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.