Monday, March 21, 2011

But I Don't Have Any Children

I was feeling down the other day when I read on Facebook about this Blog called Daily Signs of Hope, so I went there. Right away, the blogger started talking about the greatest joys of his life: his children and grandchildren. Not helpful. I sat there talking back to the computer, saying, but I don't have any children or grandchildren. I just have Annie, my dog.

Sigh. I went back to Daily Signs of Hope this morning and discovered that once you get past the bit about the author's beloved children and grandchildren, he offers some wonderful advice for everyone about how we influence the generations that follow us. His other recent posts do not even mention the kids. Sometimes we childless folks are blinded by our own emotions and freak out unnecessarily.

However, many people who have children, who have a so-called normal life, don't even begin to understand what it's like for those of us who have no children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Their lives revolve around their kids. How many times have we heard people say things like, "I never understood what life was all about until I had children" or, "I never really grew up until my son/daughter was born" or, "Having children changes everything"?

I believe them. I know there are lots of voluntarily childless people out there who feel they don't need to have kids to fully experience everything they want out of life. I disagree. We ARE missing something. As we age, and the older people in our lives die, it sure would be nice to turn around and see someone younger coming up behind us. But if I open my eyes to it, there are young wonderful people in my life, even if I didn't give birth to them. I think my two favorite words are "Aunt Sue."

Both parents and non-parents need to work harder at understanding each other. The numbers of people without children, for whatever reason, are growing. Perhaps future generations will be more understanding about how some people have children and some don’t.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are You a 'Career Girl'?

At a party last weekend, four of us women got to talking. We were all over 50. Two of us were childless and two were mothers of grown children. O. is 60-something. She had a difficult childhood and felt she would not be a good mother. Her husband didn't want children. She went to work at a young age, eventually making a wonderful career designing movie sets in Hollywood. As she moved through her childbearing years, those around her said, "Oh, she's a career girl." The mothers would shake their heads, implying that there was something sinful about choosing career over children.

T. and D. both had kids, but they both worked, too. After their divorces, they had no choice. T. noted, "Does anyone really think I grew up wanting to be a single mom to two boys and work my fingers to the bone sewing costumes? Come on."

I sighed. I had no kids, but I too was divorced at a young age and grateful I had a job to turn to. After I remarried, I kept working. "I would love to have my mother's life. I'd love to be a housewife," I said. We all laughed. None of us had that option. We always needed to work. Even when my stepson lived with us and my husband had a good job, I worked outside the home, struggling to juggle everything at once.

Am I a career gal? Are you? Did you choose work over children? I didn't. I just ended up with one and not the other. Whether we have children or not, why shouldn't our work be something we love to do? And why don't people look down on men who are devoted to their jobs?
What do you think?