The Legacy of Children

Can I take some time to share something that’s on my mind? I don’t usually share such deeply personal things, but today, my thoughts have crystallized in a new way, so I would like to try to express them.

I am 39 and have no children. I don’t think about having children much, but sometimes I wonder if those around me, like my sister with two kids, think I have a golden life. I don’t have to plan my schedule around nap times, or run my life by the extracurricular activities of my pre-teens. I have an incredible husband and the loveliest cat, and they put few demands on me and my time. I am insulated from the craziness of today’s world, in many ways, because of where I live and because I have no kids. I am happily child-free, but it isn’t quite as simple as that (it never is).

Sometimes I think about what my legacy will be. What will I leave behind when I am gone? A mortgage only partially paid off. An old car which I love but has little value beyond its value to me. A grieving husband, if he doesn’t go first. Boxes of momentos.

It is thoughts like these that drive me to write. I have finished two books*, and they, in large part, are my legacy. Writing and publishing books may not compare with the hard work of childrearing, but it’s my work (and my joy) to do it. If you have children, your legacy is obvious.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Raising children today looks like a huge challenge; that’s why I hesitated to do it earlier. That, and the timing of events in my life just hasn’t been conducive to conception. I would have liked, perhaps, to have had a little one or two in my late twenties or early thirties, but those were crazy times. I had just left my abusive husband. I was a wreck for a while, and after that, I simply needed to be alone. I healed from the experience, but since I was wasn’t in a long-term relationship in those prime kid-having years, I feel it wasn’t meant to be. Make no mistake — I am completely at peace with my childlessness.

I write this to share my perspective. While my life is simpler, I sometimes feel like I carry the burden of being a producer — I must make a difference in the world in a way other than bringing a new life into it. I must leave the world a better place — cleaner, sustainable, more beautiful and more kind — for everyone, not just for my children and their children. My perspective is wider, because it can be; a mom with one in diapers is focused on different things than I. I think about the essence of the planet… the spirit of a river…

Me and JSometimes I feel like I can’t relate to my friends with small children, and I think that they don’t relate to me. I can feel some people wondering if I have tried to have kids and can’t. It makes them feel awkward around me — some of them feel sorry for me. Please, don’t. There is nothing to feel sorry for, or about! I made the wise decision not to bring little people into an abusive family situation (my first marriage), and it was absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now that I feel vaguely ready to have kids, I’m a touch too old, but that is certainly nothing to feel sorry about. Please direct your sympathy elsewhere — there are a thousand better uses for it, including towards your own children! They are your legacy, and they need your unconditional love and acceptance, 24/7.

I am blessed to have little people in my life — in friends and family, and friends that are like family — and I am supremely blessed to have found a husband who is loving, accepting, and appreciative of me. What more could I ask for? Nothing. Nothing at all. 🙂

*For those who don’t know: My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book, just released, is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

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