I have been married three times, and yet I have never had children. Some who know me might think that this is a good thing, others have encouraged me to procreate, believing that I would be a ‘good father’. As I get older, and my nature becomes more reflective, and less reactive, I often think about this. No-one will ever call me Dad. Daddy, Father, Pops, or any of the other names associated with being a male parent. When I am dead and gone, there will be nobody to continue my ‘line’, and carry my name through the ages.
I recall a conscious decision not to have children, taken even before my first marriage. We were 25, had good jobs, excellent prospects for buying houses in nice areas of London, and the opportunity to travel abroad on holidays. There were two good cars, everything we needed, and a social circle of friends, all in similar situations. Children would spoil all of this, we believed, and would not fit in this world we had created for ourselves. They would come later, we told each other.
Of course, they did not come. We got used to the life, and could not imagine small intruders in it. What did come was eventual stagnation, growing apart, and ultimately, separation followed by divorce. By the time I got married for the second time, I was 37, and my new wife 35. We thought that we were too old to even consider starting a family. Besides, we had both been through divorces, followed by periods of loneliness, and we wanted to enjoy our time together uninterrupted by the burden of bringing up demanding children. Instead, we bought a bigger house in London’s Docklands, enjoyed some nice holidays, and ate out a fair bit. What followed, with weary inevitability, was stagnation followed by separation, and eventual divorce.
By then, I was 45. Surely, I had reached the point where children could not ever be considered to be a part of my life? I met someone, a separated mother, who had a small boy, and soon discovered that there was potential joy in the company of a child. Taking the toddler to play in the park, reading, and enjoying toys together, I learned that there was indeed another side of me. I also learned that you are never too old to learn new things about yourself. Sadly, this was also not to be. Age differences and family problems, dictated that this relationship would go no further also. When we broke up, I realised, to my complete surprise, that I was going to miss this three-year old as much as I would miss his mother. I experienced the loss of a child that I had never had. It was one of the strangest feelings I have ever known.
Some time later, I met my present wife, Julie. I sincerely hope and believe that she will be my last wife, and somehow I think that this will be the case. By the time we married, I was 57, and she was 48. We were both happy with the fact that we would never have children together, more so as she already had four from her first marriage. I had known her children for 9 years, so had seen them grow from early teens, into their 20’s. I get on well with them, and they all tend to deal with me more as an older friend, than as a parent. They still see their Dad, and of course, Julie, so they have their parents and do not need an extra one. As Step-children go, I am sure they are fine. As Step-Dads go, I like to think that I am too.
Nonetheless, nobody will ever call me Dad. No grandchildren will ever call me Grand-Dad, and sometimes I feel that a huge part of me was never explored; like the vast areas of the brain that are never used, it makes you wonder what they are there for.