No children

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.

35 thoughts on “No children

  1. Thank you for sharing this post. I read your reflections on not having children with interest. When you have children, it is hard to imagine a life without them, especially when you adore them as much as I love mine. My sister has recently had a baby, she is 43 and Coco Rose has made her very happy. I am glad I have new niece. We all make our own choices and those decisions are usually right for us as individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am aware it is very different for women. Men don’t have all kinds of hormonal reasons and peer pressure around children. In many ways, a woman choosing not to be a mother has to justify it to others, adding to any other issues. I am sure you made the right choice, even though it is natural to think about that decision later in life. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. But when I look at the photos of your girls laughing and smiling, I sometimes wonder what I might have missed.
      Even when the pasta has been tipped out all over the floor. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First, let me compliment you on the topics you choose to write. One of the reasons I always read your blog posts is because of the honesty with which you write.

    My wife and I waited seven years to start our family. Part of our reasoning was that we worked with children all day, and it was nice to come home to a quiet house. Another factor was that my wife has a health issue that made pregnancy a higher risk. Fast forward twenty-six + years, and I feel so fortunate to have a son who is a wonderful human being.

    I look forward to the day when I get to play the role of grandpa.

    On the other hand, becoming a parent is an enormous responsibility. I taught a lot of students who had difficult home situations with parents who couldn’t manage their own lives. It was heartbreaking in many ways.

    Congratulations on making the right decision for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for telling us your own experience, and for your kind words too, Pete.
      As for writing with honesty about sometimes difficult subjects, I wouldn’t know how to do it any differently. If we can’t be honest, why bother? That’s my take on it, this late in my life.
      In the late 1970s, I was surrounded by people who found it hard to cope in their own families, so went on to have children of their own, believing they would be better parents, and do it ‘differently’. In most cases, that didn’t happen.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  3. I wouldn’t ever ask anyone why they don’t have children. It seems such an obtrusive question. When I told my mother-in-law we’d decided not have any more after our son was born she told me I’d taken away her reason to live! If she thought she’d make me feel guilty she was wrong – furious, but not guilty!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    I commented to Pete that the grass is always greener on the other side, but most parents could tell him tales that would make his hair curl. Pete, think of the orderly, un-messy life you’ve had with enough disposable income to do what you like! There’s always advantages and disadvantages. I had to wait many years before I reaped the benefit of parenting. The early years were a living nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The grass is always greener, Pete. I had two sons and the first 5 years were a living nightmare, as the eldest one was hyperactive and hardly ever slept. Then came the tantrums, sulky moods, shouting, door slamming, and lack of co-operation. Then came heavy metal music and a band in the garage, girlfriends, long hair and motorbikes. However, they’re quite human now that they’re in their thirties!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pete, having children is such a personal decision and definitely a lifelong commitment. My husband and I both had two children when we married. We talked about having one together, but in retrospect, I am thankful we chose not to. As a result we have a nice blended family although due to location, it is rare both sides are together at the same time. We are fortunate they all get along and have accepted each of us into their respective lives. I know many people who have not had such success. I do understand your thoughts about having a side of you never explored. I think we all can say that about one thing or another.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is a lovely post. My hubby has never had children of his own as I came with two and had decided I didn’t want or need any more. Perhaps that was selfish of me but he has never complained. No one calls him dad but the grandchildren call him Grandpa Paul and love him to bits. I stand corrected, someone does call him dad, our sweet dog, Dot. Parenthood comes in many shapes. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hello mate. A bit deep for this time of the morning. However, as you know I have three. You are spot on when you listed how they change your whole outlook on life. You would have made a great dad and I think you would have mellowed with having to deal with the every day stresses and strains of children. But, they are not the be all and end all of being. If we all had the same outlook and ideas of how to live, how very predictable all this would be. I hope you enjoy the cold because the dog needs a walk!!

    Like

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