The parent/nonparent divide grows wider

Certain occasions emphasize the divide between parents and non-parents. I guess it’s unavoidable. At the reception after my father’s funeral, his Iranian neighbors were trying to figure out which of the young adults were my children. I had to tell them, “I don’t have any children.” They seemed confused and shocked. It was like I’d told them I had just been released from prison or maybe that I used to be a man. They clearly didn’t know what to say. I excused myself to get some more food.

They were probably talking about me that night. Poor thing, no children, no grandchildren.

I’m sorry to keep talking about my dead father, but his passing has brought up all kinds of feelings about being childless. At the church, I sat at the end of the row by myself next to my brother’s family. Even my father, my “date” for most family events in recent years, was gone. When my niece carried her sleeping one-year-old up to the altar to do one of the readings, I wished with all my heart that I could do that. I’m well into menopause, but the longing hasn’t gone away.

Did I want to deal with her poopy diaper later? No, but I’d take the smelly with the sweet.

I kind of hoped at least one of my stepchildren would come. No.

Now my father’s house is being cleaned out for sale. It’s the house where we grew up, and this feels like another big loss, even though it’s unavoidable–unless I want to move back to San Jose and live in it, which I don’t. There’s so much stuff! I have brought home many treasures, and I’m glad for the things that my brother’s kids are inheriting. But I feel sad that my own children and grandchildren aren’t here to share the memories and keepsakes. Then I look around at my own house and think where will all this stuff go?

When you don’t have a child, you don’t lose just one person. You lose that child’s partner, in-laws, children and grandchildren, too. Think about it.

Forgive me for being gloomy. I’m grieving. I need to you carry the conversation this week.

  1. Have you had moments when people were shocked to find out you didn’t have children? What did they say? How did you deal with it?

2. Have you felt like the odd duck at family affairs?

3. Can you tell me something to make me smile?

This morning I received a comment on an old post that was sexist, racist and just plain mean. I’m not sure whether or not the guy was serious. I think he was, which is horrifying. I did not approve that comment. We are not having that here. But I am happy to hear from anyone who does not spew hate and stupidity. Or those who try to sell products, especially magic potions and spells to get us pregnant. So many of you have written wonderful comments, and I look forward to reading more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maybe It’s Time to Reassess

Six people I know have died in the last month. Six! None were family members, thank God, but still, they were people I knew and cared about. Also, my cousin gave birth to twins. Plus, I’ve got a new boss who is, how shall I put it, insane. And my neighbor has a new rooster who never stops crowing. All since July 1. What a month. Makes a girl think and reassess.

I’ve been whining a lot lately about being alone and childless. I won’t lie. It’s hard sometimes. Saturday, when I arrived at a funeral that was not held at my own church, I found myself alone in a sea of families. And when the folks in front of me told me all about their children and grandchildren, I felt awful. So alone. I went home and cried and only partly for my neighbor who died. But part of that is my own fault for being too shy to introduce myself to strangers and make them friends. I’d rather feel sorry for myself. My friend Pat talks to everyone. Within five minutes, she has new friends, so she’s never alone. Yes, she has children, but they all live far away. She has a husband, but he’s currently disabled and can’t do things with her. Her own health isn’t great. We’ve all got problems.

But you know what we also have? Blessings. One day last week when I just couldn’t face my work anymore, I got in my car and drove to the beach. I hung out on the sand until lunchtime, then treated myself to an expensive lunch at a posh restaurant with a fabulous view. Later I went shopping, and I drove down some roads I’d never tried before. I did not have to arrange childcare or consult with any other human being. I just went, and it was great.

I watched 13 episodes of “Orange is the New Black” in one week last month. I’m not sure that’s good for anybody’s brain, but again, no one to consult, no child or husband to feed, nobody whining that they wanted to watch something else.

My dog Annie and I walk almost every day through the woods or on the beach. Between us we have six good legs and we’re healthy. That, my friends, is a blessing.

I eat three delicious meals a day and have money left over. I am so lucky.

Many of you have partners whom you love. You might be making each other crazy over the baby issue, but stop for a minute. Set that aside. What do you love about this person? What does he or she give you? Sex? Love? Support? A hand to hold when you’re scared? That’s something a lot of people don’t have.

Do you have a home? Your health? Parents? Siblings? Cousins? Friends? Pets?

Do you have work that you enjoy?

I know. This baby thing has you all tied up in knots. You worry about the future. Will you regret not having children? Will you end up alone? Will your relationship last? Should you leave? Should you stay? It’s hard.

But today, right now, count your blessings. Life is short, and we never know when it will end. My fingers are getting tired of playing funeral songs. But I’m grateful that those fingers can still dance on the piano keys and I can still sing.

How about you? Perhaps you don’t have babies of your own, but what DO you have?