Friday, March 12, 2010

Do I Miss Not Having Kids?


This is a question that interestingly has not been asked of me by my friends or relatives. However, as I near the end of my life I have asked that question of myself.




Do I miss having kids? The short answer is no.



Would I have liked to have had kids? The short answer on that question is yes.



Now this answer may sound like the famous have it both ways answer that John Kerry gave about if he voted to authorize the war in Iraq: “I voted for the bill before I voted against it.” But my answer is different. I’ll explain.



The obvious reason is that because I am gay the odds of my having children were minimal from the get go. At the time my life partner Bill and I began out relationship in July of 1965 (yes, we’ve been together 46 years now – so much for the theory that same sex relationships- especially between men- don’t last) the option of adopting children was not possible. It was only recently that some states allowed same sex couple adoption of children. Even if we could adopt, I doubt if we would have gone that route.



If I had a child I would want it to be from my own family gene pool. I would want that child to continue on my family history through passing on my living cells to another living human being. That may sound selfish but I make no apologies for my desire to continue the straight lineage from time immemorial. As it stands now, unless I have impregnate a woman before I die (VERY UNLIKELY – I am still a virgin "that way"), my direct line of the Tipton family ends with me.



I will admit that there are times I see a dad with his daughter or son and I think “That could have been me.” There are times I think dads spoil their children by giving them too much attention. But then I think if it was my child I would probably spoil them just as much.



I’ve often wondered if I had children what would they be like now as adults. In fact, if I did have children in my early twenties, I would probably have grown grandchildren by now. That scenario is so far out that it makes me lightheaded just thinking about it.



I am convinced that if I did have children they probably would have been all male. My father had eleven brothers (two sets of twins, one twin died at birth) and no sisters. He had three sons of which I am the oldest. My one brother had two daughters and a son that died shortly after birth. My other brother two daughters and a son. I just know I would have had sons. Don’t ask me how, I just know it.



So here I am now, approaching the last years of my life. My life partner is 81 years old. He will probably leave this earth before I do. Then I will be alone. Both of my brothers have children who care a great deal for them and will probably take care of them in their old age, if the need is there. One of my brothers was taking care of our 86 year old mother until she moved in with my other brother in the south this past October to live in a warmer climate.



I have four nieces and one nephew. I have five grand nieces and four grand nephews. They all know me as “Uncle Ronnie.” Just about every family has an “Uncle Ronnie.” Rare is the family that doesn’t have that bachelor uncle who never married.  Our family is no exception.  I had an "Uncle George" on my Mother's side of the family.  On my father's side I had an "Uncle Bruce."  Both were unmarried.  Both had no children.  No questions were asked.  They were just known as "Uncle George" and "Uncle Bruce."  "Uncle Ronnie" carries on the family tradition.


While I love my nieces and nephews (some of whom I hardly know), I don’t expect them to take care of me in my old age nor do I want them to take care of me. The one thing I value the most in my life next to my physical and mental health and financial stability is my freedom. That has been my life's goal; freedom.



My goal is to be one of those old people who will live an independent life a long time in good physical and mental health. At this stage of my life I am well towards reaching my goal. My health is good, I weigh the same as I did when I graduated from high school in 1959, and I’m not too forgetful. In fact in many ways my mental health is better because I have learned not to hold negative thoughts for waste my time with anger.



The one thing that does concern me though is loneliness. I am concerned that if I am alone in the world I will be more vulnerable to loneliness and thus depression. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view) I have learned through past experiences with relationships to trust very few people as far as personal relationships go. I doubt if my opinion will change as I grow older.



Perhaps if I had children I would have a different view. But then I know people who do have children and they are not depending on them for any support at the end of their life. One just never knows.



What will I do on that day when I wake up and realize that I am all alone in the world? I have the answer. It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I get a cat. I might even get a dog.



So there you go, the Old Man with his cat…..or dog. That’s me.

11 comments:

  1. I can't imagine life without a cat or two, maybe three. I can see you with a loving cat in your life. It will be a very happy and lucky cat.

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  2. Mike,

    Not having a cat to love is perhaps one of the biggest regrets of my adult life. Bill does not like cats. That's why I have never had one. That's why we got Pomeranians. He thought they were the closest to cats. Someday I will get a cat.....or two. Then my life will be complete.

