I’ve been on the road this week, which is why my posting schedule has turned erratic, but I’m on my way home now.
I’d like to write about a run-in I had with a grown stepchild that makes me wonder if I would have been the worst mother ever, but the kids read the blog and are easily offended, so I’ll change the subject–for now.
I’ve never seen so many babies and pregnant women in my life. I sold books at a Portuguese festival in San Jose last weekend and was flabbergasted by the population explosion happening there. Where I live on the Oregon coast, the population is older, so I don’t see so many babies; I just hear a lot of grandma talk. But out in the world, babies are happening.
It wasn’t just at the festival. I stayed with my dad, and whenever we went out to a restaurant, there were bound to be babies or toddlers at the next table. At church, he introduced me to his “girlfriend,” a four-year-old who came running in and gave him a big hug. She sits next to him every Sunday. If only that was my little girl. The child has a one-year-old brother, and the mom is expecting again.
Then there’s me and my dad, both single and living alone. At a party with my brother’s friends, someone actually asked me if that was my husband. Is it that he looks young for his age, or that I look old?
Eventually someone asked me about my children. I had to tell him I didn’t have any. Not one person at that party said, “Oh, I don’t have any either.”
We visited my sister-in-law’s mom, who recently sold her home of 50 years to move closer to her kids. Her house is filled with pictures of her children and grandchildren, and they were the only things we had in common to talk about.
You can’t get away from it. It takes a strong person to feel comfortable being childless in this world where everyone else seems to have a life filled with children. I’m working on it. I think the only thing we can do is enjoy all the children of the world and accept the freedom that comes with not having our own.
How’s that going for you?
5 thoughts on “Kids, kids, kids, they’re everywhere!”
Ah yes, they do seem to be everywhere. I am a librarian for a very small library, and I am the only paid employee. For the month of June we offer a children's program for kids from 3 to 12 years old. I love the kids' program, and am also relieved when it is over and the controlled chaos is done for the year. Three years ago, during my first year of working at the library, the volunteer who runs the kids' program asked me to be responsible for taking the younger children to the bathroom if they needed it. (The bathroom is in a different building.) I was not comfortable with the arrangement and suggested that the parents should remain with the younger children and that the PARENT should be responsible for bathroom visits. The volunteer was quite unhappy with my suggestion. For months after that, patrons would ask me why I don't like children. I work in a small community where gossip is traded like commodities, and I found the gossip and questioning quite disturbing and painful. I believe that the reason folks were so quick to jump on the “Kathleen hates children” bandwagon was because I was childless. Now, three years later, I feel like I am under a microscope during the month of June. Sigh.
Hi Sue, Yes, it seems that way to me sometimes, too. I live in a town that is quite full of retirees, but work in a town where the average age is 19! Two different worlds. Lots of baby bumps and babies in the work town.
Also, when I was growing up kids were much more of a rarity in restaurants. Parents with very young children didn't eat out often in the dark ages, or else they found a family member or baby sitter to leave the babies with.
And to Kathleen– I think you were reasonable to request that parents take kids to the bathroom.That is no reflection on whether you “like” children.
Unfortunately in these times any adult has to consider whether we want the responsibility of being alone with someone else's child in a bathroom. I have seen parents eye me with suspicion in rest rooms, and I have the world's most harmless face (not to mention I AM actually harmless). Sad that it has come to this.
It's good to hear from you, Melanie. I remember eating out a lot with my parents, but I guess we were a little older, plus we knew we'd be killed if we acted up in any way.
I agree that it's okay to ask the parents to take their own kids to the restroom. Things are nuts these days.
I recently got married (at the tender age of 42…lol). My 4 month old niece and 20 month old nephew of course stole the entire show. There was so much talk about how being a mother is the most incredible experience you'll ever go through…blah, blah, blah. We have decided not to have children due to my age and some health concerns. It saddens me every day that I will not have the privilege of ever having children. While my wedding day was an incredibly happy event, I came back from my honeymoon feeling a bit blue. My new husband and I share a wonderful relationship but sometimes the kid thing is just hard…
Anonymous June 27, Thanks for sharing this. So many people are getting married later in life when having a child is problematic if not impossible. I know it's hard, but try to appreciate your new husband and the children already in your life. I wish you all the best.