On this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking about a conversation I had recently with a young female friend.
We were talking about not being mothers.
And how that’s OK.
It’s actually a chat she and I have had before. But I’m guessing that it’s on her mind more these days because she’s now in her late 20’s. And that’s when you really start hearing The Question:
“So, when are you going to have kids?”
I was 25 when Hank and I got married. At that point, I’d been working full-time for four years and my focus was career and new husband. (Don’t read anything into the order!)
One thing I wasn’t thinking about was having kids. Not because I don’t like them, because I do. I just never had a burning desire to have a child. And since Hank came ready-made with a delightful daughter, it wasn’t an issue for him, either.
But sure enough, a couple of years into our marriage, we started hearing The Question. The interesting thing was that it didn’t come from our immediate families. And usually not from our friends, several of whom were Childless By Choice, too.
Mostly, it came from well-intentioned acquaintances who found it hard to understand why we — especially me — weren’t eager to “Start A Family.”
A few even went so far as to gently warn that “You’ll regret it when you get old.”
Well, at 65 (which, for the record, I don’t consider “old”), I’m here to say I have no regrets. Because while I don’t have any children (unless you count my three four-legged ones — Ok, I do), I did indeed “Start a Family.”
That family, of course, includes my wonderful stepdaughter, a college professor in Oregon and my terrific nephews and nieces who brighten my days in so many ways. But the “kids” in my orbit don’t end there.
I’m fortunate to work with a group of talented journalists, a number of them 30-somethings with young children. Because we spend so much time together, our bond extends beyond the walls of The S-T and I’m thrilled to be “Auntie” to some of the little ones. My co-workers aren’t just co-workers, they’re a very special part of my life.
And so are our friends. No, the word “friends” doesn’t do them justice. Not when we’ve known some of them for more than 40 years. Because, though we’re not related by blood, they — and, by extension, their kids and grandkids — are Family.
Among their ranks is the young woman who talks to me about being a mother. Or not. While I am happy to share my thoughts, her choice, for sure, is ultimately a personal one.
But should she decide, as I did, that having a child is not for her, I’ll tell not to worry, that if it feels right, she’ll have no regrets.
Especially if she’s lucky enough to Start A Family.