It is almost my 41st birthday. There is no way of denying it, I am middle aged. My life has taken a lot of turns I didn’t expect and didn’t take a few turns I counted on as a young adult. I am 40. I am a wife. I have been a wife eighteen and a half years. I’m also a librarian. I’ve worked in libraries since I was 15. I’ve had a degree to go with it since 2002. That I have a degree in Library Science was a bit of a surprise to me. In my early days of library work I used to state in interviews that I planned to get a degree as a way of showing my interest in the field, but I didn’t believe the line myself. I finally had a boss who encouraged me to pursue the degree, and there were compelling financial reasons for getting it. Of late my enthusiasm for my career choice has waned.
What I am not is a mother. This was not an active choice. God in His wisdom has not blessed us with children. To abuse Job: the Lord gives and sometimes he doesn’t. Thanks be to God.
The simple fact is I am socially an unusual case. The peers that are my age mostly have school age children and are rightly busy with all that goes into that. They are very busy with carting children hither and thither and I admire their dedication and diligence as parents. It does, however, leave me in a lonely place. They don’t have time for a friend like me aside from the odd comment on Facebook. It also becomes challenging to find things in common to talk about. The lack of children often means being left out. Elusive are couple friends in the same circumstance. First you have to realize that they do not make up a large portion of the population and then without children a couple develops other interests that are quite diverse making it harder to find friends that you have much in common with. This is compounded by the fact that Mr. Gaba and I don’t share a great many hobbies or interests. I’m not complaining. I am simply stating the facts.
There are other groups: The empty nesters and the newlyweds who haven’t started a family yet. Relating outside one’s own generation is never a simple thing. Single girl friends are often more difficult. While it is easy to find common ground around hobbies or profession, they don’t understand that I’ve been married for 18 years and that my life is ordered by what that means. When I explain that I do or don’t do something because my husband has strong feeling about it one way or the other, they give me funny looks, like they should be slipping me a phone number for a shelter for battered and abused women. They simply don’t understand that being a good wife means obeying your husband and that this is not a burden but a privilege.
Now regarding children themselves: I do not dislike children, and if I were to find one in my charge, I would be grateful for that child. As an aside, please don’t ask me if I’ve considered adoption, or inform me that adoption is an option. It takes every ounce of self-control to keep me from sarcastically saying, “Really, there is such a thing as adoption? I will have to look into that. What a novel idea. I think I’ll go home tonight and introduce that idea to Mr. Gaba.” I’m a talkative person. If I were working toward adopting a child I would probably never shut up about it. Along a similar note please do not ask if I’ve been to a fertility doctor—quite simply, that is none of your business. When you ask if I have children and I reply, as I often do, “Not so blessed,” take a hint and drop the subject. It is a bit of a tender one with me. It is the reason I don’t teach Sunday school, the reason I spend December fighting depression, and the reason I cry every time I see an infant baptism at church. Most of my life I am content with the blessings God has given me, but at times I look at Mr. Gaba, who in my estimation would be a wonderful father and who so dearly loves children, and I think, “My family is too small” And yes I have a cat. I like my cat. No, he is not my baby, nor a baby substitute. He makes the house more welcoming to come home to and less lonely when I am home and Mr. Gaba is not there.
While we are on the subject of home and work, I spend a lot of my life by myself. One of the difficult adjustments I’ve had in my current job is that my office is removed from my co-workers and the public and it is possible in an eight hour day for me to only speak to one or two people for a few minutes and then get home and wait for Mr. Gaba to get home. I am not like my peers who are mothers. My life is filled with too much time alone, and very little in the way of things to plan, arrange, or look forward to. This will pass. The children of my peers will grow up and move out and suddenly their day to day lives will be quite similar to mine. They may then find need of a friend to hang out with and I will be there.
I’m not writing this asking for sympathy or prayers that God would give children. I am writing this because it’s been spinning around in my mind for a while and I thought I’d share.
lhg edited and approved