There are times when certain topics seem to be in the air, even with no obvious hook from the world of news or entertainment to hang them on. Lately, I’ve received a number of emails from people who don’t have children. Some don’t want kids and are annoyed when relatives or new acquaintances assume that they do. (Friends usually know better.) Other people have written to tell me that they would love to have kids, but don’t know if it will ever happen. Their issues are different from those of the people who don’t want kids.
I’ve never had kids either. I like kids. Some, I love. I enjoy getting to see my friends’ kids. I love to dote on my nephews and niece. But I never wanted my own.
There was a point, though, when I had to ask myself if I was really sure about that. I had a medical problem that went on for 13 months. I went to this doctor and that, tried different procedures and meds, but nothing stopped it. I was always feeling tired and out of sorts. There was only one thing that would put an end to it once and for all, and that was to have a hysterectomy. Still, it would be an elective surgery; medically, I didn’t have to do it.
I was scared of the surgery because I’d never been hospitalized before. But I wasn’t concerned about the fact that I would forever close off the option of bearing my own children.
I didn’t think I was concerned. I really didn’t. Since the procedure would be irreversible, though, I talked to a therapist about it. I wanted to know whether he thought that I was fooling myself, or that I might regret my decision sometime in the future. It was a leap of faith for me to think that way. It is not as if I believe that therapists can magically know such things. Still, considering the finality of the decision, a professional opinion did seem to be in order.
All of that happened about two decades ago. Being hospitalized was no fun for someone like me who likes her privacy. When a well-meaning priest walked into my room to tell me that he was going to print an announcement in the church bulletin asking his parishioners to pray for me, I nearly leaped out of my hospital bed and strangled him. (I had never even met him before. I don’t go to church.).
It was all worth it, though. I was so relieved to have that whole distressing medical episode behind me. I still like kids, and I’ve never regretted my decision not to have any of my own.