Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving with the granddogs

Well, my childless friends, how did your Thanksgiving go? The holidays can really drive home our lack of children when we’re surrounded by other people’s kids. So many of the festivities seem to be designed for children and families with children.

However, looking at it from a more positive slant, we can sleep, eat, and party in peace without worrying about caring for little ones--unless of course your little ones are animals.

For the first time in ages, I didn’t go to California this Thanksgiving. Instead, I stayed here in South Beach, sang at an early morning Mass and went to a friend’s house for dinner. This friend has three children, the oldest 31, the youngest 18, but so far, she has no grandchildren, only granddogs. And the kids brought the dogs.

What a delight. I had met “Whiskey” and “Porter” before at the dog park, but didn’t know they were related to Terry. Whiskey, a brownish terrier, and Porter a big old black lab mix his “grandpa” calls “Moron,” came charging in, giving us all kisses, patrolling under the table, and resting their heads in our laps. Whiskey looks a lot like my Annie, only smaller, and Porter looks like Chico, a dog I used to have. It was so great to hug them and play with them and talk about dogs all afternoon. For once, I did not feel left out. We all had dogs.

The food was great and I enjoyed the people, but the highlight of my afternoon was Whiskey and Porter. Then I got to go home to my own dog child. Give me a dog and it’s a happy Thanksgiving.

How about you? Were you able to be happy for what you have without mourning what you lack? Or was it a tough holiday? We’re here to listen.

8 comments:

ejs said...

Thank you so much for providing this space. I just found it yesterday. I have nobody to talk to about the pain of childlessness, so I'm glad to have found this forum. I wish I had found it sooner.

Holidays are SO hard for me. I feel myself withdrawing more each year. And then I feel guilty for not counting my blessings. This is something I am working on constantly because I do know that I am blessed, but it is sometimes hard to feel when the longing kicks in. Which is a lot. Not only do I not have children, but neither of my siblings does. We have nieces and nephews on my husband's side, but since we married in our 40s, they are mostly grown, so I never had the chance to cultivate a close relationship.

What I am feeling even more now is just plain loneliness and isolation. Most everyone's social circles revolve around their kids. I tried for a few years to reach out and stay connected to friends with kids, who were actually closer to me than my own nieces,but I don't know what happened in the last couple years. It just trailed off because I began to feel self-conscious as the fifth wheel or whatever.

It just really hurts a lot more during this time because I used to love all of my wacky family's traditions at the holidays and just in general, and over the years it is all evaporating.

I'm 49 and as recently as 2 years ago I still held out hope that I could have children. I know, totally crazy. Now I seriously have to deal with my situation and cannot bring myself to begin this process.

Suelick said...

Oh, ejs, the holidays can be so hard. Everyone seems to have children,and we don't. I'm wishing I had more connection with kids, too. All we can do is count the blessings we do have and then look for ways to bring more children into our lives.
I didn't hit menopause until 54, and my doctor told me it was actually possible for me to get pregnant, if only my husband had some sperm. Crazy.
I hope you find some comfort as we roll toward Christmas. Know that you are not alone. You have many sisters here going through the same thing.

Anonymous said...

While Thanksgiving this year was better than most it had it's moments. After dinner all us gals go through the sales flyers to plot our shopping game plan. Fun convo since I like shopping. But I found myself getting bored. Six sister-in-laws all happily chatting about what they were buying for their children. I felt left out.

I'm trying to turn a new leaf. I've spent my life thinking that life was going to be "normal". School, marriage, baby and happily ever after. I don't know why I thought God "owed" me children. With all the goodness and glory in the world He certainly doesn't have to deliver on all counts.

So many people I know right now are dealing with joblessness, health issues and marital problems. God certainly doesn't "owe" anyone good health, a cushy job or easy breezy relationships. We all have to roll with the punches and accept (and appreciate) life as it comes.

I've found that "owning" my life helps. I no longer see myself as a childless woman whose husband isn't cooperating. I'm a woman with a great career, fabulous friends, three dogs and the freedom to go to the movies at 10:00 at night on a Tuesday (if I feel like it). The future might still have children in it - and I hope it does. But it's no longer how I define myself.

I will echo ejs and say I'm thankful to have this place to vent. Sue, it's lovely how you always comment on our comments. It really makes me feel like someone understands and cares. On the bad days, it is so appreciated.

Suelick said...

Anonymous, Thank you for this comment. I think it will boost all of our spirits. It's hard not to dwell on what we don't have, and the holidays kind of rub it in,but in truth God does give us other kinds of blessings.
It suddenly occurred to me the other day that I am free to really concentrate on my work, and that is what I have always liked best. So maybe God knows what He's doing.
I'm glad I can talk to all of you, too.

Anonymous said...

Sue, what is your work? No need to answer if you don't want to talk about work.

Suelick said...

I don't mind talking about my work. I'm a full-time writer, doing books, essays, articles, poetry and the occasional song. I'm also a musician, singing and playing these days mostly at my church, where I co-direct and accompany the choirs. All of this is actually made easier by not having children, although by now they'd be grown up anyway.
Thanks for asking. You can learn all too much about me at www.suelick.com.

Ericka said...

I am 41 & use to think that childlessness during the holidays wasn't so bad, this was when my nieces & nephews were younger & spent the majority of time running around the house...My sisters were stressed with the shopping, traveling, etc..The kids are older now & we enjoy playing games, cuddling on the couch, and just talking during our hoiliday times together but I am still the aunt, not the mother. Over the past year, I have found more pain with the loss of being a mother as I watch my sisters & nieces together or friends & their daughters...prom dress shopping, first dates, school news.. I really didn't think it would get harder as the kids grew up. I made it through the birth of 6 nieces & nephews without these feelings, I didn't think it would get more difficult.. I made my decision & was just so sure, I thought.

Suelick said...

Ericka,
Thank you for sharing this with us. You never know what's going to strike your emotions. We miss all the phases of a child's life, not just infancy, and it can be hard watching them go through the major events of growing up.
I also found that for me, right around 40 was when childlessness got really hard. I hope it gets easier for you soon.