Friday, November 23, 2012

It's What I've Got

It wasn't that I consciously decided not to have kids.

At least, not until I was nearly 35.

It was just...

Opportunities presented themselves - both biological and adoptive - and then, by choice and by chance, those opportunities got swept away without my consent until, all of a sudden, I was practically middle aged without prospects. 

And then it occurred to me I rather liked my child-free life. So why try to change it?

Never mind the fact that I didn't feel like I took care of myself particularly well - even though I'd been left to it ridiculously early on - let alone a pet until I adopted Vinny, the guerrilla terrorist cat, 4 years ago today. Until 5 years ago, in my opinion, I wasn't adequately equipped with the fundamental skills required to parent a wee human. My oldest niece and nephew can attest to know, until they were in their teens. Occasionally, I still don't think I am prepared to parent. Parenting a mini me is all-consuming. Exhausting. And I'm already that sans child.

But ovaries ache. Like...during the 5 years I spent parenting 600+ children 8 hours a day when I worked at the elementary school. I didn't need children then. I told myself I took the care and feeding of those wriggly beings in hand for a living, I didn't want or need any of my own. 

Or like last night. Watching two dads interact with their children - all girls - playing with them, helping them, patiently letting them climb all over them...

I don't know if my tears tonight are for the me I was who needed, and didn't get, that dad or the me I am who needs to nurture.

Probably both.

Regardless, last night I realized something extraordinary. There really is nothing quite like the love of a child. Perhaps most especially when that child is not your own and yet they seek you out, hug you with everything they've got, and exclaim, "You don't need kids! You've got ME!"

You're all I've got, Kid.

And I'm glad.


Gaelyn said...

I never wanted to birth babies yet am glad I got to be a step-Mom. Well, at least I'm glad now.

Anonymous said...

I think we all reach a point when we realize that one ship or another has sailed for us. The ache of having not boarded is a universal midlife thing, I think, and it doesn't really matter if we never truly wanted to do the whatever. The fact that we probably can't sticks in the gut.

Masked Mom said...

I think Beth is on to something in her comment, for sure. As someone who had four children by her twenty-sixth birthday, I can heartily attest to the fact that those "what if"s and "why didn't I"s come no matter what choices we make.

And even though I do have children of my own, I LOVE being an aunt, both of the official variety and the not-so. It's one of the simplest and most pleasurable roles in my life. :)

Stella said...

I hear you Jane, although in my case I never wanted kids, so never had them. Have never missed them either.
I'm also a teacher and have always enjoyed my classes but am happy to say bye at the end of the day. Although I teach adolescents so sometimes they're a little less cute (and more eye-rollingly smug) then the littlies.
Gotta love a hug, huh!

a.eye said...

I sometimes feel the same ache. Then I go to teach at a high school.

The ache dissipates again until I see my nephews or other cuties.