Laughing Through the Tears

Ok, in the interest of full disclosure, this title is a bit misleading. I’m actually doing quite well these days and there have been few if any tears in regards to are likely permanent “childfree” situation. However, having kids was still my first choice for our future, my “plan” if you will, and letting go of that will always be difficult. Things could always change, and I reserve my right to change my mind at any time. Who knows, maybe we’ll turn 40 and decide it’s time to adopt a foster child. Anything can happen. But right now, the future is looking child free and I am okay with that. To keep things in perspective, I am always looking for the positive, and the humor when possible, which leads me to this little newspaper bite from 1957.

Ann Landers’ famous “The Childless Couple”

There is nothing sadder than a childless couple. It breaks my heart to see them relaxing around swimming pools in Florida, sitting all suntanned and miserable on the decks of their boats — trotting off to Europe like lonesome fools. It’s an empty life. Nothing but money to spend, more time to enjoy and a whole lot less to worry about.

The poor childless couple are so wrapped up in themselves, you have to feel sorry for them. They don’t fight over the child’s discipline, don’t blame each other for the child’s most obnoxious characteristics, and they miss all the fun of doing without for the child’s sake. They just go along, doing whatever they want, buying what they want and liking each other. It’s a pretty pathetic picture.

Everyone should have children. No one should be allowed to escape the wonderful experience that accompanies each stage in the development of the young — the happy memories of sleepless nights, coughing spells, tantrums, diaper rash, debts, “dipso” baby sitters, saturated mattresses, emergencies and never-ending crises.

How dismal is the peaceful home without the constant childish problems that make a well-rounded life and an early breakdown; the tender, thoughtful discussions when the report card reveals the progeny to be one step below a moron; the end-of-the-day reunions with all the joyful happenings recited like well-placed blows to the temples.

Children are worth it. Every moment of anxiety, every sacrifice, every complete collapse pays off as a fine, sturdy adolescent is reached. The feeling of reward the first time you took the boy hunting — he didn’t mean to shoot you, the lad was excited. Remember how he cried? How sorry he was? And how much better you felt after the blood transfusion? These are the times a man with a growing son treasures — memories that are captured forever in the heart and the limp.

Think back to the night of romantic adventure when your budding daughter eloped with the village idiot. What childless couple ever shared in the stark realism of that drama? Aren’t you a better man for having lived richly, fully, acquiring that tic in your left eye? Could a woman without children touch the strength and heroism of your wife as she tried to fling herself out of the bedroom window?

The childless couple live in a vacuum. They fill their lonely days with golf, vacation trips, dinner dates, civic affairs, tranquility, leisure and entertainment. There is a terrifying emptiness without children, but the childless couple are too comfortable to know it.

You just have to look at them to see what the years have done: He looks boyish, unlined and rested; she’s slim, well-groomed and youthful. It isn’t natural. If they had had kids, they’d look like the rest of us — worn out, wrinkled and exhausted.

I read this to J last night and we both laughed till we cried. Ok, maybe J didn’t actually have tears rolling down his cheeks, but I did. It got a little tricky to read. I just love it. It’s not that I don’t love kids, it’s not that I wouldn’t be incredibly happy as a mother. I have no doubt that I would be. But since God seems to have other plans for me, I can enjoy all the benefits that go along with this new plan. I refuse to spend my life feeling like a lesser person because I am not a parent. I refuse to be pitied, or pity myself that my dream of being a mother will not come true. It is incredible how quickly people switch to pity when they learn you can’t have kids, shortly followed by assurances that it will all work out, so and so has a miracle baby, or suggestions to pursue adoption. It is apparently impossible to believe that I just might be ok, that there is a lot to life without children and that I plan on enjoying every minute of it. This wasn’t my plan for my life, but that doesn’t make it a bad life. It seems though that J and I are the only ones that get that. I appreciate the concern, and one day it may be really hard and I may feel terribly sad. I have no doubt those days are out there. But for the most part, I am happy, and I will remain happy without children. It is possible. So let’s all make a deal, I won’t pity you when your mini-me has you covered in bodily fluids and you haven’t slept for days, and you don’t pity me that I am squeaky clean and well rested. Deal? Deal.

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