I’m having random thoughts about childlessness on this warm summer evening. I live on the Oregon Coast and tourists are visiting here from all over the U.S. and Canada. I’m seeing a lot of kids and grandkids, big family groups gathering at the beach or local restaurants while I show up with my dog or alone. My friends are enjoying visits from their children and grandchildren or heading out of town to visit them at their homes. It’s the kids, kids, kids channel all day long. Part of me is relieved not to have to deal with the needs of a little one, but part of me just aches over the loss, especially of the adult children I could have to hug, help, and hang out with.
I sang at a funeral on Saturday for a woman just a few years older than me who died of cancer. The church was packed. I didn’t know her, but she was active in the community and had lots of friends. But she also had a big family. Daughters, sons, their spouses, and their children filled the first few rows, and several of them came forward to speak through their tears about “mom” and “grandma.” I should have been thinking about the woman who died and sympathizing with her family, but all I could think is “who’s going to be at my funeral”? Who will organize it? Who will come? When my husband died, we had six family members, including me, but his friends filled the chapel. I pray that will happen for me, too, but what if it doesn’t? I know I shouldn’t worry about these things, but I do.
An 89-year-old friend of mine also died recently. He had no children. His wife had one son from her previous marriage. That son showed up to help, but they argued so much he went home early. The wife is not planning to have a funeral for her husband. It gets worse. She’s legally blind. There’s no way she can live alone, so I’m not sure what she’s going to do. Fortunately, there are several of us who love her like daughters. We will help as much as we can.
Now that you’re totally depressed, let me cheer you up with a comment that I received recently on my post about why a person might not want to have children. You probably won’t see the comment on the WordPress version of this blog as I transition from one blog host to the other.
On July 21, Anonymous wrote:
I was lucky enough to fall in love in my mid-twenties with a man who, like me, was somewhat leaning against having children. I was pretty sure I didn’t want children, having had, since childhood, a feeling that motherhood probably wasn’t for me. But after we married, I wanted to wait a few years before making a final decision to see if my feelings, or his, would change. They didn’t. What happened next was a series of vivid dreams in which I would inexplicably find myself six or seven months pregnant, too late to change my mind, horrified and terrified, and trying desperately to convince myself that having a baby would be okay while knowing it would not. At least twice I woke up clutching my belly. Husband and self are now in our sixties, happily married and childless. I know that by not having children, we gave up some wonderful things. And I know my sisters will have the support of their children as they age, and I won’t have that special kind of support. But I remain convinced that I made the right decision for me, and my husband feels the same way. My childhood was happy, my mother is warm and wonderful, and I really can’t explain why I knew I didn’t want to become a mother while my sisters wanted to be, and are, great mothers. I do know that especially after those dreams, anyone who might have tried to persuade me to have a baby would not have been successful. To the list of reasons why some people don’t want children, I’d have to add “Unexplainable but extremely strong gut-level knowledge that having children would be a huge mistake.”
I welcome your comments.