Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Everyone has regrets in their life; you probably do too, right? What if I had ______? I wish I’d been able to go to _____. If only I’d been braver, I would have _____. But recently I realized that I just might have regrets about our decision not to have kids. OMG, I can’t believe it. This is a major shock to me, because for my whole life I’ve been absolutely, utterly, 100% sure I did not want to be a parent. I never had the slightest desire to have babies, and thought parenthood would be too stressful for me anyway. (If you’ve ever read Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person,” that’s me — and I hope to write separately about that soon.) So the decades passed and we went on with our lives, enjoying a peaceful life with freedom to travel or whatever we wanted to do. Sounds great, right? Especially to you frazzled parents out there just wishing you could have a few hours of quiet with no kids underfoot. I know.

It’s not that I don’t like kids, I do — at least the cute babies and the well-behaved older kids who don’t have their faces buried in video games 24/7. My temperament just doesn’t handle noise and chaos well; so I really do think it was a wise decision to remain childfree (my preferred term to “childless”, which implies that you want kids but can’t have them). But just because it was the right choice doesn’t mean there won’t be regrets.

Two fears have provoked these uncomfortable feelings. The first is fear about aging without having adult children to depend on if we need help. I’ll turn 50 this summer and the other side of the hill is coming into clearer view, if you know what I mean.

The second fear is about being forgotten when I’m gone. Without descendants, will anyone ever remember me? Sometimes I think I don’t care about that, but other times I think it’s very sad. And I guess it’s more than that too; even while I’m alive I feel that I’m often on the outside of life looking in at everyone else marking milestones. Suddenly I feel sad and lonely on Mother’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, my birthday, or even our anniversary (which we just celebrated quietly this weekend). There are no kids to call us or send cards on holidays, and our friends and siblings are very busy with their own kids and grandkids. Sometimes I’m even resentful of people I love dearly because I envy the life experiences they get to have that I don’t. I know this may sound pathetic, and you may be thinking, “You made your bed, now you have to lie in it.” I get that. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I think this feeling is a large part of what has been motivating me to write more lately. If I leave my words behind, well, at least that’s something that will linger after I’m gone. And I have SO much I want to say; I spend lots of time thinking about our culture, about human nature, and how we humans relate to the natural world (not well). I want to put those thoughts into writing, if only to see if anyone else looks at life through a lens similar to my own. So I’ll keep writing, and I hope someone reading it (you?) will find something useful in all of this.

This entry was posted in Aging, Happiness and Gratitude, Highly-Sensitive People (HSPs) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

  1. Littlesundog says:

    I am childless… wanted kids, but couldn’t have them. I am relieved of the thoughts you have about wondering if you made the right choice. I didn’t get to choose. But at 51, I’m just fine with life without kids. And, I have had countless parents tell me they are not so sure their kids won’t just dump them in a nursing home, or they never see the kids or the grandkids, or the kids ask for money, and sometimes the grandparents are raising the grandkids .. the list goes on. There is no guarantee even if you DO have kids that life will be as you think it should be. I know my life is carefree and without a lot of work and worry. I don’t think about what could have been or how it might be with kids. The world is ever changing, as is the family unit. Leaving a mark? I think we do that every day in our actions. No one really remembers even the great names. We put a title or an accomplishment alongside their name, but it’s forgotten in the blink of an eye. I would want to be remembered like Mother Teresa. Someone who didn’t do anything stupendous… never had kids – but what she did, changed nations, and the nations children were her children.

    • Kim says:

      Hey, have you ever read any books about childless women? I’ve got several in my library with titles like “Women Without Children” or similar things (can’t be bothered to look for them right now). But if you’re interested I can tell you the titles later. They were helpful to me in understanding my place in a society that values parenthood so much and non-parents not so much.

      And sure, I wouldn’t mind being remembered like Mother Teresa! But I think what I’m really more concerned about is whether my own family will remember me in 50 years. Will my nieces and nephews tell their children about me? Will they care about what my life was like? And since I live so far away I don’t have a chance to develop a relationship with the next generation (right now they’re only infants and toddlers though). I started having these thoughts when I tried to investigate our family’s genealogy and found that nobody knew much about anyone beyond their own parents’ generations. So much of our family history has been lost. I’m trying to document as much as I can now, and will pass it along to the nieces and nephews so they’ll have something of their history if they’re interested some day.

  2. drbobsbirds says:

    Kim – as always your words resonate heavily with me! As far older than you, I truly miss the chance I had to raise and know my only son – and now his family and my grandkids. (long story …)In my “former life” – and I have had a few “lives”- as an internationally known phycologist for starters. Had I continued, I would have spawned many “kids” via my graduate students. That is one way. Indeed, my phycological herbarium and library now “”live” at the University of Washington, and hopefully many will remember me from the decade I put forth in this occupation! At least my specimens will be around in perpetuity.
    Yet now, far older and perhaps wiser, I truly treasure the fact my son contacted me several years ago, and I now know my grandkids! Well, yes, Facebook is cool for seeing family!
    But I also hope that all past years do not diminish the contributions I am trying to make now! I know I have many who follow my Facebook postings, my occasional blogs, and my mailing list to friends where I tend to “ramble”. Few people tend to respond, but when they do it is quite positive! I DO know people appreciate my rambles! SO many folks do not respond, yet are sp appreciative!!!
    Yet – who will want my “legacy”? I am not even sure my biological kids will. And, I am certain that NO one will be able – or interested enough – to even deal with my tens of thousands of photos! (I just blogged about this …)
    In the end, I suspect “blood is” … – blood. It creates a DNA bond that surpasses friends or accomplishments.
    On the other hand, who gives a care when you are gone? Who wants your “stuff”? They – as well as you – are living their own lives. It probably takes decades after a relative passes to have a desire to know and hopefully appreciate our past relatives.
    Only know that now – as in the future – you are leaving a living legacy (as transient as it may be) with the followers of your blog! Hey! I am again a “kid” as you teach me more about myself – each time you post!!!
    We can talk about this farther, but I wanted to respond … Yes, I have regrets! But, who would I be other than myself now? Certainly I will never know, but I think I did the best I could …

    • Kim says:

      It’s funny that even two years after I wrote this post I still feel the same way about wanting to leave something behind that will let people know “Kim was here”. But sometimes I think it’s silly to be so concerned about whether or not anyone remembers me after I’m gone. I won’t be here to know whether they remember me or not, right? So perhaps it’s better to focus on having an impact while I’m here — to help the planet or help other people. Sort of like Emerson says in that poem I quoted in my recent post called “My Definition of Success” ( https://natureismytherapy.com/2013/01/04/my-definition-of-success/).

      By the way, I commented on your new blog post and am planning to reply to your email later too. Don’t hold your breath, but it’ll be there eventually. ~Kim

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