It seems like everybody I know who is over 30 has kids, but when I think that through, I realize there are several people in my friend circle who do not. Sometimes I ask them if they regret that. Some are childless by choice, some by circumstance. My situation began because of circumstances, mostly short-term failed marriages, and eventually by choice. I don’t regret it but I do wonder how life would be different if I had become a parent.
|Still holding hands in their 80s|
I wasn’t nearly as supportive, at least with regard to time. I live 1200 miles away. I could have visited more often, but I didn’t … maybe got there once or twice a year. To this day I feel guilty about that. Let me stop you before you remind me that I was supportive in other ways; I know I was, but it doesn’t reduce the guilt all that much. My parents and my sister did not do anything to make me feel that way; the guilt is self-imposed.
As with most things in my life, I look at this as a learning opportunity. Since the death of my parents, I have become more sensitive to the needs of other family members and friends. I provide whatever support I can, emotionally and sometimes financially. I don’t do these things out of guilt, I do them because that is who I am. I was always helpful to people but have become more so as a result of these life experiences. I don’t say that here to gain praise; I say it to share what I have learned and to encourage you to learn from my experiences and take actions in your life while you can.
Parents are teachers, whether they try to be or not. Their obvious lessons help us stay alive and healthy. If we become parents, we teach our own children some of those same lessons. If we do not become parents, we may still have the opportunity to teach others or maybe the chance to provide advice and emotional support to a younger friend facing tough choices about his parents.
Sometimes we even wake up in mid-life and realize that our parents still teach us long after they are gone.