I’m in a bad mood. Maybe it’s all the gray, rainy days we’ve been having here on the Oregon coast. I like the sun, and I get bummed when I can’t feel it shining on me. But it’s also being alone. There are times when I like it, but today, not so much. Before breakfast, I had to get down on the floor and clean out the pellet stove that heats our house because I waited too long and it quit working. Again. The whole time, I was thinking about how my husband used to take care of things like this. He was good that way. He kept the car running. Cleaned out the gutters. Maintained the yard. Watched over the dog when I had to go out of town.
He was good for a lot more than chores, of course. He was a friend, companion, and partner for all the good and bad things in life. And now that I’m going into the holidays without him again, I just want to fast forward into January.
I’ve been thinking about how things might be different if I had children. I suspect I’d still be alone a lot. If I had had children in my 30s, they would be adults by now, maybe with their own kids. They might live far away. They would certainly be busy with their own lives. They would not be here cleaning out the stove at 7 a.m.
If I did have children, maybe I wouldn’t have to drive 800 miles to my brother’s house to see family at Thanksgiving. I would never have left California if I had children living there. Maybe everybody would come to my house. I would love to sit at a big table surrounded by my family like my mother did year after year. Not gonna happen.
This year my nephew will be bringing his new stepdaughters and his pregnant wife. I’m happy for them and for my brother and his wife, who are becoming grandparents. I won’t be the only one without a husband, but the others have kids. I don’t have either one.
I should be cheering you on, saying it’s okay, be thankful for what you have. Yes, we should all try to do that. I know my life is full of blessings. I will be with my father, who’s still going at 93. How amazing is that? I have a home, car, enough money to get by, relatively good health, work I love, and good friends. I have my dog. I have an aged pellet stove that is pouring out warmth right now.
But here’s my point. Readers keep commenting about how they don’t know what to choose, the partner or the children they might have with somebody else. I’ve got to tell you I’d forgo the offspring in a heartbeat to have my husband back again. Not just to clean out the pellet stove but to share life, to make decisions together, to snuggle together on a cold night, to sing all the way to San Jose, and whisper wisecracks about the family between football games. What’s right for me might not be right for you, but think hard before you bail out of an otherwise good relationship.
My dear friends, holidays are hard. Kids, kids, kids in our faces everywhere. But we will survive. Here’s my prescription for you. First, go ahead and rant about all the things that you hate about being childless during the holidays. Write it down, post it in a comment if you want. Then, I want you to make a list of all the things you have to be thankful for because you do have them. And if you have a partner you love, just give him or her a big hug and tell them you love them. Okay?
I may or may not get the blog done next week. Dad doesn’t have WiFi. Like I said, he’s 93. But I’ll try to keep up with your comments. Thank you for being here.
11 thoughts on “Grumping into the holidays again”
I’m sorry about the loss of your husband. I have a husband who can be loving, caring and helpful in many ways. He is all that I have. I have no living relatives and many of my good friends have passed away. He has a daughter who doesn’t much care about him and vice versa. He didn’t want any more children by the time he met me. He doesn’t make friends very easily and believes he doesn’t need to have people in his life. I have many friends who pine for more time with their grandchildren who don’t seem to have anything else to do or talk about.
These are not good times for people like us. I find myself seeking distractions until at least January. Holidays aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, even for families. It’s a picture in our mind’s eye created by people selling us things that many people think will make them happy. Happiness, however, is being with people you love and care about, that is something precious that can’t be bought. Sadly, this is something in very short supply in some of our lives.
I wish you good times with your dad for as long as you have him. I know that being with him next week will make the holiday a little bit brighter for both of you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Carol. I’m so glad to have people here who understand. And yes, it will be good to be with my dad. Difficult but good.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m so glad I found this, at the right time, too. I was feeling so alone. I’m still young yet but already dealing with infertility issues and a husband who doesn’t even know if he ever wants children. All of my female friends think I should force him to have a child with me, regardless of his attitude towards it. What I can’t seem to get across to these women is that I married my husband because I love HIM–not because I wanted to start a family. Sure, I thought things would be different, but never one second would I think of choosing a child I’ve never even met over my husband. This idea seems to baffle the minds of everyone I know. I feel so alone. Thank you for making me feel not-so-alone with my thoughts and worries this holiday season that I get to spend with all of the cousins and siblings and their babies. Trying not to hate the holidays and be thankful for my husband
LikeLiked by 1 person
Emily my particular situation is infertility as well. A husband with two grown kids who doesn’t want to start over even if I could get pregnant, carry full term & deliver. I find it to be an intense pain unlike any other. Add insensitive stepkids and mix. January can’t get here fast enough.
I agree, Sue. Everywhere I turn are constant reminders of what I don’t have.
Some days are better than others. I force myself to be grateful for what I have since it doesn’t come naturally.
God bless you.
Thanks, SilverShil0h. God bless you, too.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Peace and Thanksgiving to you, Sue, as we head into “the holidays.” I’m stressing about a family member whose hurtful ways continue to capture my thoughts. I’m sad to say I let my thoughts of her control my mind and I’m trying hard to just STOP and instead count my blessings. They are there – just as you’ve outlined yours.
