Well, maybe, I shouldn't quite put it the way my title suggests, but coming down on the back end of the holidays, a crowdfunding campaign for my documentary, and the first real winter I have experienced in decades, I feel I am entitled to be a bit blunt!
The reason I decided to put fingertips to keyboard today of all days, is that I reached an epiphany on a theme that has been brewing in the periphery of my life for some time.
When you decide NOT to have children in America, its a bit like signing your social death warrant. There appears a long list of events, gatherings, organizations, etc., that you will never be invited to attend or participate in. All of your friends who do grow up and have kids, slowly, just erase you, (surreptitiously) from the lists...especially, when it becomes evident that you are really serious about never, and I mean never, going to have ANY children.
It doesn't happen all at once. You are not shunned or banished. You, just, slowly, over time, feel yourself eroding away from any type of social situation that doesn't include clubs, and bars, and night life inappropriate for children. All the day time stuff is pretty well axed. Unless, of course, you borrow kids. Having a niece or nephew that you can barter with, will sometimes, get you bounced back into the circle. But, never permanently. It seems that your friends will be afraid if they put you back on the list, you might, (horror of horrors), show up without a child...even, worse if you show up without a partner or significant other. Then, you are definitely "persona non grata". Everyone has to have someone, right? Not always! Us, "lone wolfs" out there do exist! And, we do survive, quite well, alone.
Now, most people will say this is not true! They are in denial. It is. It has happened in my own family, and with some of my closest friends. It is not meant to be hurtful. Most will say things like...'oh, I thought you wouldn't enjoy yourself', or 'I thought you would be too busy working' etc. And, so on, and so forth. You get the picture.
The truth is that as an older, single female who never particularly wanted to have children, and then, for whom the opportunity passed; I have actually grown to love some of the younger species on the planet. There are some young people out there whose energy, and vitality, and creativity give me so much hope for this planet. I am grateful to those dear friends, and my sister, who share their children with me. As if, I am part of who they are, even without being a parent. I am, somehow, still connected to them in a way that is visceral and emotional and for me, binding in an everlasting way. These children, most of whom are now young adults, are my blessings.
It does still seem unfair that we, the "non-breeders", miss out on most of the joys of the holidays, school recitals, play dates, and the ever entertaining teenage "disasters". We, also, don't get tax credits or morning hugs or someone by our bedside when we grow old.
However, there are several benefits to not breeding. I am free. Free to travel. Free to make mistakes! Free to take risks, sometimes monumental ones. Free to be available for my nieces and nephews when they truly need me or my help. Sometimes, in ways their parents may not be able to. After all, I am not their mother. We don't have "that" kind of history. They cannot manipulate me by pushing my buttons! I am on to them. I love them. And, I miss them this holiday in my little abode up in the mountains all by myself.
The snow falls, and the winter whispers outside my door. The night falls, and the darkness beckons me to be still. To remember. To feel the warmth of tiny hands on my cheeks; a small, darling face staring at me in the night, willing me to wake, so she can tell me her dreams.