It’s time for kid-centered holidays. Labor Day was no problem. But Halloween is a different story. All those kids whining about costumes and candy. All those proud parents taking pictures of their little ones dressed as pumpkins, Ninja Turtles, or whatever’s hot this year. Carving pumpkins, baking orange-frosted cupcakes, buying sugary treats to hand out at the door. It sounds exhausting.
Yesterday, I asked my hair stylist, mother of four, if she was ready for Halloween. She sighed. “Almost. I still have a few more things to do.” At that moment, I did not mind one bit that I don’t have children. Christmas is bad enough.
Yes, it might be fun to do Halloween with my kids. I might enjoy every minute of it. By now my children would be adults, possibly bringing their own children to my house to show their costumes to “Grandma.” I’d be posting pictures like crazy. But that’s not going to happen. Living out here in the spooky old woods, I don’t even get other people’s kids coming to the door. So I don’t have to buy candy. I still have a few of last year’s Tootsie Pops that I bought in a fit of optimism, but it’s too dark out here. If somebody knocks on the door, it might be a bear.
Remember that even if you had children, you might not see them on Halloween. My father’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all live far away, and he won’t see them on Halloween. Mostly he just worries about trick-or-treaters smashing his plants and trashing his yard.
I could feel sorry for myself on Halloween, but I have choices, as do you. I can go to one of the many events for children and shower them with candy and compliments about their costumes or visit someone who lives in a more child-friendly neighborhood. My late mother-in-law lived in a section of town where people brought their kids by the busload. For several years, she hid in a back room while Fred and I handed out little Hershey Bars for hours. It was fun.
If you live in civilization, you can enjoy decorating your house and yard and offering tricks and treats to the neighborhood kids. Dress up, get silly. If you don’t have a kid, be a kid.
Or put on your own costume and go party with other adults. Karaoke, anyone? Pumpkin-tinis? Dancing to “The Monster Mash?”
If someone is pushing you to watch them and their kids have fun, you can go and be the fun “auntie” or “uncle.” You can also say no, stay home, turn out the porch light and watch “Dancing with the Stars.” It’s okay.
What are your plans for Halloween? Are you looking forward to it or dreading it?
It’s my birthday! Rahhhhh! Birthdays are often problematic for me. I whine about the gifts I don’t receive and the people who aren’t around, but this time I’m just feeling grateful. My friends, I have a good life. As I prayed a summing-up-the year prayer last night, I didn’t even think about not having children. It’s true. I didn’t. I thought about all the great things I do have. My days are full of writing, music, books, dogs, great food, beautiful scenery, family and good friends who feel like family. I have had 64 years of good health. That could change in a heartbeat, but I am grateful. Yes, I miss my husband, and sometimes I wish I had more money, but at this moment, I know I am blessed.
I am grateful for you, too, for this sister and brotherhood of childless people that has formed here and taken a life far beyond my Childless by Marriage book. We can comfort each other, help each other to make the decisions we need to make, and encourage each other in our lives that may not have children but they do and will have many other wonderful things. Trust me. There will be tears, there will be regrets. But there will also be laughter and joy.
No, I haven’t started drinking already. It’s still very early here in Oregon. In a little while, I have to go into a difficult meeting at work, and it may be hard to hang on to a positive attitude. But I’m determined to do my best.
I found a couple of podcasts online that I think you will find interesting:
In the UK, they have just celebrated what is called Mothering Sunday. Like our American Mother’s Day, it’s a tough day for those who don’t have children. This “All Things Considered”program, which you can listen to for the next couple weeks, can be heard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b072nr1j
You can also listen to a discussion about the choice of whether or not to have children and an interview with psychotherapist Jeanne Safer, author of Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children at http://iowapublicradio.org/post/childless-choice#stream/0
Next week I’ll be in Tucson on a combination work/pleasure trip, so we will have a guest post that I know you’re going to love.
Your comments are always welcome.
It was Fourth of July. Everyone seemed to be gathered in family groups, and there I was with my dog Annie. My friends I had planned to spend the day with had suddenly gotten busy with visiting children and grandchildren, so I headed to Yachats, a small town to the south where the 1960s continue unchanged. They were having a street fair. After walking around a little bit, Annie and I settled in one of the plastic chairs near the stage where a group was performing music that seemed to be a blend of reggae, New Age and yoga chants. Annie leaned against my legs, nervous in the crowd, a little worried about the tie-die-garbed woman doing a hula hoop dance a few feet away, the lady doing henna tattoos under the canopy next to the stage, and the tiny human who kept asking if she could pet my doggie. Sure, I said and watched her pat Annie’s broad tan back.
Next to me, the little girl’s mom exposed her baby bump between her midriff top and long skirt. She had flowers henna-tattooed around and below her navel. I will not let this bother me, I told myself. I sang along with the music, I pet my dog, I stared at the blue sky and green trees rising up behind the stage. The temperature was perfect, we had nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. But there were kids and moms and dads everywhere.
The night before, watching fireworks in Waldport, I was surrounded by couples with children, little ones and big ones. I felt like I didn’t fit in. And here, watching barefoot young women in flowing dresses dance with their children, I had to wonder how I missed out on something so natural and normal. Men and women come together and make babies. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to go? Didn’t I want that? Where did I lose my way? If I had stayed with my first husband, wouldn’t we eventually have had children? Maybe I should have married someone else. But I was 22. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know this could happen to me.
Annie was getting hot and restless. I was getting sad. “Come on,” I said, and we went home to our big house and big yard with no children and no mothers.
Sorry. I’m feeling down today. You know how that goes. I hate holidays. They bring out the blues. Don’t you find that’s true? How was Fourth of July for you?
Starting Sunday afternoon, I’m going to be offline most of the time for a week or so. If I don’t get to your comments or post something new, please be patient. I will seek out wi-fi as often as I can. Have a great week.
My dear friends,
It’s almost Christmas. I know this is a tough time for people who are grieving the loss of the children they might have had. We also miss those who have passed away. I know I would give anything for another hug from my husband or to hear my mother laugh again. But we have to accept things as they are right now, today.
Look around you and see all the good things you do have: your health, your home, the wonderful people in your life, good food, and this beautiful earth on which we live. Just now, I looked out my window and saw wild birds having a party. Bright blue Stellar’s jays, brown-and-orange varied thrushes, and black-hooded Oregon juncos grazed on the lawn while a purple-breasted swallow swooped across the sky. A hint of blue showed through the clouds, and my Sitka spruce stood tall and strong despite decades of harsh wind, rain and frost. The winter solstice has passed, and we will be getting more daylight every day. There is much to be grateful for.
Yes, we are surrounded by people who have children when we don’t. It’s easy to resent them. Don’t. Love them, and love their children. Be glad they are here. If you are meant to be a parent, you will, but meanwhile, don’t blind yourself to everything good in this season of light and joy.
Merry Christmas and may God bless you all.