Yeah, that’s not a proper fraction and it hurts a little bit to leave it in that state but, whatever, for this purpose I’ll let it slide.
10 out of the 12 months of the year I am content with being child-free. This is my will. My choice. I’ve never entertained the thought of having kids. I think it was clear to myself, my family and my friends that being a mother was not the course my life would take. And, from January to October I’m sound in this decision.
However, once we get into the holiday months (Thanksgiving and Christmas) I start to feel sad. Lonely. Left out. It’s been a slow decline. Which is better than a fall, I suppose, but it happened so slowly that it took me a while to really figure out what was missing and what had gone wrong.
When I was a teenager the house was still full of life. I had friends and step siblings all over the place. We had cookie decorating parties and loud nights spent with too much booze and bad Christmas cover songs. It was warm. It was loud. It sparkled. I remember feeling so full of love and happiness.
As I got into my twenties there were still parties, sure. Nicely planned and structured. Good food. Good conversations. Laughter and silly games. Have your fun and be home by midnight kind of stuff. I enjoyed those, too. But some of the life had drained. It was less spontaneous. I still had a blast and felt surrounded by friends, but the gain was turned down. The sparkle seemed mostly limited to things on the tree. There was a subtle shift happening.
Nearing, and coming into, my 30’s was when it came full force. There were less friends. Less parties. And, what parties there were tended to be a bit more sparse. More people had family obligations and kids to get home by bedtime. The games were kid friendly, and frankly, pretty boring and the attention was being divided between conversation and monitoring the kids. There was no deep, full-bodied conversation. The spontaneity had been turned way down. People started to bring dishes with quinoa. (That’s kind of a joke, but, I think it makes a point.)
Distilled down, I was no longer spending time with kitchens full of friends and family and too much heat from the oven. I was sitting on couches struggling to make conversation with people I just met and may never see again.
And maybe that’s just how it is. And maybe that’s part of the reason people have kids. They can start the cycle over.
But, when you don’t have kids, and your friends have started to disappear or make families of their own, the cycle doesn’t start again. The cycle ends. You become ‘other’.
I’ve tried to recreate what I can with the boyfriend. Tried to have a quaint Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas ritual but, it pales. No, it does more than pale. It disappears. When you’re with someone for over a decade you become comfortable in silence. There is no loud kitchen full of people eating and laughing. Making a Thanksgiving meal for two doesn’t take long, anyway. And this isn’t to say we are boring, curmudgeonly people. It’s just that we’ve had the conversations. We’re all caught up on our news. We still laugh and joke. But, there is no sparkle to be had because, really, why spend the time to decorate for yourself? It’s more effort than it’s worth.
And I guess, there is something deeper I am trying to say here. Something more than just “I really miss my friends” or “I really miss having a big family”. Which are all very true.
I guess what I’m saying is, I really wish people would see me as a legitimate human being even though I have chosen to not have children. My life, my endeavors are still valid. My time is not spent frivolously. I still have hardships.
I still count.
I am still here.