As I pass through middle age and approach senior citizen status, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to ponder a lifetime of evolving decisions not to have children.
Now in my 50s, my thinking of becoming a father and raising a child, or children, has run the gamut of emotions over the years.
With a long string of now ex-girlfriends stretching back decades, those emotions have morphed from a feeling of dread of fatherhood when I was a teenager, to quiet realization nearly 40 years later that I might have gone down the wrong path once or twice.
DREAD FEAR DURING THE TEENAGE YEARS:
Oh the relief when I was 19 and my then 21-year-old girlfriend found out she was simply “late.”
We dreaded what we both perceived to be the overwhelming circumstances of having a child.
After all, my girlfriend was just starting her career after college, while I still had years of college ahead.
A CAREER INCONVENIENCE:
Embarking on my own career now, living on the West Coast, and seeing different girls, I was on a quest for success.
And enjoying the spoils of my success included living near the beach, driving a sports car, dating “hot” girls and late nights out.
I had no desire to trade in the fast car for a practical sedan or swap the nightlife for getting up early to attend to a sick or crying child.
As my 40s turned into my 50s, I became more settled in my personal life, while experiencing various levels of career success, as well as setbacks.
When it came to having children, I was no longer adamantly opposed to the idea, simply considered it unlikely.
“I’m not sure if I want to close that door,” I once confided in a friend in sharing a conversation with yet another girlfriend. She was adamant about never having kids — the same way I felt throughout most of my life.
A few years later, another girlfriend in yet a different city, tapped a previously untapped chord when she asked, “don’t you want anybody to carry on your family name?”
That woman and I stopped seeing each other a few weeks later.
More recently as my dog jumped in my lap and stretched back with delight as I scratched his belly, a good friend observed:
“The son John never had.”
And I realized he was right.