It’s September 1. For most of us as kids, this meant the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. It was like there were two New Years, the one on January 1 and the one that came in September with new clothes, new classes, and a return to cooler weather. No more vacations, no more running around in flip flops. Back to sitting in our classrooms and doing homework. Term papers! Argh.
How many of us started the first day of school having our picture taken in the front yard? Many adults will be taking pictures of their own children going to school this month, most for the first time in person since early 2020. But we don’t have any children. Unless we are teachers or going to college ourselves, September is like any other month, except the leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. As with Mother’s Day, the back-to-school ads and photos of school kids on social media don’t apply to us. Is this a good thing or a relief?
This year, the news is full of worries about COVID and whether the teachers and children will be safe. Too young to be vaccinated, the students may or may not be wearing masks, and even that might not be enough protection. One of my writer friends reported last night that both of her children have already been sent home to quarantine because someone in their classes had the virus. If I were a parent with a child in school now, I’d be terrified. For this one moment, I am grateful I don’t have to worry about my own children or grandchildren risking their health to go to school or struggling to learn online, which is barely adequate. How fortunate we were to grow up in safer times.
Most of the time I hate that I don’t have children. I have started watching a TV series on Netflix, Bloodline, featuring this huge family with so many characters I can’t keep them straight. They don’t get along very well, but the show emphasizes my aloneness. I want to be a matriarch like Sissy Spacek, beloved by all these offspring. These are the moments when I think I really messed up my life. But it was just bad timing. The first marriage was doomed from the beginning, and my second husband, Fred, was done having kids. Still . . .
It’s September. I thank God I don’t have to worry about children or grandchildren in school. Many of my friends are teachers, and I worry about them. For years, we have worried about people with guns coming into classrooms. Now we also worry about a virus. What a world.
Earlier this week, I thought I had COVID. I was feeling sick and just off. But I got tested, and it came out negative. It could so easily have gone the other way. Please be careful out there.
COVID aside, how do you feel about back-to-school time as a person without children? Does it emphasize your childlessness or just make you nostalgic for your own school years? Some of you may be going to school yourselves, something that might be more difficult or impossible if you had children. That’s something to be grateful for.
What are your thoughts as the world goes back to school? Please share in the comments.
The books Childless by Marriage and Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both are now available not only through Amazon but at any bookstore via Ingram, the biggest distributor of books in the U.S. Why not support your local bookstore by ordering a copy?
I’ll be joining the Nomo Crones—childless elderwomen—in an online chat again on September 15 as part of World Childless Week. The Crones start gabbing at noon Pacific time. Check the website for information on all the week’s activities happening on Zoom from all over the world. You’re sure to find something that grabs your interest. The sessions will be recorded so you can watch them at your convenience.
9 thoughts on “Without Kids, What Does September Bring?”
Hi Sue. I loved the Bloodline series. Thought the acting was wonderful. Takes ‘dysfunctional family’ to a whole ‘nother level . . .
Personally, I love September. As someone who is not a fan of hot weather, I can’t wait for the first cool crisp breezes and lower humidity, followed by the colors of fall and new vistas out my windows as the leaves drop.
I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and your post made me wonder if it’s related to the back to school dynamic.
First the anxiety of it as a kid, and then the sadness of it as a woman who couldn’t have kids. My grand nieces and nephews are back to virtual education again, after starting out the school year in the classroom. I’m sorry for them and their parents doing the juggling act with work and school again, but we all have our challenges and I’m at a point in life where it’s harder for me to be sympathetic to the “struggles” of parenting for people who were blessed with children.
Hope to see you on the Crones call later this month.
Thank you for your beautiful comment. Yes, see you with the Crones.
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I used to love/hate this time of year when I was a kid, for the same reasons you’ve listed, Sue. These days, my childlessness does not bother me as much as it once did… but I will admit, this time of year, seeing the flood of “first day” photos in my social media feeds, still wears away at me and leaves me feeling exhausted and annoyed. I have friends & relatives in the southern U.S. whose kids start in early/mid-August; here most schools don’t start until after Labour Day, and the kindergarteners often don’t start until a week or so later — so I’m basically inundated with pictures and mom-talk for a full month & a half. I don’t mind a few, but it’s like a constant drip-drip-drip, water wearing away stone. In pre-covid years past, we would usually have a get-together with all of dh’s cousins & their families in late August/September long weekend… besides having kids (I’m the only childless adult woman in the bunch), many of them are/were teachers or work in schools. So not only did I get to hear all about THEIR kids, I got to hear about everyone else’s, too!
Here’s a post I wrote a few years back where I saw a funny take on the “back to school” photos and came up with a photo to post that day of my own. 😉
Thank you for this, and thanks for sharing your wonderful post. I love it.
Back to school here in NZ is of course in February (and then March for university students), but the same principles apply. For me it is the return of freedom (with perhaps a touch of nostalgia) – I can go to malls and shopping centres, cafes, movie theatres, parks etc during the day and there won’t be crowds of families, little kids making noise, or teenagers out for the day together! I can travel around the country because it is easier (not the crowds of late December/all of Jan which is when everyone takes off from work and travels here). In February I often breathe a sigh of relief, even though it is also the beginning of the year and means I have to get started on projects etc.
So generally I love the “back to school” time period – with only a few ouch moments as friends/family post pics. The back to school in September is more annoying because it encroaches on my social media (and blogs)! But then it also feels more removed, so doesn’t bother me too much. And these days, most of my friends have kids who are “ageing out” – leaving school and university, so it’s not as obvious anymore. One of the advantages of getting older!
Mali, I didn’t think of it before, but I too love it when the tourists with kids go home and let us who live here enjoy the pleasures of life here on the Oregon coast without fighting crowds.
September is also painful to me. When I drive to work, I see children waiting for the school buses. Or see kids crossing the street. It stings.
It seems to me me that society doesn’t take those of us who are childless as seriously as people with kids. This is narrow minded and wrong. Yet, I’m powerless to do anything about it.
Oh, Tony. Big hug.
Thank you 🙏. I need it.