Gratefulness and Guilt

file000858104002I 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.

Ah... A Dora-free household
Ah… A Dora-free household

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.


One thought on “Gratefulness and Guilt

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  1. No reason to feel guilty for your reaction. There probably isn’t a parent outside of Newtown whose initial reaction didn’t include relief that it was not their children’s school. Atrocities like this one are impossible to process rationally.


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