Beyond Childlessness: Counting My Blessings

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

Also, do you know I have another blog called Unleashed in Oregon? Check out this week’s post, “Lawnmower One, Widow Lady Zero.” It might give you a smile.

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.

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Grumping into the holidays again

I’m in a bad mood. Maybe it’s all the gray, rainy days we’ve been having here on the Oregon coast. I like the sun, and I get bummed when I can’t feel it shining on me. But it’s also  being alone. There are times when I like it, but today, not so much. Before breakfast, I had to get down on the floor and clean out the pellet stove that heats our house because I waited too long and it quit working. Again. The whole time, I was thinking about how my husband used to take care of things like this. He was good that way. He kept the car running. Cleaned out the gutters. Maintained the yard. Watched over the dog when I had to go out of town.

He was good for a lot more than chores, of course. He was a friend, companion, and partner for all the good and bad things in life. And now that I’m going into the holidays without him again, I just want to fast forward into January.

I’ve been thinking about how things might be different if I had children. I suspect I’d still be alone a lot. If I had had children in my 30s, they would be adults by now, maybe with their own kids. They might live far away. They would certainly be busy with their own lives. They would not be here cleaning out the stove at 7 a.m.

If I did have children, maybe I wouldn’t have to drive 800 miles to my brother’s house to see family at Thanksgiving. I would never have left California if I had children living there. Maybe everybody would come to my house. I would love to sit at a big table surrounded by my family like my mother did year after year. Not gonna happen.

This year my nephew will be bringing his new stepdaughters and his pregnant wife. I’m happy for them and for my brother and his wife, who are becoming grandparents. I won’t be the only one without a husband, but the others have kids. I don’t have either one.

I should be cheering you on, saying it’s okay, be thankful for what you have. Yes, we should all try to do that. I know my life is full of blessings. I will be with my father, who’s still going at 93. How amazing is that? I have a home, car, enough money to get by, relatively good health, work I love, and good friends. I have my dog. I have an aged pellet stove that is pouring out warmth right now.

But here’s my point. Readers keep commenting about how they don’t know what to choose, the partner or the children they might have with somebody else. I’ve got to tell you I’d forgo the offspring in a heartbeat to have my husband back again. Not just to clean out the pellet stove but to share life, to make decisions together, to snuggle together on a cold night, to sing all the way to San Jose, and whisper wisecracks about the family between football games. What’s right for me might not be right for you, but think hard before you bail out of an otherwise good relationship.

My dear friends, holidays are hard. Kids, kids, kids in our faces everywhere. But we will survive. Here’s my prescription for you. First, go ahead and rant about all the things that you hate about being childless during the holidays. Write it down, post it in a comment if you want. Then, I want you to make a list of all the things you have to be thankful for because you do have them. And if you have a partner you love, just give him or her a big hug and tell them you love them. Okay?

I may or may not get the blog done next week. Dad doesn’t have WiFi. Like I said, he’s 93. But I’ll try to keep up with your comments. Thank you for being here.