One should never compare oneself to others but sometimes I find it helpful to do so. Reading stories of sick children gives me reason enough to feel blessed for my own health and the health of my nieces and nephews. Suffering is everywhere and my troubles are few in comparison. Still, there is no denying the sadness that exists in me at times. Like everyone, I’m entitled to feel it. And like everyone, I should move on.
Most days, I am full of hope and promise and joy. Even at 41, there is much to do. I won’t live long enough to see, hear, feel and taste all that is out there. Other days, I wonder why I should bother to fix up my home, as the first 40 years flew by – perhaps the next will go even faster. Upon death, I won’t care if I re-covered the fancy chair or not. A childless woman feels like a blip on the radar. A family tree limb that isn’t even necessary. This life is a “freebie.” Little is expected of me.
I’m not depressed, mind you. Just a little melancholy and I guess a little misdirected. The holidays remind me of the past. Sometimes there is a scent in the sharp cold air that reminds me of my grandmother’s house at Christmas. We’d keep drinks on the back porch and us kids would be sent to fetch one from time to time. Even as a child, I would sometimes linger outside, cold without my coat. I’d see the glow of Christmas lights on the moonlit snow. In the distance, it would be darkness. I would inhale, and it would just smell like I imagined cold to smell like. I’d hear the muffled laughter of my aunts and uncles inside and I’d make myself stay outside just a little bit longer. Why, I don’t know. Then I’d go back in and enjoy being instantly enveloped by the almost hot room, the bright lights of the house and cheerful laughter. An uncle would pat my head, Grandma would smile and a cousin would call me over.
The outside was an alternate universe that wasn’t exactly bad – just different. A little lonely but peaceful. Perhaps that is how these moments are for us. A welcome break from what we usually have. A break that makes us appreciate the heat, the noise and the love. Maybe we’re all lingering outside a certain door for a little while – on purpose. We must always remember that goodness will follow.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Anon S, thank you for this beautiful comment. Have a good Thanksgiving.
Anon S, What a beautiful image of quiet aloneness.
Sue, thank you, as ever, for your words of wisdom and kindness. They have been beacons in the dark. I’ve been lurking for some time now, looking hard for a forgiving, pragmatic mindset like yours. Like you were, I, too, am in a relationship with a man who has no desire for children. I knew this when I met him and thought it was time for my own desires for children to be put to bed after my fertility assessment told me what I’d suspected: that my egg reserve was too low to make me a good candidate for freezing for future implantation. When I’d met him, I thought I was ready to close that chapter and move on with my life.
This man loves me so much that he was willing to try with me, after I changed my mind and told him that I just really needed to try to have a family with him. He loves me so much that he wants us to seriously consider adoption in the future.
Everything was going my way… Or so I thought–until I actually did get pregnant.
Then everything went really, really wrong. He started distancing himself. I didn’t know why. He stopped talking to me. We started fighting. A lot.
And then his work went sideways. Amongst the hundreds of people being laid off, he was asked whether he wanted to have the same option. Here was his worst nightmare: being jobless and facing parenthood at the same time, just as he saw his parents struggle all his life, growing up.
I tried to cheer him up, tell him that we weren’t his parents–except that he makes a lot more than me: I knew there is no way I’d be able to support the both of us, AND baby, without having to go through even more major upheavals and sacrifices in life. He got even more distant and even more angry and stressed.
And just when I thought things couldn’t get much worse, I stopped feeling pregnant. I miscarried two agonising weeks later.
That was a month ago. Yesterday, I got a manicure from a very pregnant nail technician who told me how wonderful it was to be pregnant, how effortless her journey. I told her I’d miscarried but wanted to share her joy, and asked her about her experience. She told me she can feel her baby’s head when she rests her hand on her belly, that this is one of the wonderful things she experiences every day. That her baby kicks when she plays him classical music. That he settles when she rests her hand on his head each evening before bed.
It was wonderful hearing her experience. But surprisingly, I did not for one moment think, “oh, I wish that were me, too”. So when she repeatedly urged me to try again and not “give up,” that hurt. How would I explain to her the pain and shock at seeing parts of me fall out of myself? Of having to rush to emergency because my body was doing what I didn’t understand and was completely beyond my control? That I almost lost the love of my life because of this risky venture at my age? Or that I hated every moment of my brief pregnancy, feeling my body continue to swell and feeling like it was betraying me? My body which I’d worked so hard, for so long, to care for?
So, after starting to think again, well, but what about wanting to have a family? What about trying again? And broaching the topic with my partner, only to have him practically run in the opposite direction. Sue, I found great comfort in your words, “What’s right for me might not be right for you, but think hard before you bail out of an otherwise good relationship.”
Though I wasn’t that far along and never felt my baby’s head, nor felt him or her kicking, nor played him classical music to fall asleep every night, I do know that though I was, once upon a time, incredibly overjoyed at the prospect of parenthood, I am now a little more sobered at the inherent risks involved. And, I hope, a little wiser.
Thank you so much for your wisdom and for sharing your experiences–you have no idea how helpful it’s been to read your blog, and to feel comforted that I am not alone.
Oh, Generic, you’re so kind. I’m glad I can help in my small way. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through so much pain, and I hope this next year brings you peace and comfort. You didn’t say whether your husband got laid off. I hope not. But if he did, you’ll figure out the next stage together. Take care. We’re here for you.