We childless might end up okay in old age

My mind is a bag of mixed M&M’s this morning, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

I finally finished reading Rachel Chrastil’s How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life without Children.  I have mentioned this book a lot here lately. I could glean a dozen posts from what’s in this book. It’s not easy reading—lots of big words and footnotes. The second half goes deep into philosophy. For me, the gist of the whole book is two-fold: Childlessness is not new; there have always been people who for various reasons did not have children, AND, whether or not childlessness is a tragedy that you will always regret depends on how you look at your life. Being a mother or father is only a small part of who you are, Chrastil insists.

A few other tidbits from How to Be Childless:

* Pre-20th century, a lot of people who did have children still wound up alone in old age because so many people died of illnesses and injuries that people survive now. So giving birth was no guarantee the parents would have someone to take care of them.

* Scientists are looking at some wild ways to extend fertility to age 50 or 60 or 100. For example, a company called OvaScience is working on cultivating new eggs from a woman’s “egg precursor cells,” which are actually stem cells. These eggs would be more viable than the ones getting old in the mother’s ovaries. Scientists are also working on creating artificial wombs in which a baby could be grown outside the mother’s body. Can you imagine that?

* We worry about being alone—and broke—in old age, but Chrastil writes that childless people often have done a better job of making friends and building support networks all along than people who spent most of their lives focused on their children. As for finances, she tells stories of childless people who wound up with more money because they had more time to develop their careers and more freedom to invest, so hey, we might be just fine.


A couple years ago, at the NotMom conference, I got to watch a preview of Maxine Trump’s (absolutely no relation to our president) movie “To Kid or Not to Kid.” It is fabulous. The completed movie has just been released to theaters and will be available online on Dec. 3.


I have updated the Childless by Marriage resource page. There are enough websites and books to keep you busy for . . . possibly forever.


My music director job at Sacred Heart is over. Not a word of goodbye from our pastor. I’m sure he’s a good person inside, but he does not relate well to people. We were blessed with a visiting priest last weekend, Fr. Amal, who, although he had just met me, thanked me for my years of service. Then I joined my fellow ex-choir members for a party. It was so much fun. No mention of kids.

After a break in California, I’ll be taking my music south to St. Anthony’s in Waldport.

Meanwhile, my father’s house, the place where I grew up, has just been sold, my poetry chapbook Gravel Road Ahead is out, and I just read the galley proofs for my next book, Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic, coming out next March from The Poetry Box. I’m having work done on the house, giving my dog Annie four different medications for her arthritis and an ear infection, and I’m writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m also going through all of the posts and comments here at Childless by Marriage from 2007 to the present in the hope of compiling an ebook. I’m up to September 2015.

So yeah, mixed M&M’s. I don’t know when I’d find time for children.


Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday. Look out! Family time! I’ll be at my brother’s house, where it’s going to be all about his grandkids. It’s going to be so weird without my father, who has been my sidekick for these events for many years. I really miss him. We’ll all survive the holiday. Pet the dogs, hug the kids, eat the turkey and pumpkin pie. Let’s try to be grateful for everything we have. I’m grateful for you.


2 thoughts on “We childless might end up okay in old age

  1. You certainly do have a lot of things going on!! Blessings to you as you transition and let go of old feelings and are drawn to new experiences.

    Some priests are just . . . you can’t understand them. I’m glad you got some recognition and a nice party with your peers.

    I’m feeling a bit humbled as I write this. I am having lunch in my office and in walks my old neighbor. It’s rumored that her husband is sick with a poor prognosis. Actually the rumor is a proven fact; they are just trying to keep it private. Even as a neighbor I never knew her well enough to inquire about his health. I truly do care about her but, well, I’d probably just come off as nosy. So we conducted our business and she left. I’m back at my desk with my lunch and she’s back to her life, with whatever sadness she has to deal with later. And it’s humbled me with the knowledge in that we all carry loads. My sometimes sadness about not having children vs. her sadness of having a lot of children but may be celebrating her very last Christmas with her husband.

    And I find myself blessed that I have worked hard for my marriage. Blessed that I made the choices to be friendly to all and to try new things. My life sometimes feels lonely but I do have a wealth of people I know I can lean on. And I have years of networking to fall back on. As the years pass, those efforts will bear fruit. People with children have made their own connections. Time will tell us all on how wisely we invested our time, our love and our friendship. When the future comes knocking we’re all equal.


  2. Wow. You have so much going on. I hope you can find some time to unwind.

    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m having a big birthday that weekend. I wish it wasn’t happening. Several people wanted me to “do something big’ for it. I don’t want to. I wish it could just be a normal day. I’ve agreed to a small get-together with my parents, husband and cousins. I’ll be glad when its over.

    The book sounds interesting. Thanks for the summary points. They are well worth thinking about.


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