Dear friends,

In last week’s post, I was all “woe is me, I’m alone. I don’t have kids, my husband died, and here I am, injured and alone.”

Let’s look at the other side of things today. For those who missed last week’s post, a rotten board in my deck gave way, my leg went through it, and I fell backwards. I ended up with a broken rib and a leg bruised from hip to ankle. No fun, but it could have been so much worse. The incident showed me that I need a better emergency plan. I’m working on that.

Fast forward a week. My deck has been repaired. I’m healing. I can now move around without screaming, and my bruises are not as colorful anymore. In a few weeks, I’ll be as good as new. I plan to exercise like a maniac to get rid of the weight I’ve gained sitting around.

But here’s the thing. Once the original shock faded, I realized I love my life. I love my freedom. If my nonexistent grown children had rushed to the hospital, they would have insisted I could not take care of myself, that I should not live alone anymore. They would put boundaries on my freedom. Oh Mom, don’t do that. You’re too old. Too delicate. Too injured.

They would have had a fit if they saw me hanging my Halloween lights the other night. I just love colored lights, and I felt well enough to do it.

I love my freedom. Yesterday on a whim, I took myself to lunch at the nicest restaurant in town. Then I bought groceries, did some shopping, and went to the library. Back home, I walked the dog, then settled in the sunny patio to write. When I ran out of words, I played my mandolin, probably driving the neighbors crazy, but who cares? I had nobody else’s schedule to worry about, so I did what I wanted to do. This was not terrible.

My friends rallied around when they heard what happened. They brought food, flowers, and prayers. They offered rides, housecleaning help, and even a bed to sleep in if I didn’t want to be alone. I often think of myself as alone, but I have more people, than I realized, and help is available when I need it—even though I don’t have a husband or children. Of course when they need help, I need to be there for them, too.

I need to make a plan for Thanksgiving. I don’t enjoy spending holidays alone. I’m going to have to reach out, and that’s hard for me.

But sitting in the sun in the patio that I put together myself, I thought, “I love my life.” Should I feel guilty for not being sad? I don’t think so.

People who have traditional families often have to wait until retirement to pursue their passions, to write that book, take that class, or go on that trip. We don’t have to wait. We can do it now.

Some people choose not to have children. They want the freedom, the uninterrupted time, and the money they can save. They sound selfish to those of us who would happily trade all that for someone who calls us Mom or Dad. But since we’re in this situation, let’s admit that sometimes it’s not so bad.

What can you do today that you could not do if you had children? I look forward to your comments.


Fun book with nobody having babies:

The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas

It’s the 1880s. Addie French is a madam in a small town in New Mexico. She has two “girls” at the moment and pitches in as needed with the gentlemen callers. She has a boyfriend in New Mexico named Ned and another unnamed boyfriend in Kansas, where she visits to shop and socialize. On the train home from Kansas, she meets Emma, an aging mail-order bride who is about to be stood up by her potential husband. Addie takes pity on her and lets her move into her boardinghouse—not as a good-time girl. Soon Emma and Ned get chummy. Ned happens to be a bank robber, and they cook up a get-rich scheme, but everything goes catawampus, with crooks tricking crooks and surprises right up to the last chapter. Do the good guys win? Well, it’s hard to tell who they are, but it doesn’t matter. This book is good to the last page.

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  1. Hi, Sue, I’m glad you’re ok now. Sometimes I wonder why do we take for granted that all children take care of their parents when they age, even though reality shows us that many times that’s not the case: sometimes they don’t care, sometimes they do but live abroad/ far away, etc. And, as you said, they even may start with “you shouldn’t live alone anymore” (that nowadays doesn’t mean “come and live with me”). Believe it or not, it somehow comforts me that no one will be able to get me into a home/ tell me what I should or shouldn’t do, etc. And from what you tell us, your friends took really good care of you and were there much more than many people’s children, so…
    As for what I couldn’t do if I had children: read/ travel/ go out as much as I do, buy lots of books and things I like/ enjoy, like expensive technology (I wouldn’t be able to afford these little luxuries if I had children to support and raise), etc.


