Friday, July 29, 2011

The road not taken

As I lay awake last night, one thought led to another, and I realized with a shock that the young sons of the man I dated before I met Fred must be in their 30s by now. I was so flabbergasted it woke me up completely. Forget sleeping.

Jason and Jeremy were 5 and 7 in the days when I dated their dad after my first marriage ended. We got along great, and I knew I'd be happy being their stepmother. I also knew that other children would follow because this boyfriend was eager to make babies with me. In fact, yesterday I found a poem I wrote about how I was worried that I might be pregnant out of wedlock. My, how things have changed. I never did get pregnant.

That boyfriend, let's call him Jack, was abusive. When he was in a good mood, things were great, but when he wasn't, look out. It would not have been a good marriage, but I could have had as many babies as I wanted.

Jack and I broke up for a while, and I started dating Gerry. He too was happy to welcome babies,although his crazy theory was: If you get pregnant, we'll get married. When I discovered he was doing drugs, I broke up with him. No babies there. I went back to Jack, but was lucky to escape relatively unscathed.

Then Fred came along. So nice, so kind, so loving. He didn't want to add any more children to the three kids he already had and he had had a vasectomy, but he was just about perfect in every other way. I married him and wound up not having children. Did I make the right decision?

If things had worked out differently, I could have had grown children by now.

Life happens one day, one choice at a time. None of us knows what lies ahead.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Regrets or no regrets?

Going through the files, I have found two articles you may want to read, if you haven't already. it's interesting how they look at the lack of children from different viewpoints.

Nanette Varian's piece in More Magazine, "Childless by (100% Regret-Free) Choice," gives an excellent overview of how one comes to not have children and is full of good information about life as a woman without children.

Mandy Appleyard's "The Love I'll Never Know" in the Daily Mail definitely comes from a different place. Appleyard wanted children, but had trouble finding the right man. When she finally did, she suffered two miscarriages and was unable to have the children she wanted so badly.

Some of us are okay not having children while others mourn the loss every day. What do you think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Childless women in pain

I had a great weekend, although I was strongly reminded of my childless status at a party where everyone was talking about their children and grandchildren. At such times, I can either smile and nod or hit the buffet table again. "Five grandkids, huh? And the new one is due in September? Nice." You know how it goes. I've been dealing with it for years.

But some women are in the throes of such deep pain they don't know what to do. I received messages from two such women this weekend.

The first is Jennifer, who writes:
"I'm now 37, husband is 40. We have been married for almost 13 years. I always wanted children...he wanted to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, 3 years ago I 'made' him go to a fertility doctor with me. The doctor immediately thought it was me, put me on Clomid, etc. He tested my husband 'just in case'. On Halloween (my favorite holiday in the world...or it used to be)...I went for my check up to see how the Clomid was working. He examined me, told me I was responding "wonderfully"...and told me to have sex that weekend. I was SO thrilled!!!! Then, before he left, I asked him if he had the results of my husband's exam. He looked worried, and said "I'll be right back". He came back in a few minutes later, and simply said "There was a big problem. Your husband has no sperm". I must have said "are you sure" about ten times. I was shocked. He said "don't worry, we can use donor sperm and you'll be pregnant within a month or two". My husband, however, did not want to use donor sperm...My husband doesn't want to adopt. He's happy with his life. He likes his job and has his stupid band. I, on the other hand, am miserable. I feel left out. I don't have any friends anymore because all of my friends have children and that's all they talk about. I don't have family, so my having a child meant everything in the world to me. I feel so isolated and SO lonely...I honestly don't know how I am going to survive another day let alone a lifetime. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I'm sorry to bother you but I'm at the end of my rope." :(

This morning, I got a message from Iris:
"I don't know where to turn. I don't know how to deal with the pain of
being childless. My heart never felt so broken. I am married now and
my husband has four children. None of those experiences were good. Now
between lay offs, strikes, and circumstances, think I will never have
children. I am 45 going on 46. If the window of opportunity is not
already closed, it is fast approaching. I don't want to feel this
pain. I don't want to be bitter. I don't know what to do."

Friends, we're all in the same leaky boat. I think the hardest time to be childless is when you're in your 30s and 40s and feel your chances slipping away. When you get older, I promise you will find ways to make peace with the situation. Meanwhile, I think it's essential to talk first with your mate. Try to make him understand how you feel, how very important it is to have children NOW. I was guilty of not speaking up enough. I think if I had, I would have children now. If your mate will not listen, find someone else to talk to, a friend,a counselor, anyone who will listen. Don't keep it bottled up. You also need to consider whether this man is worth the sacrifice. If you had to choose between losing him and losing your potential children, which would you pick?

I welcome your comments and your advice.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are you a Savvy Auntie?

I mentioned the Savvy Auntie website last week. Making a visit there, I discovered that they have declared July 24 Auntie's Day. So, if you've got devoted nieces and nephews, maybe you want to drop a hint that they should plan some kind of Mother's Day-like celebration.

There's even a Savvy Auntie book by Melanie Notkin, which tells you how to be the best possible aunt--or great aunt or godmother or person who loves a child you didn't give birth to.

For those of us missing the children we haven't had, aunthood may be one way to fill that emptiness.

On a recent trip to California for my niece Susie's 24th birthday party, I found myself absolutely enchanted by her. Between my brother and me, she's the only biological offspring, although my brother adopted William, his wife's son from her first marriage. He feels like ours, too. I often forget that he doesn't share our genes. When he tells me he loves me or comes to me for advice, I feel all squishy inside.

My niece has my name, and she looks so much like my mother it's spooky (and wonderful). We're both left-handed and have a lot of other things in common besides her father and curmudgeonly grandfather.

Because we live in different states, I don't see my niece and nephew that much, but I love being Aunt Sue. I wish there were dozens of young people calling me that.

Meanwhile, on the long drive home to Oregon, I got to thinking about how cool it would be if I had had a daughter, too. My brother and I both got married for the second time in 1985. We were both in our 30s, plenty young enough to conceive. My daughter would be about Susie's age. They could have been friends, hung out together, shared confidences and clothing tips. I would have been so proud of both of them.

Sigh. These are the kinds of things that many women take for granted, not knowing how lucky they are. I'm not going to give birth. My stepdaughter is almost 20 years older than my niece, so they're not likely to become friends.

That's the way it goes in this world of multiple marriages, some of which do not produce children. I wish I had kids, but I'm glad I'm an aunt.

How about you? Are you an aunt? Are you enjoying it? Might you put some of your mothering energy into spoiling a niece or nephew? I look forward to your comments.