    Ron

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  3. Note: the cat I'm holding in the picture where I am 10 years old is "Bobby." He was my first and only cat. My father gave him away to the SPCA without telling me.

    The cat below is my friend Big Bob's cat. His name is "Stormy." He arrived at my friend's doublewide one stormy night and have lived with Bob and his partner Jim ever since. The next day his identical sister joined them. Her name is "Ronny." Named after me of course.

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  4. My first cat was a grey tabby it looked a bit like your "Bobby". I was six.

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  5. Ron,

    Cat? You want a cat? I could send you a few!

    "Stormy" looks like a cat that has been hanging round our place. I never saw it before the blizzards when it showed up around here. I think it takes shelter in the storage bins behind and beneath the back of the house. We have been putting some food out for it.

    It looks in good shape and certainly isn't starving. It's a big muscular cat, like our "Diesel", which it also resembles.

    As far as having kids, you don't miss what you never had. Kids are a real time commitment, a very life-changing event in a life. They require a lot of time and loving devotion over about two decades or more depending on how many you have.

    It was wonderful having children, but believe me, it takes sacrifice both in time, energy and money. And it is tricky business finding the right balance between enough devotion and over-bearing smothering and between spoiling indulgence and crippling strictness.

    We are very fortunate, because I am certain we made plenty of mistakes, but our kids grew into really nice adults.

    Cats are much easier.

    Lar

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  6. Lar,

    Thanks for the offer of a kitty cat. I have my eye on the local Georgetown SPCA shelter. Every week in the newspaper they publish pictures of kitties looking for a home. Believe me; if Bill wasn't here I would probably have about three or four of them now. If and when the time comes, I'll rescue one of those cats at the Georgetown shelter.
    You're right about kids and not missing what you never had. I've had people ask me if I ever missed having a sister. Well, no because I never had one. The situation is the same with not having a grandmother. I never knew a grandmother so I didn't miss one. I really don't miss having a kid but I have been thinking of it more often since I've gotten to this age what my life would have been like if I had a child. But you're right, they take a huge commitment and you never know how they're going to turn out. I don't think I was suited to being a parent. You were lucky with your kids. You got a got bunch but I think a lot of it has to do with the way you and Lois raised them. You did a good job Lar.

    Ron

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  7. Mike,

    You had a gray tabby too? Something else we have in common. I wonder what would have happened if I moved out west with my friend Don Lodge in the late 60's. Maybe be would have met and who knows what? Something to think about.:)
    But, I met Bill and the rest and I moved to New Jersey and the rest is history.
    Ron

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  8. Well it's all relative. I'm glad we know each other now.

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  9. Mike,

    It's all preordained. Of that I am convinced. Then we get to do it all over again.

    I'm glad we're friends now too. :)

    Ron

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  10. Kevin W10:26 AM

    Ron,

    I'm in the same situation only I, at one time, wanted kids, but my partner doesn't. If he said tomorrow that he thought it would be a good idea to adopt, I would jump at it. I'm not so concerned about the "passing on my genes" bit, although of course everyone at some time gets that urge. Obviously it's part ego and part biological. I just think Bruce and I could be great dads...but we're getting older and it's not likely to happen. There have been many times when I was glad I didn't have a child to support, and only a few times when I was a little sad at the realization that the family tree stops with me. But I take great solace in the fact that I have lived a good life so far and that what really matters is how we spend our time here on earth. There are many ways to give love and leave your mark in the world other than having children, which I'm sure you know. Everyone worries about loneliness in their old age. I don't know what to say to that except...anytime you feel lonely, get in touch with me! I'm always here for you!!!

    Love you!

    Kevin W

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  11. Kevin,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my blog about not having kids. My feeling is that you would have been a great dad. I don't know about myself. I don't think I have the temperament. Even though I joke about it, I really am too self involved.

    You are right of course that all that really matters is how we spend our time here on earth. I especially like your statement "There are many ways to give love and leave your mark in the world other than having children."

    I have expressed concern about loneliness but I'm not really all that freaked out about it, at least not at this time of my life. I do know that the probability of it happening and I wonder how I will feel at that time. Time will tell.

    Thank you again Kevin for your friendship. I appreciate your kindness.

    Ron

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