I met a woman years ago I consider more of an acquaintance than a friend. We met through a mutual friend but have never gotten together on our own. Perhaps we feel we wouldn’t have anything in common without her, the elastic band that stretches between us. Or, maybe we fear it would be unfaithful to get together without our mutual friend.
Whatever the case may be, I’ll never forget a particular conversation we had one day, the three of us, while meeting for lunch downtown. The mutual friend and I were discussing our families, particularly our daughters who know each other well. Suddenly, the acquaintance blurts out, “I feel like a tree with no limbs.” We looked at her with questioning eyes.
A tree with no limbs? What was she talking about?
She went on to explain how sorry she was she never had children. Regardless of anything else people may or may not have in common, nearly everyone can talk about their kids. It’s a topic that guarantees conversation.
She said it doesn’t matter where in the world a person lives, where they work or what they do, women with children have something in common and it’s a big thing, an important thing. It’s also a topic every parent needs and enjoys talking about. She told us how being a woman in her fifties without ever having raised children has made her an outsider all her life. She doesn’t share the common ground that so many women our age do, and she regrets it. She’ll never have the joy of grandchildren, of helping a daughter decorate a nursery or hold a newborn and know they are part of her.
I must admit, I’ve never looked at it from that particular view point. A tree with no limbs. No branches for birds to nest in, or big leafy greens to offer shade. Just there. Tall and rooted well with questionable purpose.
Now, I am sure there are a lot of people who have chosen not to have children and have no regrets. Yet I have to say, I’ve given a lot of consideration to her analogy and I see her point. I’d like to hear from other people who made the same choice twenty or thirty years ago. How is it now? Are you glad you opted out or do you have regrets?