Childless or not, Easter comes again

Dear friends,

How do I make this blog relevant in these days when we’re all thinking about the coronavirus, COVID-19, and its effects on our health, our finances, and our whole lives? I mean John Prine died yesterday, they’re running out of places to put the bodies in New York, millions of people have suddenly lost their jobs, and we’re running around wearing masks. It’s a strange world. When I look around my community, it seems that the Rapture (all the good people taken up to heaven) has happened and we were left behind with no jobs, a massive recession, and constant fear that we or someone we love will catch this disease from a friend, off our groceries, or in the wind and die. How on earth can we even think about childlessness and whether or not to have a baby?

At least that’s how I feel—and that’s on the good days when I’m not so depressed I think about drinking my way through the liquor cabinet. (I’m not. There’s green tea in my cup.)

But it’s Easter. For Christians, this is Holy Week, celebrating the events leading up to Jesus’s death and resurrection. For Jews, today is Passover, when God saved his people from death. For all of us, it’s spring, the sun finally coming out, tulips and daffodils blooming, buds on trees and shrubs promising flowers and fruit. In spite of all the craziness, spring is still happening.

Spring is a time of fertility, of birth and rebirth. Easter is a time of families celebrating together. Last year, I watched my cousins’ kids hunt for Easter eggs as we gathered in the sun for a barbecue at my aunt’s house. There were at least 25 people there. This year, we’ll all be separated. We can’t even go to church.

You might see sheltering in place as a blessing for those of us who find family gatherings painful. This year, for once, you can stay home without excuses or guilt and do Easter your way–or ignore it altogether. Will you dye eggs, pig out on candy, put bunny ears on the dog, sip wine on the porch, make love, or watch videos? Will you “Facetime” or Skype with family, including the little ones? Me, I’m planning to attend church online and then have myself a picnic in the back yard. We can do whatever we want. We still have options; they’re just different.

I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are well. Whether you have COVID-19 or something else, it’s a terrible time to be sick, with access to health care so limited and people not allowed to bring anyone with them for support. I read online about a pregnant woman who is terrified to deliver her baby in the midst of this crisis. We’re all kind of scared. Most of us believe we would survive if we got the virus, but what if we don’t?

What is my point today? We all have to survive this time in our own way. When I told my brother it is difficult being alone, he replied that it is also difficult being at home with three grandchildren under age 5. I’m jealous that he and his kids and grandkids are together but grateful I can read and write and sleep in peace. Meanwhile, this is an opportunity to try new ways of being and thinking and doing.

How are you managing this Easter week? How are you feeling about being childless now? Has the COVID-19 affected your relationship with your mate? Has it changed your thoughts about having or not having children?

Please comment. I’m here. We’re all here. You are not alone.

 

 

 

A Safe Place for the Childless Not by Choice

Dear friends,

Lately in the comments, a few people have been sniping at each other. That’s not good. We get enough of that in the rest of the world. As childless people, we face questions, disapproval, accusations, and folks who can’t resist giving you unwanted advice. Right? Let’s not do that here.

Last week we talked about how some of us—maybe all of us—sometimes keep quiet about our childless status because we don’t want to deal with the reactions. We’d rather blend in and let the parent people think we’re just like them. We don’t want them coming at us with why, what’s wrong with you, etc. Most of us don’t know how  to explain or justify our situation because we’re not sure how it happened or what to do about it. We’re still trying to figure it out. There aren’t any easy answers.

Of course, I’m talking about those of us who have not chosen to be childless, who are hurting over their childless status. The childless-by-choice crowd sometimes gets pretty militant about their choice: Never wanted kids, happy about the situation, feel sorry for you breeders who want to waste your bodies, money and time adding to the world’s overpopulation. Get over it, and enjoy your childfree life. But how can you when you feel a gaping emptiness inside?

In an ideal world, we would all accept each other’s choices, but the world is not ideal. We feel left out, guilty, ashamed, angry, and hurt. We need a safe place. Let this be one. If someone asks for advice—and many readers do—chime in, but we need to support each other’s decisions once they’re made. Don’t add to the hurt. And if a certain gentleman wants to leave his childless older wife for a young, fertile woman who will give him a family, ease up on him. We women might resent some of his sexist comments, but we don’t know what it’s like for him. He’s aching for children just like we are. And sir, don’t be knocking older women. Some of us take that personally. 🙂

Let’s try to be kind here. I am grateful for every one of you. Hang in there.

P.S. Easter was brutal for me. All those kids in Easter outfits. All those happy families while I was alone. Luckily I spent so much time playing music at church that I was too tired to care by Sunday afternoon. How was it for you?

Easter doesn’t have to be all about kids

It’s almost Easter. You know what that means. People with children are going a little crazy filling baskets with candy and toys, buying cute little Easter outfits, dyeing hard-boiled eggs, and organizing Easter egg hunts. They might be attending events in which somebody shows up dressed in a bunny costume. If the kids are in school this week, they’ll be making things like Easter cards and papier-mâché eggs. If they’re out of school on spring break, they’ll be throwing their parents’ schedules into a tizzy, making it difficult to work or do their usual activities.

All of this is a big deal to those who have children, and a lot of it is fun. When I was kid, I would wake up on Easter morning to find big baskets of goodies on my dresser. I believed the Easter Bunny had brought them, although of course they really came from my mother and grandmother. We got dressed up and went to church, but for us kids, Easter was about candy and presents. I guess it still is.
That might make people without children feel a little left out, but hey, Easter is not really about bunnies and baskets of goodies. It’s about the resurrection of Christ from the dead. And you know what? Jesus didn’t have any kids. It’s fascinating to think what might have happened if he did, but he didn’t. He devoted his life on earth to his ministry.
Not everyone reading this is Christian. Maybe you’re just celebrating the arrival of spring. We can all believe whatever we choose to believe. I not only believe the Jesus story, I work as a music minister for a Catholic church and will be immersed in church music for the next five days. In our nightly services, we will take the story from the Last Supper to the crucifixion and on to the resurrection. My only connection with children will be watching a couple of the kids I’ve been singing for all year be baptized into the Catholic church. I may pick up a chocolate bunny along the way, but it’s all about religion for me and not about kids. It’s about my faith and my ministry.
Easter isn’t half as bad as Mother’s Day, but it has its pitfalls for those who don’t have children and wish they did. You may be attending a family dinner in which everything seems to revolve around other people’s kids. You may meet up with people who keep insisting you need to get pregnant ASAP. You may just feel left out of the conversations. I hope you don’t. I think we all have our roles to play, and there’s no reason you can’t dive into the festivities along with everyone else. Just enjoy the fact that you won’t be bringing home a child who is wired on sugar and whining about not getting as many presents as his cousin. You can relax into your childless life and maybe enjoy a chocolate egg and a glass of cabernet in peace.
I wish you all a peaceful and blessed Easter.