As I push myself through the incredible amount of work it takes to move, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that this entire ordeal– my move across country (and now back)– was initially precipitated by the fact that I had hit my mid-thirties childless and single. I’ve come a long way and not just in mileage.
I had a goodbye drink with a male friend this week. He’s married, nearing fifty, and contemplating adoption. He said the unconditional love a parent feels for a child is an important life experience he doesn’t want to miss out on.
He’s had some health issues, complains of midlife tiredness, and is in a creative career that grants him a lot of freedom but, thus far, not a lot of wealth. My response to him was that not everyone has to be a parent. I told him I had grieved my childlessness and come to accept and even appreciate it. I said I would never advise him because he would most likely make a wonderful father and would enjoy the experience, but he also stands to lose a lot in terms of his career freedom and his chance to slow down and take it easy.
He answered, “I can’t believe a woman is saying this to me.”
On another note, he told me about a recent encounter he had with a colleague’s narcissistic rage which makes my own unpleasant experience look like a game of tiddlywinks in comparison. I guess marriage is no guarantee as a shield.
Also, the man who “flipped out” is married and a parent. I’ll remember that whenever I feel like there’s something wrong with me for being neither.