Why don’t I have kids? Because I never really wanted ’em. They’re not for everybody, something I tried to explain to a woman I met recently. She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language that she didn’t understand. And I guess I kind of was, because she has four kids and couldn’t seem to shut up about them. And, actually, she was more than just “a woman”, she was a new client so I felt it important that I be clear but oh so polite in my explanation because I would like her to hire me again…even though she probably thinks of me as “that strange woman with no kids.”
So on my walk home from the meeting, I started to think about what difference it makes in my life that I have given birth to no one. A few things occurred to me but first, I need to caution that most of my friends have children and I love their children. I have to say this because people with kids are so dang touchy about anything you say that sounds like “your kids aren’t fabulous all of the time.”
Anyway, here’s what not having kids has meant to my life:
- I’ve had to learn to hold a conversation that isn’t dominated by what my kids are or aren’t doing, seeing, wearing or thinking. Many people use “my kids” as a default topic because it’s so easy, but I want them to stop taking the easy route and figure out something else to talk about.
- I’ve learned to smile and act interested when they go on for much too long about their kids. I’m pretty good at it. Most people have no idea that I’m rolling my eyes in my mind.
- Here’s something no one has been able to explain to me satisfactorily. I have to tread especially lightly on this one because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And I’m not trying to; I’m not being sarcastic or flippant, I really don’t understand this one: every year at Christmas, I receive lots of cards with photos of someone’s kids. Not the whole family, just the kids. Where are the parents? Why aren’t they in the photograph? What is the thinking that I would want pictures of the kids without the parents…when it’s the parents who are my friends? And the following year, I pull the cards from a drawer and find myself wondering “whose kids are these?” This thing of let’s-send-out-cards-of-only-some-of-the-people-in-our-family is a little bizarre to me.
- People sometimes ask me “who will take care of you when you’re old?” I don’t know the answer to that…but I do know that nursing homes are filled with mothers and fathers who aren’t being visited by their kids. Having children is no guarantee of anything.
- Smart-mouthed teenagers. Do I really have to go into this one…except to say I’m really glad there aren’t any living in my house.
The cutest baby in the world lives down the hall from me. She is a real delight and I love watching her smile, laugh, learn new things, grow up…and then I give her back to her parents. Just as it should be.
NOTE: My new book —The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree— has been published and is available here, and on Amazon.
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