot in life, including learning how to take care of them. Sorry, Gretchen.
A while back, I talked about men’s views of childlessness. I just finished reading a book called Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids, an anthology edited by Canadians Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie. It’s a good book. I can recommend it, although I’m not sure it gets to the heart of why so many men don’t want to have children. Among those writing here, quite a few are gay or were in marriages where they couldn’t conceive or carry a baby to term. Only a few say they just didn’t want to have kids. Men don’t seem to talk about these things with the same emotion that women do. The general view is, “I didn’t have kids because of X. Next subject.”
There, now I have probably offended Gretchen and any men that might be reading this blog.