I grew up thinking I would be a mom. That role figured into my future as easily as knowing I would become a college graduate, a wife, a homeowner, a writer. I never thought it wouldn’t happen until a couple of years ago.
The reasons why it will never happen for me and my husband make up — in the words of Scott Pilgrim — “a long story filled with sighs.” People always say that you can’t wait for the perfect time to have a baby because that time never comes. We never waited for the perfect time, but we knew that some times are better than others — times when we had the house to ourselves, when both of us were gainfully employed, when carrying a baby presented less health risks.
Suffice it to say, we had a narrow window of time to work with, and the window is now closed. I unplugged the biological clock, and I’m okay… There’s no need to feel sorry for me; I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’ve poured out feelings on paper and to my therapist — who assured me that most women experience a grieving period over that part of their life being done, whether they had kids or not.
Will I never feel that grief over not having children again? I don’t kid myself into thinking that I won’t. I know there will be times like the celebration for the Tribune-Times 100th anniversary when — while three children read their essays about the city of Fountain Inn as their parents snapped photos, recorded video, and beamed with pride — I teared up at the realization that I won’t have that opportunity.
But then I’m sort of selfish enough to breathe a sigh of relief over some of the stuff I won’t have to worry about:
- Shelling out money for every sport and hobby they want to participate in
- Cleaning up poop and puke — well, at least not in addition to the dog and cat…
- Helping with math homework (because between my and Cinlach… that kid would be screwed)
- Listening to God awful boy bands or other pop artists
- Barney/Dora/The Wiggles/Insert name of any other annoying children’s TV show personality
But Friday I experienced this horrible feeling of gratefulness combined with guilt because when I heard about 20 6- and 7-year-olds being gunned down by a mentally disturbed man, I knew that I would never have to experience the confusion over what to tell my child to make him or her feel safe about going back to school. I would never have to send my child to school and worry if it had the proper security to keep such a horrific even from happening. And ultimately, I would never have to feel the soul-crushing agony over a senseless act of violence taking the life of my child.
As soon as the thought entered my mind, guilt consumed me. How could I let such an act like this make me feel okay about not having kids? How horrible is that?
I really don’t have the answers to that or any of the other questions on how tragedies like this can be avoided. I don’t think the answer lies in taking away everyone’s guns — because the bad guys will still get their hands on them. And I don’t think the answer lies in “putting prayer back in school” — because if parents teach their children how to pray at home, prayer will always be in school.
Believe me, I would have much rather reveled in all the trivial advantages of not having kids than the deep, dark heavy ones that keep us all awake at night.