Monday, April 25, 2011

To be or not to be.......childless...

I went to an Easter dinner last night and noticed something very interesting about the ten or so individuals present at the dinner, in addition to myself: Everyone in attendance was childless.

I didn't realize this until late in the evening, well beyond midnight even, as the revelation wasn't something that had been specifically highlighted during the many group discussions over the evening. But I DID notice it, and ended up having a brief conversation with the host about this revelation as she cleared her kitchen and I sipped on some wine.

I find this interesting largely because of the range of demographics at the dinner spanning from mid thirties to mid-70's; white americans (various ages), black americans (various ages), and an italian man; a b&w interracial couple that's been together about 35 years (since they were 17 and 18 years old college freshmen); two educators, a couple of entertainers, two journalists, a producer, a carpenter, a bartender, an attorney, and a librarian/bathroom attendant. Of the other married couples, one in their 50's have been married since 2000 (11 years), and the other in their 70's celebrated their 29th anniversary on April 17th. Both of those wives, in separate conversations I had with them, said that they'd "married late" (in their mid-40s). The wife in her 70's said that she and her beau had not been "blessed with children" which leads me to believe that they at least considered and tried to become parents. The one in her 50's said that she married at 45, but had she married ten years earlier perhaps she would have had children with her husband. The interracial couple in their 50's that's been together since they were teenagers are entertainer and manager, and the wife/manager commented that they've focused on their career over the years and spend a lot of time abroad making things happen (they are world traveled), so having children never really played into the equation.

As for the single individuals in attendance, one is a couple of years older than me and also a professor. She's white american and has spent a number of years living in Italy working on her ph.d before moving to NYC. There was an italian producer there in his 50's as well who I overheard saying that he has never married, and though having "come close a couple of times," he never will. I was interested to have a conversation with him regarding this decision, but decided it was another topic for another day. Then there were the other two african american women, one who is 53 and one who seems like she's in her late 40s. Both single and perhaps either have been at one point or have never married, I can't tell (one may be lez, though she's quite asexual in my opinion).... one is a journalist the other an attorney, both seem to have had longstanding successful careers..... and then there was me: wildchild#1-- 32 years of age, no husband, no bf, no prospects of children, but lot's of adventure. I didn't speak to any of them regarding never having become parents...

When I was in the kitchen talking to the host she mentioned that of all of the people she's known over the years, she's noticed, especially now in her middle aged years, that it's her friends that never had children that seem to have the best marital relationships, in her humble opinion. She implied that though there are various reasons why people decide not to have children, it's the ones who are okay with this decision to remain childless that seem to have the less stress throughout their lives. What she was saying reminded me of an article in the New York Magazine last summer about the topic "I Love My Kids, But I Hate My Life" comparing and contrasting the quality of life of parents versus the childless, both married and single. Again, she did comment though, that had she met her lovely husband (which whom she "adores the little boy in him!" while she herself is a whimsy girl at heart who loves to twirl and dance about her spacious apartment--like me!!!) years before, she would have been inclined to procreate with him. It seems, even, that on the night that I met her a year and a half ago, she mentioned how she'd spent a good portion of her 30's being in love with the wrong man in a relationship that went nowhere other than to waste a portion of her childbearing years (...ok, she didn't say that verbatim but it was something like that), so I'm sure that played into her trajectory... and, naturally, I wonder if such a circumstance would play into my own chances of (not) becoming a mother....

I suppose this is most interesting as I am finding myself in the company of a lot of my peers who are becoming parents (two and three times over) as of late. One friend's wife told me flat out that she *felt sorry for me* for still having feelings for and entertaining a relationship that I've never quite ended because after five years it hasn't led to marriage; she feels I'll look up one day (probably unable to have children) and regret that I wasted so much time in such a fanciful, quixotic relationship (i'm too cool and beautiful for that, she says). Though I know she means well/doesn't mean any harm, I think her comments have been the most extreme regarding my singledom, and the ones I've found most annoying considering my relationship status is the last thing to feel sorry about. (Note to reading audience: PLEASE don't ever feel sorry for me regarding the status of the aforementioned!!!!) Meanwhile, I JUST turned 32.........and I swear, at this day and age, I still have another ten years to decide ANYTHING regarding having a child, should the volume on my biological clock ever begin to start ticking audibly....

So, at the end of the day, regardless of other people's timeframes, one thing last night showed me is that even if I never wind up having a child, life will be good, full of love and laughter. Besides there seems to be a never ending wealth of cousins, nieces, nephews, neighbors and godchildren whose lives I can be a part of should I ever feel the need to play with a warm cooing bundle for a few hours. And at this point, I couldn't be more okay with that if you paid me!


2 comments:

MMS said...

I think it all really depends on our personal comfort with being who we are, specifically where we are in life. There are so many variables associated with this topic. But, as long as we are cool where we are, then the other variables are irrelevant.

Mai~Goodness said...

Definitely agree... Everything is variable. But was still interesting, and relevant, for me to be in the company of a group of varying individuals with this one commonality.