Friday, August 8, 2014

Empty Nests, Empty Cradles

So school started this week for most of my friends' children. It's at this time of year that I see the photos flash by on social media and think, "What if?", but it's a non-sequitur.

I have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. This makes it very difficult to conceive. Also at my weight, pregnancy was an unsafe idea, and well, no husband during my threshold of fecundity, anyway. Closer examination of my blood chemistry and other physiological factors led one gynecologist after another to caution me strongly against trying to bear children.

It was never meant to be.

I feel guilty, having deprived my parents of grandchildren, especially having seen my father interact with his late best friend's grandson and his great-grandniece, both of whom are creeping quickly up on preschool age. I always believed that my thinner, prettier sister would be the one to present them with grandchildren- she's married, too- but she turned out to be a brittle Type I diabetic. The trade-offs are straight out of Steel Magnolias.

A colleague at my last job, upon hearing that things were shaky with my then-fiance', suggested that I go to Central America to adopt a child, as her own daughter had recently done. There have been moments when I considered it, but now I'm forty-five. It's really too late.

At the very least, I thought I might marry someone who had nieces and nephews, because I KNOW I would be a rockin' aunt. No such luck. Most of the men I've dated have been only children. Swell.

One of my friends from high school, a single guy, is pursuing adoption. He inherited a nice estate from his grandparents, which will endow the lucky child he adopts with twelve years of very good private education followed by the college or university of its choice. Marriage is not on the cards for him, either, and he's taken this well in hand. Moreover, he's willing to adopt a school-age child, which is awesome because those children are so frequently overlooked in orphanages in favor of infants.

I'm proud of my friends for their parenting. Their children give every appearance of having turned out well, but this time of year makes me feel awkward, with that slight tinge of failure. Some of us were never meant to be mothers...but that doesn't mean that we never think about what could have been.  

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