Are We More Youthful Without Children?

I feel younger than my age. I believe that not having somebody identifying you as the old person, as the parent or grandparent, means you don’t feel as old. You have not moved up the generations so that now you’re the elder. You’re still you. I really think there’s something to that, something even to be grateful for. I took one of those bogus tests online recently. It guessed I was in my 30s. I’m double that, enjoying my senior discounts, but I don’t feel that way. Most of my friends are a little older than I am. To them, I’m a kid.

So many famous authors, artists, musicians and others who have achieved great things never had children. Not having to take 20 years out to raise children gave them time to follow their dreams, and they seem to go on and on. I know most of you want to have children. I would trade it all to hold my own babies in my arms and watch them grow, to teach them and love them forever. It would be hard to focus on work while doing that. But since that’s not going to happen, so let’s look at the bright side. When you don’t have kids, you can still BE the kid.

I know people my own age who are so much older than I am. The non-parents I see are often more energetic, more playful, and more open to new experiences. Maybe they would have been that way anyway, but I wonder if parenting would have aged them. I think about my grandparents at my age. They were OLD.

Here are a few things to read about this:

From the Telegraph: “Does Having Children Make You Old?”

From Kristen Houghton at the Huffington Post: “Why (Most) Successful Women are Childless”

My own 2013 post “Does Being Childless Mean We Never Grow Up?” offers another way of looking at this question.

What do you think about this? Could never having children keep you younger? Please comment.

******************

Updates:

Last week I wrote that I was going to the hospital for a scary procedure. Well, it’s over, and I am not dying or damaged by my day in surgery. No tumors, no ulcers, no infections. The doctor did take some polyps to biopsy, but he didn’t think they were anything to worry about. Best of all, he says I can eat anything I want. Whoohoo!

One of my essays is included in a new book titled Biting the Bullet: Essays on the Courage of Women, published last month by Chatter House Press. You might want to check it out.

Another benefit of childlessness: More time to read!

Finally, there’s a pretty heated discussion happening in the comments for a previous post, “Childless Readers Help Each Other.” Me, I’m going to try to stay neutral, but this guy named Tony has really pissed some people off.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Is a childless writer handicapped?

Is a writer–or any artist–without children lacking an important component for her art? Can she ever portray a complete human experience without having experienced giving birth and raising children? On the other hand, can a mother ever be free to fully pursue her art?

This discussion, which never ends, came up recently after the death of bestselling Irish author Maeve Binchy. Most of the news articles mentioned her childlessness. In an essay in the Daily Telegraph, writer Amanda Craig argued that Binchy would have been a better writer if she had been a mother, giving her a “deeper understanding of human nature.” Binchy, who struggled with infertility, had written about how much she wanted children but was unable to have them. It wasn’t a choice for her. But did it make her less of a writer? Many famous authors of the past, including Virginia Woolf, the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen, were childless. In their day, it was believed you couldn’t be both a successful writer and a mother. Which argument is right?

For me, I admit I have some gaps in my knowledge. At a meeting last night, things moved into talk about doing a program at the local schools. Suddenly the parents in our group had all these suggestions that obviously came from their experiences with their kids. I felt like a guy must feel in a discussion about makeup: clueless.

Although I haven’t had the same experiences, I have been a child, growing up with other children. I have been a stepmother, and I have been around other people’s kids and families all my life. That has to count for something. If I wanted to volunteer at the school, I could learn what those people at the meeting know. I have also raised dogs–which makes parents of humans roll their eyes–but this week, as I’m treating Annie’s third ear infection this year, I feel pretty darned motherly. (It’s getting much better, thank you.)

Let’s look at the other side of the equation. Because I live alone with my dog, I have been able to spend my day like this: I got up when I felt like it, did a little accounting before eating a leisurely breakfast with no one else to feed, spent over an hour playing the piano and starting to write a new song before going to a doctor’s appointment, decided on the spur of the moment to take myself to lunch at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the ocean, then came home and spent the next three hours finishing the song. Even without children, I have never had so much uninterrupted time. For songwriting, I need complete concentration. I need to be able to keep going over the song, smoothing out the bumps until I can sing and play it with confidence, and that takes hours.

Whether it’s writing, music, art or whatever our passion, it is easier without children. Of course, when we’re done, we wish we had somebody to share it with, but let’s be honest. A childless woman has a lot more freedom to create. Whatever grief or loss we might feel, that is a blessing for which we should be grateful.

Your thoughts?