  2. Great post! My husband left for a long weekend so I’ve been on my own. And while I miss him I have to say, I’ve been enjoying myself. First thing I did was clean my house and stocked up on my favorite foods. I worked in my yard for as long as I wanted and loved it. I buzzed around getting errands done. I ate good food whenever I wanted. And now I’m in my office, in business planning mode and happy to have the whole evening to use as I wish. Plus I have a movie and a late night snack lined up as my reward when I get home and enjoy my freshly cleaned home.

    Lately my in-laws have been real chatty. Several kids are seniors and there are a lot of happenings, and I guess feelings going on. When these kids were younger I had to beg their parents to include us in t-ball games or plays. It hurt a lot to not be included and it hurt more when I finally realized that they simply didn’t want or need me around. But now?

    Nowadays, Saturday text chains involve a running list of all the sporting activities that their almost grown children are involved in. Lots of pics of smiling kids, kids with red faces racing with a bunch of other kids. Family pics at the finish line. And then lots of friendly chatter amongst those who have been involved in each others lives for years now. I feel like a family friend who accidentally got included on a text chain.

    While I love all these children, I truly don’t care if they come in 4th and how much time they shaved off their run. I read the texts and rarely comment. For years I was in the dark and now it feels like these parents are trying to hang onto the last straws of parenthood and they FINALLY want us along for the ride as they show off their beautiful accomplished children.

    I wasn’t included in the beginning and I certainly won’t be included in the end – so I’d like to take myself out of the equation now. It sounds like I have a real chip on my shoulder but I don’t. I just want to enjoy my own life even if the only photo I took today was of a donut. (p.s. it was delicious!)


  3. “… sometimes it’s not so bad.” I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I’ll say that the majority of the time it’s not so bad! I try to focus on the good – there’s a lot for us to be grateful for. I think the hardest part is liking our lives without feeling guilt over enjoying the No Kidding aspects of them. You’re so right – it IS okay to like our lives. I wrote a series of 20 posts – Gifts of Infertility (which could also be titled Gifts of Childlessness) on this topic a few years back.


  4. I have more thoughts. My siblings and I are all grown adults. My parents are grandparents and will probably soon be great grandparents. Retirement was hard and things changed but they’ve hit a groove and quite enjoy their private, quiet lives with occasional pop-ins and visits from family. Each Thursday, they take a little road trip. They joke that they need a loaf of bread but then they ended up 2 hours away in Town XYZ. They always buy a loaf of bread to complete the inside joke.

    In some ways, my parents are like my husband and me. They don’t really “need” anyone else. They enjoy and love each other. Mom is not a “let’s go to lunch and hit Target” sort of mom. She’d prefer to be with my dad. In fact, I have a friend who is my mother’s age and I see her more. At least once a month she calls and says, “Hey kid, let’s get some nachos.” Even if I’m busy, I go and we talk like a mother and daughter would talk. Once I got over the “rejection” from my own mother (which took years) I could admire my parents’ relationship. Now mine is the same way and I suspect when one of them dies, I’ll see firsthand what I can expect when/if I lose my spouse.

    Anyway, life is good, right? They have their family and plenty of help when they need it. They never have to worry about being alone on the holidays. What a perfect balance! However, my estranged sister had to leave a difficult situation and is temporarily staying with my parents, who have been waiting and praying that she would get this opportunity to start over. This was a joyous thing for our family.

    Except my sister isn’t really running her life how we want her to. Her children are a mess. And she’s not making strides in order to move out. It is complicated and my sister DOES needs a little grace extended to her. But it’s getting stressful and my parents miss their happy little life with just the two of them. At this point in their lives, the fact that they have children is truly wrecking their lives. Blood pressures are up, money is getting tight, they argue on how to deal with new situations.
    They miss their trips to buy a loaf of bread. They just want peace. I feel for them.

    My sister doesn’t know it, but she shaped a lot of the unhappiness of my childhood. So I can assume that she caused negativity for my parents over the years. I wonder. Do they love my sister enough that, given the choice, they would have her again? Do they love my other siblings enough that this one problem child is worth the price you pay to have a family? Or were they happy enough on their own that they could have never had us at all? Knowing what they know now – would they do it all again?


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