A couple of times in the past, I was engaged to be married, and for various reasons, it just never happened. In retrospect, it's probably just as well...I've discovered, in the course of the last year, that in many ways I haven't had a whole heart to give to anyone since I was about fifteen. It's unfair to every man who's ever crossed my path; I try to be as present in the moment as I can, but it cheats them so terribly. It took me a very long time to recognize the truth, let alone admit it. It's my fault. There's nobody else to blame but me, myself, and I.
It never really bothered me so much that I didn't have children (since I always thought I'd make a lousy parent) until my father's best friend recently became a grandfather. My parents went nuts over the baby. Dad ran out and bought him a Red Ryder BB gun and a tiny little baseball glove. Mom ordered some excruciatingly cute baby clothes, both for the shower and also at Christmas. There are pictures of little Avery on their refrigerator. I admit that I participated in the hoopla, finding one of those little hooded bath towels done up to look like a turtle- I've always been fond of the child's father, who is quite possibly the only baby whom I ever asked to hold.
I'm thankful that so many of my friends have children, by all accounts good, decent children, to carry on their legacy. Given my sister's brittle Type I diabetes, I seriously doubt that I'll ever have the opportunity to even be an aunt. It would've been fun to be an aunt...or to be like my godparents, and at least spoil someone's children dead rotten a couple of weeks every summer. Two of my friends from back home who also blog write at some length about their children, who seem normal, healthy, and well-adjusted (although my sister's college roommate has a teenager, with a big, neon, capital "T" right now). Wow, I never thought I'd miss having the opportunity to be a band booster or soccer mom, you know?
My godfather is in his early eighties now, my godmother, in her mid-seventies. I worry about them, and who will take care of them. It's difficult enough to be one of two caregivers for aging parents- but what about the people who don't have children or extended families? I see myself in that situation eventually, and quite probably alone. That's the price of independence, I guess, and being so single-minded about my career that I have almost no life beyond it.