Are you ready to accept childlessness?

I don’t live every day thinking about being childless. I know it has a huge effect on my life. While my friends are busy with their children and grandchildren, I spend my days writing, playing music, and maintaining myself, the dog, my home, and my elderly father. They post pictures on Facebook of their family gatherings. I post my latest publication. Come the holidays, most people my age expect to be with their kids. I usually play music at church, then go home to an empty house. But I don’t think about it all the time. I don’t wake up in the morning weeping because I’ll never be a mom. I used to, but not anymore. I promise a time will come when you won’t either.

I pray the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer every morning. My lack of children is definitely one of the things I cannot change that I need to accept. I wanted children, but it’s too late now. I have a good life as a non-mother. I’d love to be one of those grandma ladies, but you know what? I feel much younger and freer than most women my age who have children and grandchildren. I like that.

Then I read this quote from Jessica Lange in the August/September issue of the AARP magazine.

“Having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before. You are no longer the center of the universe. It opened my heart, made me a different person. Every move you make is with someone else in mind. I loved being a mother more than anything else in the world, and being a grandmother is even more fun. There’s the chance to do it again. It’s in the perfect order of nature: You raise your children, and then the next generation comes along They are the redemptive force in nature. Plus, it’s easier!”

Here’s the thing. I believe what she says. Every word of it. But I don’t dare dwell on it or I’ll go nuts. I tell myself I’m supposed to do other things with my life, and that’s that. I need to accept my situation. That works better some days than others.

How does it make you feel? I apologize if I made you cry, but you don’t have to hide your tears here. What percentage of your life do you think about not having children? Is it something you can change or something you need to accept? Let’s talk about it.

 

 

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Beyond childlessness, life goes on

“Remember me?” The woman had come rushing up to me at an event for writers. I was in charge and trying to do three things at once, but I stopped and stared into her gorgeous face framed by blonde braids. “Gretchen?” It was one of my former students from the community college. Somehow in the 10 years or so that have passed since she took my class, she has gotten more youthful than ever. She has also done quite well with her writing, one of my success stories. I see her byline everywhere. She told me she has quit her day job to focus full-time on writing. I know she will succeed.

She reminded me that she had wanted to be one of the women in my Childless by Marriage book but had shown up too late to be included. She was childless because of her marriage and had really struggled with it. I invited her to write for the blog and maybe she will someday, but I share this story about her with you because she seemed so happy with her life. She absolutely glowed with energy, proving that childlessness doesn’t have to be a life sentence to perpetual misery.

I share my day job with another childless woman, Mary. Her first husband was abusive. Her second husband, like mine, was older and already had all the children he wanted. But what a guy. Except for my late husband, he’s the sweetest man I have ever met. He had three children, as did my husband, but that’s where the similarity ends because Mary has a great relationship with those grown children and the grandchildren. In fact, this week, a bunch of them are visiting and sleeping downstairs at Mary’s house. They talk, visit, sing together and feel like one big family.

As you may recall from previous posts, that’s not the situation with my stepchildren. I don’t see them or talk to any of them, except on Facebook. One of them is having a birthday this weekend. As I prepared a card to send, I realized I wasn’t sure where she lives now or whether she will appreciate the card. It’s sad. She’s a grandmother now, and I will probably never meet her grandchildren, my step-great-grandchildren. Or are they any relation to me now that my husband is gone? I don’t know.

But back to Mary. Her life is full to overflowing with music. She teaches, plays, sings, and directs several choirs. Not having children has given her time to live her manic life of music. She enjoys other people’s kids and sends them home. And she enjoys her life, with no regrets.

Our church choir has two other childless women, both about my age now. Neither of them is suffering from her lack of children.

All I’m trying to say is it’s possible to get past the grief, anger and uncertainty and accept a childless life that is happy and fulfilling. Do I still wish I had children? Yes, although I don’t know how I would have fit them into my life of writing and music–and giving up my work was never an option.

Do you know people who are living happily without children? Are there lessons you can learn from them? I look forward to your comments.