This week’s blog is written by my friend, Margie Kruse. You can see her full blog at krusereportersblog.com:
I breathe a short sigh of relief at the realization that I leapt last week’s Mother’s Day hurdle without falling and skinning my heart. Yet I find myself taking a deep breath while I prepare for the next ginormous hurdle known as Father’s Day. For me, this time of year is like entering the Seventh Circle of Hell. That’s because I am a 47-year-old childless single woman. And it hasn’t been for lack of trying.
From time to time, I hear my mommy friends talk about the challenges of motherhood and the exhaustion they feel. I listen patiently during phone conversations while my mommy friends are interrupted by crying young ones, needy middle-school kids and the high schoolers who are oblivious to the phones stuck to their mother’s ear. As is a requirement of friendship, I keep my yap shut and abstain from stating the obvious: At least you have children. One person’s deafening noise is another person’s symphony of beautiful sounds. For me, the sounds of children’s voices are beyond priceless.
Over the years, I have had some of the most uncomfortable questions asked of me. My favorite? Don’t you want children? No, strike that. (I’m a court reporter; we’re used to striking things from the record.) No, the worst has to be a coworker whose children I used to dote on when they came into the office. I’d take them to the candy store around the corner from the office and let ’em go wild, buy them fun lunches, color with them. That same darling coworker was quoted as saying to another coworker, who felt the need to repeat it to me, “I don’t think she likes children.” Bite me, beeeoch.
Yes, I want children. Always wanted children. Can’t get enough of children. I love their guilessness. I love their naiveté. I love their innocence. And I completely adore the literalness of the little ones.
Today, I had the privilege of running errands with a seven-year-old boy, Billy. While we were riding around, I peered into my rearview mirror and asked him if he was thinking about what he wanted to get his father for Father’s Day. Without skipping a beat, he told me, “I think daddy needs a pet.” Knowing his father as I do, I am 100 percent certain that his daddy does not need a pet. But my mild protest did not deter Billy. He rattled off a variety of pets before he settled on a parrot, knowing that daddy has repeatedly turned down the pleas of three young boys for a dog. No to a dog that daddy will have to feed, walk, clean up after, train. An emphatic no from dad. With the reasoning that only a seven-year-old possesses, to my chagrin he coherently supported his pet selection. “If we get dad a parrot, we can teach it to bark. So dad will think we have a dog, but he’ll never have to walk it.” When I told this story to his father, I forgot to share the revelation I had (because it came to me hours later), that the parrot idea must have been born from our recent trip to the movies: Rio!!!
Yes, children are a privilege. And every time I read an article or hear a news account of a child who is abused by a parent (or any predator), my stomach turns and I find myself wondering why God would give a child to a monster and not me. Equally jaw dropping as monsters having children are the incredulous statements of well-meaning friends (and strangers) who tell me that God must have a different plan for me. I always smile and nod, while I hear that voice in my head scream, “I hope a bone from your chicken dinner gets lodged in your throat and you suffer anoxia resulting in severe brain damage. And while you’re sitting in your wheelchair with a nurse wiping the spittle from your chin, I’ll make sure to pay you frequent visits and remind you that God must have a different plan for you.”
Over the years I have thrown and attended a gazillion baby showers. As the years go by, each baby shower/christening/first birthday is increasingly more painful than the last, as I slowly watch the sun set on my opportunity at mommyhood. Yes, yes, of course I am happy for my friends’ good fortune, but I will admit to technicolor jealousy that turns my blood (and probably my skin) fluorescent green. I’m jealous of the baby bump, the ultrasound pictures being passed around, the name game, the adorably miniature sized clothes. Oh, and the Diaper Genie. I have longed to open my own Diaper Genie, knowing full well I will never receive one!
The heartbreaking truth is I will never experience the joy of the birth of my own child, their first wail, their first tooth, first word, first step, first day of school, first A, first love (and therefore first heartbreak), graduation, first day of college, first real job, first apartment, first dance at their wedding, first grandbaby. There will be no height chart on my kitchen wall, no collection of baby teeth in a little wooden box, no christening gown to hand down. I won’t chaperone field trips. I won’t be showing up in a classroom full of second graders with homemade cupcakes to celebrate my kid’s awesome eighth birthday!
Am I done yet? I think so. I’ve contemplated the one-night stand sperm donor (not an
option for moral reasons). I’ve contemplated adoption, but it’s now too late because someone interrupted the process with false promises of “let’s do it together.” And I’ve contemplated kidnapping, but the housing market won’t allow me to sell my biggest asset, therefore thwarting my ability to disappear with a child that doesn’t belong to me. But seriously, that one’s not an option for moral and legal reasons!
So the next time you encounter a childless adult (I don’t limit this struggle to women only), my best advice is to avoid the awkward, probing questions. I can assure you you don’t want to hear what we have to say as much as we don’t want to talk about it. And if you have an overwhelming urge to talk about how alls you want for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day is to “do your own thing” without your kids, refrain from sharing that information because we childless folks find such statements as soothing as nails on a chalkboard.
Alas, instead of mommyhood, I am serving a life sentence in the legal world without the possibility of parole.